Subscribe to the Mountains of Wisdom Mailer

* indicates required



You can do a better job of indoctrinating people if you let them learn at their own pace

Japan seems to have a strange infatuation with everyone doing everything at the same time. In general, they don’t have students move up or stay on in a year level, and the reason I got when I asked was that they value the group being together right from the early years.

That theory gets a bit wonky when you go to a different school, say junior high or high school, and goes completely out of whack when you consider university or life after formal schooling.

Plus, I’m pretty sure I’m a rarity here, but I still have regular contact with one person I’ve known since he was born, and one very good friend I made in primary school, but besides that, I don’t really spend any time with people I’ve known from primary school.

Anyway, the point I want to make is that, maybe they missed the memo about how self-guided learning and allowing students to work at their own pace leads to better results.

If you set tasks effectively, the students who are naturally gifted can just get on with the work, and that frees up your time to work with the lower-level students on a more personal basis. I’ve especially noticed this recently because I’ve been doing just that with my online writing course.

Either way, and I’m being highly cynical here, I realise that, school is very much a rite of passage in Japan, rather than a place you go to to get qualified. It’s much more obvious here that school is designed to build workers.

If you look at the difference between the last year of elementary and the end of the first year of junior high, it’s pretty obvious that the students have become indoctrinated. They become a shell of their former selves, and it truly saddens me. I think it comes about through highly regimented schooling and unwavering obedience to the teacher, which in some cases I feel is unwarranted.

What’s the solution? Maybe get out of war-time education and give students more agency in their schoolwork? If your aim is to create more workers, that would be a more efficient use of your time. If you want to create intuitive, curious, and open students, maybe change to projects that allow them to develop their curiosity into worthwhile abilities?

Rant over.

Tim Bunting Kiwi Yamabushi


Hi, I’m Tim Bunting AKA the Kiwi Yamabushi, a New Zealander who became a Yamabushi Ascetic in the Dewa Sanzan mountains of north Japan. I’m part of the Yamabushido team, and we host life-altering Yamabushi training on the Dewa Sanzan (website link). People come to us for the ultimate mindfulness experience, to reach the next level, or simply connect with nature and themselves.

I’m on a mission to summit all 100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata Prefecture to spread the splendour of this fabulous location, and in dedication to all those who lost their lives out in nature, including my father.

On my daily blog I post thoughts of a practicing Yamabushi that I hope people can use to better themselves and live as fulfilling a life as possible.

Sign up to the weekly Mountains of Wisdom newsletter, follow me on social (Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, TikTok, Clubhouse, all @kiwiyamabushi), or send me an email via the link below to stay in touch.



Subscribe to my weekly yamabushi newsletter


painting of a boxer on wall
Hit the Ground Running: Start your New Year’s Resolutions Now
selective focus photography of traffic light
Life is all the permission you need
painting of a boxer on wall
The ultimate Dojo


two man hiking on snow mountain
Making allowances
back view of a woman walking on a log in the forest
Uketamo past, present, future: how to get over things
No Offense


Books and language, culture and language
black and red typewriter on white table
Ideas that spread – My experience with plagiarism


Get In Touch

Sakata City, Yamagata, Japan 


All photos my own. Contact for more. 

Share this:

Like this:

Like Loading...
Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: