Posts Tagged collectivism

Japanese society in 2011: part 1 of 3 | 世論 What Japan Thinks

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Citizens of this collectivist nation think their fellow-citizens are not civic-minded enough and need to have more of it pushed on them.  The politicians just got handed a gift with this survey.

Note the false dichotomy of question 3, ” Given the two opinions “One should focus more on country and society” and “Satisfying one’s personal lifestyle is a more important view””, which assumes that these two options are mutually exclusive. Are they, I wonder?

Between the 20th of January and the 6th of February 2011 10,000 people aged 20 or older selected at random from residency registers from all over the country were approached for interview and 6,338 people agreed to a face-to-face interview. 53.8% of the sample were female, 7.9% in their twenties, 14.0% in their thirties, 16.6% in their forties, 17.2% in their fifties, 23.4% in their sixties, 15.7% in their seventies, and 5.4% aged eighty or older.

via Japanese society in 2011: part 1 of 3 | 世論 What Japan Thinks.

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Sex education in UK schools… and sex on the beach in Dubai

(Cartoon by mac at the UK’s (Daily) Mail Online, from Google Images ).

The recent announcement from the British government that “lessons about personal, social and health matters including sex and relationships will be compulsory in all England’s schools from ages five to 16”, which I blogged about yesterday, has created many ripples. Here’s an article today on the School Gate blog: it focusses on how this difficult subject will be taught, and by whom, pointing out that there are not enough, trained and competent teachers. A  couple of comments wonder how this was taught at Hogwarts (perhaps Severus Snape just popped in a video?)

AlphaMummy also discusses the issue, but merely points out how important this kind of education is, without asking why the government is getting involved in this and whether that is a good thing or not.

The comments list is very long, but almost all of them miss the point. The point is not whether sex education is good or bad, but who has the right to decide, and whether that person or group then has the right to decide for others and force them to accept it. Is this freedom or statism?

Out of the great many comments, I only came across one that said “This isn’t for the government or schools to decide – THE PARENT DECIDES! Each child is different, some may need the discussion earlier than others and vice versa. I’m fed up with the government – they can’t get right the tasks they are hired to handle, and butt in on the tasks they have no right to!!!!!!!!!” Interestingly, the commenter is name “Yank”; Americans were amongst the first to state the individual is sovereign and no-one has the right to force anyone to do something.

Sex is also in the headlines (the media must just be loving this) because of a British couple who were caught in Dubai having sex on the beach, and whose trial has just finished. Here’s a Time columnist’s view: they got what they deserved, and brought shame on Britain, the filthy perverts! The comments are fun.

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The nail that sticks out…

I teach a writing class, for which I have the students create blogs. I have the same group of students as in the first semester. There’s one student who showed up for a few classes, but then stopped. In a brief conversation, this student said it was difficult to “join” the class, as it was now a tightly-knit group. I was sad to hear this (creating a strong group consciousness seems important to Japanese students, even more important than actually learning anything), but I had to agree that it was so.

This same student showed up to the first few classes in the second semester, then again stopped coming. Last week, we created our blogs, but this student has not shown up for the last 2 weeks. Today, I found an email from this student, giving me her blog address. Here it is.

Despite the fact that my writing class is an English writing class, many students create a Japanese name for their blog without a second thought, and express surprise when I express surprise “Ooohhhhh! You mean, we have to use an ENGLISH blog name??” (with the unspoken suggestion of “well, why the heck didn’t you say so to begin with!”). This student has not only used a French title, but the title itself is highly significant. Do you recognize it? (It’s the title of a novel).

If not, the student’s profile will give you a hint. When I first saw the profile, I thought: Wow! Here is a kid who actually READS!! If she has really read any of those authors (even in Japanese), no wonder she feels out of place. I had a similar student a couple of years ago who read Dostoevsky, and who also felt a little out of place. I would be surprised if even one of the other students had even heard of Sade (“Yeah! I know! Sad, right? Like, unhappy!”)

Several such students appear each year. Unfortunately, many of them seem to suffer from depression and are on medication or receiving medical treatment. I wonder if there is a connection between these two facts. It doesn’t seem far-fetched to surmise that students who are unusual or not like the others will be under considerable psychological stress in this collectivist society.

(“The nail that sticks out gets hammered down” is a Japanese proverb. Also here. And a blog post and a movie on the subject. “zainichi (resident-in-Japan) Korean hero exudes the kind of spunk and soul most of his Japanese age-mates have either lost or never had to begin with”. Wow. That rings true! I want to see this movie. Have you seen it?)

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