This page is no longer being updated. Please go to http://www.debito.org/PALE/
The Japan Association for Language Teaching
Journal of Professional Issues
Professionalism, Administration and Leadership in Education (PALE)
VOLUME 4 NUMBER 2, AUGUST 1998
TABLE OF CONTENTS
(click on any heading below to scroll down to the essay of your choice)
UPDATES To Cases previously featured in PALE:
University of the Ryukyu's Timothy J. Korst loses his case by Timothy J. Korst
Asahikawa University's Gwen Gallagher stays the course in court by Gwendolyn Gallagher
WORTHINGTON, KORST, AND GALLAGHER PRESS CONFERENCE AT FCCJ, TOKYO by David C. Aldwinckle
ADVICE TO EDUCATORS IN JAPANESE HIGHER EDUCATION:
LESSONS TO BE LEARNED FROM THE ABOVE THREE CASES by David C. Aldwinckle
FYI: SALARY SCALES IN KANSAI UNIVERSITIES courtesy of Rube Redfield
PALE JOURNAL: SPECIAL ISSUE OF REVIEWS AND CRITIQUES:
Ivan Hall's CARTELS OF THE MIND by Richard J. Samuels
Savignon Interview: Presumptions towards native EFL Teachers by Rube Redfield
Is There an "RSA Way"? And if so, How Useful is It? by Chris Rockwell
The Origin of the Epithet "Japan Bashing"--the Creator's Point of View by Robert Angel
Assorted Book Reviews by Thom Simmons(click on title to scroll down to review)
Apologia , What's Luck Got to Do With it? , The Profit Zone , How to Get People to Do Things Your Way , Simple Steps to Impossible Dreams , You Can Make it Happen , For Entrepreneurs Only , Beyond Macchiavelli , NLP: The New Technology of Achievement , Reading the Japanese Mind , Benchmarking for Best Practices , Common Sense Negotiation , The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People , Dealing With People You Can't Stand , Overcoming Your Strengths
Again I have to start off with apologies. Time has a way of getting behind people who stay busy, and now another 50-page PALE Journal, dated August, is coming out late. I have no grand excuses this time so mea culpa. I'll try to do better for December, less than two months away.
Our last issue of the PALE Journal caused quite a stir, as witnessed on the internet bulletin boards which service the JALT Membership. We were even called a "hair-shirt brigade", as if we report on this sort of thing for fun or self-flagellation. Not at all. We report on employment issues because somebody has to, and nobody else at JALT seems to want to broach this hairy subject head-on.
So in trademark fashion we open with follow-ups on legal cases. Previous contributors Korst and Gallagher update their cases with two items of bad news: Tim lost his case, leaving a gaping legal loophole in the civil servant laws exclusively for foreigners. Gwen is at an impasse, having had no progress getting the courts to enforce their own legal ruling to reinstate her at Asahikawa University.
That's two strikes against foreign academics in Japan. The third strike came June 1998 at Kumamoto Kenritsu Daigaku, where a union led by non-Japanese held a demonstration to air publicly their unaddressed and ignored employment grievances. The first of its kind, the strike received coverage from The Japan Times and various other media. The JT article is reproduced in this issue of the PALE Journal.
Next, for a clean follow-through, your humble editor has taken the liberty to add a critique of these three cases, and what they mean in the long run for our employment prospects in Japan. Following is a public letter to all academics considering employment in Japan, where I offer two bits of advice:
1) If you are an educator outside Japan thinking about taking a job here, know what you are getting into or do not come.
2) If you are an educator in Japan already, don't leave. Ask for more secure employment conditions, and if rebuffed, quietly make arrangements for an academic position somewhere else in Japan.
Concluding this segment is a list of Osaka-area university salary scales. Provided for your information, so you can better evaluate your employment situation and avoid the ketchi universities.
But I waffle. Editors' privilege. Let's get into the main course of this issue, as it is surprisingly digestible fare. Devoting less than half our space to employment topics, we intead clear our plate for a special issue of REVIEWS AND CRITIQUES.
Feast away: For the soup course there is a thorough book review, by Richard Samuels, of Ivan Hall's seminal work CARTELS OF THE MIND, which discloses and discusses the systematic xenophobia and resultant exclusionism in four important Japanese intellectual fora. Following that are a salad of critiques: Chris Rockwell dices the "RSA Way" of EFL Training. Rube Redfield disgorges a semantic discussion of latent attitudes towards non-Japanese teachers found in a Savignon interview. As garnish comes a quick etymology of the term "Japan-bashing" by its very creator, Robert Angel. Tossing it all together is voracious reader Thom Simmons, who bombards us with fourteen (count 'em!) brief but meaty reviews from the recent cornucopia of "self-help" books.
Then comes dessert. Gene van Troyer gives us a mousse of fiction in his published short story, "Kayla, Lost". The cherry on top is a bit of humor, from some anonymous internet pundit, that will have you chortling every time you see the prefix "de-".
[ED'S NOTE: to save bandwidth, the webbed version of PALE does not include dessert. Sorry. Please consider subscribing to PALE (by contacting Thom Simmons at firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like the full meal in future.]
"Hair shirts" indeed. Don't tell us reading PALE is never any picnic!
Dave Aldwinckle, Editor
PALE Journal of Professional Issues
THE TIMOTHY J KORST CASE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF THE RYUKYUS, OKINAWA
LOSING MY CASE by Timothy J. Korst
(Refer to PALE Journal April 1998 for full background)
The Essence of the Decision
The Court Reasons
THE ESSENCE OF THE DECISION
My immediate apologies to those waiting for the outcome of my court petition for an injunction to keep my job. As many of you have heard per Aldwinckle's posting, I lost the decision. Although the decision was made on Friday, 12 July, I didn't receive a copy of it till the following Monday, nor have a chance to speak with my lawyer Kato until Thursday. I offer here but a brief outline of the court's reasoning.
In a nutshell, the court swallowed the state's arguments hook, line, and sinker. The court ruled that a gaikoku-jin kyoushi is a civil servant, though outside of the protection of the Civil Servant Law. Since the Labor Standards Law does not apply to civil servants, the protection offered regular laborers by this body of law is also not applicable. On a more fundamental level, the Constitution does not apply to foreign civil servants, nor does the protection offered by international treaties. [emphasis added by the Editor].
Here we have it. Four separate bodies of law offering protection to foreigners and workers, but none of it is afforded the foreign kyoushi. According to this decision, the kyoushi is apparently in a unique circumstance, occupying a position that is not protected in any way by law. In fact, the only basis in law for the position of kyoushi, and that on which this whole Court decision was based, is Article 2.7 of the Civil Servant Code, which simply allows the government to hire foreigners as exceptions.
THE COURT REASONS
The Court offered five reasons for its decision (p. 21-22, #3) regarding the validity of the one-year contract period.
1) The foreign kyoushi's contract is based on a number of laws and directives (hourei)
2) The Plaintiff consented to the terms of the contract
3) It is understood that the Civil Servant Law allows the hiring of foreigners as an exception
4) National universities have also the kyouIN method of hiring foreigners
5) A one-year contract facilitates the hiring of non-permanent (hiteijuu) foreigners
This decision restricts the rights of foreigners determined by the Tokyo High Court in the one precedent in the books: the Chong case. In that case, the High Court ruled that foreigners have the right to hold civil servant positions that are not involved in the direct exercising of political power. In such cases, the Constitution is explicitly applicable, in particular Article 14, protecting the foreign laborer against discrimination.
In the Korst case, however, the Court ruled that foreigners MAY become civil servants, but if they do, they forfeit any labor rights they would otherwise have under Japanese law. In particular, this decision makes no distinction between the type of work a civil servant may render, whether directly or indirectly involved with the exercising of political power. Rather it lumps all civil servants into one category, regardless of the work they are hired to carry out.
Another difference that I should point out between the Chong and Korst cases is that the former involves a civil servant on the local level, whereas the latter involves one on the national level. However, whether this constitutes a legal difference is unclear. Kato, though, says there is no difference and that the Chong case should be relevant to the Korst case.
My legal options are few. Although I still need to clarify some procedural matters, basically it boils down to these three.
1) File a case in regular court
If I go this route, I have to choose the venue. If I file in Okinawa, the chances are fifty-fifty that I will have the same judges as in the injunction case. Best to file elsewhere. Since the defendant is the state, it seems I could file anywhere in Japan. Timewise, it would take a couple of years.
2) Appeal the injunction ruling
In this case, my understanding is that I must file in the Fukuoka High Court, Okinawa Branch. The judges will be different, but my chances of winning are slim, Kato says. The advantage of this option, however, is that it offers a speedy route to a Supreme Court decision. I still have to check on the details.
3) File the case in the World Court
This option sounds interesting. On some level perhaps a ruling from this court would be easier to live with. Also, it offers, unlike Japan, the possibility of a class action suit, which would relieve some of the individual burden. But, according to one legal pundit, the downside is, any victory would be merely symbolic, since Japan would most likely ignore the decision. All three options are long shots.
Timothy J. Korst is currently in limbo.
THE GWENDOLYN GALLAGHER CASE AT ASAHIKAWA UNIVERSITY
STAYING THE COURSE by Gwendolyn Gallagher
For background see previous PALE Journals (V.3 No. 3. Dec 1997
and before. Not webbed, sorry)
or access http://www.debito.org.activistspage.html#ninkiseigallagher)
I was reinstated at the end of March 1997, when the first and second year English classes that I teach had already been assigned to part-time teachers. I also teach first and second year seminars, which could still be assigned at this late date [May 1998]. However, the very day following the court settlement, the university eliminated the unassigned first and secondyear seminars ON THE GROUNDS THAT THERE WAS NO TEACHER AVAILABLE TO TEACH THEM. In so doing they clearly demonstrated that they had been acting in bad faith. This was proved in July 1997 when, without consultation, discussion or negotiation, I was given notice that I would be fired at the end of the school year in March. Come March, I was.
I now found myself in what I'm told is a unique position, suing again after being fired, reinstated and fired again from the same job.
My second unfair dismissal lawsuit began before my actual dismissal, in January. This time the university offered "curricular change in the teaching of foreign languages" as the main reason for my dismissal. They refer to a proposed change, which has not yet occurred, under which the classes I teach would not be eliminated; rather they would be taught be part-time teachers. It is probable that the university would have to provide evidence of financial necessity to make this reason acceptable.The university also claimed that it was understood at the time of the settlement that I would accept being fired after one year! By whom it was understood, and how, when and why is not clear. In the total absense of any evidence of such an understanding or agreement, it is unlikely that the court will give this much consideration. Indeed, it is amazing that they dared to make such a claim, seeing that the settlement, which was negotiated by the court judges, only became possible when the university suddenly dropped their demand that I agree to such a condition.
The lawsuit continues at a scarcely perceptable pace. After January, we met in court briefly in March and again on May 18, 1998. Perhaps it is just as well that no discernable progress has been made since two of the three judges were changed (due to transfers) just before the most recent hearing. In April we also requested a preliminary ruling (karishoubun) which could restore my salary and/or status (the latter is a moral victory which would also restore my health insurance.) There has been no word on when we can expect this ruling, which took eight months in the first lawsuit.
The issues involved are these: the law states that a contracted employee has a right to expect renewal of his contract unless there is some good reason for the employer not to do so. In the first lawsuit we established that this law is intended to protect even persons of lower social value, in this case, a female foreigner. Now we are delving into what constitutes a good reason. Can a full-time employee be cast aside and replaced with part-timers where economic exigencies do not demand it?
Of course, beyond this, a broader question looms. The university had the audacity to fire a teacher without a shadow of a reason, reinstated her in order to end the unwinnable lawsuit, made up a reason and fired her again. Can they get away with this? That's exactly what we intend to find out.
Gwendolyn Gallagher is by law an educator at Asahikawa University.
