Columns on ELTNEWS.com View All Columns
Visit ELTBOOKS - all Western ELT Books with 20% discount (Japan only)

The Uni-Files

A candid look at EFL life and lessons from a university teacher's perspective.

July 01, 2011

How to talk to Japanese women- EFL Version

I can imagine that some readers might have arrived here after Googling "How to meet Japanese girls" or some such thing. If you have, you've probably come to the wrong place. This is about how to manage English classes that are all, or predominantly, female in Japan. (In my university medical courses the M-FD ratio is about 55% M, 45% F. In Nursing classes it is 85% F. In the few classes I teach outside the university the Fs make up about 90%).

Let me start with what should be obvious-- the dynamics of female-dominated and male-dominated classes in Japan are palpably different (ask F teachers who teach all-male classes). Anyone standing in denial of this has probably not been in a Japanese university-level classroom (and is probably the type of person who thinks that Finnish and Brazilian cultures are pretty much the same because, hey, they're all just people).

Yes, it's true that neither classrooms nor genders are monolithic entities...
And yes, there are males who display some traits that we might normally apply to females- and vice versa. Yes, individual, idiosyncratic, psychological make up is always a significant factor-- but none of these change the fact that the general flow, rhythm, and atmosphere of all-female classes are not the same as with the men. So yes, some generalizations will ensue. And keep in mind that these comments are about Japanese students in an EFL classroom- they are not meant to represent all women. The interpretation as to which elements are gender-based and which are cultural or even domain-centered (the EFL classroom) is variable. So, YMMV.

All of this becomes especially pronounced when the teacher of the F-dominated class is a male, which is obviously the perspective I am taking today. After all, since I have never, to the best of my knowledge, been a female I cannot say anything meaningful about F teacher-F student dynamics.

So, how does the presence of overwhelming femaleness (dare I say feminimity?) affect classroom management? What adjustments or considerations should the M-teacher take into account? Here are 8 hints I can offer based on twenty years of dealing with numerous F-dominant classes in Japan, man of the teaching world that I am:

1. remembering JF names
All students want you to remember their names. It's validating-- they've made an impression upon your consciousness. But you know the situation-- you're walking down the hall and you see three of your students. You greet two by name but the third one eludes you. Most M students don't have a lot of trouble with this but the Fs take it very seriously. There is an almost automaic "He doesn't remember my name because he hates me and thinks I'm ugly and stupid and he remembers hers because he thinks she is pretty" quality in response to sensei not remembering JF names.

The (partial) solution? Make an extended effort to remember the names of quiet, simple, plain, unobtrusive Fs. They will very much appreciate this. The ones with big personalities or hairdos know you will remember their names soon anyway. And no one can claim that you are remembering names based on some vavoom or pizzaz factor.

2. notes/comprehensive detail
JFs are much neater and more organized than JMs in terms of sharp, crisp, clean note-taking and highlighting. This probably extends worldwide. JFs are usually much more comprehensive and careful about detail as well but this fastidiousness can actually hurt them. How?

Take the erasing fetish for example. JFs will often wipe out an entire sentence in order to 'fix' what, to them, is a poorly drawn dot on an i. Brainstorming sessions where "write six words you associate with summer" is written on the board will begin with her writing her name, student number, and "write six words you associate with summer" on a sheet of very new paper that she has carefully removed from her binder from deep within her bag, long after the scheduled brainstorming task time has passed.

Making a 'no erasers' rule and keeping strict time on such tasks may eliminate this unproductive behaviour.

3. cliques and partnering; chattering
I'll agree with a popular stereotype here. F students form cliques- and stand by them- more quickly and deeply than males and, related to this, will use more class time to chatter. Speech-based tasks make this clear. Many students, M and F, will quickly finish the task (often in a slipshod way). Ms will usually kick back or veg out at this point whereas Fs will almost inevitably extend the speaking task-- into personal chatter in Japanese. Sometimes when this happens the teacher assumes that the students are still dilligently on task.

Solutions? Partner or group students outside cliques or circles of friends (in mixed classes M-F pairs are great for getting both members to concentrate on the task). When extended chatter occurs sit down next to the pair as if to be 'listening in' on the task. They'll soon stop. Also- let students know that a task should be continued until a certain time and a have a follow up task or extension at hand to keep the chat devil away from those idle lips.

4. scolding/giving back bad results or re-tests
"Hell hath no fury...". Shakespeare was an EFL teacher in Japan it seems. Obviously humiliating students is never kosher but sometimes a firm hand is required-- hopefully to benefit the students as opposed to merely providing an outlet for the teacher's frustration. IMO, generally, males take scoldings much better than females. Perhaps they view it as a positive challenge. Many Ms seem to have been exposed to verbal tongue-lashings in clubs previously and thus take it in stride.

This is rarely so with Fs who will remember your vitriol for a long time, take it very personally-- possibly as an attack on her whole person-- and even drag her friends into an anti-teacher hatefest. Taking extreme care in scolding or critcism extends to giving back poor results or calling for re-tests. Some Ms seem to take doing poorly in English almost as a badge of male honour. The Fs do not. Feedback regarding poor work should be discrete and encouraging. That is a good rule for all negative feedback but doubly so for Fs.

5. dealing with Leggy Keiko/commenting on appearances
I'm sure that some male reader have scanned precisely to this spot. Fair enough. M teachers will know the experience of going into the JF classroom and being confronted by a pair of ostentatiously displayed legs or three, within obvious eyeshot (of course being the consummate professional I've only heard about this...). You will tell yourself, "Don't look at the legs! don't look at the legs" which is like telling yourself not to think of little pink elephants- now you are more conscious of little pink elephants than ever. Whatever your sex or sexual orientation, when there's an attractive person in the room you can't easily ignore her/him any more than you can put that sinister-looking, strung-out guy who's sitting behind you on the bus out of mind. You may even start to move like you've got a herniated disc in your neck in order to avoid gaping.

No less an authority than the wife has told me that the Fs always know it when a male takes a sidelong glance. Now, the lady showing lotsa leg may not care too much, she may be used to-- and may to some extent relish-- men checking her out. But every other student in the class will notice your roving eye and the resulting interpretation will less likely be "Sensei is a guy being a guy" than "Sensei is a randy pervert". Harsh, but true. Keep in mind that Leggy Keiko is not dressing up for your entertainment. Leggy Keiko thinks of you as a teacher first and has certain expectations about how a teacher should act. Ogling her probably diminishes your status in her legs... umm... mind.

It should go without saying that commenting on JF appearances can be a minefield. Make that a minefiled covered in eggshells. Everyone likes to hear compliments about how they look or have their new hairstyle/costly accessory/rad fahion statement noticed but let's face it-- there's a fine line between being pleasantly complimentary and coming across as a drooling lech who's paying just a little too much attention-- and we all know Ms who are completely oblivious to this line.

I've experienced awkward follow ups in the past by telling a F she had got a nice tan over the summer (she was on the rowing team but in fact wanted to be pasty white like many JFs so she didn't take it well), another that she looked like a young Kate Bush (She was an uncannily dead ringer!), and telling yet another that she could pass for a Thai or Filipina. The latter is a compliment from me but for what seem like socio-ethnic reasons I don't want to get into here, it didn't go down well. I now err on the side of saying too little unless I'm quite familiar with the student. I understand that it may come off that sensei's just paying a little too much attention to you- and is thus a bit creepy.

6. light talk and bad jokes from M teachers/teacher centredness
I've noticed that some M teachers seem to treat F students as if they are deserving of lighter, more frivolous talk or class content (whether in the hallway, ESS club, or classroom) than M students- a near dumbing down of interactions or topics, as if real women want to discuss nothing more than buying shoes and movie stars. Yes, I have noticed this in my own (past) behaviour too. Big mistake--Fs will really chew on a challenging, invigorating topic-- and of course being treated as intellectually and academically capable.

