Whose job is it to inspire the students?

Whose job is it to inspire the students?

"In the East it's said, when the pupil is ready, the teacher will come." - Doug Rogers in Judoka.

But who is the onus in this case on? I believe it is on the student, as the student has to be ready. But what if the student isn't ready? Do you just wait? As teachers, I don't think waiting is a good idea. I believe it is our role to inspire the students to want to be ready. Therein lies the problem. It's all well and good when students come ready to learn, but that isn't always the case in the current context I am teaching in, and I think that has something to do with the culture of work here in Japan.

Step 1: work hard at school.

Step 2: go to a good university.

Step 3: get a good job.

Step 4: Retire.

Step 5: Die. If you haven't already from step 3.

This isn't always realistic, and it isn't always desirable either. If you do manage to get to step 3, in many cases, what is considered a 'good job' isn't actually one in my view. Many people are overworked and underpaid. I think many of my students are of the opinion that they have no choice but to do their best at number three, as that will 'lead to happiness', or at least the Japanese idea thereof. In many cases from what I've seen this is not the case. At least, when judging by the number of people who strive so hard to get their first job, going through months of "Shukatsu" or the Japanese culture of getting a job only to quit within two or three years. Unfortunately it takes them this long to realise that that's not the only way to happiness, but fortunately they see the situation for what it is, and are in a position to change.

And so I think that my students are stuck in this mindset. That's why they ask whether things are on the test, and it's also why they ask for the answers to be gone through. I think we're giving students the wrong idea about university life. University life should be a way you prepare for future employment, whether self or not. And I think if this was pressed more, i.e. the aim of developing skills for this future, rather than skills for working for someone else, then maybe students will feel inspired to be ready.

This post was inspired by The Fearless Strategies, lessons on fearlessness in Japan, arguably the best place to learn it, by my friend Lucian James.

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Tim Bunting Kiwi Yamabushi

Tim Bunting Kiwi Yamabushi

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Sakata City, Yamagata, Japan 

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