ACADEMICS IN JAPAN
ACADEMIC APARTHEID UPDATE, AUTUMN 1998
PLUS CA CHANGE... Worthington, Korst, and Galagher
Press Conference at FCCJ, Tokyo
ADVICE FOR THOSE SEEKING JOBS IN JAPAN'S UNIVERSITIES
The Lessons to be Learned from These Cases
by David C. Aldwinckle
An important newspaper article came out in the JAPAN TIMES some months back. Other projects have kept me from reporting on it and its reprocussions, but I intend to redress that now. This report is structured this:
1) JAPAN TIMES'ARTICLE: "FOREIGN TEACHERS
2) WHAT IT ALL MEANS
3) A MESSAGE FOR FOREIGN EDUCATORS SEEKING A JOB IN THE JAPANESE MARKET
1) FOREIGN TEACHERS ANNOUNCE STRIKE
Union claims Japanese universities unfairly regard, dismiss foreigners
(JAPAN TIMES, Saturday June 20, 1998)
A union of foreign teachers at a public university in Kumamoto announced Friday it will launch a one-day strike against the school Wednesday for its allegedly unfair treatment of foreign staff--a strike they claim is the first among public university teachers in Japan.
"Japanese universities continue to refuse to let foreigners integrate into the university system," said Cynthia Worthington, a teacher at the Prefectural University of Kumamoto who heads the Kumamoto General Union.
Worthington, who has taught English at the university since 1993, formed the union last year with 10 other foreign staff members discontent with what they say is unfair treatment.
She claimed many non-Japanese employees--despite making a full-time commitment--are classified as "special part-time irregular foreign teachers", which means employment on a limited term and no bonuses or promotions.
"Most of the foreign teachers here are very isolated, vulnerable and terrified (of getting fired for small reasons), and there is virtually no legal protection," she said, explaining an unsuccessful series of negotiations the union held with the school.
"We decided it would be better if this all came out into the open. So we decided to hold a strike," she said during a press conference in Tokyo.
Worthington was joined by two American ex-teachers who said they were unfairly fired at other universities.
"(The foreigners) who are most vulnerable are those who invested the most in this country," said Gwendolyn Gallagher, who taught at Asahikawa University for 12 years before getting into a legal battle with her school over her dismissal.
Timothy Korst, who claimed his contract at the University of the Ryukyus was unfairly terminated in March, said he felt he was in a legal netherworld, devoid of protection.
2) WHAT IT ALL MEANS
This article is important because it provides a good survey of Japanese University employment practices.
Some background first. Skip this paragraph if this is old hat. With very few exceptions up to now, higher education throughout Japan has had a clearly-segregated hiring system--one for Japanese, one for foreigners. Until 1997, Japanese educators at any university were almost always granted tenure from day one of hiring in a full-time position--enjoying the rising pay scales, promotions, and prestige that professors in Japanese society have. However, this status has hardly ever been available for foreigners. Uniquely in the OECD, foreign employees in the National (Kokuritsu) and Public (Kouritsu) Universities, BY LAW could not be hired as full-time permanent civil servants, and thus were denied even the possibility of tenure; instead they were put on contracts on perpetual or capped renewal. Contract status made it practically impossible for non-citizens (including Japan-born ethnic Koreans and Chinese) to secure stable incomes and lifestyles as academics, and left the foreign employee vulnerable to easy dismissal should problems with interpersonal relations or budgeting arise in the school. The third tier in the university system, Private (Shiritsu, aka Watakushi-ritsu), has had more progressive hiring practices, but to this day tenured foreign faculty in Japan are the exception, not the rule.
Now the news. Over the past year two momentous changes have occurred in the Japanese higher education system. The first is the Sentaku Ninkisei (Contract Limitation) Law, passed in late 1997, which effectively says that tenure is no longer automatic--that full-time Japanese can be hired on contracts like foreigners. Conversely, there is the "Kokuritsu Mata wa Kouritsu no Daigaku ni Okeru Gaikokujin Kyouin no Nin'you Tou ni Kansuru Tokubetsu Sochihou" (see three pages of it jpegged within http://www.debito.org/blacklist.html) of early 1998, which states that foreigners can be hired for permanent positions at the National and Public Universities, same as any Japanese. The result is that ALL Japanese universities can hire under conditions--tenured or non-tenured--that they themselves determine. This enables The Ministry of Education (Monbushou) to say, "We didn't tell them to treat their employees this way. It's entirely at the school's discretion."
Although Monbushou's claim of unfettered universities from now is, in itself, debatable (with the totality of control Monbushou has over curriculum, grant, and hiring-qualification approval in all universities, as well as over budgets in the National and Public Universities), let's return to the above article and discuss implications.
I attended the above press conference on Friday, September 19, at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan (FCCJ) from 2:30 pm until well past five. There was a small press turnout: the Japan Times, Newsweek, and Tony Laszlo, a Japanese-language journalist. Chairing the conference was the unbilled Dr Ivan Hall, who gave us background and some information from his newly-published book in both English and Japanese, CARTELS OF THE MIND (reviewed below in this Journal), which deals with systematic university discrimination in a chapter entitled "Academic Apartheid".
The press conference was important because it represented all three university tiers. Worthington was from Kumamoto Kenritsu Daigaku--a Public University, Korst was from Ryukyu Daigaku--National, Gallagher from Asahikawa Daigaku--Private. Each case was important in that it was precedent-setting, exposing the new legal loopholes in an already flawed system for redresses of employment abuses.
Worthington's case matters because it showed how a university could negotiate in bad faith and thereby create a monster. After years of complaints from foreign faculty about discriminatory work conditions (to read more, see http://www.debito.org/activistspage.html#kumamotokenritsudai), including refusing to discuss the issue with a teachers' union that the university is obligated by law to meet, the university created an new employment position status, noted in the article, that was for foreigners only. This created a legal loophole--where the foreign faculty were employed at a government institution yet were not *technically* Civil Servants.
This, ironically, empowered them. By Japanese law, Civil Servants are not allowed to go on strike. But as the union was representing people who were suddenly not Civil Servants, members now became Laborers, under the Labor Standards Law (Roudou Kijun Hou), and thus could take it to the streets. Hence the unprecedented and attention-grabbing strike by non-Japanese at a bureaucratic organ.
Kumamoto Kenritsu Daigaku, at last word, still refuses to negotiate with the union, and apparently is under no compulsion to do so. Impasse.
Korst's case matters because his National University also tried to create exceptional legal status for him. Civil Servants in Japan are either hired as Normal (ippan) or Special (tokubetsu) bureaucrats. Ryukyu Dai claimed in court that Korst as a foreigner was *neither*, and thus not a Civil Servant on the same level as a Japanese national.
However, every employee in Japan, be it either the public or private sector, is legally covered by either the Civil Servant Law (Kokka Koumuin Hou) or the Labor Standards Law respectively. If Korst is a Laborer and not a Civil Servant, it would legally be much tougher to fire him. Hence, the university claimed he was a Civil Servant but only in a way that benefited his ease of firing. The regional court had to decide whether this was legally viable. AThey did in July 1998--against Korst and for the university. Their ruling was that as a foreigner, he was a Civil Servant who was not entitled to legal protection, and his assuming a bureaucratic post implied a tacit understanding of that status. In Korst's own words:
"The court ruled that a gaikoku-jin kyoushi is a civil servant, though outside of the protection of the Civil Servant Law. Since the Labor Standards Law does not apply to civil servants, the protection offered regular laborers by this body of law is also not applicable. On a more fundamental level, the Constitution does not apply to foreign civil servants, nor does the protection offered by international treaties." [excerpted from a public email, full text included from the first essay of this Journal]
He was indeed in a legal netherworld. (Read the entire case in the PALE Journal April 1998)
An exhausted and bankrupt Korst decided not to appeal (a pity because the groundbreaking laws are made in the higher courts), leaving this yawning loophole as an ambiguous and unwelcome legal precedent.
Gallagher's case in particular shows the inability of Japan to enforce its own legal rulings. Hired on nontenured contracts for 12 years at Asahikawa Daigaku, a Private University in Hokkaido, Gallagher was summarily dismissed through nonrenewal for no explicit reason, illegal under the Labor Standards Law which Private University employees are under. Taking AD to court (read the amusing legal reasoning and bald-face lying by university representatives at http://www.debito.org/activistspage.html#ninkiseigallagher), Gallagher won the case and had her position reinstated. Only to be fired once again by being offered a terminal contract--in direct violation of the court ruling for reinstatement at previous conditions. She refused to sign the contract, was then denied reinstatement, and has taken Asahikawa Daigaku to court once again.
The point is that even if the school calls the judges' bluff, the judges are unwilling to take steps to enforce the rulings they made, questioning the very efficacy of courts in the Japanese polity.
In all cases above, this press conference shows how Academic Apartheid has mutated, like a virus, to infect the legal system: to except and exclude foreigners from even legal redress of their labor rights. Short of untangling its crossed litigious wires or sending in Japan's equivalent of the National Guard (as the US did at the University of Alabama to enforce desegregation), Japan will not resolve this in the foreseeable future.
This in the face of Japan's signing the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1979, which the obligation to, quote: "undertake to respect and to ensure to ALL INDIVIDUALS [my emphasis] within its territory, and subject to its jursidiction the rights recognized in the present Covenant, without distinction of any kind" (Part II, Article 2). (see 1988 JALT article by Laszlo at http://www.debito.org/PALE498korst.html#tony
The only recourse left, if taking it to the courts or to the streets will not work, is to take it to the Internet. Inform people, particularly potential job candidates, of what's going on here in Japan. This is in a separate capsule essay, immediately following:
A GENERAL MESSAGE
SEEKING A JOB IN THE JAPANESE UNIVERSITY SYSTEM
by David C. Aldwinckle
(this repeats many points in the previous essay, but is intended as a take-home capsule message to be freely circulated around the Internet to concerned parties)
Fellow educators, be advised:
The Japanese educational job market is becoming increasingly insecure for all educators. Japanese academics are losing their job security through the slow but planned elimination of tenure by central government policy. More important, however, are the deteriorating conditions for non-Japanese in Japan. Foreign educators' employment status--never very secure due to government targeting--is becoming even more ambiguous and abusable in terms of legal rights (sounds incredible, but concise substantiation above, and reams of substantiation at http://www.debito.org/activistspage.html#ninkisei)
I'll make my point right away: Know well what you are getting into before coming to Japan and assuming a position at a Japanese university. There are pitfalls that trap all too many inexperienced people.
(For those non-Japanese educators already working in Japan, some brief advice to you from page twelve of this Journal.)
Following are some of those pitfalls, seen after several years of experience and legal cases over here, that I hope all will take care to avoid:
1) FOREIGNERS ARE USUALLY HIRED BY JAPANESE UNIVERSITIES UNDER CONTRACT. THIS IS HIGHLY DISADVANTAGEOUS. IF YOU SIGN A CONTRACT, YOUR CONTINUED EMPLOYMENT IS AT THE WHIM OF YOUR EMPLOYER. DO NOT DO THIS.
Fixed-term contracts are the norm for foreign faculty here. While the word "contract" may sound secure--more secure than none at all--this is not the case. Japanese do not have contracts; up until now Japanese receiving a full-time position have almost always been granted tenure, and from day one (meaning there is no standardized "up or out" system in Japan). This is generally still the case despite recent legal changes.
Whether or not you agree with the principle of automatic tenure, the fact is that almost all Japanese full-timers have it, and almost all non-Japanese (and this includes Japan-born ethnic Koreans and Chinese) do not. Japan's academic job market is thus segregated by nationality.
This has had adverse results on professionality and job security. Contracts have been frequently used as a means to fire foreigners only for reasons unrelated to those professional, such as reaching their forties, not being "fresh" enough, not doing as they are told, or getting too expensive for the school's budget.
This phonomenon has occurred at the Japanese government's bidding. The Ministry of Education (Monbushou) in 1991 began tacitly forcing universities to fire their older foreign faculty and replacing them with younger, cheaper foreigners. This meant that foreigners here, including the long-termers who have Japanese spouses and kids, house loans, paid-in taxes, and a nonrefundable investment in the Japanese Social Security system, were being recycled. It worked; from 1991 onwards, most older foreigners in the National and Public universities had their contracts terminated.
(again, see above #ninkisei URL for substantiation of anything unbelievable in this URL, and Ivan Hall, CARTELS OF THE MIND, reviewed below)
Contracted status renders foreigners powerless in other ways, including nonadmittance to faculty meetings, no chance for promotion, even denial of biannual salary bonuses (which means that although compared to your Japanese colleages you are getting paid more monthly, per annum your wages can drop by up to a third).