The same goes for treating Fs as a ready-made audience for bad jokes. I know that I'm riffing upon a stereotype here, but many Ms like to assume positions of authority with Fs. One way of buttressing the already-authoritative teacher's role is to reinforce yourself as the center of attention and assuage the ego by conflating this with admiration. The M teacher thinks the ladies will automatically laugh at his witty bon mots and in fact JF will often do so-- dutifully taking on the good audience role. It doesn't mean that your jokes really are funny, or even welcome, though. And we all know how teacher-centredness ranks on the scale of methodological no-nos.

7. being cavalier; pachi pachi eyes
In F only or F dominated classes the ladies will often be more cavalier in terms of behaviour, speech, and posture. This is not because of the presence of the M teacher but in spite of him-- they've forgotten that there are males present and therefore drop many so-called ladylike mannerisms. Consider it a privilege to see the inner workings of the JF natives on display. Don't spoil it by getting too close.

Having said that, there are still those who will treat the M teacher with exceptional male-only attention. This includes making coquettish poses and pachi-pachi eyes, especially if you look like you might be about to scold them. Call it culture if you want, but some JF students deal with most males this way- it's what they consider appropriate role-playing. No, it's not a singles-bar type of advance, Romeo.

This latter type of behaviour can negatively impact the teacher's small group or pair monitoring. On numerous occasions, I've sat near a pair or group of JF students to check how they're handling the task when they suddenly all turn to me as if, being both a teacher and a M, I must be there to lead, to assume authority, to tell them something. At this point I've become a 'jama' a bother or annoyance and they become passive. Eavesdropping nearby while pretending to do something else may be more effective.

8. room temperatures; 'stomach aches'
When a F student complains of a stomach ache in class let her leave to deal with it without prying. I shouldn't have to explain why but some Ms are (perhaps understandably) oblivious to feminine...discomfort.

JFs also seem to be more sensitive to classroom temperatures with what seems like a 0.1 degree range of comfort. Many are either fanning themselves like British explorers in the Sudan or shivering under Grandma's handmade quilts when even a moderate amount of air-con is applied. Encourage the Scott-of-the-Antarctic mimics to move to a desk that isn't directly beneath the air-con flow.

Is this the final word on JF students? Obviously not. If I've missed something important or you disagree with some item feel free to have your say.



« Unsolicited advice- a small group project that hits all the right buttons | Main | O-makase teaching: The 'Leave it to sensei' approach »

Comments

Hi Mike,

I'd like to share a few of my own observations and experiences regarding your post. I've learned the hard way about names. I can be incredibly dense about remembering names, and have actually angered a couple by repeatedly mixing up an "Ayako" with an "Ayaka", for example. I'm not sure of the reason, and have tended to think there's a notion that who (or even "one") that is not named does not exist. Not remembering a name keeps a person anonymous in the (female) student's eyes.

As for chatterers, in the past couple years boys have taken the cake in my classes. One factor is the fact that girls do at least seem more apt to curb extreme chattiness with my pleas to be quiet, while boys will sometimes just ignore me (until I break out the yellow warning and red "you're absent" cards). Tho tempted, I've always refrained from accusing these chatting boys to being like old grannies (which of course wouldn't be fair to old ladies!).

But I really wanted to write about female attire and make a sort of embarrassing admission, wondering if any other male teachers have experienced it. Sometimes I look in the direction of a female who has much flesh exposed and become aware of the exposed area, without, as far as I know, leering in any way. Like you note, the more I tell myself to not notice, the more aware I am of it. I certainly have enough control to not look there, but even neurotically fear my eyes have, for an instant, betrayed me! The female in question does seem to sense this, even while our eyes are locked she might start looking shy (Oh! he noticed my low cut shirt) and tug it up a bit, making me in turn feel, 'Oh no! did she think I was checking her out? Needless to say, it's quite uncomfortable. It becomes quite comical, at least when I look back on it.

john spiri

Hello Mike,

Not sure I would call it an oversight, but the comment about boys being more used to tongue-lashings from previous experience in club activities caught my eye. As a former (current?) athlete, I like to think that there is a certain understanding between those who have played sports competitively. The "jocks" if you will, know that getting a kick in the butt is not always a bad thing. But I have found this equally applicable to female students with experience practicing a sport. And the opposite holds true, too. I have seen some male students, when chastised for doing something inappropriate in the classroom start to pout. I am quite certain that such students have never seriously practiced a sport in their lives. In a way, I don't think this issue is one that can be solely based on gender differences.

Speaking of which, I have noticed (as some colleagues at other universities throughout Japan have, too) that there seems to be a role reversal at times between the male and female students. By this I mean that I have noticed more and more boys preening and worrying about their looks while I have a number of female students acting like dudes - heck even sitting like them - talk about being a distraction! It a kind of joke, but it is commonly understood in my uni that the female students have often been much stronger and better able to focus on what ever task they are doing at any given time. However, recently, this has not been the case with just as many female students failing classes as the boys do. That has really got our attention at our uni! While I always love reading what you have to say, I am not sure that basing observations on gender is black and white here in Japan.

Lastly, you don't really mention the role of Japanese faculty and how they treat and/or talk to the students. In my experience, I have always been amazed (and saddened) at how much more brutal the Japanese faculty can be with students. I have seen students hit, I have seen students brought to tears, I have heard professors say just awful things, and yet it is accepted by the students. In fact, many of the most common labs for students' 4th-6th year of studies at my uni are the ones where students are abused the most. Go figure! I have always wondered whether by being strict with students in a non-abusive manner makes me less of a "professor" in the eyes of students. Not sure what your thoughts are on this last point of mine, but I would love to hear them!

Hi John and Eric.

Thanks for the comments.

The vast majority of my male students seem to slide into one of three modes after completing (often in a slipshod manner) some task. These are:
1. hyperspace zombie
2. Clint Eastwood hardass loner
3. hikikomori
... private talk rarely ensues.

As for the quick glance at the lady showing the flesh- you'll often know whether it has been noted or not if she suddenly drapes a blanket over her legs (or shoulders). Then, a huge flashing neon arrow pointing at you might as well drop down from the ceiling with "Teacher looked!" displayed in bold crimson.

Eric,
You may be right about the athletic girls having experienced a chewing out before but in my experience they seem to view this as the property of the sports coach and therefore coming from a (male) English teacher, it is treated as out-of-place. The male jocks seem to accept it as the natural discipline of the guy-in-charge. Having said that though, my greatest drawn out problems with students have generally been males- sulky males.

All of this is of course just my experience and opinion. I certainly expect others will have had different experiences and/or interpretations.

As for the abusive element, I can't say I have ever seen anything like what you describe at my university. In fact, there seems to be a fairly strong consciousness, aided by on-campus ombudsmen and various support groups, regarding students' human rights. In fact, it would be hard for me to imagine any teachers I know carrying out some of the 'punishments' you mention above. Maybe you have a lot of conservative old school guys- hangovers from the days of military conscription--- I dunno. Regardless, it's not something I can write about with any personal insight.

Another good article, Mike, about an issue that a number of teachers don't even realize is an issue. I've definitely seen my personality and approach to the class change over the years for female-dominated classes, and this is a good set of hints to keep in mind.

As far as partnering students together, I do agree that female students especially (though males, too) tend to "finish" the activity and move straight into chatting in Japanese, which (from across the room) can look like they are still doing the activity if you're not listening carefully (some groups do, however, stay in English pretty well). I have been a little hesitant in paring students with partners outside of their cliques. I think being able to be with their friends helps students to relax and enjoy the class, especially in classes that are heavy on communication. I see the advantages of having students pair with others they aren't close friends with, especially in terms of staying in English, and have them do this occasionally. But haven't gone as far as to do it all the time or create a seating chart that separates friends.

Has anyone gotten better results from separating friends, for individual activities or entire classes? Does it really outweigh advantages of students being with their friends?

A response to Mike Guest's column in ELT's Uni-Files (which should be read before the response)
http://www.eltnews.com/columns/uni_files/2011/07/how_to_talk_to_japanese_women.html

This article really has so much to offer university educators in Japan, I just don't know where to begin in my breakdown of it. But, as Julie Andrews said so eloquently, let's start at the very beginning. It's a very good place to start.

