TABLE OF CONTENTS
(Click on any title below to page down to the article of interest)
By William Holden
INTERNATIONAL CONSCIOUSNESS TOWARDS THE ISSUES GROWS
AGAINST THE PERPETUATION OF BAD SCIENCE
By Shin-ichi Terashima
By Joseph Tomei
WHAT WE SHOULD BE AIMING FOR, PART ONE
By William Holden
HOW DOES YOUR SALARY MEASURE UP?
Courtesy Michael "Rube" Redfield
WHAT WE SHOULD BE AIMING FOR, PART TWO
Courtesy Andy Muller and Thom Simmons
A LITTLE BREAK FROM THE ROUTINE
Trends in employment practices at Japanese colleges and universities:
Longer-term effects of the introduction of the Sentaku Ninkisei system
By Wm R. Holden III
Dept of Foreign Languages, Hokuriku University
As is by now well known (cf. previous PALE Journals at Archive, and Fox et al, The Language Teacher August 1999), Monbushou, the Japanese Ministry of Education (MOE), in 1992 proposed instituting a system of fixed-term renewable contracts, known as sentaku ninkisei, in national and public universities. This was explicitly a bid to shake up a sector of the eduction system which was seen as out of touch and underproductive. While the plan was intended to eventually apply to all instructors, foreign educators have for the most part been among the few to have felt its impact. The vast majority of Japanese educators (sentaku ninkisei has to date been selectively applied) receive automatic tenure when hired in the form of an open-ended appointment, while foreign instructors are still most frequently hired on fixed-term contracts renewable (or not) at the pleasure of their employer, a trend which seems likely to continue for the foreseeable future. This paper seeks to highlight and explain several trends in employment practices for Japanese and foreign instructors since the advent of sentaku ninkisei in 1992.
Despite the fact that, with the passing of the Sentaku Ninkisei Law by the Japanese Diet in 1997, both public and private universities have theoretically become free (barring stipulations concerning the hiring of university presidents and chancellors) to employ who they choose for as long as they choose, a search of two of the primary sources of Japanese language information on university English faculty positions, Eigo Kyoiku (Taishukan Shoten) and Gendai Eigo Kyoiku, (Kenkyusha Shuppan, ceased publication 1998) from 1992 to the present failed to turn up a single advertisement in which there was a stated a term limit or a renewable contract offered for a candidate of Japanese nationality. A review of the ads in these journals failed as well to yield any advertisements seeking applications from native-speaker-equivalent or foreign faculty, nor were there indications that those not of Japanese nationality might apply.
Another source of Japanese-language academic employment information is the National Center for Science Information Systems Career Information Service (NACSIS) website (http://nacwww.nacsis.ac.jp/directory/index-e.html), whose stated purpose is:
"to gather and provide information on advertisement of posts in Japanese universities. NACSIS-CIS contains information on advertisement of posts (assistants, lecturers, professors, etc.) in Japanese universities, junior and technical colleges, and inter university research institutes, etc... Please contact each university, if you would like to inquire about the application. Almost all the information come from universities is written only in Japanese, and it's not allowed us to translate it". [sic]
Twenty-six of 380 positions listed by NACSIS were in departments of foreign language, literature, linguistics, cultural or intercultural studies, e.g. the type of departments most likely to hire foreign faculty. A breakdown of these 26 positions indicates that 14 vacancies existed at private colleges and universities, while 12 posts were vacant at national and public universities. None of the positions advertised stipulated a specific term of employment, though a large percentage specified minimum or maximum ages. In addition, a number of advertisements (Dokkyo U, Yamanashi U, Gifu U, U Aizu (computer science) Aoyama Gakuin U, Utsunomiya U) clearly stated that nationality was not an issue, though the majority of these schools' ads indicated that candidates were expected to speak Japanese at least well enough to discharge their professional responsibilities.
Unfortunately, several of the ads found on this site (Professor of French at Dokkyo U; English Language Specialist (or else Japanese-speaking part-time foreigners!) at Sophia U; Professor of Spanish at Waseda U; and Professor of Chinese at Toyo U) were openly discriminatory in that they stated that candidacy would require Japanese nationality.
On the other hand, the assumption implicit in most ads is simply that the applicant will be either Japanese or capable of reading and writing the language. Any reasonable person applying for a tenured position at a Japanese university should expect such to be the case. Readers are left to assume, from the way in which the advertisements are written, that the same employment and tenure conditions would pertain regardless of nationality. Whether this is the case, and Japanese-speaking foreign academics are applying for these posts to find a tenure track, a separate and unequal track, or no job at all, is an open question.