These are nationally-enforced conditions that neither your tenured Japanese colleagues in Japan or in overseas universities have to deal with.
The final nail in the coffin is Japanese law: arbitrary terminations of contract have been recently legally upheld in Japanese courts. Reasoning: if you sign a contract, the courts will assume you knew your position was only temporary.
In sum, DO NOT SIGN A CONTRACT. YOU ARE SIGNING AWAY YOUR EMPLOYMENT RIGHTS.
2) KNOW WHAT TYPE OF UNIVERSITY YOU ARE GETTING INTO.
If it is a National (Kokuritsu) or Public (Kouritsu) University, chances are that you will be hired on a contract, since that is the policy all of them have been told to have towards foreigners until 1997. Despite recent liberalizations, few are changing their policies.
If it is a Private University (Shiritsu, aka Watakushi-ritsu), there is more chance you will be given a tenured full-time position, but not much. If hiring you sight-unseen or with no connections, almost all universities will hire you on renewable contracts, while a few offer "tenure track". Almost none offer foreigners the same deal as Japanese: tenure from day one.
3) KNOW WHAT KIND OF DEAL YOU ARE GETTING INTO
As Monbushou requires universities to inform employees of employment conditions in advance, you should be told if there is a term limitation in the job advertisement. If they offer the garden-variety full-time contract, the duration is usually two to three years (though by the Sentaku Ninkisei Law they are supposed to be three years, no more, no less), renewable a fixed number of times or indefinitely (based upon the school's experience with previous foreigners).
But is some fine print. Some, mostly the National and Public, cap the age of applicant at around 35, claiming that Monbushou requests that. Others say that anything other then contracts are impossible for foreigners; working at National and Public Universities would make foreigners into Civil Servants, and tenured foreign Civil Servants are forbidden by Monbushou.
This passing of the buck to the bureaucracy, is, not to put too fine a point on it, a lie. As of 1998, the "Kokuritsu Mata wa Kouritsu no Daigaku ni Okeru Gaikokujin Kyouin no Nin'you Tou ni Kansuru Tokubetsu Sochihou" (see three pages of it jpegged within http://www.debito.org/blacklist.html), a "tsuuchi" issued by Monbushou, insists that ALL universities now have the authority themselves to determine the employment status of their foreign staff. Any employment restrictions based on race, age, gender, nationality, or anything else unrelated to educational qualification is purely self-imposed by the university. If questioned about these restrictions, Monbushou will deny any involvement (as it always has to diplomatic channels when Ambassador Mondale was still here).
In sum, avoid contract positions if you want a secure job.
As for "tenure track":
4) DO NOT TRUST PROMISES OF TENURE VIA "TENURE TRACK POSITIONS"
Tenure tracks, which last for three years and up, effectively put you through the same probation period as a contract. "Probation" might sound like a normal screening process if there was a standardized "up or out" tenure deadline. But there is none in Japan. In practice, few tenure tracks have actually ripened into tenure. Common university tactics to avoid it have been 1) extending the 3-year probation period at the last minute, or 2) making life rough enough so that the faculty member leaves (as happened to Nuckolls at the International Christian University. See http://www.debito.org/blacklist.html#kiristutokyoudai).
To see if tenure is likely at your institution, ask them how many tenured foreigners they have. If none, or only one or two tokeners, chances are that you will not get it. Do not think yourself exceptional.
Even if this sounds too bad to be true, be it known that the outcome of recent court rulings here indicate no real legal deterrent to employment abuses. Let's turn to matters of redress:
5) DO NOT TRUST PROMISES OF EQUAL TREATMENT AS NATIVE STAFF, BECAUSE YOU, AS A FOREIGNER, DO NOT HAVE LEGAL RECOURSE TO REDRESS BROKEN PROMISES
It is public record that the firing of people on contract positions in National and Public Universities have always been upheld by Japanese courts (cf Korst Case). Worse yet, the precedent in the Privates (cf Gallagher Case from page three of this Journal) is that even if, after years of litigation, a court rules in your favor, the school can reinstate you and then fire you all over again. The result is that universities can do what they like to non-citizens; Japanese courts either will not rule in your favor, or will not enforce their rulings.
You might think you could, as the ultimate resort, take your case to the streets. In a Private University you could, as you are technically a Laborer (under the Labor Standards Law). However, if you are employed in a National or Public University, as a Civil Servant it would be *illegal* for you to, say, go on strike (for a case where a strike did happen see Kumamoto, previous essay).
Or you can form a union. It's surprisingly easy in Japan. See PALE Journal April 1998 to find out how and what effect it had.
But I'm jumping the gun. The point is that if you want to protest, you will have your work cut out for you in getting your grievances even listened to, let alone addressed, by established negotiating channels.
6) KEEP IN MIND INCENTIVES: THE BOTTOM LINE FOR JAPANESE UNIVERSITIES THESE DAYS IS COST
Some demographics: It is a well-recognized fact that the number of Japanese students, due to the declining birth rate, is declining by percents per year. There is impact already; already many Junior Colleges (Tanki Daigaku) and specialty schools (Senmon Gakkou) are folding or being absorbed into their mother universities. With fortunately very few exceptions, these places cannot fire tenured Japanese, so they have no way to reduce excess staff but to wait for the Emeriti to retire, or just not tenure new entrants.
Now for some economics: It is cheaper for the school to ease out their expensive long-timers and hire younger, fresher, cheaper faculty in their staid. Because the school can if they are on contracts, foreigners are the first to go. Hence to a Japanese university, a non-Japanese employee is nothing more than an expendible work unit, so don't expect any differently no matter how many faculty friends you cultivate. There is little precedent for tenured non-Japanese in Japan, and there is certainly no economic incentive for them to create it now.
Let's not mince words:
7) I DO NOT RECOMMEND YOU WORK IN JAPAN ANEW AS AN EDUCATOR
If you want to come here on a lark for a few years, I understand. Japanese universities will welcome you as a pigeon to be plucked. You will get different pay scales, more classwork, less (or no) say in school affairs, than the natives. You do as they say, you'll probably have a good time, but your life is not your own; you'll have to leave when they tell you to.
But if you want to come here and put down some roots with your spouse and kids, I say forget it. You'll either have to be well-informed about things around you, or get lucky. I recommend you speak good (not rudimentary) Japanese so you can negotiate on your own behalf; you CANNOT rely on your Japanese colleagues to work in your best interests, because precedence dictates they will not alienate their native colleagues and Monbushou to defend an uppity "guest worker".
I will be even franker: The Japanese University system is for foreign faculty, more often than not, a racket. Your coming here will only enable the school to substitute a fired long-termer with a neophyte, and thus perpetuate the cycle. Your arrival, I'm sorry to say, will in fact weaken the bargaining position of those already here. For our sake as well as your own, I recommend you do not come.
8) IF YOU DO, ALWAYS SETTLE FOR TENURE FROM DAY ONE OF EMPLOYMENT--NO CONTRACT, NO TENURE TRACK.
It's time for foreigners to get wise and demand better employment conditions. Here's how:
9) KNOW MORE ABOUT THE PARTICULAR SCHOOL YOU ARE INTERESTED IN:
To shift fortune in your favor a bit, I have taken the liberty to create a Blacklist of universities who discriminate against employees on the basis of nationality, and a Greenlist of those who do not. Check to see if the university you are interested in applying to is here.
http://www.debito.org/blacklist.html and http://www.debito.org/greenlist.html
In terms of employee treatment and progressivity towards people with differences, Japanese universities, in a system centralized under an all-powerful ministry intransigent towards change, are probably the worst in the OECD. It hasn't changed much for the better, and defeated expectations, for a rich country to be more open-minded, have certainly made it worse.
If you as an educator want a position abroad, I say go somewhere other than Japan. If, however, "The Land of the Rising Sun" is really what you have your sights set on, that's your decision. But don't say we didn't warn you.
Now, to address the other side of the fence:
A MESSAGE TO NON-JAPANESE EDUCATORS
ALREADY WORKING AT JAPANESE UNIVERSITIES
by David C. Aldwinckle
If you are already in an insecure employment situation--and statistically most of you are--as you can see above there is not much legally you can do about it. Anyway, here are some tidbits of advice that may be of use.
1) DON'T EVER SIGN ANYTHING
Tenured Japanese never sign anything. Neither should you. If you are currently on a contract, either request to be tenured, and if the school refuses, quietly make preparations to find another school that will. Any university, and I do mean ANY university, is now empowered to offer it to anyone, and refusal is a self-imposed restriction.
I understand they have you as an employee over a barrel, but think about it: it's worth the risk to push. There is too much riding on this--your professional livelihood, your family's welfare, your nonrefundable investments in the nenkin system, and your future in Japan--to be left at the mercy of employers that are not offering you the same job security as fellow Japanese.
Use common sense. At least consult a lawyer when facing a new contract. You wouldn't sign a property contract or a loan form in your country of birth without doing so, so why should you do the same in this situation? If they get your signature, they get all your legal employment rights. Period. Because they can make your contract terminal--meaning refuse not to renew it--at any time.
2) IF ALREADY TENURED, WATCH FOR PEOPLE PULLING FAST ONES
To deal with the drop in the student body, Japanese universities are now consolidating their deadwood departments, and Monbushou is demanding all schools eliminate their Liberal Arts Departments (Kyouyou bu) on the grounds that their fields are too vague. A common trick is for the university to rename the department and trick tenured people into signing contracts for it--effectively surrendering their tenure. Then the employer can rationalize deadwood out of the university in a few years by refusing contract renewal. And, as seen in recent cases cited above, there is nothing any court in the land can do about that.
Most Japanese know what's going on and refuse to sign. Foreigners, often lacking sufficient Japanese language abilities or overtrusting the goodwill of their superiors, are not so canny. Watch out and, again, don't ever sign anything.
As tenured equals, if your Japanese colleagues won't sign, why should you?
3) YOU WANT TO NEGOTIATE? CONSIDER UNIONIZING
I know this might sound like leftist claptrap to many of the Americans recalling George Meany or Jimmy Hoffa, but unions are not all that unusual. Unionizing is what people do all over the world to protect employment rights--Japan included (cf. end-Meiji and Taisho Era, and contemporary annual shuntou). Go down to any major Japanese park on May 1 and see.
In fact, union-style negotiations are grounded in Japanese culture. Don't forget you are in a society that respects, in a tete-a-tete, group activity more than solo efforts. Moreover, according to Japanese law, as an individual you will remain powerless if you do not form or join one. Because alone, your employers are not legally obligated to talk with you. To a union body they are.
Forming a union is not all that difficult to do. See http://www.debito.org/PALE498korst.html for more.
Joining one is also not difficult. See http://www.debito.org/blacklist.html for some links to labor unions.
4) IN THE FACE OF ADVERSITY, DON'T GIVE UP AND PACK UP. PUSH
I do not recommend you leave Japan. In my opinion that is the cowardly way out. You should stay here and push for your rights and equal employment status. Your leaving only clears the way for neophyte foreigners to come in and perpetuate the cycle. Find a place out there that offers better conditions. Sounds simplistic, but they are out there; see Greenlist above. For those that refuse to, see Blacklist above.
But since neither the schools nor the courts are going to help us, things are not going to improve unless we as educators use the only real option open to us--the option of "choice". Know the pitfalls, become more choosey about employment conditions, and vote with your feet. You can try entreaty, but without the potential of abstinence you aren't going to have many bargaining chips.
As they say in the US, the way to a better job is:
Get a job,
Get a better job,
Repeat as necessary.
For most of you out there, it is necessary. Become better informed, seek improvements, and help Japanese universities come around to accepting true internationalization of their faculties, with foreigners employed on an equal, tenured basis as their native colleagues.
David C. Aldwinckle is a tenured instructor at a Hokkaido university. His writings on employment issues may be found at http://www.debito.org/activistspage.html#ninkisei
1997 Kansai Area
Teacher Salary Scales
courtesy Michael "Rube" Redfield
Osaka University of Economics
The following is the 1997 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.