And, at the beginning, is “The Title”.

How to Talk to Japanese Women – EFL Version

The Uni-Files is a fine upstanding place where tertiary educators come to get insight into the inner workings of the university system in Japan. Mike very cleverly snuck innuendo into his title, so it could possibly attract a different audience; men seeking to date Japanese women! Ah, but we, the inclusive and in-the-know audience, understand that the joke is on the poor sod who took a wrong turn at the “Asian Wives” website and unintentionally ended up at Mike's article, an insight into Japan's academic curios.

You know. Curios... decorative objects considered novel, rare, or bizarre. Or, in Mike parlance, the JF. The Japanese Female. Those coquettish, chattering young things who stumbled into his class (possibly in stilettos and a skirt up-to-there!) and gave him fodder for his column. Remember, it's a column aimed at university educators. It's called the Uni-Files, and he lets those ruffian non-academes who misinterpreted his clever title know at the get-go that they are in the wrong place. This site is for teachers. In Japan. Serious teachers. You know, the ones who work in universities. This is classy stuff, and high-brow to boot.

It would seem that educator Mike has the uncanny ability of reading the minds of his women students (even though he can't remember their names). He knows that in not remembering a student's first name, she has assumed that Mike must think she is ugly and stupid. Mike knows that the young woman is not simply thinking that perhaps her teacher is a tad lazy, and, had he taken the time to get to know her legs... whoops.... her MIND better, then maybe he would have remembered her name. But, not to worry. As Mike assures us with his astute knowledge of the inner workings of his students' minds, his “JF” is not thinking this. She thinks she is ugly and stupid because Mike can't, for the life of him, remember her name.

Now, university educators, remember this; your women students do not have meaningful conversations amongst themselves. Nor do they discuss anything of import if they are left to their own devices. As Mike relays to us, when he is not stage-centre, his JFs are chattering. Yes. Chattering. It's a bit of an old-fashioned word, so I searched the dictionary definition. Here is what Mike's women students are doing when his back is turned: “Talking rapidly, incessantly, and on trivial subjects; jabbering.” And, here is some advice from Mike to conquer those pesky, jabbering JFs: “...sit down next to the pair as if to be 'listening in' on the task...”. Note the clever air-quotes around 'listening in'. Apparently, you don't even need to actually pay any credence to what these women are going on about (it is just chattering anyway), you simply need to appear to be listening. Merely by being in close proximity to Mike, his students are learning through osmosis; no interaction necessary. Mike could devote a whole Uni-Files column to this innovative teaching style. But perhaps the one caveat would be that this osmosis technique would work only in women's colleges in Japan?

Now, Mike gets to the real meat of his topic at point number 5. Leggy Keiko. He reminds his audience that it is quite possible that Leggy Keiko and her ilk may not actually think that a roving eye is just a sign of “a guy being a guy”. She may jump to the conclusion (how dare she!) that this is not just “guy” behaviour. This man could be a... pervert! Now, having Leggy Keiko jump to that conclusion could really cramp the style of an upstanding member of the academic community. Mike tells us to remember (because it's very easy to forget) “....that Leggy Keiko is not dressing up for your entertainment. Leggy Keiko thinks of you as a teacher first and has certain expectations about how a teacher should act. Ogling her probably diminishes your status in her legs... umm... mind.”

Quite eloquent, and something I'm sure not only Leggy Keiko, but also her parents would be very happy to know is going on in the mind of Mike Guest, her trusted teacher. Perhaps a translation of this article would be insightful reading for Mike's colleagues, students, and, of course the parents of his students. If Mike were teaching my daughter, I'd have a very keen interest in these words that he has written about his teaching style, and the inner workings of his very clever, university educator's mind. Particularly if my daughter's name were Keiko.

Sarah Mulvey
Nagoya, Japan

Sarah- At the very least your response was a lucid, entertaining read. In fact, it was so entertaining that I'll re-post and highlight pertinent sections below in order to offer my candid responses.

Sarah says: "Mike very cleverly snuck innuendo into his title..."

Bravo. So you have ascertained that the title of an article might be used as a device to attract a reader (which begs the question as to why you, Sarah Mulvey, chose to read the article). I stand rightly accused! And yes, in choosing that title I am indeed riffing on the sports-mag-back-page-ad or email-spam motif, which makes this title a little ummm precious-- damn! And I was trying to hide that underhanded, sinister ploy! So, am I supposed to apologize or something?

Sarah says: "You know. Curios... decorative objects considered novel, rare, or bizarre. Or, in Mike parlance, the JF. The Japanese Female"

'Curios'?! Huh? I think if you look up the phrase "putting words in someone's mouth" in the dictionary you might find what you wrote above quoted as a definition. What's next, Sarah? That I said they should get in the kitchen and fry me some chicken because... let's see... because I'm threatened by them?

Sarah says: "This site is for teachers. In Japan. Serious teachers. You know, the ones who work in universities. This is classy stuff, and high-brow to boot"

Take a look at the subtitle for this column and note the word 'candid' in there. A lot of people appreciate the frankness, as opposed to the typically oh-so-dry but safe-as-soap EFL piece. And yes- within this candid framework there is an academic backdrop and some practical teaching advice. No one is pretending anything else. Perhaps, you should put on the proper schematic glasses when you read.

Sarah says: "...your women students do not have meaningful conversations amongst themselves. Nor do they discuss anything of import if they are left to their own devices. As Mike relays to us, when he is not stage-centre, his JFs are chattering."

Sarah, how's your Japanese? Mine is more than sufficient to realize that these students are not going on to talk about the finer points of English acquisition, Hegel, The Greek economic bailout, or portentious questions about human relationships in those moments after they finish an EFL task. They are... chattering. And hey, don't let the fact I am clearly referring only to students *who have just finished a speaking EFL task in class* stop you from glossing this as "conquering" "pesky Japanese women" when they are "left to their own devices" "behind his back" in your irrational zeal (the word 'prejudice' would do just as well here).

I noticed that you can, and do, safely and selectively ignore what I wrote in the same article in point 6, specifically:
"I've noticed that some M teachers seem to treat F students as if they are deserving of lighter, more frivolous talk or clas content (whether in the hallway, ESS club, or classroom) than M students- a near dumbing down of interactions or topics, as if real women want to discuss nothing more than buying shoes and movie stars. Yes, I have noticed this in my own (past) behaviour too. Big mistake--Fs will really chew on a challenging, invigorating topic-- and of course being treated as intellectually and academically capable".

Sarah says: "Apparently, you don't even need to actually pay any credence to what these women are going on about (it is just chattering anyway), you simply need to appear to be listening. Merely by being in close proximity to Mike, his students are learning through osmosis; no interaction necessary"

Let's take Occam's razor to blunt some of your miss-the-flesh barbs- most EFL teachers would recognize this listening-in habit as something simply called monitoring- a common classroom management technique during pair/group tasks. One can monitor pairs or groups who are in-task closely and directly but I suggest that indirect monitoring keeps the flow going better in JF dominated classes. I suggest you look up more on this teaching technique because you seem quite unfamiliar with it- and also so that you don't conflate it with "teaching/learning by osmosis" again.

So, I described a common situation (common, except for Sarah Mulvey apparently) where a teacher forgets the name of one member of a pair or group and Sarah renders it as a result of my being "lazy" and apparently because my mind is on her legs rather than her 'mind'- a recurring theme that Sarah seems to have on the brain andsubsequently employs as her interpretive tool for just about everything I wrote. So there you go male readers- forget a F student's name and now you know why. You're not concerned enough about the student's (ahem) 'mind'. You've been pegged!

