Following the implementation of our (Nexos Comunitarios) ‘Kick-Off’ project (video), I decided to write a series of articles dedicated to the issue of education and sport with the intention to help us explain our vision and hopes towards this project. At the same time, I would l like to apply my own thoughts and ideas.
This topic of education and sport (the essence of play) is something that deeply captures my attention and gives rise to my own aspirations. It would take much longer than a single article to explain everything so I have divided my articles into five sections.
Theme 1: “Education”
Theme 2: “Sport and the Essence of Play”
Theme 3: “Education x Play”
Theme 4: “Education x Play = Gateway for international development”
Theme 5: “Origin of the Kick-Off Project and the origins of my dream Asobi-Gokoro”
I will be posting each article weekly. In these articles, I will be reflecting on my personal experience to explain my ideas. However, it is my intention to introduce you to the root of the implementation of our Kick-Off project. I am confident in saying that this is not just any ‘good project’, but that we are introducing a potentially amazing project.
Before we get into the content, I want to share a small thing about myself. I am enthusiastic about this topic and I always wanted to share my belief with others. But, my discreet personality, being Japanese, has made me little hesitant towards openly sharing my ideas on social media. Also, I often felt it needed to be perfectly written to be approved of and praised by others. But I have realized this perfectionist ideal of mine is doing no good for me, so I have changed my mind. It is like having lifted a huge burden from my shoulders. You will find it soon enough, but I will be writing this article in a very frank way as I speak for several reasons. One, I believe it conveys my message much easier and clearer for everyone. Two, it allows me to be open and transparent with my ideas. Three, it just makes my life easier by writing in the style that I am most comfortable with.
So I’m sure it is not perfectly written, but I’m pretty happy to have it this way.
My first article for this week is part 1 of Theme 1 “Education”. In order to explain the Kick-Off project, this is essential reading to understand how NC sees education.
Theme 1 “Education”
Part 1: Good Education -> Good Job theory
Okay, so in this article, my goal is to identify the dominant discourse of how we understand “education”. First question, “what is education”? Don’t be a smart-ass and try to end this discussion by searching the definition of education in the dictionary. What I intend to do is a little more than that. But, looking for the definition will be a good place to start. According to the dictionary (that it is embedded in my MacBook), it states “the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university.” I believe there will be a no single person who will disagree with this definition. Indeed, education has become such a norm in our lives that we do not take much time to really think about it deeply. If I could have a time machine and go back to 2010 when I started my high school life, I would probably have had the following conversation with myself…
Me 2019: “Hey I just took a time machine to ask you some questions?”
Me 2010: “….. okay”
Me 2019: “Okay so, my first question is… what does it mean having a good education?
Me 2010: “… That’s the question?… I thought it would be something more interesting.”
Me 2019: “Well this is a pretty interesting topic. And you will soon realize… in about 9 years.”
Me 2010: “…. Okay… I guess having a good education is doing good at school.”
Me 2019: “And what does it mean by doing good in school?”
Me 2010: “Ah…. It means to study hard and get a good grade”
Me 2019: “Why receiving good grade is important?”
Me 2010: “…. Because, you kind of need that to get into good universities.”
Me 2019: “And why is that going to a good university important?”
Me 2010: “… omg… is this an endless question?
Me 2019: “No no no, don’t worry, it is not.”
Me 2010: “…ok… because a degree from a good university can get us a good job.”
Me 2019: “So you are going to university to get a good job?”
Me 2010: “Well… not just that…. I’ll say… education also gives us knowledge and skills. Well, to begin with without knowledge, you can’t even get a good grade nor get accepted into university, of course…”
Me 2019: “Okay, then, what do you mean by a ‘good job’ and why it is important?”
Me 2010: “… a good job is basically a good paid job. And it’s important because you need money to be successful.”
Me 2019: “Okay so to summarize, you are receiving education to gain knowledge that allows you to have a good paid job to be successful?”
Me 2010: “Umm… yes I guess you can say that.”
What do you see from this conversation? First, you see ‘Me 2010’ as seemingly confused and even irritated about been asked so many questions about school. I was in the middle of a teenager going through a rebellious phase, so it’s understandable. Second, you see a clear linkage between “good education” – “good degree” – “good job” – “Successful life”. If there is ‘child A’ with a high academic achievement that has the capacity to go a prestigious university, and ‘child B’ who is illiterate and always in trouble at school, which do you prefer to have as your kid? Probably ‘child A’, because they have a much better education that allows them to have greater opportunities in life.
I believe this is a common understanding of how we see education in general. Indeed, after living abroad, I realized how intense Japanese students study to get into universities. During the last year of high school, we dedicate ourselves for the entrance exam of universities. I was in a relatively academically competitive high school, and remember our teachers telling us “at least study 10 hours per day to prepare yourself for the entrance exam of universities. This will determine your career.” It was and still is, very common for us to go to cramming school to study just to prepare ourselves for the entrance exam for the university that you want to get in. Many of my friends went straight to cramming school after school and studied there until around 10 pm and then go home. So pretty much studying from 8am to 10 pm, everyday… You might be wondering if I was studying like this. No, I wasn’t. I applied for university in Canada where there were no entrance exams (just with the grade from my high school). So I was actually super bored in my last year of high school having no-one to hang out with after school. I remember I was doing a part-time job and watching the whole series of ‘Prison Break’, as an excuse to “practice my English”. Anyway, you see how we prioritized so much on getting accepted for universities that “education” became as more like “studying to get into good universities.” The value placed upon the names of universities is so strong that it gives great advantages (and disadvantages) when you are searching for your career.
I personally want to call this good education = good job theory. Not just Japan, in the field of international development, education is always a crucial topic and I believe good education -> good job theory is the dominant discourse. I will discuss the relationship between education and international development in my Theme 4: “Education x Play = Gateway for international development”.
So, what I wanted to mention in this article is that good education -> good job theory is a dominant discourse. But I want you to think carefully: is this how education should be interpreted? What I have realized especially during these two years of experience in working as a field worker in Peru is that I have started thinking in a different perspective. To clarify, I am not denying the importance of good education -> good job theory. Not at all. Indeed, it is crucial in our capitalist society. What I like to address is that I feel there is another theory have been overlooked or undervalued in the shade of the presence of good education -> good job theory. That is, what I call good education -> good human theory. I will further discuss this topic in my next article part 2 of Theme 1 “Education”. I believe it will be something will be worth reading!
And, thank you for reading my first article!