because kids and teenagers problems are social issues

Civility, respect and responsibility

It was a beautiful sunny morning; unlike the previous three months, it was neither raining nor snowing. At 7:30 in the morning, there were already more than 20 cross-border commuters lining up for the public transport. On the same street “Place de la liberté”, there was a local bus waiting for the traffic light to turn green. We watched in disgust as four teenage girls opened its window and threw empty cartons of orange juice that landed in front of the queueing passengers. I got out of the queue and picked these up then gave them a disappointing look wondering whether they realised that they had just exposed publicly their uncivility. When I returned from the nearest bin, their bus had left and mine had arrived, and no one uttered a word.

I didn’t think twice; picking up that litter was an instinctive reaction. I didn’t expect or want recognition from anyone; however, if I see you removing a piece of rubbish left lying in a public place, I’ll definitely give you some words of encouragement. Littering is hazardous for our health and environment.

During my first two years in France, while in parks and playgrounds with my toddler, I used to pick up wrappers of snacks and boxes of juice and put these in the bin while asking myself whether it was the kids or their parents who littered.

Whose responsibility is it when children litter: parents or society?

We, as parents, have an immense responsibility and opportunity in educating our children to be respectful of people, properties and our environment. Our words and actions help shape our children’s values and behaviours. If they deliberately litter, we must tell them why this is unacceptable. (When my son was 3 years old, he said, “Mummy’s bag is a fridge and a bin” because I had water, snacks and fruits every time we went out and kept all wrappers till we found a garbage bin). If the parents litter, their children are likely to do the same, and this is a societal problem.

Inequality and Precarity in Japan - The Sorry Achievements of Abenomics





「できるだけ多くの角度から論点を明らかに」(**) せよということですので、そのように検証しました。そうですね。悪魔/神は細部に宿るといいますものね。ぜひ私たちの記事に目を通していただきたい。



Awards and Prizes

Last Thursday, I was invited to the Warwick University (UK) Academic Excellence Award Ceremony. It was much smaller than the similar occasion at Sorbonne University I attended in 2011, but it was just as awesome observing the cream of the crop received their certificate of recognition, listening to the quartet while socialising and drinking, and watching gifted and talented young people interact with each other and wondering what they will become. With a population of about 13, 000 undergraduate students, only 61 from the Faculties of Arts, Science and Social Sciences were publicly congratulated during this annual occasion (about 0.5%). The figure is even less in other educational institutions, and not all gifted students are awarded considering that there are about 2% of them. Is it unfair to give awards to just a few? Should we celebrate students’ excellent achievements?

Though we are accustomed to giving awards and prizes from elementary (e.g. honours) to tertiary education (e.g. scholarships), not all educators agree to this practice, and there’s a growing number of them who think this is a form of elitism. One argument is that this promotes individual success as opposed to group accomplishment or teamwork. They question the impact of this practice to those who don’t get awards even when they work hard?

Parenting, Family Entertainment and Children's Development

I’m afraid my article on French politics will be for next fortnight because something disconcerting caught my attention last week. March 17-19 was Spring Film Festival and a cinema ticket was only 3.50 Euros all over France (instead of E6.80 for under 12yo and E10.45 adults, respectively), which was a real bargain and an opportunity for families to go out and have fun.

Since I had already seen all OSCARised films, such as The Artist and Iron Lady, I opted for the French film ‘Les Infideles’ (The Players) that stars Jean Dujardin (2011 Best Actor). My film finished at 7:20pm (this was Tuesday) and I was amazed by the number of people, from preschoolers to seniors, queuing. Since rooms of good films got filled up quickly, late comers watched whatever they could because they didn’t want to miss out on this annual promotion.

While waiting to exit, a family of 5 got in and stood beside me discussing what movie to watch. The mother said, “On va regarder ‘Les Infideles’.” My heartbeat doubled and brain cells moved in different direction looking astonishingly at this family. I couldn’t help myself from telling them that it wasn’t for children. The mother asked me why and I had difficulty explaining, in the presence of 12yo and 10yo boys & 9 yo girl, that this film has explicit and highly detailed pictorial depiction of sex and marriage and ‘offensive’ reference to sexual behaviours. Adults may find the scenes of fooling around and sexual jokes amusing, especially the fornication and buttocks of JD, but it should be off-limits for minors. The family, most probably, didn’t watch the film because either they were dissuaded by my comments or refused entry.

Letter from Ogura Noboru Hanshi

I am happy to know that many readers have read the blog (in English, Czech, French, and Japanese) on Ogura Noboru sensei. So, I told Ogura sensei about that and asked him to write a new article. Within a week or so, he replied and enclosed four articles which he contributed to a local newspaper.

Are young people disrespectful?