[Ed's Note: these salary scales apply to Japanese (and assumedly non-Japanese) tenured faculty.]
Table 1. These figures are for 24 year old, single instructors (joshu).
Salary Scale / University name / Yearly salary in Japanese yen
# 1 Kobe Gakuin University 6,554,438
# 2 Osaka Electo-Comuni. U. 5,615,700
# 3 Otemon Gakuin U. 5,578,020
23 School Average 5,021,548
# 3 Osaka Tech/Setsunan U. 4,597,880
# 2 Osaka Women's Gakuen JC 4,480,226
# 1 Hagoromo Junior Col. 4,131,600
Table 2. These figures are for 30 year old Assistant Professors (koushi), married, with one child.
Salary Scale / University name / Yearly salary in Japanese yen
# 1 Kobe Gakuin University 8,972,452
# 2 Kansai University 7,994,490
# 3 Kinki University 7,614,510
26 School Average 7,299,799
# 3 Osaka Women's Gakuen JC 6,690,234
# 2 Osaka College of Music 6,669,400
# 1 Osaka Chiyoda JC 5,995,466
Table 3. These figures are for 35 year old Associate Professors (jokyouju), married with two children.
Salary Scale / University name / Yearly salary in Japanese yen
# 1 Kobe Gakuin University 10,472,725
# 2 Kansai University 9,737,330
# 3 Momoyama Gakuin U. 9,611,875
26 School Average 8,653,140
# 3 Hagaromo Junior Col. 8,110,200
# 2 Osaka College of Music 7,991,760
# 1 Osaka Chiyoda JC 7,330,242
Table 4. These figures are for 40 year old Associate Professors (jokyoju), married with two children.
Salary Scale / University name / Yearly salary in Japanese yen
# 1 Kobe Gakuin University 11,120,783
# 2 Kinki University 11,034,225
# 3 Momoyama Gakuin U. 11,020,240
26 School Average 10,085,578
# 3 Baika Women's College 9,313,290
# 2 Osaka Art U/Naniwa JC 9,123,725
# 1 Osaka Choyoda JC 8,468,184
Table 5. These figures are for 45 year old full Professors (kyouju), married with two children
Salary Scale / University name / Yearly salary in Japanese yen
# 1 Kobe Gakuin University 13,039,337
# 2 Kinki University 12,426,304
# 3 Osaka Seikei Junior Col. 12,288,205
26 School Average 11,476,637
# 3 Baika Women's College 10,594,453
# 2 Shukugawa Jr. College 9,917,455
# 1 Osaka Choyoda JC 9,743,543
Table 6. These figures are for 50 year old Professors (kyouju), married with two children.
Salary Scale / University name / Yearly salary in Japanese yen
# 1 Kobe Gakuin University 13,829,743
# 2 Kinki University 13,663,151
# 3 Osaka U. of Economics 13,452,500
26 School Average 12,531,313
# 3 Osaka Art U/Naniwa JC 11,420,215
# 2 Shukugawa Jr. College 11,102,695
# 1 Osaka Choyoda JC 10,627,802
Table 7. These figures are for 55 year old Professors (kyouju), married with one dependent child.
Salary Scale / University name / Yearly salary in Japanese yen
# 1 Kobe Gakuin University 14,329,834
# 2 Osaka Dental College 14,305,510
# 3 Kinki University 14,188,492
26 School Average 13,228,170
# 3 Osaka Women's Gakuen JC 12,267,544
# 2 Shukugawa Jr. College 12,096,940
# 1 Osaka Choyoda JC 11,114,801
Table 8. These are the figures for 60 year old Professors (kyouju), married with no dependent children.
Salary Scale / University name / Yearly salary in Japanese yen
# 1 Osaka Dental College 15,436,390
# 2 Kobe Gakuin University 14,659,482
# 3 Kinki University 14,494,508
36 School Average 13,623,467
# 3 Osaka U of Law&Economics 12,569,800
# 2 Osaka Women's Gakuen JC 12,547,426
# 1 Osaka Choyoda JC 11,119,715
Rube Redfield is an educator at the Osaka University of Economics.
PALE JOURNAL AUGUST 1998 SPECIAL REVIEWS AND CRITIQUES:
Ivan P. Hall, CARTELS OF THE MIND: Japan's
Intellectual Closed Shop
By Richard J. Samuels
New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 1997
ISBN for English version: 0-393-04537-4
(Reprinted by the editor from an email to the public mailing list, The Dead Fukuzawa Society, on April 6, 1998. Appeared in the March 12, 1998 issue of the Far Eastern Economic Review. Reprintedwith permission of both author and publisher. Note that this book has been blacklisted by the mainstream Japanese press, so the only place one will find a vernacular review of it is in the Shuukanshi and monthly journals--according to Ivan Hall in the JPRI Critique, Vol V No 9, October 1998. Hence we are proud to be able to offer this solid review in our humble PALE Journal.)
Edwin O. Reischauer wrote long ago that Japan is home to one of the world's most parochial people despite having one of the world's most global economies.
Reischauer got that much right, but as ambassador and public intellectual, he did all he could to sugarcoat the message. He worked successfully to persuade the "free world" to ignore Japanese insularity for the sake of larger Cold War solidarity.
Jonathan Rausch updated Reischauer when he wrote from Japan that "it is hopeless to come here as an outsider and try to work the system, or if not hopeless, then frustrating and grueling: all the knobs and levers and buttons are on the inside." The sign on any front door, Rausch added, reads "by introduction only."
Rausch did not get it exactly right either. Despite what the ubiquitous interlocutors (known colloquially as "Japan handlers") want visitors to believe, a proper introduction is a necessary but not sufficient condition for success in Japan.
In "CARTELS OF THE MIND: Japan's Intellectual Closed Shop", Ivan Hall explores why, and gets it completely right. Hall argues convincingly that Japanese hospitality can be so seductive and that the material rewards of expatriate life can be so beguiling that many foreigners do not look at (or want to see) the ugly mess just under the welcome mat.
Hall generalizes from the ordeal of each of four groups of foreign professionals aspiring to ply their trades in Japan's lawyers, journalists, scientists, and academics. In each case, he observes a "depressingly similar pattern" (p.19): Japan borrows a Western institution after careful study and often at great expense in buying foreign expertise. Each profession is then shut off to foreign participants who instead are segregated in a lavish corner of "international" Japan. When foreigners tire of their splendid isolation and demand entry through the front door as fully certified professionals, Japanese private and public interests find cause to deny access; they ask for more time, all the while insisting Japan is changing and becoming more international.
He tells some stories of profound exploitation. But most are just sad and cautionary. In the aggregate, they amount to a devastating indictment of Japan's unwillingness to accept foreigners as equals. Examples abound: Japanese law offices can employ foreign lawyers, but foreign law offices cannot employ Japanese lawyers; duly accredited foreign journalists are barred from press clubs; there are more tenured foreign faculty at a single medium-sized American university than in all of Japan.
Hall's central concern is reciprocity. At issue is whether foreign researchers, journalists, teachers, and lawyers can pursue careers with the same opportunity counterparts enjoy abroad. Hall confronts the underlying structures of exclusion, and outlines the consequences. He does so with compelling documentation and in measured tones.
Those of us who, despite all the putative advantages of introduction, pedigree, and decades of cultivated relationships have been denied formal research affiliations and access to data must stand up and cheer the publication of this book. Hall's contribution is all the more important because it reads not like a petulant memoir, but as an analytically coherent whole. Our private frustrations with blocked intellectual access in particular professional corners of Japanese society are provided a larger, systemic and highly credible context.
Indeed, it took an especially credible character to write CARTELS OF THE MIND. Hall is a Harvard PhD in Japanese history (ironically, a Reischauer student) who has spent most of his career as diplomat, academic, and journalist-- in Japan. He speaks fluent Japanese and has enjoyed all the (very considerable) perks afforded to Roppongi dwellers. But he also observes all the (even more considerable) indignities afforded those who (like Edward Seidensticker before him) have gotten too far inside. It is the combination of Hall's own bona fides, his deft eye-pen coordination, and the fire in his belly that sets this account apart.
Social scientists who write about foreign areas, especially those like many Japan specialists-- who depend upon their subjects for research support-- are virtually all cultural relativists. It has long been analytically (if not politically) correct to avoid imposing one's own values and to understand others "on their own terms." But, it is hard to know where intellectual predilection leaves off and intellectual corruption takes over. Hall is fearless on this score. He lambastes academics who pull punches because their palms are open.
Hall's book might have been no more that the whining of a disillusioned cultural relativist. Instead, it is a powerful warning that avoids personalizing the analysis. Everyone engaged with Japan will recognize their place in this story, and some places are more complicitous than others.
Hall is right not to rest his case upon any individual's special pleading. It is framed by the larger question: whether this mercantile superpower will truly open itself to global intercourse, or whether it will just be simply bypassed as business executives, policy makers, and students decide that Japan is just not worth the candle in their race to create knowledge and wealth into the twenty-first century.
Without regard for Hall's somewhat facile policy recommendations or his overstatement of the difficulties science and engineering students have in Japanese laboratories, this is simply the most important book on contemporary Japan published since Herman Kahn's The Emerging Japanese Superstate in 1970. One hopes that it has the same impact.
As Hall takes pain to note, there is a great deal at stake for the rest of the world if Japan-- the second largest economy and the number two investor in science and technology-- continues to selectively include and systematically exclude foreigners. Japan must open itself to the collaborative production of collective goods. As more foreigners learn to read and speak Japanese, they will expect to be able to obtain fuller, less intermediated information. If such access does not materialize, we can expect anger and resentment to boil over into confrontation and conflict. The problem of intellectual access in Japan nearly a century and a half after Commodore Perry first stopped by is as great a problem for Japan as for its trading partners and allies--possibly, as Hall argues, even greater.
Alas, this is not the first such warning. In 1899 the US Office of Naval Intelligence reported that:
"With countries like Japan, we would certainly be in a better position to get information from them if we did not issue our official publications so freely and only gave them out in exchange for corresponding information."
A century later Hall reminds us and the Japanese that while openness may be its own reward, it can be sustained only when it is reciprocated.
Richard J. Samuels is Ford International Professor of Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he also directs the MIT Japan Program. His most recent book, Rich Nation, Strong Army: National Security and the Technological Transformation of Japan, won the 1996 John Whitney Hall Prize of the Association for Asian Studies.
Comments on Some of the Language Used and the
Assumptions behind it
in the Harris-Savignon Interview
by Michael "Rube" Redfield
Reference: Harris, B. F.(1998). Communicative competence--still relevant after all these years: an interview with Dr. Sandara J. Savignon. The Language Teacher, 22 (1), 27-29, 31.
I read with interest Brenda Fay Harris"s interview with Sandra Savignon in the recent TLT (Harris, 1998, above). The interview itself was relevant, interesting, and informative. However, I was intrigued by some of the language used and the (unconscious) assumptions underling said language.
It seems to me that Harris is typical of so many of us in JALT in her adoption of the prevalent "Japanese viewpoint" towards Japanese educators, foreign experts, and the local non Japanese EFL teaching community. I firmly believe that the uncritical adoption of said viewpoint undermines both JALT, as a professional organization "for language teaching", and the members it represents.
Harris, most correctly and politely, refers to her interview partner as "Dr. Savignon". Other non-Japanese are referred to, by both Harris and Savignon without title (Bill Van Patten, Dell Hymes, J.D. Brown, Diane Musumeci, Donald Freeman, Karen Johnson, and Kayoko Hubbell*), which seems quite natural as well. However, Minoru Wada is referred to as "Professor"" (by Savignon).
This may indeed seem picky, but why do we always call Japanese educators "Professor" but rarely, if ever, call resident non-Japanese college professors by their rightful titles? While reading articles in TLT and other professional organs we always, it seems, refer to Japanese educators as "Professor", sometimes refer to foreign experts as "Dr." or "Professor", but hardly ever refer to resident EFL educators as anything but "Mr/Ms" or with no title at all? Aren't we, the resident EFL community, just as worthy of respect as national educators or foreign experts? Is this false modesty, a reflection of Japanese modesty on the part of non-Japanese, or a subconscious downgrading of our own position and standing? We too have degrees, publications, and tenured positions. Are we somehow "lesser" educators because of our nationalities and "outsider" status? And how does this use or non-use of professional titles in professional settings (such as a journal or professional newsletter) reflect on our own abilities and self worth?
