Friday, December 10, 2010

Land of no punishment

Born on December 10
King James I of Scotland
Michael Clark Duncan
Raven Symone

December 11
Fiorella LaGuardia
John Kerry
Mos Def

Japan is one of the most exoticised and misunderstood countries in the world. A large portion of this is due to Japan's insularity: physically, being a set of islands, and mentally, shutting themselves off from the rest of the world for so long- even now they're not fully 'open.'

People think that Japanese people are:

Amazingly hardworking
All skinny
All obedient
All into hi-tech gadgets

etc. (Can you think of any more stereotypes?)

Some of these are true in varying degrees. But none are as true as you think they are.

Take the obedience thing. Lots of people think Japanese people never step of out line. Ha!

Ha ha ha.
Ha ha ha ha ha.

Now that's out of my system- no, hold on-

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

K. Think I'm done.

Right, so obedience in Japan.

Two days ago, I was walking to class with the Japanese Teacher of English (JTE- In Junior High and many Senior Highs we team-teach with a Japanese teacher), when somethin came flying out of the classroom. When we got there, one of the kids was totally flipping out, kicking over desks and chairs and throwing stuff.

The entire class was in there. AND 2 teachers! Not including the JTE and the assistant JTE (yes there are 3 teachers in the classroom every time I teach at JHS.) And no one made any attempt to stop this kid. (I'm not allowed to 'discipline' which is usually great because I'm not a fan of telling people what to do, but even I would not have tolerated that.)

Eventually one of the teachers CONVINCED the kid to go next door. She talked to him for a few minutes and then came back to the classroom and started packing his things. Meanwhile, he was still kicking over everything in sight.

Then he left. Like went home, left. Without like going to the Principal or anything. From what I gather, HE decided to go home.

There is no way that situation would have flown at home, and I theorise it wouldn't fly in your countries either. When he started kicking, either a teacher or a student would have:

a. held him down
b. called for someone to help
c. smacked him with something
d. sent him to the Principal

You think Japanese people never step out of line, but the thing is if you want to there's really nothing to stop you. We Westerners know the rules, and know the consequences of breaking them. At school, we didn't break rules to avoid detention or lines or trips to the Principal. Or we broke the rules in secret. Or if we happened to be really, really angry and flip out, it was at the stage where we no longer cared what they did to us.

In Japan, they 'guilt' you into following the rules. Everyone is thinking what a bad Japanese you are for breaking the rules. But no one will say it. Eventually, you get to a point where you realise that no one will stop you, whatever you do. And if you don't care what people think, you can do whatever you want.

It's not just in the case of 'being bad', it's why lots of things happen. Like the nurse room kids- the kids who gave up on being in the mainstream classroom and spend every day in the nurse room. It's perfectly normal. And all the teachers act like they're not supposed to be somewhere else. Even at schoolwide events, they'll be with the School Nurse setting up mikes or something and not singing with 'their' class choir or running in the races. They've given up on being 'real students' and no one is going to stop them.

There isn't a deeper meaning to today's post.

I'm not sure if you wanted the real Japan, but sometimes you're gonna get it.

PS, headed to Tokyo tomorrow for meetings and SCBWI Tokyo Creative Exchange.


Joanna St. James said...

oh my world that kid is hilarious, somebody get him a shrink.
Stereotypes exist for a reason but most of the time can be untrue, in the japanese case this is the face they have decided to show the rest of the world while remaining closed. I know they have their villages, I know they have people who have never seen a computer.
The last time I stereotyped I was a teen all I saw in American movies was hollywood and rodeo drive, i thot all of america was going to have excellent shopping and beautiful homes, boy was I wrong, my friends and I went on a shopping trip and could hardly buy anything because we were so disappointed in the image we built in our heads,

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

We don't know what we haven't experienced.
I think a lot of people believe they are all into anime as well.

Clarissa Draper said...

Hm, that could be why my mother is the master guilt causer.

Lovy Boheme said...

I heard a rumor that they are all jedi masters. Confirmation, please?

Marsha Sigman said...

I would be in favor of smacking that kid with something but I realize that's frowned upon everywhere. But to just let it happen, that disturbs me. And those kids in the Nurse Room, they need to at least be encouraged to go back into regular classes.

I realize every culture is different and there are pros and cons to each one though. You always tell it straight, and I really admire that!