The combined number of advertisements carried each year in the two journals mentioned above never exceeded the number of positions vacant ads carried by The Language Teacher (TLT), the primary source of English-language information for non-Japanese college and university educators, nor did the number of positions on offer at the NACSIS site significantly exceed the number of positions advertised in TLT. While the majority of foreign language, linguistics and literature faculty at Japanese universities and colleges are, quite naturally, local citizens, the disproportionate number of positions which can be assumed to exist at various universities, coupled with the comparative dearth of "positions-vacant" advertisements in language-specialist publications both in print on the internet leads one to wonder: What other sources of information about university posts exist, who is privy to such information, and does the hiring process for Japanese candidates differ significantly from that for foreign candidates?
From the 1992 enactment of this law, the ratio of ads carried monthly in TLT carrying a stated term limit versus those not doing so is as follows:
1992: 20 positions offered
3 tenured positions (1 in the US for a Japanese national) at private universities
1 "possible tenure track" position, at a private university
3 positions whose terms were unspecified (including two foreign universities in Japan.)
13 term-limited positions
1993: 19 positions offered
2 tenured positions both at private universities
4 positions whose terms were unspecified
13 term-limited positions
1994: 18 positions offered
2 tenured positions at private universities
7 positions whose terms were unspecified
10 term-limited positions
1995: 23 positions offered
2 tenured positions at private universities
11 positions whose terms were unspecified
10 term-limited positions
1996: 13 positions offered
1 tenured position at a private university
6 positions whose terms were unspecified
6 term-limited positions
1997: 19 positions offered
3 tenured positions; 2 at private universities, 1 at a national university
1 "possible tenure track" post, at a private university
5 positions whose term was unspecified
10 term-limited positions
1998: 23 positions offered
2 tenured positions at private universities
2 "possible tenure track" posts at a private university
1 "possible tenure track" post at a third private university
7 positions whose terms were unspecified
11 term-limited positions
What is perhaps most interesting about the trends evident in the above advertisements is that they dispel the popular perception among foreign faculty that the number of jobs, and particularly the number of tenured jobs, has declined dramatically; nor does it appear to be the case that the number of part-time positions available is increasing at the expense of full-time positions. What is rather surprising is the fact that since 1997 (when the 1982 directive, the Special Measures Act for the Appointment of Foreign Staff at National and Public Universities (kokuritsu mata wa kouritsu no daigaku niokeru gaikokujin kyouin no ninyou tou ni kansuru tokubetsu sochihou) governing term-limited employment for foreign faculty was effectively superseded by the Sentaku Ninkisei law--so that any educator anywhere regardless of nationality or pubic/private job status could receive term limitation or tenure) the number of tenured and tenure track position advertisements placed by private universities for foreign professors in TLT has constituted between 20 and 25% of the annual total, while the number of positions specifying a term limit versus those not specifying a term limit has roughly evened out. In previous years, the number of ads specifying a term limit had in almost every case exceeded the number where terms were unspecified.
However, it is impossible to tell from the advertisements alone whether this is more obfuscation or an encouraging trend; in either case, it is little comfort for instructors who have already lost their jobs or are still on limited-term contracts. Yet the issue here is less the number of tenured or non-tenured set-asides for non-Japanese faculty, more the continuation of a practice which bars qualified candidates from gaining tenured employment on the basis of their ethnicity or nationality. As the situation currently stands, based on the evidence of seven years of advertisements for instructors, Japanese scholars still qualify for tenure by dint of their nationality; equally-qualified Japanese-speaking foreign academics must either wait through a probationary period, or take up employment under less favorable conditions than their native-born peers.
The sentaku ninkisei drive has, depending on one`s perspective, been successful -- a full 85% of all "foreign professors" (gaikokujin kyouin or gaikokujin kyoushi) employed at national and public universities since 1982 have been employed under some version of term limitation. This is despite the fact that the abovementioned 1982 gaikokujin kyouin directive was, at least theoretically, implemented to facilitate the hiring and retention of foreign faculty (Hall, p.88) by lengthening the terms and not explicitly ruling out tenure. The loophole was, and remains, that the interpretation of the nature of the contract is in the eye of the employer, while the MOE is in a position to influence these employers` interpretations without having to take formal responsibility for them. This is the same loophole exploited by the 1992 Monbusho directive regarding employment of foreign faculty. As of 1998, only 66 non-Japanese citizens held tenured positions at Japanese national and public universities (ibid, p. 95). Thus, foreign educators, unlike their Japanese counterparts, can be terminated through contract non-renewal and replaced with younger (or cheaper) instructors, who will quickly in turn be replaced by yet other "full-time part-time" instructors. This is not a theoretical construct: there have in fact been over 40 cases of questionable or prejudicial firings of long-term foreign teachers over the past five or six years. New cases, like those within The Prefectural University of Kumamoto (cf. PALE Journals Dec. 98 and Apr. 99), continue to draw attention.