It is very true that to some of the Japanese academic community we are mere suketto (助っ人 assistants). I remember vividly, just for example, the time when the roll was called at an English entrance examination meeting, and all the Japanese were called "sensei" but I was "Rube . . . san." There may indeed be little we can do to change culturally-ingrained habits among our less sensitive Japanese colleagues, but I find it ludicrous to downgrade ourselves deliberately in front of the academic world.
A second instance of adopting the "Japanese viewpoint" found in the interview is the use of the word "native". Harris refers to non Japanese EFL teachers as "native English teachers" (p.28). I am sure she does this innocently, but surely I am not a "native teacher." Many might find it (again) picky to object to being called "native" rather than "native English speaker", but being referred to as a "native" in the Japanese educational community carries with the idea that native English speakers are ONLY native English speakers and not educated TEFL professionals, that we are hired for our language and not our pedagogical abilities, that we somehow received the "gift" of our language and have not earned our pedagogical stripes. And of course this is normally the case with instructors just starting out at language schools and in the JET program, but surely advanced graduate work in Applied Linguistics/TEFL/Foreign Language Education, publications, presentations, participation in scholarly associations (such as JALT), and second language learning experiences entitles us to be known as professional EFL educators and not mere "natives." Again, as Savignon so rightly mentions, we cannot "change everything", (p.29) but at the same time do we have to downgrade ourselves just because many of the unenlightened among Japanese academia choose to do so?
Finally, (and I know am using Harris as a "straw man" and apologize for doing so) should we, the professional, non-Japanese (and foreign educated Japanese TEFLers) resident professional EFL community, always have to assume the inferior, underling role of "mere native English speaking" teachers when addressing outside foreign experts?
Harris asks Savignon for her opinions on preserving under "less than propitious conditions." (p.29). I am happy to hear Savignon's ideas on communicative competence and all related to it, but why ask a "foreign expert" with precious little time in country (the JALT conference of several years ago?) and no actual teaching experience in Japan, her opinions on something that the interviewer and those like her (JALT) are the obvious experts on? We are the experts on teaching and living in Japan, not the foreign gurus who visit us here on occasion. They have earned expertise on the second language learning/teaching dichotomy, but we are the ones who know how and when (and if) it should be applied in this country, along with our TEFL educated Japanese colleagues.
In conclusion I would like to call on those active in JALT and the resident TEFL community to stop downgrading ourselves and our hard earned expertise, to stop referring (however unconsciously) to ourselves as "Mr/Ms native teacher", as if looking up for enlightenment from our native-born Japanese colleagues and well-intentioned "foreign experts" alike. We, more than they, are and should be considered the experts when it comes to professional EFL in Japan.
*Does this mean that Japanese nationals married to non-Japanese automatically non-Japanese as well?
Rube Redfield is a tenured and fully-qualified TEFL professional at the Osaka University of Economics.
Is there an RSA Way? And
if so, How Useful is it?
by Chris Rockwell
(Reprinted from IATEFL Issue No 143 with permission from the author)
Craig Wallace's thought-provoking article (IATEFL Issue no 141-- Feb/Mar 1998) on the need to re-think coursebook choices hints at one or two other points that may also require a closer look for teachers in countries outside the UK. Aside from the rather slavish adherence to certain widely used British texts -- there is too, the pervasive influence of what might be called teaching in the "RSA way".
Is there in fact an RSA way of teaching? This question indeed always provokes interesting and sornetimes heated discussion amongst tutors and graduates of RSA EFL courses. It may well be that the kind of lesson I'm about to describe is conmon to other EFL training courses -- but it will be clear it has come to be very closely associated with RSA EFL courses.
There are those who believe, myself included, that there is a very definite style and structure of lesson that is promoted and impressed on candidates as being the one they must produce in order to pass these courses. Then there is a very important implication that this is the type of lesson they will be expected to replicate often in their career -- especially if they are applying for a job.
The type of lesson I am writing about is typically structured as follows:
2. Set the scene (usually with pictures)
3. Pre-teach vocab.
4. Establish the ooncepts
5. Check the concepts
6. Elicit the marker sentence
7. Drill the marker sentence
8. Controlled practice
9. Free (er) practice
10. Feedback of errors
In short this is commonly referred to as a PPP lesson (presentation, practice, production). On the RSA Certificate in TEFLA tbe PPP lessson is touted as the best approach and indeed the only approach to teaching an EFL class. No other modifications or possibilities are accepted for a pass on this course.
Some may be surprised by the latter statement but this was certainly the case on the RSA Certificate course I completed in Sydney in 1991. Of all the candidates who attended the course only 7 were able to replicate the PPP structure to the satisfaction of the tutors - and thus 4 candidates failed and lost their money. Having proudly passed the course however I went on to perform the PPP lesson at a hotel training school in Indonesia. I soon discovered however that the PPP lesson is too slow, cumbersome and limited in its scope to be used as the main approach to EFL teaching. There are various reasons for this:
1) Adult EFL students have often had the same matetials and grammar "presented" to them many times before,
2) Preparing the presentation for a single concept or marker sentence is simply too time-consuming for busy teachers on 20/25 contact hours per week (or more!)
3) A successful presentation based on careful elicitation often simply takes up too much lesson time,
4) The PPP lesson often ignores tbe sheer volume of material that teachers feel obliged to try to get through for exams and other purposes. (In any case is it not the middle "P"--practice--that EFL students the world over require most?!)
This is not to claim that the PPP lesson and the techniques involved are useless. Indeed it has its place, particularly for beginning students of English. But I would suggest its very value lies in the ability of teachers to modify, select, and restructure the PPP approach and the techniques within, to suit the necds of students. More on this in a moment, however.
My motivation and aspiration to further produce a PPP lesson was somewhat further deflated when a respected RSA moderator working with me at the same language school in Indonesia observed a demonstration lesson of mine in which I used the PPP approach. The Iesson went well--but her first observation was that there were odier ways the same success could have been achieved. Similarly, a couple of years later, with a view to doing sorne relief teaching, I returned briefly to the very same language school where I had so diligently completed iny RSA Certificate. Accordingly they asked me to do an observed lesson as a condition of my employment on a class that was new to me. I logically assumed they would be most interested to see me perform a PPP lesson of the type they had so rigorously drilled into me a mere 2 years before and for which they had given me high praise. Unfortunately the Director of Studies (DOS) was quite unimpressed and the DOS's first and somewhat amazed (if not annoyed) comment was, "Why did you use the PPP approach?"
Many things ran through my mind at that point. Wasn't this the very same college tbat had worked so hard to get me to produce the PPP lesson in the first place? Hadn't they also made it very clear that producing this kind of lesson would be a gateway to a great career in EFL teaching? Seven years have now passed since completing my RSA Certificate. And of course it has become quite clear there are many other effective approaches and combinations of approaches to teaching EFL--indeed there have to be, given the wide variety of courses, schools, and students. And needless to say, UCLES tries to deal with these variations through a growing selection of EFL teacher training courses. But I would suggest that the all-pervasive PPP lesson is still the centerpiece of these courses.
Mmy conversations with colleagues over the past few years have shown that while UCLES does a sterling job, through its system of moderators, of ensuring a certain standard unifomiity. With regard to content and structure there are clearly varying degrees of emphasis, rigidity and tolerance allowed by tutors on this course. This consequently provides candidates with varying degrees of freedom to experiment and to make mistakes and corrections with techniques and approaches.
Indeed not surprisingly it seems the degree of tolerance amongst RSA tutors for other approaches, or at least variations on the PPP approach, is directly related to the breadth of EFL experience possessed by individual tutors or moderators. And this tolerance is an important issue given the varied and often substantial teaching experience paying candidates bring to their course.
The RSA Certificate in TEFLA was and is primarily aimed at teachers intending to teach general oral English to beginner adults on short courses in oral language schools in England; yet it is a pre-requisite to employment in hundreds of language teaching institutions from Australia, through Asia and on to Europe. This is a masterstroke of marketing on the part of UCLES - but how relevant is it to the many and varied kinds of EFL teaching required at all of these institutions?
I feel compelled to grapple again and again with this question each time I embark on a new RSA certificate course as a tutor, not to mention the year I was senior tuture here in Brunei. Admittedly our RSA Certificate course is a mode "C" course and therefore theoretically is tailored to local conditions. But in reality the content and expectations are very much a duplication of the original RSA Certificate in TEFLA--with all the PPP lessons at its core.
This being so, an interesting situation arose one or two years ago when a particularly independently-minded candidate gave an observed lesson to a class of teenagers/young adults which consisted of students silently reading. A short period at the end of the lesson which was spent checking students' understanding revealed that all of the students had indeed understood what they had read and were interested in the content. In a non-reading culture this lesson was regarded as a tremendous success, attributable to the teacher's ability and personality as a motivator. Thus there are many sound educational reasons one could raise for justifying this time spent reading. But from the point of view of our course the lesson either received a very low grade or failed. Put another way, it was not a PPP lesson in any way, shape or form.
As RSA tutors we are often torn between judging whether overall a candidate is "a good teacher" versus simply ticking off the EFL techniques demonstrated in the required order at the moment of "Jumping though hoops", as someone once said. But supposedly the more objective a lesson observation can be made, the more manageable and specific the feedback and grading become. The danger becomes rather mechanical and limiting.
Clearly and ultimately there is no way a short preparatory course like the RSA Certificate could prepare prospective teachers for all of the EFL situations they may find themselves in. A concentration on one particular style of lesson may be all that can be hoped for in such a short course. But I would suggest, as mentioned earlier, that real value of the RSA Certificate lies not in a candidate's ability to cobble together a PPP lesson so much as his/her ability to master asnd manipulate the many techniques taught on the course. Eliciting, concept checking, types of drilling are valuabnle techniques in any EFL teacher's armory whenever he/she may be teaching. But this is only true when a teacher recognises the need to be creative and flexible in the use of these techniques to the advantage always of the students invovled.
This then may not always be the case given the widespread acceptance of the RSA Certificate and its accompanying PPP lessons. Indeed, in some ways this wide acceptance is rather formidable. This aspect, combined with the intense and rather rigid stance adopted in many language schools for teaching the course, has the effect of imposing and spreading a certain uniformity of approach. I suspect that there is not enough acknowledgment during the course that there are other ways to approach a lesson. Ultimately, it is hoped that the tremendous and well-deserved reputation that the course has, and its accompanying PPP lesson approach, will never stifle the creative and adventurous teacher from stepping beyond the bounds of the RSA way.
Chris Rockwell is a senior RSA tutor at CfBT Education Services in Brunei. He can be reached at E-Mail: Rockwell@brunet.bn or by Snailmail: CfBT Education Services, Units 5 & 6 Kiarong Complex, Kpg Kiarong 3186 BSB Brunei Darussalam.
ORIGIN OF THE EPITHET
(excerpted from an email by Robert Angel)
Date: Sun, 03 Mar 1996
From: Robert Angel
Organization: University of South Carolina
While president of the Japan Economic Institute in Washington, D.C., I used the phrase [Japan Bashing] to discredit the more effective critics of Japan's economic policies. Several years later I admitted authorship to John Judis, a Washington journalist friend, but still refused to admit it in public. He persuaded me to "confess," so to speak, and wrote the whole thing up in a Columbia Journalism Review article. It is amusing to watch otherwise thoughtful people fall right into the trap, although my views on political economy have changed considerably since then.
I resigned the presidency of JEI in 1984, returned to Columbia and re-wrote my dissertation, and in 1986 took a teaching job here at the University of South Carolina. Lucky to get it too since, as you might imagine, universities these days want Japan specialists who are willing to raise money from Japanese PR sources. [snip]
Robert Angel is a professor at the University of South Carolina
ASSORTED BOOK REVIEWS by Thom Simmons
Book Reviews in Business, Administration, Management, Communication and Negotiation and Basic Self Improvement. Book reviews in content areas for teachers who have moved away from Streamline and Snakes and Ladders.
