Globalization? So much blather

Regarding the June 16 editorial, “Too many inward-looking students“: As a retired professor, I still teach part time at two supposedly elite institutions. Frankly I am looking forward to giving it all up so that I will no longer have to gnash my aging teeth over students who seem to cultivate blissful ignorance.

Yes, much of it is the fault of their “environment,” but then the culture of wakannai (dunno) is surely self-perpetuating. By their own admission, they do not read newspapers or even watch TV or Internet news. I implore them at the very least to check the online syllabus every week, but when I enter the classroom, those already there are absorbed in their cellphones.

When asked what the day’s lecture topic is, they sullenly shake their heads or mumble “wakarimasen,” often in a less polite form. What has recently occurred in Turkey? (“Wakannai.”) Who is the current leader of China? (“Wakannai.”) Who is the current governor of Tokyo? (“Shintaro Ishihara.”) I am not making this up.

It is easy to blame yutori-kyouiku (the “education with breathing space” policy from a decade ago), but the fundamental problem is that any sense of noblesse oblige as the price of membership in the intellectual elite has long since vanished. Being knowledgeable is simply not fashionable; in fact, it is decidedly unfashionable.

Encouraging or obliging an ever higher percentage of young people to prolong their adolescence by staying in school, when they could be learning a useful trade, has meant that most of them simply go through the motions for four years, hoping that their docility will somehow be rewarded with a comfy white-collar job. Some of the most compliant and least competent among them will wind up as professors.

All the talk about education for a “globalizing world” is sheer blather. And that at least they know!

name withheld by request

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

  • suloza

    And how can such system support one of the most advanced economies in the world? Producing ignorant young adults docile enough to join the bureaucracies of the large, money losing large Japanese companies, where their abilities will be largely wasted for most of their productive years?
    It just cannot be. The possible outcomes:

    a) Japan closes itself to the world and perpetuates this system in exclusion, until an army of futuristic technology forces it open again in 200 years
    b) the Japanese companies fail one after another, bringing down the banks who can no longer support the zombie economy they have been keeping alive
    c) some sort of real social change takes place
    d) nothing happens.

    Cast your votes, ladies and gentlemen. With ladies first, of course!

  • Thomas Turk

    And Japan giving the Yanks 5 billion$ for Afghan, when nearly broke, shows dumb politicinas, and atomic regulators allowig Fukushima to build power supplies below sea level shows etc etc. Guess they all started as dumb students.

    • paul

      Or that they were the children of rich parents who had achieved little one their own- getting along on their parents bootstraps.

  • Bob

    Just watch Leno’s street walking. The dumbed down American people he interviews when asked a question they cannot answer will utter some stupid remark and giggle rather than saying… I don’t know the answer to your question. Would you please inform me Jay? I’m 61 yrs. old and have always been on a quest for knowledge and will always be…

    • Artispoverty

      Well your quest is going to get tougher, old timer.

    • Muhammad Abbass

      You and me both Bob. I’m 50. However it seems to peter out quickly after my lot, the last of the baby boomers I guess.

  • Muhammad Abbass

    Ah yes. Very easy to understand. Since the end of the last hot stage of the World War (known as WWII) Japan has been joined at the hip with the USA, and you know what they say about lying down with dogs? You wake up with fleas. Sorry not very sympathetic and not denying we’re starting to scratch a bit here in Australia these days too.

  • Manuel J Villanueva

    China is entering in a finantial crisis that could cause a big shock in the world economy

  • Franz Pichler

    I think the “retired” professor is spot on when he basically states that to many go on to further education instead of learning a trade. However I dont agree that “some of the most incompetent” go on to become professors, that’s just nonsense. Of course some will slip their way up but my experience in the Japanese University eductaion told me that most are very good professors. A big part of the problem lies with the environment at home, kids just dont get stimulated enough. Smartphones made it even worse, dad’s all day at work, mums constantly on facebook et all and kids playing tablet games instead of reading books together, watching educational anime TOGETHER and being taught many exciting things by their mother to nurture and instill a “hunger for knowledge”… that’s the problem! To many ignorant and selfish parents out there…..

  • PlebisPlebojis

    Sounds just like Sweden to me!