Motion: THB that bilingualism is always an asset to a child
Role: Secretary (opp.)
Date: Oct 13th, 2013
Recently there has been talk in the Swedish-Finnish media about the poorer scholastic aptitude of their pupils and students versus the bigger native majority. They have, for example, failed to meet the criteria for their allotted quota in medical training and therefore forfeited their seats or their allotted places to Finnish-speaking Finns. This has been alarming to some, as doctors’ profession is seen as instrumental in two ways:
■ A safe haven for those who want to maintain the middle-class standard of living that Swedish Finns so love, and
■ A safeguard of public health and the arbiter of Life and Death sometimes.
Namely, it has been noted with alarm that even though fathers in these bilingual families may have a distinguished academic background, sons to them perform badly at school and betray the family expectation of doing increasingly better. Fathers who have received straight A’s and B+’s sire sons who get C-’s and D’s. What to make of this?
I think that this boils down to three things, which I list here in alphabetical order: they are the lack of
a) ”Class excursion”
b) competition and
c) critical mass.
Let us look deeper into them.
Class excursion is a term coined by Swedes proper that means the ascension of an individual from his or her humbler background and class of birth. Most people invest in their children and thus make them eligible for a life sweeter than their own in comparison. Finnish Swedes, on the other hand, are so stagnant in their set ways that they expect and can expect to always stay somewhere in the middle. If they remain bourgeois, they can keep counting their money. If they opt for a calling or vocation more daring or dangerous, they can apply to their cultural funds for subsidies. And those funds never run out of money in all likelihood. Class mobility in these cases is nil.
Quotas and certain mechanisms also guarantee that Swedish Finns do not have to compete for their place in the sun in the way Finnish-speakers have to. They get their share in their own world from structures that are ”too loose” a fit for their crowd, whereas Finnish-speaking Finns fight for their share in a world of scarcity, merit and promotion. Finnish Finns don’t get anything for free, but Swedish Finns can count on getting this and that for free.
Finally, Swedish Finns lack a critical mass (and that has to do with the earlier point). Their number is so small that they could not have a nation of their own, for example. They would be annexed by Sweden, Norway or Russia where they not under the auspices of the Finnish state. On their own, their lot would equal the size of the state of Iceland approximately. Swedish Finns thrive as the grassroots, an epiphyte, part of a symbiosis. Statehood does not punish or reward them as it does among Finnish-speaking Finns.
It would not have to be like this. Privilege is no obstacle to sophistication or cultivation. Swedish Finns should view education and and all that happens in schools as rewarding per se, as we do in our debate society, without it being a springboard to undeserved material riches. Schools are also the place where nobody calls their identity into question or bullies them for being different (i.e. Swedish-speaking).
For all that, I think that I have revealed some of the reasons why Swedish Finns un(der)perform and why bilingualism is not always an asset. Maybe the next speaker could tell us what could be done about that before it’s too late. Until then, thanks for listening out.
Puheen kesto: 5 min 7 sek
Arvio: * * ½. Puheessa on keskellä aika hyvä kolmijako, jossa on vielä alliteraatio mukana. Siitä muotopisteitä. Sisältöpuolella ollaan ehkä sillä tavalla heikoilla jäillä, että myös emämaa Ruotsissa koulu on ”helpompaa” ja ”heppoisempaa” kuin täällä. Kaksikielisyys tuskin sinänsä vaikuttaa koulumenestykseen tai älykkyyteen (muuten kuin positiivisesti). Kärjistykset (koskien esim. rahastoja) ja liioittelut eivät pysty vakuuttamaan kuulijoita.