What exactly are we referring to here?
There is a vast domain in publication out here that sells lots of books, gets major reviews and endorsements from big names in academia, industry, government and entertainment. It usually makes it to the small business or the management section of, say, Barnes and Noble, Borders, Maruzen or Kinokuniya. It includes authors like Lee Iacocca, Roger Fisher, and Oprah Winfrey's boyfriend. The books are purportedly read by MBA graduates from MIT, Wharton, Amos Tuck, Kellogg or a host of other such institutions. It includes down to earth books on being a successful entrepreneur, coming to grips with a plethora of business and industrial models, negotiating contracts, managing your accounts, your department or your empire, cultivating a successful perspective or approach to life, getting along with people, leading meetings, interviewing successfully, firing employees, or just plain old political, right-wing, ultra-conservative diatribes or self-aggrandising, semi-autobiographical schlock. Characteristically, they are full of assertions without attempts at arguing from verifiable premises, over the top promises about unbridled success and maximum results, rhetorical questions, anecdotes & vignettes with simplistic conclusions (often asserted as profound insights or breakthroughs in conventional wisdom), checklists with no real purpose (except to fill pages and possibly get the reader to engage in one-way reflection--a la Carl Rogers' the-answer-lies-within school of psychology), morally uplifting tales of rags-to-riches or down-and-out-and-never-gave-up rises to glory. This genre has very few books with any research continuity. There are few attempts to connect them to any historical precedents or sources. (Bibliographies are rare and citations are rarer.) Authors commonly assume an isolated expertise. Basically, they are often like Bible-thumping preachers holding forth for their adoring congregation, Buddhist priests laying it all out for their acolytes, or used car salesmen playing let's-make-a- deal. Basically publishers and authors want to sell a lot of it and they do.
Why bother studying it?
Well, it is written for and by a diverse group in diverse positions in the public and private sectors. It is written and read (maybe) by some of the biggest names in MBA's, Fortune 500 companies, economics, mergers and acquisitions, and everything vaguely related. It describes hypothetical and actual scenarios in communication, conflict, and commerce. It provides (some) first-rate primers on received perspectives on cultural values and practices. It also provides some of the worst and most obvious examples of snake-oil salesmanship. Some of it is actually very entertaining. And some of it is very useful. Some of it. The relationship here, for the PALE NSIG is multifold. We deal with professional, administrative, and management issues. Those who teach English for business and basic communication concerns will want to stay up with the literature and at least know what is being read in these areas. Most business people do not read scholarly treatises on business and marketing psychology for example but will pick up a paperback on how to run a business meeting or invest in mutual funds. And there is another aspect: Most teachers in JALT and probably EFL have not taken the time to understand what they are dealing with--businesses run competently or incompetently. A professional needs to be concerned with how businesses and schools and departments are run, how teachers and management function in these settings. If you are working for an old and established, publicly-funded school and are in a tenured position, these issues will have as much relevance for you as someone who is trying to set up a conversation school in Sendai, organising a union in Nagoya, preparing a resume or trying to teach business and/or communication to undergraduates and in-house business seminars.
Types of books we are looking at.
A large section of this genre is the self improvement section. It is largely targeted toward time management, effective work habits and interrelational skills. Classics of this segment are Dale Carnegie's "How to win friends and influence people," Norman Vincent Peal's, The power of positive thinking," and Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson's "The one minute manager." These books have sold many millions and there are entire industries built around conducting seminars along these lines. Efficient use of your time and that of others is a skill that crosses disciplines. Anyone can use a little improvement in this area unless you have opted to live life well outside of Tokyo or New York or any place similar. And I know that most of my students certainly could learn how to better manage their time. Communication skills can not be overlooked. Whether we are teaching communication skills to our students or interacting with administrators and faculty, this area is applicable everywhere. And after having watched labour disputes for the past 10 years in Japan, I would say there are very few people who are skilled in communicating, especially in conflict. In fact, the conflict often erupts because of poor communication. Another section is about making profit. Many of us in JALT (not all of us lest you think otherwise) do not concern ourselves with profit and loss and just efficient use of resources in general. But we should. Having worked for more than 15 private schools and businesses in Japan and been involved in the labour relations of many more, I am usually struck by the waste of resources of which both the administrations and the employees are guilty. Of course by the time the departments and businesses start cutting back on faculty support and payroll (read 'jobs') it is a little late. I have discovered that many of the rational approaches to resources use are generally applicable to educators in general. Money management is also very important in JALT itself. JALT is a non-profit, volunteer organisation. They actually have MBAs for this type of organisation. Any educators' organisation must concern itself with the issues of paying the bills and whence this resource will come. JALT has a central office with full and part time employees, 14 NSIGs, 38 Chapters, a publications board, a national executive board, more than 30 different publications at the national and regional level, a national lecture tour, and an international conference. All of these have their own budgets and books that must be maintained to specifications defined by the civil laws of Japan. So, inside JALT, the classroom or the school system, this genre has relevance. Though, as you read many of the books, you begin to wonder if they have relevance for anything at all -- which is another thing we can do here: Let you know which ones may not be worth the paper they are written on. Whether the books in this area are well written or not, reviewing them will at least help us to locate the good ones.
The reviewer's goal in reading:
1. Establish whether there is a point and method that can actually inform us or guide us in dealing with relevant issues in business and administration. The author must provide me with a applicable approach with some means of verifying its validity and relevance (Many fail this criteria).
2. Does the author write in such a way that I am not wasting my time on 250 pages when 25 will do? (Most fail this test).
3. Does the author provide me with an empirical background: Does the author try to relate this to other studies/sources and establish continuity with previous works? (This criteria, essential in academia, seems to be totally alien in this genre with a few very rare exceptions).
4. When I am done reading, is it possible to convey the writer's approach to others as a workable approach to any specific problem at all?
5. And -- this is very important--have a bit of fun with those books that fail to stand up to scrutiny.
Let's get started:
What's Luck Got to Do With It: 12 entrepreneurs reveal the secrets behind their success Gregory Eriksen, (1997). John Wiley and Sons. ISBN 0471179981 $24.95, Hardback. 246 pages (text 3-231). No index.
COMMENTS: This is a collection of 12 biographies of fairly well-known personalities in industry. Written in general terms it functions primarily as a morale booster, the sort of feel good about your self, if-they-did-it-so-can-you genre. The author spent most of his time making us aware that the subject of the biography had to overcome adversity. I felt like it was a promo for another Howard Gardner book proving once again the principle that ability needs opportunity to express itself. As for the secrets, well they are so general and commonly known that I have to say the title was just empty hype.
CONCLUSION: For killing time on lengthy trips. Could also be used as 'cultural' examples in a business oriented class but it has a very high reading level and "The Profit Zone," is a better book (reviewed below).
The Profit Zone: How strategic business design will lead you to tomorrow's profits Adrian J. Sloywotzky and David J. Morrison with Bob Andelman, (1997). New York: Times Business (Imprint of Random House). ISBN 08129 2900 4 $25.00, Hardback. 352 pages (text 3-332 includes notes and appendix). Index-fair
COMMENTS: Book titles in this genre are a bit, well, overstated. Book jacket endorsements (university faculty and industry management) tout it as primer to move the reader beyond stereotype concepts and strategies. The basic underlying idea is that the market share economics model is passe and that there are a diverse number of profit models. Consumer-centric rhetoric is heavily criticised by the authors' as a facade and the authors claim to articulate and endorse real customer focused thinking. My concerns here were (a) does the book in fact address the problems of corporate strategies and goals, (b) are they really proposing an ethical regard for their clients as an alternative to much of the practices we see in business today, and (c) do they address these issues in a way that I can present to my students? The book format is user-friendly: Big print, big subtitles (to break it up in to digestible bits if it becomes a text book rather than just a resource book), numerous simple diagrams to illustrate points made. Much of the jargon is explained in the text (invaluable in any text for ESL/EFL). The index would be adequate for tertiary level students but I am never really satisfied with indexes: I usually add notations in the index margin. There is a bibliography (unusual for this genre) that provides further reading for serious business students and an extra source for the teacher. The book could be used to develop the strategic skill of recognising and describing "profit models" (11 discussed at length and another 11 briefly described). This approach will provide the students with a reference point in school (as they become familiar with the literature) and when they leave school. This feature alone I felt provides me with a structure that could be adapted to a Business English class; I find that a central core of ideas, a story or an event provides the needed impetus to get the students thinking, writing, and talking about the subject and the sources can also provide the vocabulary.
Briefly, here are some of the models presented:
1. Customer development/Customer solutions Model (Chapters 4&5) These businesses focus on helping clients with time consuming expensive areas. These companies find solutions to customer problems and then develop a symbiotic relationship with them--if they are successful. Customer economics is the focus here. Examples studied include Madden Communications, General Electric and Sandoz Pharmaceuticals.
2. Product Pyramid Model (Chapter 6) This approach focuses on customer preferences (e.g. colour, style, prices etc.). The pyramid's base is composed of high-volume, low-cost products and the apex of low-volume, high-cost products. The more competitive business will sell at all levels. So you will see a $10.00 Barbie doll and a $600.00 Barbie doll (Mattel) or a $10.00 Swatch and a $2,500 Omega (SMH). These 'firewall' brands will make competition so difficult they lock out competitors. This is primarily a market share model although the authors do not identify it as such. The object for the most successful companies is to corner a market at all buying levels.
3. Multicomponent Systems Model (Chapter 7) In this model, products and services are sold through a multitude of avenues with varied profit margins. Coca Cola is the primary case study. The model operates on the basis of low-profit avenues which provide greater market share and public exposure while the high-profit avenues provide market penetration. Some examples are:
Industry Base Component / High Profit Component
pcs / basic hardware options, accessories, financing
electronics / vcr, tv etc. maintenance service agreements
coffee / grocery stores cafes, kiosks
manufacturing goods / financing, services, insurance
4. Switchboard Model (Chapter 8) Multiple sellers often sell to multiple buyers. Both ends of this continuum must expend money and time to find each other and transact business. As these companies grow, these components of the business will accrue greater amounts of company resources and thus reduce profitability. A switchboard business reduces expenses and aggravation to buyers and sellers. This type of business builds on itself because as more clients join, the more valuable it becomes to the other clients and the more dependent those clients become. As clientele increases, minimal charges for services still have a high profit margin.
5. Time Model (Chapter 9) This approach capitalises on getting to the market first. Intel is a rominent example. The first mover in a market niche can generate excess returns with high prices before imitators begin to compete and profitability is eroded. So, high profits can exist but for a short time. Innovations must come in fast and furiously to maintain profit margin.
6. Block-Buster Model (Chapter 10) Unlike the Time Profit Models, some industries simply can not turn over their products profitably. R&D is just too high. Industries like computer software, pharmaceutical, publishing, film studios, and music companies are typical of this model. However, as the initials stages are achieved, cost of producing the product quickly drops and high volume sales become profitable. In this sector, it is better to dominate a few products rather than sell at average levels in many. The same type of product will cost much the same throughout the industry so the economies of scale will dictate profitability. It is also important to remember, that there is a great deal of legislated government support to protect these industries. This consideration can profoundly effect the way we use these technologies.
7. Profit Multiplier Model (Chapter 10) Disney is a classic example. This approach basically sells the same thing over and over in a multitude of ways. With a strong consumer brand, merely licensing the name is profitable. Licensing also achieves greater penetration. However, control of brand name availability and use is essential. A brand can be dragged through he mud so to speak. Mickey Mouse would loose market share quickly if he were to star as a monster in horror flick or the leading role in a blue movie. This is another industry that relies heavily on legal structures to protect their investment.
8. Entrepreneurial Model (Chapter 12) As companies grow, the feedback from customers decreases and overhead increases. Scale begins to work against it. 8. Entrepreneurial Model (Chapter 12) As companies grow, the feedback from customers decreases and overhead increases. Scale begins to work against it. Mediocrity sets in. Competition from young enterprises must be constantly challenged. The danger of merely copying a leading product is fraught with legal ramifications, the list of obstacles grows and the logistics pile up. However, some companies combat this by maintaining small regional business centres or splitting off new businesses. Employee motivation is also maintained by making them partners in new ventures.
