Table Speech

“Recent University Students”

April 19, 2006

Mr. Kazuhiko Yamaki
Waseda University


University students these days are very immature. Sadly, these students are not embarrassed by this. They want to form small groups. They form a small clique of those with whom they are familiar. I think that this is due to the declining birth rate. They have no siblings and they seek this in the schooling.
They lack the independence of will. Among the university students who are job hunting, those who have confidence in their independence are only about 30%. This is a very serious figure. As an expression of this lack of independent will, there are very few who are able to exercise leadership. No one wants to fill the role where he or she is the leader.
They lack social skills. They do not know the basic manners. They cannot properly express greetings. There are even increasing numbers who cannot say. “Thank you”. There are those that enter from the front door while the class is in session and walk right across in front of me. There are female students who yawn without covering their mouths.
They are not able to express themselves. They cannot voice their opinions. Whether they have no opinions or just can’t think of one at the time, whether they don’t understand or whether they are opposed, I keep telling them that unless you express it verbally, it will not be understood by the other party. It is also troubling that they are not able to write long phrases in their exam answers.
They are not able to distinguish between private and public matters, and they converse in loud voices in front of classrooms and laboratories about private matters.
What are the causes for their behaving in such a manner? It is due to the environment in which they grew up, which has become excessively homogenized. The society they see and the society they experience is homogenized. The prep schools that they attend are full of people with the same purpose. Children become adults without having the opportunity of having been able to connect with different types of people. For example, the children who grew up purely in a forcing house are now attending university.
I have spoken many unkind words, but it is not all bad. Students are surprisingly straightforward. They are not irresponsibly critical of society or organizations. They absorb without question what we teach them. Thus, we, the adults, need to teach the young generation.
Aristotle, in his “About Soul” says, “Even vegetation has soul. Animals have soul, and human also have soul. The soul of vegetation will move their bodies to obtain nourishment. Animals have freedom of movement. Humans, in addition to the souls of vegetation and animals have an intellectual soul. Humans use this to make intelligent decisions”.
Putting this in the perspective of the stage of human growth, the first appearance in people is the vegetable aspect, which is the basis, and gradually the animalistic elements evolve. This is the wildness in the youth. When they get to university age, it is thought that they add the intellectual portions and begin to mature as man. When people are young, they must grow up in a society where it is made up of people who are diverse. By growing up among diverse people, and when they reach youth, they need to mix among different types of people to polish themselves. Soil, called the society, requires that we keep maintaining it. It is necessary to provide mutual cooperation, to share joy and share sadness, or a society, which is built upon relationship among people is needed.
Humans cannot be produced as industrial products. Time is needed for fruit to ripen. At the same time, it is not enough to look after only your child, but you need to maintain a perspective on the environment and the ground in which they grow and to see that this is the world in which my child will grow.
Japanese society has modernized, and individualism is seen to be a good thing. But if this were carried to the extreme, it would reach a point that people pretend not to see no matter what the other children do. I am very concerned that we need to do something with the ability of the debilitated soil and education.