As I have written on many occasions, today’s Japanese youth is not in as bad of a place as you think (Ref.1). They are just perceiving the world differently from conventional Japanese views, and therefore are taking courses of action that diverge from traditional paths.
I hope you remember Mr. Saisyo (in Japanese), a Waseda University student who took leave of absence from school and founded the ‘Dragon Cherry Blossoms E-education’ in collaboration with Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. I have great respect for his work and so I’ve written about his story and his progress in many different entries (Ref.1, 2).
After being on ‘sabbatical’ for two years, he has returned to school. To hold his place, Waseda charged him 100,000 yen (1,200 dollars) for each year of absence. I do not agree with this policy. It seems to me the University should encourage such experience by reducing the tuition. Still, Mr. Saisyo’s friend, Mr. Miyoshi (in Japanese), is now traveling around the world to discover his passion for the thing he really wants to do in his life.
I spoke with Mr. Saisyo soon after he returned to Japan. I listened to the difficulties he faced, learned of all the plans he worked on, and discovered how though his work was very challenging, the tasks were extremely rewarding. He also told me that after spending 2 years in Bangladesh, he is able to see that the focus and seriousness between the teachers and the students at Waseda is severely lacking.
Recently, I introduced another group, Mr. Matsuda (in Japanese) (Ref.1) of ‘Learning For All’ (in Japanese) and Ms. Muto, a proxy for Mr. Fukazawa, the secretary-general, to speak at a 2 hour meeting hosted by the National Institute for Educational Policy Research of MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology).
They spoke about a new organization that will appear in Japan soon. ‘Learning For All’ is a new project in Japan that is a prerequisite to associate with ‘Teach for America’, a highly respected organization amongst American college graduates of which I wrote about 2 years ago. Teach for America is a body of outstanding college graduates from all different backgrounds. They commit to two years of teaching in urban and rural public schools of underprivileged communities of USA, abecoming leaders and broadening opportunity for themselves as well as for the students they teach. Still in it’s infancy, Mr. Matsuda and his colleagues plan to test and prepare the details and operations of ‘Learning for All’ for two years before making ‘it a public opportunity in Japan.
In the beginning of the meeting, the officers at MEXT were curious about many things. In particular, they wanted to know why Mr. Matsuda began such a project and how it could be funded. But as they listened to Mr. Matsuda, they gradually understood his passion and the deep implications such an organization could have on the Japanese youth and education. I felt this visit very worthwhile. Thank you all for your time and commitment.
As adults, it is our responsibility to help youth with dreams and passion explore as many paths as possible and to alleviate whatever obstacles might be in their way They will benefit from our helpful guidance, but to block their way is a sin. Big cheers to all the youth!! I ask you all to please join me in supporting them in becoming diverse and impassioned. . They are our only future.