9. Installed Base Profit (Chapter 13) An intriguing concept, the supplier creates an extensive base of users who then buy the supplier's brand of consumables. This model is centred around one of the most spectacular businesses in the last half century, Microsoft. Microsoft's strategy to price low, set the standard (standards based business design), proliferate and then rake it in from upgrades and revisions in a market they dominate owes much to the marketing strategy began by Henry Ford and later by adopted by Sony.
10. De Facto Standard Profit (Chapter 13) This model describes Microsoft as well as one that most people do not think about, airline reservations. American Airlines' SABRE system is the de facto standard for interntional airline reservations. With this model, related industries must use an existing standard they must also pay to use. As industry grows, the profits grow. Total market share.
CONCLUSION: The authors play it a bit loose with their claims that market share is passe. Many of these models or their variants are very much market-share oriented. The authors also tell us that they are giving us a honest client-centred perspective that others do not. There may be something to that but we are still dealing with the profit motive as the primary motivation in business. I do not feel that this is a failing of the book. Rather, it allows the teacher to show the students how declared values and goals are not what they first seem to be. Possibly the most valuable lesson we can give. This is a teacher's resource book. For students who will go into international business it is particularly appropriate since it is written with a perspective that applies to predominantly European and North American businesses. It would also have applications for business education (excellent for folks doing work in ESP) advanced level classes, labour relations (management or unions) or, in a limited way, governance structures and policies of an organisation like JALT.
How to Get People to Do Things Your Way J. Robert Parkinson (1995). Contemporary Books. ISBN 0809230623. $12.95, Paperback. 235 pages (text 1-196)
COMMENTS: The title is just a bit too cynical for me. Manipulate! Exploit! Control! There are lots of blank pages for the reader to writer answers to lists of questions (no feedback offered), and it is crammed (typically) with unfounded assertions. It relies heavily on simple basic suggestion for communicating well (plan and know what you have to say, be on time, dress nicely, etc.). In other words, the title is the antithesis of the book which is very ,well, sort of what a kindly high school counselor would tell a clueless high school senior about to be cast adrift on the capricious sea of corporate reality.
CONCLUSION: This could be revised to accommodate an EFL class in communication but the title is very misleading. It is just about being prepared, coherent and socially acceptable. As such, it could be a beginner's guide for a culturally defined context
Simple Steps to Impossible Dreams: The 15 powerful secrets of the world's most successful people Steven K. Scott. (1998). Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0684 848686 $23.00 Hardback, 269 pages (text 19-269) No Index
Here we have a self-improvement morale booster full of endorsements by movie stars, authors and business personalities. The title is a dead giveaway. Simple steps to impossible dreams? The WORLD'S most SUCCESSFUL people? People actually buy this stuff. I just read it in the book store. This is a semi-autobiographical rah-rah, don't-give-up, sort of thing. It is chock full of anecdotes about the rich and famous (many personal friends of the author's) who began life as the impoverished and obscure. It is an old genre in the States ('Ragged Dick', that sort of thing). This could of course provide some insight into cultural values. Remember, when you are around this stuff all your life, you no longer notice it. But it is brand new to some outsiders. The author goes on at length about 'chains' (obstacles to success), 'engines' (the sources of motivation or movement in being successful) and 'power secrets' (the means to counteract chains and ignite engines). They are all very ambiguous. Chains include such things as being programmed for mediocrity, fear of failure, avoidance of criticism, lack of clear and precise vision, lack of know-how, and lack of resources. The metaphors are occasionally catchy but it could be reduced to about 2-3 pages. It has all been said before and often said more articulately. And it clearly demonstrates the lack of historical continuity in this genre while exemplifying the overwhelming presence of the profit motive and self aggrandisement
CONCLUSION: Self-promotional, semi-autobiographical waste of time.
You Can Make It Happen: A nine step plan for success Graham Stedman (1997). Simon and Schuster. ISBN 068481448X $18.95, Hardback. 270 pages (text 17-270) No index
Semi-autobiographical catharsis written by Oprah Winfrey's boyfriend. And he does not want you to forget it. I just could not figure out if he felt it was a burden or a blessing. Lots of name dropping, heavy on self-promotion, anecdotes about the author's famous friends, generic lists of do's and don'ts, simplistic, vague.
CONCLUSION: Big waste of time and money.
For Entrepreneurs Only: Success strategies for anyone starting or growing a business Wilson Harrell (1995). Career Press. ISBN 1564141934 $21.50, Hardback. 223 pages (text 11-214) No Index
Amusing diatribe by a former editor of "Inc." magazine. (now edited by Geo.Gendron). Harrell is renowned for telling stories well, successes or failures alike. He claims to have pulled off some legendary coups in business and made some terrific screw-ups. This would be a good case study for "E-myth" (pages 26 and 42 for example) or Howard Gardner's work in multiple intelligences (The necessary marriage of ability and opportunity to adequately express the intelligences). Basically, this is an autobiography of a right-wing, shoot-from-the-hip, conservative. He rambles on about Japan (they have no entrepreneurs), big business (they will steal all of your ideas so get in there and make your money fast), unions (destructive enemy of business and any economy), Attention Deficit Disorder (a label for the vigorous who take the initiative and do not fit in a traditional classroom), genetic/biological determinism (entrepreneurs are hunters and everyone else is a farmer). He is at his best when describing who did what to whom and how some tactics work or did not. But his analysis of the reasons behind the events make it clear that he has a seriously warped political perspective -- which is one reason why it is a good read.
CONCLUSION: Very readable, myopic, anecdotal (with short summaries and pithy but overly simplistic tips), self-promotional, semi-serious, political catharsis about nearly everything. Lots to disagree with (his off-the-cuff comments about Japan are hilarious). Can be used to kill time on long trips. Definitely could be used to get conversations going with a class of over 40, mid- and upper-management types (buchos, shachos etc.).
Beyond Machiavelli: Tools for coping with conflict Roger Fisher, Elizabeth Kopelman, & Andrea K. Scheider (1996). Penguin Books. ISBN 0140245227. $10.95, Paperback. 158 pages (text 1-144) No index
What a title! I had to read this just to see how they carried it off. The book is endorsed by faculty members, Nobel prize winners, and politicians. The primary author, Fisher, has written a number of books in this area. The authors claim to address conflict analysis and application of skills used in resolving conflict. They state that this is done by creating :
1. a checklist of steps to analyse conflict;
2. a set of analytic tools to figure out why
(a) a conflict has not been settled and
(b) new approaches to settling it;
3. an action plan including material to present an idea persuasively:
a. a two page proposal
b. one page of easily understood talking points
c. a 'to do' list
Nothing short of ambitious, the authors compare their book favourably with Machiavelli's "The Prince." Machiavelli's work, they say, was powerful because it asked direct questions of the 'Prince,' a member of the Borgia family, and a very powerful man in Renaissance Italy. The authors claim this book, as did 'The Prince,' targets individual decisions makers to persuade them to make better decisions. The book's appeal to the reader is seen as its focus on helping the reader understand a situation well enough to second guess other people's decisions and generate advice about better decisions. Be your own Machiavelli so to speak. The authors also claim to approach problems while in process, as fluid and unpredictable, to be solved. This is in contrast to the predictable postmortems that cannot solve problems as they unfold. The method they say provides them this ability is to look at conflicts from a multitude of participants' perspectives rather than the spectators.
The emphasis here is international. It certainly has applications for teachers who are working with GLOBAL ISSUES and CROSS-CULTURAL STUDIES. Some comparisons made are: Syrians and Israelis (1973), USA and USSR (Cuba, 1962), Sikhs and Hindus. etc. These conflicts are delineated in a point-counterpoint paradigm with tables listing various factors. It makes for straightforward reading. Tables include: analysis of messages, perceived choices of those making decisions, most likely important consequences of choices, targeting future choices of decisionmakers, a four quadrant analysis for problem solving, elements of conflict situations, important constraints on meetings and locations, guidelines for brainstorming, etc.
CONCLUSION: A teacher's resource book. The book is extensive and detailed. The reading level is much too high for all but a few students in EFL but it could be adapted and generalised to a great variety of situations. It would also have applications for business education, sociology, GLOBAL ISSUES, PROFESSIONAL ISSUES, advanced level classes, labour relations (management or unions) or governance structures and policies of an organisation like JALT.
NLP: The new technology of achievement Steve Andreas & Charles Faulkner (Eds.) Andreas, S., Faulkner, C., Gerling, K., Hallbon, T., MacDonald, R., Schmidt, G., & Smith, S (Contributing authors) (1994). Quill (William Morrow). ISBN 0 688 146198 $12.00, Paperback. 354 pages (text 15-335, includes glossary)
The book begins with a quote from Arthur C. Clarke: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Well, when I think of magic I look for at least three things, something mysterious and surprisingly different that actually does something (often spectacularly). My guess would be that the authors are telling us that NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) is so new, mysterious and effective that it will seem to be magical. Of course if it is actually a technology, assuming that they use a common definition, it should be something that can be duplicated, tested, and validated. The chapters are organised with a pithy quotes, subheadings, exercises, review checklists, and anecdotes of famous people and the authors. They seem to have designed it for extended study. Content is focused on a reflective approach: questions usually address 'you,' a collective readership or 'we,' the writers and readers (heavily targeted toward group identification). The most common type of statement is framed in terms of what you or we all naturally want, believe, think or experience (very heavy use of positive face tactics  that reinforce the group values). Assertive in essence, the authors construct their perspective with anecdotes and hypothetical situations. According to the authors, NLP is the study of excellence, the ability to be your best more often, the powerful and practical approach to personal change, the new technology of achievement (page 27) that has helped millions overcome fears, increase confidence, enrich relationships and achieve greater success (back cover). And this book will reveal how to use this breakthrough technology to (their italics) "achieve whatever you want." I smell snake oil. For example, on pages 190-91 (Chapter 8, "Eliminating your fears and phobias."), we are given a handy 3 step means to "process unpleasant memories so that they become positive resources."
1. Think of an unpleasant memory and run it like a movie through your mind,
attending to unpleasant feelings;
2. Run the movie memory backward very fast, several times if necessary;
3. Now run it forward at normal speed and reconsider your feelings.
According to the authors, "For most people, the original unpleasant feelings they had have been neutralised. Reliving the experience backward quickly changes the order of the experience in your brain in such a way that the fear is eliminated." But if the process does not work, then the authors assert that "it's because the person only made a movie of themselves going backward, watching themselves do it, instead of actually being inside it, getting the sensations of moving backward." (page 191). After reading this, six very basic questions about this 'new technology' came to mind, (1) What precisely do they mean by 'neutralised fear' and (2) how can they confirm it is neutralised? (3) What do they mean by 'the order of the experience in your brain' and (4) how can they know it has been 'changed'? (5) How on earth can they know if a person did or did not actually relive the experience forward or back ward? And (6) assuming that these feelings have been neutralised, how have they become resources? The book is riddled with sheer supposition delivered in a language designed to denigrate criticism by casting doubt on those who find fault with their reasoning. It utilises a lot of fairly conventional, received wisdom that is intermingled with their rhetoric. So if you find yourself in agreement with the authors, you need to ask where their rhetoric is delineated from the usual and customary--where they begin and what you already believe ends.
CONCLUSION: NLP is currently a fringe approach in the field of psychology. That in itself is not bad. But if you are looking for a historically based, learned treatise on an empirically tested and duplicable, rational approach to psychological and sociological issues, you will be gravely disappointed. It basically comes off as just a lexically inflated volume of pop psychology.
 The term 'positive face' here refers to the work in politeness theory by Brown and Levinson.
Reading the Japanese Mind: The realities behind their thoughts and actions Robert M. March (1996). Kodansha International. ISBN 477020449 $25.00, Hardback. 209 pages (text 9-196 including introduction) Bibliography, Index-fair.