Sarah says: "Mike knows that the young woman is not simply thinking that perhaps her teacher is a tad lazy, and, had he taken the time to get to know her legs... whoops.... her MIND better, then maybe he would have remembered her name"

My assumption about what the JF student whose name has been forgotten thinks is clearly hyperbolic (as an astute reader would immediately note) in order to make a candid point. You know those elevators that beep when overloaded? Ever see a woman as thin as a popsicle stick be the one to trigger the overload warning and how embarrased she looks- having made the warning go off- as if she now thinks she must be the size of Konishiki? Young women are sensitive about such things and often overreact in terms of their interpretation of similar matters. M teachers should watch out for this because M's can be oblivious to it.

Sarah says: "Now, Mike gets to the real meat of his topic at point number 5. Leggy Keiko" and
"Quite eloquent, and something I'm sure not only Leggy Keiko, but also her parents would be very happy to know is going on in the mind of Mike Guest, her trusted teacher"

And that's why this was point number... lemme see.. number 5, right? But since you, Sarah Mulvey, have elevated your running theme to Marquee status it certainly seems to show what your priorities are. You're showing your hand a little too easily here. Let's see- 95 Uni-files articles and I've addressed this issue a total number times of ...wait for it... one time...  and as the fifth of eight points in a single article at that. Yeah- you've got me profiled all right! Oh- and by the way, nobody under age 30 is named Keiko anymore.

Sarah, here's a reality check for you: You'll be hard-pressed to find a male teacher anywhere in the world who isn't conscious when somebody either attractive or exuding sexuality is in the same room (and, as I made clear in the article, this is pretty much true for either sex or sexual orientations). Male teachers do talk about this because it can affect teaching habits or classroom dynamics. This is hardly revelatory stuff. Now having said that, it shouldn't imply that these male discussions are typical of those vulgar dime-store Hollywood 'guy' script types. Some men manage to deal with it in a mature, professional, repectable manner. Some men are well-meaning but struggle with it. And (you'll probably agree with this) some men seem to live primarily inside their pants and make a hash of the situation. So, is this worth addressing in a forum about teaching? Damn right it is!

The M teacher JF student dynamic is distinct from the MT-MS motif, and also (I'm assuming) FT-JFS or FT-JMS memes. I believe these dynamics are worth discussing both candidly and professionally and yes, will involve some generalizations. That's what I'm doing here. Perhaps you want to sweep potentially 'unseemly' topics under the carpet or have them appear only on the condition that they adhere to your private standards. I don't.

Instead, you, Sarah Mulvey, you're looking just a little too hard for frat-boy rhetoric. And that's not my problem.

hello Mike
Can you please post the details of the research you did that shows what you write is fact not fiction? Or, is the whole thing a joke....because I'd really like to see the hard evidence of these alleged gender differences, as a long time teacher in Japan who teaches both female and male students. If you have no hard evidence, I'd like to understand why you wrote this message and whether you think readers will find these comments misleading, offensive, harmful, dangerous, stereotypical, sexist etc. --and what the actual purpose of this writing is.

Wikipedia has a page on logical fallacies. I'm using it in my sotsuron zemi. Do you know the page? I'd like to know in detail about your statistical sampling procedures.

best wishes
Jane Joritz-Nakagawa
Aichi Japan

Bravo Sarah...as a mother of four daughters, three of university age, your post really resonates. Thank you for being the 'F' voice in the crowd.

I'm with you on this Sarah. This is disparaging to both female and male students, and apart from anything else doesn't fit with my experience at all. There is plenty of room for research into gender dynamics in the EFL classroom, but I think this rather flippant treatment shows the author in a pretty bad light. Puts me in mind of this similarly ill-considered article http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/mortarboard/2009/sep/23/kealey-female-students-perk

Hi Jane.

Of course, there is absolutely no hard research behind any of this- nor is there any pretense to the article being so. In no way is this intended to be an academic or research piece. I think this is pretty clear from the tenor and, as I have stated earlier, can be deduced from the fact that the Uni-files is a 'candid look' at university related topics.

The comments I make are nothing but generalizations, and you can see that many are hedged, based upon my own experience (and discussions with other teachers).

In the comments above, you'll see that Eric Skier and John Spiri both disagreed with my generalizations- and that is fine. That's what the discussion is for. This is a good thing.

Now let me ask this to others who may have a critical comment in advance---

Do you think that MT-FS, MT-MS and FT-FS, FT-FS classrooms all have slightly different dynamics? If yes, then surely any further discussion-- which I think is a valid discussion-- is going to involve making some generalizations. Let's not pretend that this isn't or shouldn't be the case and admit that we all, pretty much, do so. If my generalizations don't cohere with your experience or interpretations tell me why. I'm especially interested in hearing about FT-MS dynamics, which I suspect will also involve people making generalizations.

Finally Jane- No, I don't find any of the comments I made harmful, dangerous, offensive or sexist at all (please explain why you think they would be). I admitted explicitly that one stereotype seemed to be borne out in my experience. Believing that a certain stereotype might hold in some limited case is not inappropriate. But if people think that the stereotype has been overapplied or is untrue then they are free to say so and argue their case- but hey, let's not create a situation where people don't feel free to express their experiences or interpret them simply because they might involve a stereotype or a generalization.

This is not how I talk to any Japanese female, students or otherwise. Stereotyping,in human relations in particular, is a sign of indifference. Indifference in the classroom is a waste of every one's time.

I've read Mike Guest's columns in the Daily Yomiuri for some time now and have always found them refreshing. I have taught in Japan for a zillion years at both the high school and college levels--at girls'/women's schools. Mike made many points that resonated with me, but most of all I'd like to validate this particular discussion because--as careful as we women teachers need to be with our students--it has been my experience that male teachers and especially young male teachers (both Japanese and non-Japanese male teachers) have a different set of issues that they also need to contend with when they teach the opposite sex. Some have to do with their students and some have to do with themselves. Being able to contend with these issues thoughtfully and effectively can mean the difference between success and failure for both student and teacher. And since we are all rooting for success, I'd like to see the discussion continue--as it was begun--with a combination of ideas and experience.

It gives me no comfort that you point out at the beginning of your article, that your generalizations refer only to Japanese female students. Whatever way you look at it, its demeaning, disrespectful and highly inaccurate.

Just reading this article gave me the creeps. I find it astounding that you can generalize about your female students with such blatant disregard in a public forum--and keep your job! Amazing.

A lot of critical comments have come in. I can't respond to all of them but I have a few general responses.

Perhaps I should begin by stressing that I outright condemn and resent the assumption/implication that by addressing, (on ONE point), the topic of male teachers ogling the glamorous ladies in the classroom that I am somehow advocating this behaviour or wilfully involving myself in it. This is- to be perfectly frank- an ignorant reading. For goodness sake- addressing an issue does not mean advocating it! Nowhere in the article do I engage in egregious hubba-hubba talk. I also explicitly criticize males that fail to handle these situations appropriately. It is a legitimate topic (as commenters Tristan and Deborah have noted).

Next- regarding generalizations. Do the critics here change classroom methods, managements and interactions according to different age groups? Why? I presume because you are generalizing about the habits, interactions and behaviours of those age groups. Have you changed your methods according to the country or culture you teach in? If you have, you would have done this on the basis of some generalizations. And- I'll bet you change your methods and manner when dealing with all F and all M classes too. When you do so you can't escape from making generalizations. I'm just being honest about it.

Generalizations are in and of themselves not bad things. Every person reading this makes plenty of generalizations about their students which inform their teaching styles and content. I teach university-aged Japanese students. This is my demographic. Some classes are F dominated, some M, and some mixed. The three class types have different dynamics. So it makes perfect sense that I write about these, which naturally involves making generalizations.

I would afford the same to a F teacher who, with years of experience teaching JM students, makes some generalizations about them. It's a legitimate topic and I would not criticize her for generalizing, although I might quibble with the accuracy of her generalizations.
Likewise, you may disagree with the specific generalizations I make based upon my experiences but it is silly to criticize someone for simply HAVING generalizations.