The future bodes worse: The Fourth Advisory Report of the University Advisory Council (dai yon-ki daigaku shingikai toushin/houkoku-shuu) published in November of 1995, proposed the imposition of a contract employment system on foreign educators employed at private universities (over which MOE currently has less mandate) as well, coupled with a system of sentaku ninkisei for their Japanese colleagues; the panel, however, recommended at the same time that the means of implementation again be left to the discretion of each institution. Nevertheless, the writing is clearly on the wall, and the creation of yet another separate and unequal track is afoot.
Only one Japanese university, Hokuriku Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, has to my knowledge openly stated that Japanese faculty are on an "up or out" performance-review-based tenure system, with 10 years for associates to reach the rank of professor or move on. This, however is apparently open to interpretation or manipulation. The status of the full-time foreign faculty, however, still varies from person to person; several instructors are on renewable contracts, and others on specified-term contracts. Like most other national universities, there are two systems in place. Since the introduction of this system, Hokuriku JAIST has had difficulty attracting faculty and researchers, has failed to secure an adequate number of positions at other universities for its own graduates and post-doctoral researchers, and has, ironically, begun planning to import more foreign researchers and professors on term-limited contracts to make up for the shortfall in applicants. This is particularly ironic in light of the fact that this was the flagship institution chosen by the MOE for the introduction of sentaku ninkisei for Japanese faculty. If this is the MOE`s idea of how the system should work, it has--wittingly or not--put into practice what amounts to yet another parallel system of institutionalized discrimination based on nationality, in which foreign academics are used as temporary replacements until qualified local candidates can be found.
Sentaku ninkisei, if eventually applied to all university faculty in Japan as initially proposed in November 1995, is still far more likely to have the effect of encouraging the retention of local faculty while rendering foreign faculty dispensable. If implemented in the same fashion as it has been thus far, it will place Japanese scholars on a less secure tenure track while putting their foreign colleagues on notice that their services are no longer required. Foreign staff on contracts at national universities will be the first to go, followed by foreign instructors at private universities placed on contracts under the new sentaku ninkisei system, followed by their Japanese colleagues at public, then private, universities. Private universities able to reduce their retirement and pension obligations through forced attrition and the use of part-time or temporary faculty are those which will reap the greatest financial rewards. Universities which continue to extend tenure will in doing so place themselves at a competitive disadvantage in a market where the student will soon be able to choose among universities. Japan`s citizens and government will eventually be forced to bear the increased social and economic costs this policy engenders. Recent changes in the Labor Standards Law, making it much easier for corporations (here read: universities) to absolve themselves of obligations to their employees regardless of nationality, will exacerbate this situation, complicating or denying dismissed instructors' attempts to win compensation.
While the trend toward the elimination of full-time, tenured teaching positions and the use of part-time or temporary teaching staff is by no means limited to Japan, the difference is that the economic issues driving this cost-cutting overseas have, accidentally or not, occurred across racial lines. The systematic targeting a particular group of educators for dismissal based on their age and/or nationality, and the elimination through sudden and systematic non-renewal of contracts of senior foreign faculty may well be unique among developed countries. While other nations which practice institutionalized discrimination against foreign academics (such as Italy) have been the target of complaints, protests and lawsuits, surprisingly few foreign educators in Japan have lodged similar complaints or joined the ranks to support those seeking a redress to their grievances.
However, there are some supporters of the systems both past and present who indicate that there should be no surprises here. Cases have been made by both foreign apologists and Japanese educators that foreigners should have known all along that they are "visitors" in Japan by the way in which they have been treated, that they are here at the whim and leisure of the host country, that Japan is not a country of emigration, that foreigners--as the most visible and vulnerable--were simply and predictably the thin end of the sentaku ninkisei wedge, that foreign instructors are in some fundamental way "less qualified" than their Japanese counterparts, that the number of Japanese graduates of overseas masters degree programs have the requisite skills and experience and constitute a labor pool large enough to meet the staffing demands of Japan`s colleges and universities, or that, if one doesn`t like it, one should vote with one`s feet. Rather than tilt at windmills, one may simply ask which of these positions is not at its heart implicitly discriminatory.
And then there are the conspiracy theories. Speculations on reasons why the sentaku ninkisei system was adopted have included a desire by the MOE to extend its political and ideological control over more systematic territory, the desire to curtail the influence of an intellectual class that is perceived as westernized and thus suspect, an antiquated witch-hunt for subversives in the universities, resurgent nationalism, deepening economic recession, the first faint stirring of popular political dissent, the dictate that descendants of the victims of Japan`s recent colonial past be kept out of positions of influence, the desire to protect the Japanese university system from scrutiny or comparison, the ability of Japanese-speaking foreign professors to portray an image of Japan to students as well as to the outside world which contradicts the sanitized "official" view, jealousy on the part of government officials who view the lives of their academic colleagues (recall that national and public university faculty are, like bureaucrats, civil servants) as insulated and cushy, or simply the unwillingness to pay retirement benefits to foreigners when the government will soon be hard-pressed to meet its pension obligations to its own citizens. While Occam`s Razor has grown famously dull in Japan, it may well cut straight to the last of the above arguments: Japanese institutions simply do not feel obligated to reciprocate where foreigners are concerned.