The first thing people in Japan want to know is 'who' is writing a book about Japan, not whether or not there is merit in what they said. The author apparently lived in Japan for a number of years. The jacket says he was a professor of international business at Aoyama Gakuin Daigaku in Tokyo. He also wrote, "The Japanese Negotiator," and "Working for a Japanese Company." Currently he is professor of international business at the University of Western Sydney, and is a consultant and seminar speaker on Japanese business and culture. He was a visiting professor of Japanese studies at the Copenhagen Business School in 1996. The most glaring flaw he demonstrates is the presumption of a stereotype. March is addressing that ubiquitous, political creature of pseudo-mythology, "The Japanese." You know you are in for a few good laughs when the 'world class expert' on Japan writes so myopically about complex societies and cultures. He addresses the 'western concept' of individualism: We are most naturally ourselves when we speak freely, form independent judgements and pursue truth free of social pressure. Yea, right. I remember what happened to me when I was a kid and spoke freely on the issue of racial equality. And I watched what happened when this same western value was expressed by those in opposition to the War in Vietnam. The concept is hardly universally accepted or valued in the west. The groups define the boundries and if speakers exceed the boundries then they are considered excessive and often dealt with extremely. March writes just as nonsensically when he speaks of this concept of individualism in Japan, "The Japanese and Japanese culture know nothing of the sort. For them, the ideal of individualism is unnoble, risky. It shows a lack of common sense." (page 9). He goes on and on. Having worked in labour unions in Tokyo for years, I have seen a great deal of this individualism expressed and the results are very much the same as they are in the States or Spain or wherever.
So March's primary premise is categorically wrong. Has there ever been such a thing as a 'western' country that has been free of this group think, group identity? People are evaluated on their ability to play well with other children. Things do not change much as you get older. Those who aggressively take the lead often go on to enforce group conformity--conformity to their criteria, valuing above all else the ability to fit in. Failure to understand this concept's pervasive position in the so called 'west' hardly encourages me to place much credibility in March's thesis. Perceiving a lack of group boundaries in the United States for example just makes it clear that he is unaware of them or unwilling to acknowledge them. Either way he is incompetent or deliberately misleading. March buys into the usual and customary lines about 'face,' tatemae, honne, collective politeness, etc. He does allow for some reality when he says he wants to reveal the Japanese as they are at the end of the 20th century, "quite a different people to those defeated in 1945." (page 10) He is one of those people who likes to quote Chie Nakane without seeming to understand that she has sown the seeds of his downfall. He evidently missed her critique on intellectuals in Japan: self-serving, self-important, craven, and out of touch. Hardly a group-oriented bunch. I found his table on page 13 intriguing. He compares living in Japan with living in a box: 1. Great familiarity; 2. People know what others think so interpersonal communication is decreased; 3. Privacy is minimal; 4. Social harmony is possible in a small place; 5. Manners customs, rituals, methods of communication are standardised and enable everyone to look good and protect face to sustain harmony; 6. People fit in by supressing agression; 7. Dependency upon identitu developed within restriction is overwhelming; 8. People believe that this is the only world and there is no escape.
I find this to be true of a lot of places outside of Japan. Big cities, small towns, close-knit families, old friends. Maybe he has neglected to notice that most of us live in a box of one size or another.
Benchmarking for Best Practices: Winning through innovative adaptation Christopher E. Bogan & Michael J. English (1994). McGraw-Hill. $29.95, Hardback. 322 pages (text 1-298) Selected Bibliography, Indexes (companies and subjects)
"Benchmarking" is "simply the systematic process of searching for best practices, innovative ideas, and highly effective operating procedures that lead to superior performance." (page 1). This book is supposed to show you how to:
1. Sell benchmarking to the sceptical;
2. Design a benchmarking approach that virtually assures implementation success;
3. Integrate benchmarking to supercharge other key initiatives;
4. Manage best practices knowledge;
5. Build a fast-learning organisation;
6. Spur innovation through creative adaptation of proven practices;
7. Apply benchmarking in the public sector
IN ONLY 298 PAGES!
Superlatives and other mechanics of exaggeration aside, the book is meant to be read for comprehension. The author relies heavily on subheadings and fairly specific description. The examples are very general however. If you want to understand this concept, the book is excellent; if you want to know how to do it in a specific situation, this book will give you an idea about where to start and what questions to ask but that is going to be as far as it goes. The book can be used to teach from or to actually use in an organisation.
Common Sense Negotiation: The art of winning gracefully Donald Farber (1996). Bay Press. ISBN 0941920380 $15.95, Hardback. 158 pages (text 13-158 including 49 pages of appendix) No index
The author is an attorney who also teaches a related class as adjunct lecturer at the New School of Social Research. He is the general editor for one of the definitive texts in the area, "Entertainment Industry Contracts: Negotiating and Drafting Guide." The text is updated three times a year. He has written 6 other books in this field. His expertise and experience as a legal counsel in the performing arts world is extensive as are his contacts. The book is endorsed by authors, politicians and law school faculty. The author defines winning as "getting as much as you have a right to have--neither taking advantage of someone nor settling for less than you are entitled to. Gracefully means convincing the other party that you have a community of interest rather than a conflict of interest." (book jacket). The definition of community of interest is interesting. Basically it means that a legal counsel can represent both parties in a negotiation without a conflict of interest. However, the key to this arrangement is trust of the two p[parties, something that usually takes a long time to establish in his profession. The author claims that this book " will help everyone from seasoned negotiators to novices to create solid, fair deals and strong working relationships."
Having read this I went straight to the appendices of example letters and agreements. The author has actually provided succinct clear explanations of the context and functions of his specimen documents. The documents specifically pertain to legal transactions in the entertainment industry. This creates a broader relevance for EFL teachers whose work encompasses ESP in law, business, performing arts and various other areas of applied linguistics and sociology. The examples can be used for advanced classes or references to prepare teachers who address related issues. In the last section, the author walks us through an actual deal in process that the author actually made some years ago. The deal contained some very intriguing aspects making for a complex picture of business negotiations and law, as pertains to some of the most complex issues in applied linguistics. It is excellent material for those who would like better and current references to real-world process and products in their classes.
The author's primary goal is "to help you create and maintain, within the framework of the deal, a constructive relationship with a person or persons with whom you plan to work over the long term." Farber's ability to teach is evident. He carefully delineates definitions and provides specific specimen of communication acts. He also provides revisions for given examples to show how they can be improved and clear reasons for the revisions. He clearly analysis contracts (written, oral and implied) in such a way that even teachers who do not teach business or law will be able to explain basic cultural tenants of agreements and promises -- one of the biggest topics in 'cultural difference' I have encountered in 12 years of teaching in Japan. Farber has a good section on etiquette and ethics (page 31-36 & 89-90). In the section 'Ground Rules," (37-85) he goes into detail on the topic of context.
CONCLUSION: Highly recommended for readability, realistic context and broad spectrum applicability.
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful lessons in personal change Stephen R. Covey (1989). Fireside (Simon and Schuster) ISBN 0671708635 $14.00, Paperback. 360 pages (text 15-340) Index good
The book is endorsed by self-improvement authors industrial executives, politicians, and business magazine editors (7 pages of endorsements, the most I have seen to date. Endorsements seem to be a burgeoning aspect of this industry). The authors primary business has been seminars and books on group and individual organisation effectiveness> he was a professor of organisation behaviour and business management at Brigham Young University. The envelope please. The Seven Habits are:
1. Be proactive
2. Begin with the end in mind
3. Put first things first
4. Think win/win
5. Seek first to understand -- then be understood
7. Sharpen the saw
In a word-- wordy. Other words come to mind: pop-psychology, vague. The author beats around and around the bush, so much so that I can say that it would not be highly effective to get in the habit of reading books like this. He tells us how the human psyche works (take his word for it), squanders your time in meandering anecdotes (how people survived Nazi Death Camps, etc.) vague diagrams and circuitous definitions. In short the real substance in this book is what the reader brings. It's like a bowl of cold cereal. Read the list of nutrients on the package without the milk and then the list with milk. It becomes clear that the cereal has little nutrition, its all in the milk. Typical of many books in this genre, the best way to describe them is 'Rice Crispies,' people may really like them--they are fun to consume for a segment of the population-- but it is just a lot of snap, crackle and pop.
CONCLUSION: Not recommended to anyone except those looking for classic examples of the self-improvement genre.
Dealing With People You Can't Stand: How to bring out the best in people at their worst Rick Brinkman & Rick Kirschner (1994). McGraw-Hill Inc. ISBN 0070078386 $12.95, Paperback. 216 pages (text 3-191), Appendix 6 pages, No index
This is what the authors do for a living: advise people on their relationships. Reading this book brought to mind the work of Deutsch at Columbia University. Deutsch has done definitive work in personalities types and response to conflict. This text is often funny, and many of the illustrations get the point across well with humour. It is organised with lots of subheadings and clear, descriptive prose in an assertive tone. Like most books in this genre they are very sure of themselves. The authors give hypothetical situations wherein rude people do and say rude things. The labels and descriptions of these personality types are catchy. Some examples are:
The Tank: Confrontational, pointed, angry, leaves a trail of battered egos behind;
Sniper: Cutting unconstructive remarks made to discredit, demean and obstruct;
Grenade: Slow burn followed by explosive ranting about unrelated problems;
Know-it-all: Never in doubt, low tolerance to criticism;
They-think-they-know-it-all: Dominates conversations, oblivious to criticism;
Yes Person: Agrees to do everything, becomes overextended, does poor work and resents everyone for it;
Maybe Person: Procrastinates waiting for the best choice, will not make a decision until it is too late and does things badly at the last minute.
The book's advantage is that it provides labels that are understood quickly and will draw on fairly common experiences (you will recognise people as you read it). This is also the disadvantage--it tends to be oversimplified. People do not fit into such convenient boxes so readily but readers will often look for pegs on which to hang people (if you will pardon the mixed metaphor) and dismiss them and their concerns. For the classroom, I believe this book could guide a teacher to set up situations to describe characters or from which to write model conversations. If the teacher's goal is to apply language to context and people, this would work as a fairly detailed guide for hypothetical situations. In chapters 2-8 the authors explain their approach to communicating with different people and provide the emotional and intellectual basis for resolving conflicts with these people. Chapters 9-18 describe the problem personalities in greater detail in vignettes and provide descriptions of how to interact with them. All throughout the text are humorous epithets (management by the "Seagull System:" Fly in, make a lot of noise, dump on everybody). One recommended technique is "blending." Actually it is a very sound method of engaging in face-saving ploys. By acknowledging common cause, the problem person's realistic goals or qualities are acknowledged before getting to the problem and showing that they are in fact contributing to the problem they are trying to overcome; one blends one's objectives with the problem person's and complements while criticising. This allows the reader to engage in face-saving acts while mitigating face threats. All in all, I found the descriptions and methods of dealing with problems very clear.
CONCLUSION: If you are teaching communication or must negotiate meaning with others, I'd pop for the price of the book. The communication ploys the authors delineate are similar to those used often used by some of the best communicators I have met in the past.
Overcoming Your Strengths: 8 Reasons why successful people derail and how to get back on track Lois P. Frankel (1997). ISBN 01517704145 $25.00, Hardback. 260 pages (text 1-230), Appendices (resources), Index fair
What are the 8 reasons successful people fail?
1. Overlooking the importance of people;
2. Inability to function in a work group;
3. Failure to focus on image and communication;
4. Insensitivity to the reactions of others;
5. Difficulty working with authority;
6. Too broad or too narrow a vision;
7. Indifference to customer or client needs;
8. Working in isolation
Well, maybe. But it occurs to me that any one of these problems could preclude success. So if they have these problems (or all of them) how in the world did they ever become successful--inherited wealth, thievery, galloping fraud? Anyway, it all looks like the stuff I learned as a kid. And much of this book is very general. However, some skills in dealing with 'your' shortcomings are delineated. Listening (pages 42-47) is a skill analysed as problematic and reasonable solutions are outlined. The book employs lists that aid in understanding the author's objectives: Derailment Inventory; Strengths and Weaknesses; Ways to Build Strong Relationships; Meyer-Briggs Type Indicator; etc.
CONCLUSION: Unfortunately, again we have rice crispies and you the reader have to supply the milk (i.e. any real substance). If you are seriously dysfunctional (perhaps you were raised by apes) this may help.
Thom Simmons is adjunct faculty at various daigaku in Metropolitan Tokyo
EXCERPT OF PALE JOURNAL AUGUST 1998 ENDS