In fact, it smacks of a type of implicit censorship-- that a male teacher simply should not be making generalizations about female students (why???), that doing so is ipso facto demeaning, offensive, or disparaging. . Now, if you think that a specific generalization I made is demeaning etc. then tell me where and why. But saying the whole article is demeaning etc. just because a male is making some generalizations about his F dominated classes comes off to me as little more than an emotional prejudice.

The same holds for the emotional reaction to words like 'stereotype'. Stereotyping is not, in and of itself, a bad thing. Some stereotyping can have virulent racist or sexist consequences, to be sure. The ignorant flogging of dubious, tired old stereotypes should be challenged. But you can't legitimately critique someone merely for saying, "I am conscious that this is a stereotype but in this case I think it holds true". For example, there is a stereotype that Japanese people are generally risk averse and overly cautious. I happen to also think that this stereotype is quite accurate. Many others aren't-- but arguing that I shouldn't believe this simply because it is a stereotype is silly.

As for the 'flippant' tone, again I repeat this blog is candid. I'm not sure why this topic should require a grave, plaintive, or detached tone. In fact, it seems to me adopting such a tone would reveal something more dubious about a writer.

The fact you don't get why this piece is ill-advised, and that you seem unlikely to be persuaded that it is so, is one of the more depressing things about it.

So, Darren stop speaking in generalities and make it explicit or else I'll just assume that your carrying the torch of political correctness for its own sake.

You know, I just had a discussion the other day with a F teacher about the different dynamics between her F and M classes and how she adjusts to that. And I told her mine. It was a good discussion.

And hopefully you can answer a similar question:
Do your F dominated classes have a different dynamic than your M dominated classes? If yes, explain one or two of these for us. (And maybe you can try to do so without making any generalizations about either sex)

I'm not going to get drawn into a discussion in which neither of us will be persuaded. You can assume what you like, and you can play the 'political correctness' card if you like. I'm going home for a cold one.

"Finally Jane- No, I don't find any of the comments I made harmful, dangerous, offensive or sexist at all (please explain why you think they would be)".

And that is why I don't think I will have the time to even write any response at all. It is simply not worth it....

"that a male teacher simply should not be making generalizations about female students (why???),"

Why? Because all teachers should get to know there students. It's quite simple really. Censorship doesn't come into it.

By the way, I thought playing the gaijin v gaijin card (Sarah, how's your Japanese?) was rather childish.

Oh Mike, I am SO disappointed in you. I was impressed with a number of your articles in the Daily Yomiuri and even clipped out some to keep. I am so sad to see the drivel you have now stooped to. Shame on you. I am no longer a fan.

I’ve started and restarted a response a dozen times now. In part, I worry that as “just” an ALT, I don’t have the teaching experience in Japan to be taken seriously (even though I have some in the US). I also worry that I can’t write this without falling into the old, academic attitude of attack, attack, attack, of using agonist, phallocentric argumentation to “win”, which, in and of itself, loses. And, I feel like others, especially Sarah and Jane, have already said such smart things that I’ll just be repeating them. So I almost just let it go, figuring I’ll get plenty of chance once I finally “move on up” to the university level.

But, in the end I couldn’t walk away. Because reading Mike’s words hurt, right in my stomach. It makes my forehead scrunch up. My eyes dart back and forth. My body tells me I need to say something. It expresses my displeasure and discomfort and worry all before I can even start using actual words. Mike objectifies the “natives” in his class, he presumes to know, several times, what his students are thinking (one could even go so far as to say he thinks for them), and, when confronted with concerns, simply doesn’t recognize how saying “It’s just hyperbole, it’s just my generalizations” doesn’t suddenly make it all better (just like men can, in the US anyway, can no longer successfully brush off sexual harassment by saying that they were just being friendly or telling an innocent joke).

In Mike’s responses, he says that he sincerely wants to talk about how there are different dynamics in different gender mixes, and to find ways to improve our teaching. I want to look at just two of Mike’s points in the article, to offer ways that we can do this, although perhaps not in the way Mike was thinking.

First, Mike says that he has observed that a Japanese female student “will remember your vitriol for a long time, take it very personally-- possibly as an attack on her whole person.” Now, I have the same objections that Sarah does, in that I’m concerned that Mike seems to think he knows what these students are thinking, without, as far as I can tell, ever asking them. But leaving that aside, Mike also says that “Many Ms seem to have been exposed to verbal tongue-lashings in clubs previously and thus take it in stride.” Working in a Japanese public school, I can certainly say that, in my experience, this is true: M students are far more likely to get a direct, verbal (sometimes, even light physical) assault than female students. But isn’t this one of the more obvious forms of discrimination in Japan? Since male students are trained at an early age to receive discipline stoically, when they are in the workplace and are scolded sternly, they’re more likely to respond in the hegemonically approved way. Females don’t receive the necessary “training”, and thus, are less likely to respond in “feminine ways” (i.e., in ways disapproved of by men), and thus are less likely to be approved of by their (probably male) bosses. That is, by being untrained to “properly” accept a scolding, women are at a political and economic disadvantage. Thus, my question as a teacher isn’t “how do I find a way to scold female students so that they don’t take it personally”, it’s “how can I, as a teacher, disrupt this pattern of discrimination—how can I empower my female students when inappropriately disciplined, and how can I empower my male students to stop such displays of aggression?” I wonder if this very issue could be a teaching point—a place for a class discussion about how the way we use language changes how we behave, how we feel, and how this positions us in society? Mike himself says, quite rightly, that “Fs will really chew on a challenging, invigorating topic--and of course being treated as intellectually and academically capable” (although I think this applies to JMs, too). Note that I’m not advocating scolding JF; I’m advocating looking at the issue as something more than just “Don’t upset their delicate feminine sensibilities”.

Second, I want to jump up a pedagogical level, out of the classroom, and into the level of how we talk about the classroom, because I think that it really does matter how we talk about our students, even when they aren’t around. I think that when we generalize, we can’t help internalizing our own oversimplifications. So, for instance, when Mike talks about “ostentatiously displayed legs”, I’m willing to assume that Mike really is sincere that (as he says in the comments) that he is not advocating ogling JF. But the simple act of calling the legs an ostentatious display perpetuates the idea that the purpose of Keiko’s clothes is to “display” (to show off, to demonstrate something on offer, like a store’s “display case”) her legs, that she is “trying to attract notice” or “attempt to impress others” (dictionary.com’s rendering of “ostentatious), when in fact there are dozens of reasons for Keiko’s skirt length, none of which have anything to do with Mike’s or any other male’s gaze. And this is but one example; the discussion later about females being cavalier positions us (the reader, who is presumed to be non-Japanese and almost certainly male) as either zoo-watchers or exotic anthropologists; this reinforces the drive to render our students as Other, as Alien, as objects for analysis rather than whole human beings (“beings for themselves”) who deserve our concern for their lives and growth. I wonder if Mike would be willing to consider that part of becoming a better teacher is becoming a better person in the way we talk about (and, hopefully, think about) our students.

It's hard to decide which is more disturbing- the article, or the hostility and derision with which Guest addresses his colleagues after openly inviting them to post their comments in response to the article.

Hi Mike,

Has it ever occurred to you that is exactly these kind of stereotyped and prejudicial attitudes projected onto students that play a role in sustaining just those very stereotypes? There is rather a lot of research into how male and female students are socialized within the education system (start with Reay 2001). And frankly the research isn't pretty. You are responsible, along with all the other teachers that these students will meet in the course of their education, for creating the learning environment in which these students experience education.

You are a small party to a system that maintains gender norms and doesn't allow individual human beings to behave freely regardless of their gender. Now what you have done in stereotyping your students, is shown a profound disrespect for anyone who doesn't fit the stereotypes you venture forth with here, and a profound disrespect for all of your students' potential. As the African writer Adachie once said, "the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, it's that they are incomplete".

Let's look at how you structure this online learning experience. Anyone who agrees with you is fine and dandy. Anyone who doesn't is subjected to some half-assed sarcasm and allegations of 'political correctness'. Is this how you run your classes? Because so far, no one here has been allowed to legitimately express a counter-view.If people are offended and upset by what you wrote, then you need to deal with it constructively - and as the original poster, you should be promoting an exchange of ideas, rather than shutting them down. Sarah's response was witty and intelligent, and deserved much better than you gave it.

