Yesterday, I mentioned Vic Kobayashi’s recollection of school guidance being joked about as 外ダンス by Japanese teachers during the occupation period.
Today, I had a discussion with Hanae Tsukada who is doing her PhD in Ed Studies here at UBC, about some of her research on the internationalization of higher education in Japan. We got to talking about the strong prevailing sense that the generation of Japanese young people who has graduated university in the 2000s seems to be much more insular/inward-looking than 1990s graduates. This is a view I’ve also heard from a graduate in our MA Asia Pacific Policy Studies recently.
When Hanae and I were wondering what might explain this shift, I mentioned that I don’t see anything in juku (as also representing school life and teaching materials) that would make children particularly more insular at least not as compared a decade ago.
In her research, Hanae has noticed, however, that educational institutions are now applying much more pressure on their students to be proactive in career-planning etc. At many universities this means that 就職ガイダンス (employment guidance) has now become much more formalized. To me this sounds like a close parallel to the consulting roles that juku are increasingly taken on.
This formalization is in contrast to the more relaxed employment advice that Japanese students may have relied on in the 1990s, particularly though alumni and 先輩 (sempai – students ahead of current students in clubs, majors, institutions) relations.
This formalization coupled with advice to follow a more straight-and-narrow employment path (that still doesn’t include stints abroad) may be making current graduates more insular.