However, there is room for improvement should non-Japanese academics become better informed. Despite claims by many schools that foreign instructors can only be hired on one-year rollover contracts, and despite the number of advertisements which carry the caveat that "hiring policy conforms to MOE guidelines", all Japanese institutions of higher learning had in fact been empowered under the 1982 gaikokujin kyouin directive to hire whom they like (qualifications pending Ministry of Education approval), at whatever status they like (other than top-level posts in the national and public universities). Although this decades-old law was rarely interpreted to permit tenured foreign educators, the 1997 Sentaku Ninkisei Law, as was stated above, makes it clear that job-statuswise anything goes now for anybody anywhere, which includes foreigners as full-time, tenured educational civil servants. Any school official who claims otherwise (i.e. something like "foreign nationals by law may not be employed permanently in Japan as national civil servants, only on a renewable-contract basis") is simply in error.
Still, the 1997 law is merely a fig leaf to further cover up the already systemwide MOE reach through administrative guidance (gyoseishidou). The best example of the power of this policy tool is what is referred to as the "Great Gaijin Massacre" of 1992. This is where the MOE demanded that senior foreign faculty at national and public universities be replaced with younger faculty, or summarily terminated if they had reached the top two pay grades. This "guidance" was delivered to the national and public universities by phone, avoiding written records in order to preserve its ability to deny that such guidance had ever been given. The existence of a hand-written copy of the directive taken, down by a diligent employee at a university where one foreign instructor was later dismissed, produced the "smoking gun", which demonstrated not only that the MOE wished to avoid blame for this policy but also that they wished to obscure their own role by placing responsibility for its implementation on the shoulders of colleges and universities.
Despite the clearer possibilities of tenure implicit in the 1997 law, the chilling effect that gyoseishidou can have is clear. The power of MOE to lean on universities is undiminished, while the power of the university to dismiss faculty is strengthened. To see the system in practice, one need only look at the number of foreign faculty (estimates in Hall, 1998) who have been dismissed since 1992 without just cause and denied redress or compensation, or at the number of current advertisements for employment of native-English-speaking university faculty which stipulate (or purposely obscure) a term limit.
Moreover, it is easy to see the threat this policy represents from the perspective of a public-sector Japanese academic. The precedents for foreign labor for employment as temp staff in the national and public universities are currently being made, and with it the potential destruction of an intellectual class by removing the assurance that one will be able to earn a living and support oneself and family through a career in the national or public university system. Similar moves by the government toward companies in the private sector would meet with incredulity and harsh union retaliation. One cannot help but wonder what the reaction would be if a government agency in a western country were to begin examining the credentials or experience of a certain sector of its own employees--employees whose credentials had previously been vetted and who had been hired by that organization itself--and determining on the basis of age or economic cost (moreover, in our case, ethnicity or nationality coupled with age) which employees were qualified to remain in their jobs.
Several things have become increasingly clear over the last five years. The first is that the government, in particular the MOE, will not respond meaningfully without external pressure. Despite the much-heralded start in 1982, MOE from 1992 made sure that this directive producd no changes on the ground. The 1997 law provides no assurances that this will change.
The second is that the Japanese courts, which have in the past been of limited assistance to victims of nationality-related job dismissals, are no longer going to be a vehicle for social change, if ever they were seen as such. Instructors at public-sector universities are almost completely without legal recourse, for when contracted they can be fired the same as any part-time laborer, yet as civil servants they will be denied any rights under the Japanese Labor Standards Law (roudou kijun hou). Hence legally they will be considered "full-time part-time". Instructors at private institutions are protected under the roudou kijun hou, though anyone who signs a contract (with or without a term limit) has probably sealed his or her own fate.
The last and perhaps the most difficult issue is the nature of the MOE, in my opinion an entrenched, self-referential, techno-nationalist bureaucracy which is incapable, despite its purported espousal of internationalization, of conceiving of, let alone try to encourage, a heterogeneous, pluralistic society. One can only hope that similar sentaku ninkisei standards will eventually be applied to the employment tenure of the non-elected bureaucrats responsible for shaping government educational policy.