If you are not part of the solution, Mr Guest, then you are part of the problem. Unless you are willing to acknowledge your own stereotypes and prejudices in constructing an educational experience for these students, then quite frankly, you have no place in the classroom.

Sam

This piece reflects the condescending, sexist, and unprofessional attitudes that I have found to be quite typical (or stereotypical) of Western male English teachers in Japan.

Could it possibly be that the reason that Mr. Guest's students are not discussing challenging, socially relevant topics in class is due to the fact that Mr. Guest may only assume the students (particularly the women) are only capable of doing nothing more than "chattering"? There's plenty of research on self-fulfilling prophesies as well, particularly when it comes to gendered expectations of students. But again, why bother with research when you're speaking in a "candid" manner? (Apparently, being "candid" provides one with permission to conveniently ignore any empirical evidence that interferes with Mr. Guest's preconceptions about female students.)

Of course, there is much empirical evidence to support the fact that men talk as much as women (see Dale Spender's "Man-Made Language"), but again, why let the facts get in the way of a convenient, sexist stereotype?

The cry of "political correctness" is a common defense of men, particularly white men, who don't like having their dominance challenged. It's a simple and easy way to dismiss criticism without having to address it.

It's not too hard to look for "frat-boy rhetoric" amongst Western male teachers in Japan. All one has to do is go to a gaijin bar or JALT conference (which, come to think of it, are usually not all that different in terms of the foreign men they attract). The "frat-boy rhetoric" that is exemplified by Mr. Guest's piece is quite typical -- or perhaps I should say, stereotypical -- of such men.

Mr. Guest states: "Some men manage to deal with it in a mature, professional, repectable (sic) manner."

Indeed. It's a shame, though, that such maturity or professionalism wasn't at all evident in this piece.

I'll tone down the harshness of my comments since that is likely to make my points more persuasive but when harsh comments are made to me (and many clearly have been) I reserve the right to respond in kind. I also have little patience with those who willingly misrepresent what I wrote.

Some critics may note that this article has been 'liked' more than any other I've written (and note that I never 'like' my own articles). This in itself does not vindicate it or make it somehow more correct. What it does show is that although some people here seem to think that the article is so self-obviously demeaning, offensive, sexist etc. that no more need be said, many people do NOT find it to be any of those things. This includes some who've written to me offline (they don't want to get into internet spats). In other words, many of your suppositions are not so self-evident and need substantiating. And virtually no one critical commenter is taking up the points I have debated, which is quite frankly, telling.

Now to some people who recently responded with substance more than, or added to, invective:

Steve S-
Steve, you find the piece ‘sexist and condescending’ and then launch into a condescending, sexist generalization yourself. This must have been deliberate methinks. Whatever.

What bothers me much more in your response is this:
"the fact that Mr. Guest may only assume the students (particularly the women) are only capable of doing nothing more than "chattering"?"

This is clearly NOT what I said. Inventing attributions like this only makes it appear that your rhetoric is standing on thin ice. Chattering happens at a certain point (as described) in my F dominated classes but in no way do I imply this is all the students are capable of. It is something that occurs on a certain occasion. In fact point 6 in my article clearly refutes what you have said above.

Then you say something more reasonable, namely:
"Of course, there is much empirical evidence to support the fact that men talk as much as women (see Dale Spender's "Man-Made Language"), but again, why let the facts get in the way of a convenient, sexist stereotype?"

I have no problem with works like Spender's and I think that the stereotype that women talk more is likely exaggerated at best and possibly wrong. But in my class in the situation I described the women do it more than the men. In other words, what I see in my situation meets the stereotype. But, as the preamble paragraph to the piece makes abundantly clear, I'm talking about a very limited area-- my own classroom. I make it very clear that I am not talking about the world at large. If you are ever in Miyazaki you are welcome to sit in on my class and see it for yourself. So, what am I supposed to do when I see it with my own eyes, Steve? Stand in denial? Tell myself that it can't be real?

To Sam Quinlan-
Sam wrote:
"You are a small party to a system that maintains gender norms and doesn't allow individual human beings to behave freely regardless of their gender. Now what you have done in stereotyping your students, is shown a profound disrespect for anyone who doesn't fit the stereotypes you venture forth with here, and a profound disrespect for all of your students' potential."

First, I didn't 'stereotype' my students (although one observation seemed to coincide with a stereotype). A stereotype requires an already widely believed belief than an individual may or may not endorse. I generalized, yes. And as I clearly stated in the preamble a generalization isn't monolithic. By making some collective comments a realization of individual differences is not lost.

We do this all the time in society and I dare say that you do it too. I'm just being honest about it. Surely I can make some general comments about a certain type of class and still be aware of the idiosyncratic or individual and where they do not conform to the general. Anyone can make a claim such as, "My F students are much more intense than my M students" but still accept, understand, and apply to ones classroom schematic that Taro is pretty intense and that Hanako doesn't seem to apply herself. Again, a collective observation is not monolithic. Some collective notions about the Japanese classroom don't blind me to the particular character, humanity or worth of Taro or Hanako.

In short your comment seems like a slippery slope logic-wise, overblown in application.

You also say,
"If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem".

This seems to me to be nothing but a cliche. Anyone can say it to anyone who they disagree with on any topic. However, I see a problem with dishonesty. Namely, that some people don't want to admit that there are some general differences between M and F in various walks of life and that some may endorse stereotypes (while others may not). Some people may wrongly think that this implies a non-flexible, monoloithic view of men and women and that it dominates our interactions to a point where we cannot appreciate or understand their individual hearts and minds. There is no reason to assume this is the case. If we shouldn't be monolithhuic in our understanding of students then we should also be so in our understanding as to how both generlizations and appreciation, awareness and respect for individual traits can coincide.

Finally, I think your remarks about my responses are unfair. I've been writing responses that are substantial and challenging some of the presumptions made by critics. Very few, if anyone, has dealt with these challenges. The last thing I am doing is 'shutting them down'. As for tone, the first few responses quibbled on some points but were balanced and fair-minded so I responded in kind. Sarah's was clever and well-written, true, but also very sarcastic, caustic, making false attributions regarding the article and had not carefully read, and thus misrepresented, several points. She was spoiling for a fight so I responded in kind. I think it is wrong for (other) people to come in here, hurl invective and not back it up or make overblown claims and then demand that I deal with them in a measured, corteous manner. It doesn't work that way.

To Aaron-

You wrote:
"Mike objectifies the “natives” in his class, he presumes to know, several times, what his students are thinking "

Yes. Aaron- do you never assume to know what other people may be thinking? When I forget a student's name and she looks embarrassed and disappointed or when a student looks annoyed because a teacher ogling her I think we can make a safe guess. We read faces and guage expressions all the time in society. Sometimes we are wrong but that doesn't mean we should never do it. And as a teacher for twenty years within the milieu and demography that I wrote about you should fairly assume that I am quite adept at interpreting the message. I will assume that you can do the same for the people you work or live most closely with.

You wrote: "I’m advocating looking at the issue as something more than just “Don’t upset their delicate feminine sensibilities”.

The points you made in this section are welcome, well-considered and meet that criteria for discussion that you (rightly) sensed that I was aiming for. But you do gloss my words at the end- I think that is unfair.

You wrote:
"But the simple act of calling the legs an ostentatious display perpetuates the idea that the purpose of Keiko’s clothes is to “display” (to show off, to demonstrate something on offer, like a store’s “display case”) her legs, that she is “trying to attract notice when in fact there are dozens of reasons for Keiko’s skirt length, none of which have anything to do with Mike’s or any other male’s gaze”

I did not venture any reason as to why Keiko is dressed like that. In fact, I explicitly stated that she is NOT dressing like that for her M teacher- I wonder how you missed that. Ostentatious means made clearly visible yes- the department store display gloss is your words, not mine.

