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McDonald's used to help Swedish children learn English

David Landes · 28 Dec 2009, 13:52

Published: 28 Dec 2009 13:52 GMT+01:00

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“I had no idea about this,” Claes Eliasson, a spokesperson for McDonald’s in Sweden, told The Local.

Several Swedish schools have been using a set of worksheets featuring a flattering portrayal of McDonald’s to help fifth graders learn English, according to the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper.

The exercises, which one parent described as “unqualified advertising copy” praising the fast food chain, include a short text about McDonald’s operations in Britain, as well as several follow up questions.

“The first McDonald’s opened in London in 1974. The idea was to serve high quality food in no time at all,” reads the text.

Further on, the passage downplays concerns about health of fast food from McDonald’s noting that “you can take carrots with your burger instead of French fries”.

The final line of text encourages readers to have a Big Mac while watching their favourite football team.

Per Håkansson, who holds a doctorate in consumer behaviour from the Stockholm School of Economics, was outraged when he saw his son’s McDonald’s homework assignment.

“It’s a textbook example of how you change children’s knowledge, feelings, and behaviour and it’s a school assignment,” he told SvD.

“What really makes me angry is the complete lack of reflection. At the same time that a person is looking for facts in a text, they turn that information into their own. It’s an old method for getting people to change their opinion.”

According to SvD, the lesson, part of a handout produced by academic publisher Beta Pedagogik has been distributed in Swedish schools for the last four years without the knowledge of McDonald’s officials in Sweden.

“We had nothing to do with this,” said Eliasson, adding that McDonald’s generally shies away from getting involved in educational activities in Sweden.

“We have no ambitions to be a part of classroom activities in Sweden.”

Eliasson added, however, the McDonald’s does support several local educational programmes in other countries, but refrained from commenting in detail on the McDonald’s-themed lessons featured in some Swedish schools until having further time to review the material.

Story continues below…

An editor with publisher Beta Pedagogik, Bo Claesson, also denied to SvD that McDonald’s had anything to do with the worksheets, explaining that they were written by a teacher who “perhaps liked going to McDonald’s”.

“It was thoughtless and a mistake to include the text,” he told the newspaper.

He added that the publisher plans to remove the McDonald’s-related passage from subsequent versions of the worksheets distributed to Swedish schools.

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

23:07 December 28, 2009 by lingonberrie
This is the propaganda arm of the US pushing their fast-food manure onto other nations as they increase their Empire and cause obesity and ill health. Their insurance companies reap fortunes in their health insurance industry from the masses who indulge in their manure, and their fast manure food reaps even more billions.

A self-sustaining corporate America symbiosis of perpetual motion.

Italy has a slow food buffer, and more and more people are in agreement. Italy really never fell for any of the fast food manure in any case, that is/was for the tourists from the United States.

Kick this sad joke on humanity out of the Swedish schools.
01:18 December 29, 2009 by Davey-jo
"distributed in Swedish schools for the last four years without the knowledge of McDonald’s officials in Sweden."

This seems so highly improbable that it cannot be true. You cannot even whisper about McD without their legal wolfhounds swooping on you. So how can "borrow" their copyrighted material and use in schools for 4 years without them knowing? Answer: You can't ...

"“We had nothing to do with this,” said Eliasson, adding that McDonald’s generally shies away from getting involved in educational activities in Sweden.

“We have no ambitions to be a part of classroom activities in Sweden.”" They do protest too much, methinks.
03:25 December 29, 2009 by Greg in Canada
The first word in the McDonald's dictionary is :

03:36 December 29, 2009 by Davey-jo
why do I get "&#8217" whenever I copy from this site?
13:00 December 29, 2009 by Bensonradar
Interesting. Usually, this is called Social Marketing where the client influences a core audience with the intention of selling a product.

However, in this instance, it has backfired. It would be interesting to know the name and location of the teacher who "perhaps liked going to McDonald's".

Teaching children about healthy eating is one thing, putting an international food brand into the curriculum that inflames so much controversy regarding health issues is another.
14:37 December 31, 2009 by morchad
like Coca-Cola & others funding education i.e. paying a lot of money to schools to install vending machines.....get a child to buy your brand before they are 16 got them for life....its pretty sick.

Where did we go wrong? its great to make and sell products and make profit right?? but when you are strategically using methods to influence children at school all for the growth of profits for a few greedy people. The world can be a f**ked up place.
21:34 January 4, 2010 by wenddiver
Great at least they will know who Ronald McDonald is. Most of school was a complete waste of time, a kind of prison for children.

So many other falsehoods are taught, why not this one. Teachers, turning children into industrial workers, they should be ashamed.
23:34 January 5, 2010 by Da Goat
I wish Maccas would stop putting crap (additives) in there "food" !

why put preservatives in food that is supposed to be sold within minutes???

very strange look up excitotoxins on the net!

they are desperatly trying to be healthy but can't be sure they can go without the addictive additives!
11:30 January 6, 2010 by SweetBlue
@lingonberrie.... Hate Americans much? Do me a favor sweetheart and stay the hell out of North America! We might just grab you at the airport and force Big Macs down your throat!!

Haters aside.....

I am suspicious that McD's had no knowledge of the classroom material being used. IMHO, I would think they would jump on the free feel-good advertisement. If not, sue the hell out of someone for not paying royalties and "fouling the good name" of Mc Donald's. The whole situation is just so, so sad.
12:30 January 6, 2010 by The Baldchemist
Good job we are not still peddling religion so much eh? Same methods, get 'em while they don't know any difference.

Time to teach kids how to think not what!

Let's not blame the schools or even MacDonalds eh? It is surely the parents who decide? Or am I missing something here? Have we handed over responsibilty to the teachers, religion and fast food outlets for our kids education?

But then again, what happens to the ad revenues?

We should be grateful to the Americans for introducing fast junk food. At least it causes all sorts of illness and keeps the population down.
08:33 September 8, 2010 by alise
I am suspicious that McD's had no knowledge of the classroom material being used. IMHO, I would think they would jump
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