As long as the educational role of the university in this society remains undefined while the fundamental goal of secondary schooling remains entrance into a university, Japan will face a conundrum. As long as the goals of the education system remain at odds with both socio-economic reality and the aspirations of society, there will be friction, tension and confusion in the schools. While it has been clear for at least a decade that educational reform, particularly the liberalization of public school K-12 education, should be made a national priority, the MOE has resisted changing what it already controls and instead sought to induce change, both literally and figuratively, from the top down. A concrete, transparent and equitable system of employment and peer or faculty review of research, classroom performance and student evaluation for tenure, would be laudable step toward addressing some of the problems that plague Japan`s universities, and would bring employment practices into line with the policies of universities in many other countries. Unfortunately, this is not even on the MOE's radar screen, and it seems that the policies instituting term limitation, first with foreign educators and now across the board, has had the intended effect of rendering it increasingly difficult for non-Japanese to find secure employment in Japanese universities. Thus foreign academics have been the first, and certainly not the last, victims of this policy.
Readers interested in further information regarding the issue of institutionalized discrimination against foreign educators in Japan may refer to the following sources:
On the internet:
PALE-Journal of Professionalism and Languge Education. V.1 No.1 (1995) - from 1998 to the present available at Archive
William R. Holden III works for the Department of Foreign Languages in Hokuriku University.
RISE OF INTERNATIONAL CONSCIOUSNESS TOWARDS THE ISSUE
TESOL RESOLUTION ON DISCRIMINATION WORLDWIDE
AGAINST FOREIGN RESIDENT EDUCATORS
(Courtesy of William Holden)
The following resolution was passed at TESOL `99 in response to the egregiously discriminatory treatment received by foreign resident English teachers in Italy. This resolution has been covered in the Guardian, the Wall Street Journal, on CNN etc. The abuse and exploitation described herein is well documented and this phenomenon is getting an increasing amount of attention. Hopefully TESOL will address Japan's similar systematic treatment of the its non-Japanese educators in the future.
TESOL Resolution Against Discrimination
on the Grounds of Nationality
Whereas, up to 700 mother-tongue teachers of English employed in Italian universities are suffering from widespread and prolonged discrimination on the grounds of nationality, receiving different treatment from their Italian colleagues with respect to the duration of contracts, increments for years of service, maternity leave, and social security rights; and
Whereas, Article 48 of the Treaty of Rome provides for the freedom of movement of workers and the abolition of any discrimination based on nationality as regards employment, remuneration, and other conditions of work and employment; and
Whereas, The European Court of Justice has ruled twice and the European Parliament at plenary sessions has twice passed resolutions condemning illegal discriminatory practices in Italian universities regarding non Italian teaching staff; and
Whereas, these conditions and practices are common worldwide; and
Whereas, this discrimination on the grounds of nationality places a financial and psychological burden on these non-nationals and their families by rendering it difficult to sell their labor as teachers without constant and extremely protracted recourse to the courts; and
Whereas, TESOL has previously adopted resolutions regarding discriminatory practices; and
Whereas, TESOL's Vision Statement calls for a "coordinated, knowledgeable response at the international, national, and local level to issues affecting institutions that foster the development of effective human communications"; therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the membership of TESOL recommend that the Board of Directors address the issue of discrimination against teachers of English on the basis of national origins that affects the "employment and
professional lives of the TESOL membership" (Standards Objectives in the Forward Plan, revised 1999) by:
a. Recruiting support against this discrimination by searching out other like-minded organizations to take further action thereby enacting its Mission Statement that "promotes advocacy to further the profession"
b. Lobbying support against the aforementioned discrimination in appropriate governmental agencies internationally
c. Educating TESOL members regarding the issue and principles involved through various means, such as TESOL publications and web site
d. Facilitating discussion of this issue through various means, such as panels and forums.
THE PERPETUATION OF BAD SCIENCE
On Language and Japanese Rational Thought Processes
Guest Forum: Where there's no 'will' there's no way
By Shin-ichi Terashima, University of the Ryukyus
(Courtesy of The Japan Times, December 19, 1998)
Foreigners have made a point
of telling me that the Japanese seem unable to express any opinions of their own.
If that is true, how can our educators help their pupils develop an opinion-forming
faculty? The emphasis on the cram-learning of facts is undoubtedly a major weakness
in our philosophy of education. Memorized knowledge is not in itself a vehicle
for making judgments, and an endless accumulation of information tends to become
both the means and the end of study. Thus students conclude that study is a dangerous
thing, much less valuable than getting on with a career.
The general lack of opinions means there is little discussion or intellectual leadership among the Japanese. Even university researchers tend to aim at formulating some generalized statement in their publications. This helps explain why higher education is not effective in this country. Although there are many colleges abroad suitable and ready to receive young people, most Japanese students make no effort to apply to them, because their main aim in life is to achieve high status at home. The Japanese mentality allows little room for the consideration of other intellectual dimensions, preoccupied as it is with dreams of ascent through the hierarchy.