Today, at our local supermarket a youth was disappointed that his restpectfulness didn't yield a positive result. He thought the elderly didn’t sympathise with and understand him; "likewise, the latter expressed irritability that the former dared to ask to jump the queue. Was it intergenerational gap? There are differences between younger and older people due to rapid cultural and technological changes that affect values, behaviours and choice of communication style, food, music, clothes, etc.

Intergenerational gap impacts on personal, social and professional spheres: children – parents/grandparents, employee – employers/bosses, teachers/professors – students, service/good providers – clients/customers, etc. It can cause problems at home, misunderstanding at work, failure at school, etc. This gap is even wider when it involves immigrant and refugee families. For example, stereotypes of coloured-skin youth in a predominantly white neighborhood may lead to insecurity and fear among elderly, particularly when the media and entertainment subjectively condemn these young people for crime and deviance. Similarly, policing strategy that includes identifying young people at risk and their environments can have negative labelling effects. Older generation law enforcement officers may target loud young people – labelled as “nuisance” – hanging out in poor areas populated by immigrants.





Building a global one world classroom

This guy is cool! He shows how new technologies can effectively help teachers with teaching, and the children with learning... by doing things differently. He calls it "flipping the classroom." Students are free to take their lessons/lectures via video posted on the Internet from anywhere they want and the time spent with the teacher in the classroom is dedicated to do their homework. The videos are well conceived and it seems that they are appealing even to the kids who have learning difficulties (e.g., children with autism).

Even without major learning difficulties and disorders, some kids may not like schools. I recall the first day of an elementary school... A sense of agony, torture. I found it eternally hard to sit still on a hard chair all day long...

Old days are gone. It is amusing to imagine that a kid in Calcutta may tutor math for a Belgian kid via the Internet, and play WoW together after the tutoring session, etc...

Inspiring Our Young People and Students

Last month, I made a surprise visit to my high school Alma Mater and since my former teachers were so delighted to see me and they were having a Nutrition Week assembly, I was asked to give a speech. One good thing about an unprepared speech is that you speak from the heart of issues that you strongly believe in; and for me, these are hard work, honesty, generosity and simplicity. Coincidentally, two days ago, there was a Writer's Digest weekly writing prompt on being an inspirational keynote speaker in a graduation ceremony. I participated focusing on the same issues and here's my entry:

When I was 16 years old like most of you and wearing that same uniform, my Dad announced I got a scholarship. I had a mixed feeling: happy because I could go to college but sad to leave my family and friends. As a condition of the scholarship, I had to do a degree I hadn’t heard of in a province where I didn’t speak the local dialect. I wouldn’t be standing here in front of you if I refused that scholarship. Having no regular income, my parents asked help from their relatives for our traveling expenses. Dad didn’t have money to stay even just for a night, so he left me with less than a dollar until my stipend arrived a fortnight’s later. I survived through the generosity of other students.

Alternative solution to the challenges faced by Malawian children

While doing grocery shopping yesterday, I picked up the DVD and watched it last night. The film was "I am because we are," the documentary film directed by Nathan Rissman and produced and narrated by Madonna.

Asking myself "how can we help and protect the children orphaned by the AIDS epidemic in Malawi?" I immediately thought of Dr. Sugata Mitra's Hole-in-the-Wall initiative, the acclaimed approach to help impoverished children learn, using computers and the Internet.

Troubled teenagers and Martial Arts (Bujutsu) (in Japanese) - summary

Juvenile delinquency, drug abuse, violent crimes, and other problems among angry teenagers exposed to domestic violence in their homes, or kids raised without a father-figure present … How can we help them?

I hope not to sound like a Japanese right winger, a fan of Mishima Yukio, or something like that.  But, I guess Japanese troubled kids no longer need disastrous educational policies, but maybe martial arts can be so helpful for some kids.


Budo Center

昨年12月のバルセロナ。サグラダ・ファミリア (聖家族教会)付近の地下鉄ホームで電車を待っていると、嬉しそうに買ったばかりの本を袋から出して眺めている大柄のスペイン人青年がやって来た。本はイナゾー・ニトベのBUSHIDOと武術の写真集。本に触れたりページを開く眼差しに何かほのぼのとした愛情や善良さを感じる。微笑ましく眺めていると、その彼が近づいて来て「日本人の方ですか。僕は武術の稽古をしているんですよ」と話しかけてくれた。おでこと腹を押さえて「日本の文化や気の集中法はすばらしい」と言っているのが分かる。

“Inactivity” as the political power of the young (in Japanese) - abstract

In Japan we have many NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training -- ), Freeter (un- or  under-employed, freelance workers), Hikikomori (being confined, reclusive socially withdrawn), Sesshoku shogai (eating disorder)…The young may not know how to properly express their anger, but they say “No!” to their society and tradition through “inactivity.”



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