May 7, 2008

Studying is In-Part 2

I can't believe it's been about two weeks since I posted Studying is In-Part 1. Sorry for your waiting for Part2, in which I was going to explain the reasons behind the enthusiasm for study. I have been busy, studying.

So why do we study, anyway?

I've been thinking about the reasons why. Here's what I've come up with:

1. Study sells.
It's a kind of "hegemony" in which we buy into the ideas which mass media, publishers, and schools for working people promote through advertisements. These industries make us believe that we need to keep studying, otherwise we are going to get behind and have trouble. That's the way marketing is. Companies always want us to pay more, sending us messages that they will solve our "problems." Hence, we seem to have developed "we've got to do something about it" mentality.

2. Studying as a safety net
The industries are probably fueling demand for studying.
At the same time, we are convinced to do so because we actually face a lot of challenges. Younger generations, especially the second-generation of baby boomers in their late 20s and early 30s, or 団塊ジュニア(dankai junior), are called one of the most disadvantageous generations because they have been exposed to intense competition. They tend to be serious about improving their skills.

According to official stats, Japan's economy was booming in the last few years or so (I didn't even realize when it happened). However, it seems that those who receive benefit from the boom are newly hired employees and college graduate job-seekers. Not second-generation of baby boomers who struggled to survive "the glacial age," or 氷河期 (hyoga-ki), when jobs were so hard to come by. The survivors have become programmed to keep studying for an anticipated difficult situation. Studying is a solution to cope with anxieties and live through the seemingly uncertain society.

3. The Paradigm Shift
The uni-cultural society is finally getting diverse and once-unusual ways of life are now being widely-accepted. . Being a generalist used to be a norm for most of the Japanese company employees. However, we have seen a shift towards being a specialist in the last decade or so. Starting your your business is becoming common in this conservative country where people tend to rely on lifetime employment, rather than challenging yourself in a new field. Getting a certificate and/or achieving special skills is a plus (maybe a must) to be successful and stand out in your company, even if you choose to remain to be a company employee.

4. Instinct
Like appetite, we simply want to learn something new. We love it because it's entertaining. It's inherited through genes. Look at kids. Their eyes sparkle when they try or find something new. My curiosity about foreign countries has been the main drive of learning English. It makes my life more fulfilled.

5. Meditation
This is a very personal reason. Studying is a process in which I trust myself, believe in a better future, and gain confidence by listening to my inner voice and spending time by myself. (The photo shown above was taken at a place of quiet "meditation.")

The above list turned out be shorter and simpler than I expected. I'm a bit disappointed that I couldn't come up with more. I have to improve my skills to analyze current social phenomena. Oh, I gotta go now to study...


Meghan said...

This post is very interesting and profound. I'm glad you shared your thoughts on the study trend going on in Japan right now.

Karen said...

Thank you, Meghan. I tried to write a post in which you can put yourself in our shoes. Hope it also helped you learn new words in kanji.