In Japanese, there are no auxiliary verbs equivalent to the English "will" or "shall, " because there is no future tense that requires such verbal adjuncts. Traditionally, the Japanese have no intention and no point of view that needs to be expressed in terms of a future tense. They see their aims in a real or immediate form.
"It is the way of the world that . . ." ("Yononaka wa . .") is a classic Japanese utterance, similar to the English phrase "Generally speaking. . ." If need be, we can term this Japanese way of uttering things a "real tense" comparable to the English simple present tense. To formulate this kind of statement, the Japanese have to memorize many facts unerringly as yononaka at school. The discourse runs: "So-and-so declared such-and-such to be the case, and then some other person holds a different view. . ." and so on. Yononaka is considered the only source of truth in our society; consequently, for the Japanese, the truth is never universal. This form of discourse is used for general statements, and the hierarchical structure existing in Japan is also based on it. A lecturer does not state his personal opinion, but merely demonstrates his need to "do in Rome as the Romans do' in his own society.
So, lacking a future tense, the Japanese only believe in the present reality, "utsutsu," what is right before our eyes, i.e. something that corresponds to the present tense. If someone says anything that eliminates considerations of reality, "utsutsu wo nukasu," he is regarded as absent-minded. It is therefore not surprising that notions of future and past tend to be seen as insignificant.
By eliminating close consideration of things past and future, we see ourselves as concentrating on reality. Those still concerned about their past affairs speak about them in the present tense. Even the dead speak in the present tense when communicating through a medium. For the Japanese, the past is not a completed past, but the past surviving into the present. By the same token, the future is also present, though, of course, everybody understands that this logic is not convincing. Nevertheless, the Japanese feel very unsafe when imagining an unforeseeable future, and instead are inclined "to save money for a rainy day." They believe salvation should be achieved in the real world and that saving money is for a specific purpose.
Because everything must be stated in a tense conveying reality, people generally tend to resist talking about matters that lie in the future. They do not want to seem liars, and they will not believe a speaker who talks of another world in a future tense. Many foreign missionaries who came to this country failed for that very reason.
The Japanese are always waiting for the future to become reality in order to describe any actual change in the present tense. This is because they want to sense the atmosphere of the present, "imayou."
Another problem with the Japanese education system is that adults are inherently unable to teach rational thinking because of their own position in relation to their students. In Japanese, there is a grammatical hierarchy, and honorific terms are taught as a means of conveying deference. In fact, the grammatical hierarchy is not only a means of ensuring deference and general courtesy, but of constantly reaffirming a fixed social hierarchy. This hierarchy takes precedence over rationality. People are obliged to use "gomuri gomottomo" (yielding under protest), a practice that may be unreasonable but has to be accepted in daily life in the name of hierarchy and because it is the only way for decisions to be made in a world devoid of opinion. It follows that there is little sense of responsibility in society as a whole, which is what led to the development of a powerful bureaucratic system based on a hierarchy of superiors and inferiors.
Westerners generally believe that human beings are bound to advance from barbarism to ever-higher levels of civilization and that this constitutes human progress. They can thereby see themselves transforming future aims into reality. There is an English saying, "Where there's a will there's a way." Since the Japanese find it so hard to develop their own opinions, this proverb has to be altered in Japan to say that, in conversation, where there is no will, there is no way. The Japanese are linguistically restricted from becoming revolutionaries.
These fundamental factors should be taken into consideration whenever Japan's education problems are discussed.
Shinichi Terashima teaches In the department of physiology of the University of the Ryukyus School of Medicine.
Blame the Usage, Not the Language
By Joseph Tomei, Kumamoto Gakuen Daigaku
(Courtesy of The Japan Times, January 3, 1999)
As a linguist, I am always disappointed when someone holds misconceptions about language and what language can and can't do, especially to the extent that Professor Shin-Ichi Terashima exhibits ("Where there's no 'will,' there's no way," Dec. 19). But my feelings move from disappointment to distress when such misconceptions become the basis for recommendations of how education and society should function.
I know of no linguist who would support the view that Japanese, by virtue of the fact that they speak Japanese, are unable to discuss the future or hold a viewpoint about the future. But even when linguistics are set aside, Terashima's argument fails to withstand the scrutiny of common sense. For instance, after he begins with the common complaint that Japanese education is too fact-oriented, he then makes the astonishing implication that somehow, the students are responsible for this state of affairs. Students come to the conclusion that "study" is a dangerous thing and these students don't "make an effort" to study overseas. It is as if, the students have demanded that their teachers and the education system give them litany of memorizable facts. The last time I checked, it is the teacher who determines how a class is taught and how students are to be evaluated.