You wrote:
positions us (the reader, who is presumed to be non-"...Japanese and almost certainly male) as either zoo-watchers or exotic anthropologists;"

The anthroplogist analogy is accurate. We apply this perspective all the time in life when we are outside of our normal social milieu. We observe, we learn. You do it too. A failure to not observe groups of people outside our zone of familiarity is negligent don't you think?

You wrote:
"this reinforces the drive to render our students as Other, as Alien, as objects for analysis rather than whole human beings (“beings for themselves”) who deserve our concern for their lives and growth"

This, like Sam's claim, just seems overblown. Observing students and making generalizations in no way mitigates our understanding or appreciation of the as 'whole human beings'! You do it all the time. so does the teacher in the next classroom! (In fact a failure to do so would seem to me to be bordering upon negligence). Why do you think that making observations and subsequent generalizations about a collective should ipso facto blind us or dull us to individual traits or an awareness/appreciation of growth and potential? You seem to be jumping across logical solar syatems here and denying the fact that we deal with our human environment both collectively and individually. It is not a zero-sum scenario where the application of one negates the possibility of the other!

Hi again Mr Guest,

I think this is becoming a useful discussion on gender in the classroom. Perhaps this is why you are accumulating so many 'likes'. :)

My point seems to have been missed. In your haste to generalise about female students and how to best manage them in the classroom, you are perpetuating exactly the same behaviours that keep people behaving in this way. The example of the student who takes forever to brainstorm 6 points is an experience I have had, but it is far from the norm in the classes I teach - I have many students, both male and female, who operate in a completely opposite manner to the one you have described. You say that you weren't stereotyping, but a stereotype (positive or negative) is nothing but a bad generalization. In your column for ELT news you speak from an "expert" position, you are dispensing advice. That's one reason why your representations of students are problematic.

You said: "Namely, that some people don't want to admit that there are some general differences between M and F in various walks of life and that some may endorse stereotypes (while others may not). You said: "Some people may wrongly think that this implies a non-flexible, monoloithic view of men and women and that it dominates our interactions to a point where we cannot appreciate or understand their individual hearts and minds. There is no reason to assume this is the case." You also said: "We do this all the time in society and I dare say that you do it too. I'm just being honest about it.".

You might be being honest in saying what you think, but at the same time you are constructing and perpetuating the cycle. We all have stereotypes and make generalizations - the point though, is that we as teachers need to examine and critically reflect on how they affect our behaviours towards our students (you really need to read Reay 2001, but there's also a nice discussion by Amanda Chapman at http://www.edchange.org/multicultural/papers/genderbias.html).

And yes, there is a reason to assume that this is the case, because it's exactly what you have done here.

Here is the evidence: you said that female students will think you consider them ugly if you can't remember their names. And therefore it helps to remember the names of the "quiet, simple, plain, unobtrusive Fs". In other words, you are behaving differently not because of who these students are, but because their gender, and you judging them on their appearance. Did it ever occur to you that these students might want you to remember their name because they want to be treated as individuals? And without you ascribing an attractiveness rating to them? Or attributing other psychological characteristics to them? You have imposed your own value judgements to interpret the behaviour of your students in a way that matches your own preconceived ideas of how genders behave and think.

A far better topic for this post would have been how your own gender stereotypes affect your teaching, and how you recognized and attempted to minimize their affects on your students.

Thanks Sam for your considered reply. And call me Mike.

You wrote:
"I have many students, both male and female, who operate in a completely opposite manner to the one you have described..."

And I have no trouble believing or accepting that. As I said in the preamble section of my piece- YMMV. I admitted then that my observations were very local and limited. I also said at the end of the piece "Is the final word on JF students? Obviously not".

But what I find interesting is that now you've stated that you notice a difference between your M and F classes/students how would you feel if someone called you 'sexist' for spelling out the differences you see? More than that, and I'm not asking you to do this but, if you were to tell us say 10 differnces that you notice regarding your M students I'm confident that at least some would, according to the law of averages, match stereotypes. If (more like 'when' actually) that happens, would you apply your own standards regarding the adverse effects of stereotyping upon student growth etc. to yourself?

You wrote:
"...you said that female students will think you consider them ugly if you can't remember their names. And therefore it helps to remember the names of the "quiet, simple, plain, unobtrusive Fs". In other words, you are behaving differently not because of who these students are, but because their gender, and you judging them on their appearance. Did it ever occur to you that these students might want you to remember their name because they want to be treated as individuals? And without you ascribing an attractiveness rating to them?"

I definitely have to quibble here. Three of the four words you cite from me in fact do NOT relate to appearances at all but are personality traits- and the fourth, 'plain', is not about 'attractiveness' but about the opposite of being conspicuous- you know, the goth with the nose ring, or the one with the gigantic hairdo in purple garb with red hair. Actually, the fact that you brought looks and attractiveness into an equation where I had not broached the topic says more about your focus- which you are projecting unfairly onto me.

You wrote:
"My point seems to have been missed. In your haste to generalise about female students and how to best manage them in the classroom, you are perpetuating exactly the same behaviours that keep people behaving in this way."

Sorry. I thought that was a rhetorical question the first time. Let me give it a considered answer.

Obviously, I am aware of the phenomenon of people in positions of authority or influence perpetuating certain values or standards- an aspect of any socialization process which can influence their learners' worldviews. However, I think the causal mechanisms behind this are quite complex and varied. Teachers relate to students at a collective level, an individual or psychological level, and at a pedagogical level and can, and do, approach each of these levels quite differently. Except for extreme ideologues who imbue everything they do with an explicit and pervasive monolithic value system I believe most teachers are multi-faceted in applying their values, standards and beliefs. I also believe that learners are not passive recipients in the process. In short, any notion that 'if teacher holds belief x this will be perpetuated upon students' is far too simplistic.

I might add here that my own relationship with my students is very good.

But more practically speaking, it simply sounds overblown when you apply your principle to individual cases. For example, I admitted that my F chattering at the end of spoken tasks met with a popular stereotype. The uptake of my belief that my F students do this more than my M students was, as you'll remember, to set stricter time limits and to monitor more closely. How these practical classroom behaviours, based on the stereotype, are supposed to adversely affect my students' overall potential and human growth just seems to me to be grandiose theorizing.

Finally, I do not believe in trying to eradicate a stereotype simply because it is a stereotype. Some stereotypes might be (and I think are) true. If we take the position that perpetuating a sterotype is ipso facto a bad thing we run the risk of denying or refusing to acknowledge a truth because it is not... wait for it... politically correct. As social beings we would be worse off for it.

You said,
"In your column for ELT news you speak from an "expert" position, you are dispensing advice. That's one reason why your representations of students are problematic"

I have to think about this. No, I am not an expert on everything I write about (one or two things maybe, yes). I am a commentator and this is commentary, like the columns you can see in any newspaper. However, someone did write offline to me and said (paraphrasing slightly here):
"Mike, I get what you're doing with the irreverant, tongue-in-cheek approach, in the spirit of P.J. O'Rourke or Dave Barry and I like that, but I think some people who come to ELT news expect the items to be professorial and somber and therefore your candid approach might come off as offensive, scandalous, or unprofessional. I think some responsibility lies with the reader to establish the tenor of the piece and read it accordingly but you can't always depend on them to do this".

Cheers.

Hi Mike,



Thanks back to you for being willing to continue the dialogue. Just a
couple of points before I head off for the day. I am going to start with 
the important points, and leave the quibbles until the end.



You said: "I believe most teachers are multi-faceted in applying their
values, standards and beliefs."



The evidence when it comes to gender actually says otherwise. Until you 
read the literature I referred to, you are essentially speaking from an uninformed position. Teachers are seldom aware of their gendered
 behaviours in the classroom unless they have specifically be trained to 
recognise those behaviours.



