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Camaraderie and self-governance in Japanese "educational Dormitories": An ethnographic case study of a university dorm construction project

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Abstract:

Japanese educators make great use of self-directed student activities (Shimahara, 1986). While this aspect of Japanese teaching styles has been examined (e.g., Stevenson & Stigler, 1992), few have bothered to examine the educational value placed on school life outside the classroom despite the stable position occupied within the Japanese Course of Study by “special activities” and “non-academic activities”.

Researchers such as Thomas Rohlen (1996) have shown how traditional Japanese modes of seishin kyoiku (spiritual training) incorporate elaborate forms of initiation for entrants into an organization, facilitating a strong sense of camaraderie and group loyalty. This pervades throughout the school experience, particularly in the sempai-kohai (senior-junior) relationships that develop as strong bonds within extracurricular activities (e.g. Fukusawa & LeTendre, 2001). The inescapable nature of these bonds has been criticized, conversely, for encouraging conformism (Yoneyama, 1999).

However, the relationships among residents in a university dormitory, together with its self-governance practices, have not been widely and systematically studied or discussed as part of the educational experience. This is particularly a concern inasmuch as Japanese universities, under the influence of global trends toward consumerist models of facilities provision, are undergoing a period of potentially dramatic change (Freeman & Thomas, 2005; Varghese, 2009).

This paper presents initial findings from a yearlong ethnographic project examining the communal experience of dormitory life on the campus of International Christian University, which holds educational goals for the dormitories and is currently undergoing a large-scale dormitory construction and reconstruction project. The study documents aspects of camaraderie and self-governance that have long been in place and residents’ struggle to come to terms with new facilities arrangements as well as the meaning of “educational dormitories.”
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Association:
Name: 55th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society
URL:
http://www.cies.us


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p486494_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Walker, Casey., Albert, Guillaume. and Langager, Mark. "Camaraderie and self-governance in Japanese "educational Dormitories": An ethnographic case study of a university dorm construction project" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 55th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society, Fairmont Le Reine Elizabeth, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, May 01, 2011 <Not Available>. 2014-11-26 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p486494_index.html>

APA Citation:

Walker, C. , Albert, G. and Langager, M. W. , 2011-05-01 "Camaraderie and self-governance in Japanese "educational Dormitories": An ethnographic case study of a university dorm construction project" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 55th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society, Fairmont Le Reine Elizabeth, Montreal, Quebec, Canada <Not Available>. 2014-11-26 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p486494_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: Japanese educators make great use of self-directed student activities (Shimahara, 1986). While this aspect of Japanese teaching styles has been examined (e.g., Stevenson & Stigler, 1992), few have bothered to examine the educational value placed on school life outside the classroom despite the stable position occupied within the Japanese Course of Study by “special activities” and “non-academic activities”.

Researchers such as Thomas Rohlen (1996) have shown how traditional Japanese modes of seishin kyoiku (spiritual training) incorporate elaborate forms of initiation for entrants into an organization, facilitating a strong sense of camaraderie and group loyalty. This pervades throughout the school experience, particularly in the sempai-kohai (senior-junior) relationships that develop as strong bonds within extracurricular activities (e.g. Fukusawa & LeTendre, 2001). The inescapable nature of these bonds has been criticized, conversely, for encouraging conformism (Yoneyama, 1999).

However, the relationships among residents in a university dormitory, together with its self-governance practices, have not been widely and systematically studied or discussed as part of the educational experience. This is particularly a concern inasmuch as Japanese universities, under the influence of global trends toward consumerist models of facilities provision, are undergoing a period of potentially dramatic change (Freeman & Thomas, 2005; Varghese, 2009).

This paper presents initial findings from a yearlong ethnographic project examining the communal experience of dormitory life on the campus of International Christian University, which holds educational goals for the dormitories and is currently undergoing a large-scale dormitory construction and reconstruction project. The study documents aspects of camaraderie and self-governance that have long been in place and residents’ struggle to come to terms with new facilities arrangements as well as the meaning of “educational dormitories.”


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