Terashima suggests that "for the Japanese, truth is never universal." Does this mean that when he teaches physiology, he teaches that the functions of the pancreas are this and this, but may change tomorrow, because he's not really sure what is going to happen? Perhaps this is where the idea arose that Japanese intestines are different and so Japan can't import U.S. beef.
Terashima's next point is that somehow, Japanese, because of the lacuna in their grammar, are more grounded in the present and this is evidenced by the failure of many foreign missionaries in Japan. I live in Kumamoto, near Shimabara, where two Christian uprisings in the 1600s were brutally suppressed. I should not have to tell Terashima that many Japanese Christians refused to renounce their religion, even after undergoing torture. Perhaps the Kyushu dialects of Japanese have some sort of future tense not permitted in standard Japanese. I'm also sure that many Buddhist scholars will be surprised to find this out, as several schools of Buddhist thought in Japanese history concerned the nature of salvation.
It is not because of some deficiency in Japanese grammar that Japan's education system has problems, but rather because of the refusal to use the language clearly. Terashima, in his use of suspect and spurious linguistic "facts" to argue for the status quo, reveals this better than any litany of facts could ever do.
Joseph Tomei is a tenured assistant professor at the Department of Foreign Languages, Kumamoto Gakuen Daigaku
WHAT WE SHOULD
BE AIMING FOR, PART ONE
Goals of Democratization at Japanese Universities
(By William Holden)
At the national level
1) Remove the gaikokujin kyoushi and gaikokujin kyouin systems and titles.
2) Abolish the practice of issuing limited term contracts solely to non-Japanese citizens.
3) Provide a fair and honorable resolution of the issues surrounding non-Japanese faculty being denied tenure or dismissed as a result of the introduction of the sentaku ninkisei system, which has since superseded the kokuritsu mata wa kouritsu no daigaku ni okeru gaikokujin kyouin no ninyou tou ni kansuru tokubetsu sochihou.
4) Introduce an open and transparent system of hiring, promotion and tenure based on clearly- stated qualifications rather than nationality.
5) An unequivocal statement by the MOE that all universities are encouraged to freely employ, without reference to nationality, the person best qualified for a particular post, under the same principles as private enterprises now operate.
At the university level
1) Democratic election (or short listing) of members of university steering committees, chancellors and department heads by the faculty. (The Japanese courts in a recent case involving Hokuriku University issued a ruling which upheld the right of Japanese private university administrations` steering
committees (rijikai) to appoint their presidents without either the benefit of a democratic vote or the consent of the faculty.);
2) Control of hiring, tenure and promotion (or short listing) by faculty committee. Implementation of a clear and reasonable process of peer review for tenure and promotion. Hiring faculty under the same conditions irrespective of nationality;
3) Appointment of qualified independent ombudsmen to oversee university administrative affairs.
The quid pro quo
1) Classroom performance evaluations of instructors by students;
2) Scholastic and research review by independent committee/peers;
3) Community service or continuing education work in addition to research;
4) Development of language ability commensurate with professional responsibilities (foreign language ability for Japanese foreign language faculty, Japanese language ability for foreigners);
5) Development of comprehensive, integrated, transparent curricula and educational policy which respond to the needs and aspirations of the students and the society;
6) Assisting students in meeting real-world needs such as obtaining qualifying certificates and seeking employment.
THIRD ANNUAL SURVEY:
"HOW DOES YOUR SALARY MEASURE UP?"
1998 Kansai Area Teacher Salary Scales
Courtesy Michael "Rube"Redfield
Osaka University of Economics
The following is the 1998 Kansai area
college teacher salary scale, complied by the Kansai Private Universities Labor
Union. The three highest paying schools are listed at the top of each table, the
thirty school average in the middle, and the three lowest paying colleges at the
bottom. The yearly salary includes all bonuses but does not include additional
sources of revenue, such as research budgets and travel allowances.
WE SHOULD BE AIMING FOR, PART TWO
A SAMPLE SURVEY
(Courtesy Thom Simmons)
What follows is
a form developed for administrators at the American Cultural Exchange (A.C.E.)
(from Andy Muller, Director, A.C.E. Language Institute, Benedictine University, Lisle, IL, <email@example.com>)
Evaluated Administrator _________________ Program ________________ Date __________
Please rate the administrator with a number from 0-4 in the blank provided.
Not applicable = 0, needing improvement = 1, adequate = 2, good = 3, and outstanding = 4.
1. Knowledgeable in area of specialization. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ____
2. Offers useful feedback on performance of others . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ____
3. Recognizes good work . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ____
4. Encourages new ideas and helps implement them. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ____
5. Respects colleagues and staff. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ____
6. Creates a professional atmosphere. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ____
7. Discriminates between issues that have far-reaching impact and those that are superficial . ____
8. Considers others' perspectives when making decisions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ____
9. Seeks out and considers all factors and variables related to a blem. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .____
10. Uses appropriate analytical and group processes to solve problems. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ____
1. Offers alternative solutions in response to feedback from others. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ____
2. Uses skill and tact in taking appropriate steps to resolve conflict . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ____
3. Places a high priority on needs and welfare of the program . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ____
4. Demonstrates high energy and enthusiasm for the task. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .____
5. Receptive to new ideas and change, yet understanding a need for stability . . . . . . . . ____
6. Projects a professional appearance. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ____
7. Clearly presents facts and ideas verbally, both in individual and group situations. . . . ____
8. Initiates activities rather than just reacting to situations. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ____
9. Performs appropriately under pressure and during opposition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ____
10. Encourages innovative ideas and solutions from others . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .____
Comments and Recommendations:
(You may type your comments to ensure anonymity. Use reverse side if necessary.)
IN PREVIOUS PALE JOURNAL, APRIL 1999, WHICH STATED ON PAGE 21:
Paul A. Beaufait, like Daniel T. Kirk above, is a Gaikokujin Kyoushi with a three-year appointment at the Prefectural University of Kumamoto. Despite his five plus years of continuous employment at PUK, he too was recently passed over for promotion to Associate Professor (jokyouju) without a verbal or written explanation. His appointment, like Dan's, expires on March 31, 2000, less than one year from now.
PAUL REPLIES (Edited): "Dan and I have just entered our sixth years as _'sennin koushi'_ at the PUK in the Administrative Studies faculty; those "five +" years are on top of three years each as gaikokujin kyoushi at Kumamoto Women's University before it went co-educational. For the record, please correct the bio-blurb job title for me when the next 'hard' issue of the PALE newsletter comes out?"
For the record, Professor Paul A. Beaufait is a Sennin Koushi at The Prefectural University of Kumamoto. The PALE JOURNAL Editor regrets the error.--David C. Aldwinckle
(Courtesy Dan Bisgaard )
I looked up the term "doublespeak" on the Altavista search engine and was rewarded with more than I could ever read - not suprising is it? Here's a bit from NASA's European rivals on spin-doctoring the Ariane-5 launch:
[Editor's Note: The Ariane 5 was a rocket that exploded on its first launch. The following is a "translation" of the press release that followed the explosion.]
"The first Ariane-5 flight did not result in validation of Europe's new launcher."
Translation: It blew up.
"It was the first flight test of an entirely new vehicle each of whose elements had been tested on the ground in the course of the past years and months."
Translation: It never blew up on the ground.
"Of an entirely new design, the launcher uses engines ten times as powerful as those of the Ariane-4 series. Its electronic brain is a hundred times more powerful than that used on previous Ariane launchers. The very many qualification reviews and ground tests imposed extremely tough checks on the correctness of all the choices made. There are, however, no absolute guarantees. A launcher's capability can be demonstrated only in flight under actual launch conditions."
Translation: It was bigger and prettier than our previous toy. But it still blew up.
"A second test already scheduled under the development plan will take place in a few months' time. Before that, everything will have to be done to establish the reasons for this setback and make the corrections necessary for a successful second test. An inquiry board will be set up in the next few days. It will be required to submit, by mid-July, an entirely independent report identifying the causes of the incident and proposing modifications designed to prevent any further incidents."
Translation: We have 6 weeks to come up with a good excuse or they won't let us blow up another one.
"Ariane-5 is a major challenge for space activities in Europe. The skills of all the teams involved in the programme, coupled with the determination and solidarity of all the political, technical and industrial authorities, make us confident of a successful outcome."
Translation: We haven't figured out which poor bastard to fire for blowing the damn thing up, yet. -
-RJ "After you try selling to NASA, this all makes sense" Johnson
Food for Thought
By Tim Newfields
If educational institutions
what sort of food would they serve?
Would most dish out tasteless slop
and dull recipes
expecting students to eat
what's on the menu
since no one was permitted to leave
til their plates were clean?
How many teachers would cook
with passion and originality?
Would they take the time
to prepare special dishes well
when most students just wanted
fast food that was clean?
How many students would feel nurtured
by the generic stuff they eat?
Would any be bold enough
to refuse to take another bite
and tell the cooks,
"This junk is made for sheep.
What's inside the stuff you're cooking?
Is there really any meat?"
Tim Newfields is an educator at the English Language Centre, Ming Chuan University, Taipei, Taiwan (email: firstname.lastname@example.org, URL http://www.geocities.com/~newfields/ivy/food/htm) .
THE PALE JOURNAL OF PROFESSIONAL ISSUES, AUTUMN 1999, ENDS