You said: "I do not believe in trying to eradicate a stereotype simply
 because it is a stereotype. Some stereotypes might be (and I think are) 
true. If we take the position that perpetuating a sterotype is ipso
facto a bad thing we run the risk of denying or refusing to acknowledge 
a truth because it is not... wait for it... politically correct"

When you talk against 'political correctness', you are referring to an 
approach that asks you to accept censorship and self-censorship as a
 means of controlling ones own thoughts and behaviors, by controlling the 
language we use. If you look closely, I am arguing from exactly the
 opposite point of view. I don't even think such a 'mind control' 
approach works. I am arguing for greater awareness of behaviour and
language, instead of uncritical acceptance or control by others.

 Without this critical approach, you are advocating the uncritical
 acceptance of particular stereotypes - essentially (whether consciously
 or unconsciously) constructing them as truths (which is what you have
 done here).

Which stereotypes do you think merit this construction, and
 which do not? And what criteria do you use to decide what stereotypes
 will or will not be allowed to remain as truths in your classes? Women
 talk more? Jewish people are rich? Africa is a dangerous, violent place?
 Men are more violent than women? Gays are more promiscuous? All 
Americans carry guns? Your answers as to what is important will depend
 on your cultural and social background, as well as your perception of
 your social standing. Your answers have implications for your students 
and how they perceive themselves and others - in terms of bullying and
 being bullied, sense of self-worth, decency towards others and 
willingness to take risks. But generally speaking we are much more
 willing to challenge racist than sexist stereotypes.



You said: " I also believe that learners are not passive recipients in 
the process. In short, any notion that 'if teacher holds belief x this
 will be perpetuated upon students' is far too simplistic”.



Again, I would refer you to the literature on this: students have been 
socialized from an early age in a set of beliefs about the way society 
operates (as have we all). I certainly do not think students accept
 things uncritically, and I think our job as teachers is to work with
 students to promote critical thinking (whether as a means of developing 
language skills, opinions they can share with others, or becoming good
well-rounded human beings), and this applies to gender as well as any
other common cultural practice. This means creating situations where 
students and ourselves can challenge our own beliefs about society and 
behaviour. I am certainly not arguing that we need to force student to
think like us, or follow a politically correct vision of what the world
should be like: just that we do our job as educators.




The quibbles:

You said: "But what I find interesting is that now you've stated that
you notice a difference between your M and F classes/students how would
 you feel if someone called you 'sexist' for spelling out the
differences you see?"



Actually, I didn't differentiate between the genders of my students here 
at all. I referred to both in the sentence I posted, without comparison.



You said: "Three of the four words you cite from me in fact do NOT 
relate to appearances at all but are personality traits- and the fourth,
'plain', is not about 'attractiveness' but about the opposite of
being conspicuous- you know, the goth with the nose ring, or the one 
with the gigantic hairdo in purple garb with red hair. Actually, the 
fact that you brought looks and attractiveness into an equation where I
had not broached the topic says more about your focus- which you are
 projecting unfairly onto me."

Ah come on. I have to call BS on this. You said this as a way to deal
 with the "sensei thinks I'm ugly" idea. And now you expect me to
believe you mean 'plain' means 'inconspicuous'? OK. Actually, I take 
that back - I shouldn't be ascribing thoughts to you where they may not 
be warranted. However, it in the context of your overall passage, it was
a very easy mistake to make - 'plain' does mean 'unattractive' and
 you most certainly had broached the topic of appearance by preceding it
with 'ugly'. Not an entirely unfair projection, was it? But I
 accept that I understood it in the way it was not intended.

Hi Sam.

Well, I don't think we're going to agree on the political side. In short, I do not accept the big picture macro-level causal arrows, the determinism, the linear view of beliefs. My view is, I believe, more nuanced. I've seen teachers with socially 'progressive' politics take rigid authoritarian positions in the classroom and employ old school methodologies and conservatives do just the opposite and both yet having a great deal of care for the individual welfare of their charges.
I accept that the application of stereotypes CAN be debilitating but also that they can be applied to positive ends at local levels.

As for the book/article you refer to--- well, much so-called 'objectivity' or 'hard research' in the humanities is very very overrated, tending mostly to conform people's pre-conceptions. The fact that one can find contradictory 'hard research' published on just about any humanities topic indicates this. (what I mean here is that while I MIGHT read it and find something of note that alters my beliefs in some way, it is hardly a given that anyone reading a book should or would be bound to give assent to the worldview that informs it- unlike the empirical evidence found in most hard sciences).

To be frank though, your reference to this research comes across to me as that of the 'true believer' or the new Evangelical-- you've got a world view that you feel explains it all and if others only read this Bible they would surely come to see the light too. In keeping with this motif, it allows you to point out the sins found in non-believers practices, that they are 'a part of the problem', that they might never have been aware that stereotypes might be negative or that we shouldn't judge women by their appearances -- which are cautions of course that are inculcated into anyone who ever got to high school level-- and that any imagined assent to these practices or beliefs put one on the pathway to doom.

As for the fact, which I understood the first time, that sometimes it is your M classes that exhibit certain generalizable characteristics whereas others are true of Fs, this is neither here nor further. My point was/is that if you lay out any type of: "My males are more X" "My females are more Y" statements then someone is going to play the 'sexist' card, likely with other epithets ensuing. And lord knows how certain people will respond if any one of your generalizations about your Fs or Ms conforms to a popular stereotype, as I'm sure at least SOME must.

As for the "ugly" business, I don't accept that the proximity of this term (in which I'm imagining how a young F might interpret my not remembering her name but remembering all her friends) to other adjectives is tantamount to, or warrants, the claim that I am judging women solely in terms of appearances. My take-- to be quite frank-- is that you saw I was writing about women, saw the word 'ugly', had an emotional response to it and let your larger political worldview colour the rest of your reading-- that you were just looking for a reason to apply a finger-wagging about putting a premium upon looks.

Anyway, I'll be posting another entry connected to this soon.

Cheers

Hi Mike,

Just a couple of points that I think are really important. I am not going to be able to continue this discussion much longer, but I'd be interested to see how you respond.

You said: I do not accept the big picture macro-level causal arrows, the determinism, the linear view of beliefs. My view is, I believe, more nuanced. I've seen teachers with socially 'progressive' politics take rigid authoritarian positions in the classroom and employ old school methodologies and conservatives do just the opposite and both yet having a great deal of care for the individual welfare of their charges.

On most of this, I don't really see any difference between our positions. I think that good classroom practice is not connected to political views. I am not arguing for a deterministic approach, and I never have been. I think I have been pretty clear on this all along. Despite your claim, your view is not at all nuanced: you are arguing that you are right to teach based on gender stereotypes, which you have shared with others here, and that you don't see any problem with perpetuating those same gender stereotypes in the classroom. If you are not, then we wouldn't be having this discussion.

You said: "I accept that the application of stereotypes CAN be debilitating but also that they can be applied to positive ends at local levels."

I would generally agree with that too. Stereotypes do have benefits and a positive side - they can protect us from danger and they certainly benefit some groups of people. However, I just don't think we should accept them uncritically. I am trying but I am failing to see many positive benefits from gender stereotyping though. Perhaps you could provide some examples, and say why you think their perpetuation is important. And I would ask you again, how you develop criteria for managing your stereotypes and other generalizations, and why is it that you get to decide which gender stereotypes are important, rather than your students?

You said:"As for the book/article you refer to--- well, much so-called 'objectivity' or 'hard research' in the humanities is very very overrated, tending mostly to conform people's pre-conceptions. The fact that one can find contradictory 'hard research' published on just about any humanities topic indicates this. (what I mean here is that while I MIGHT read it and find something of note that alters my beliefs in some way, it is hardly a given that anyone reading a book should or would be bound to give assent to the worldview that informs it- unlike the empirical evidence found in most hard sciences)."

I think you would find it hard to back up the statement that "one can find contradictory 'hard research' published on just about any humanities topic". I would challenge you to find some research that the uncritical acceptance of gender stereotypes in the classroom has benefits for students. Also, you hedge around it, but I would also like to point out that it looks like you are saying here that you effectively are not going to read any research (particularly research linked to by me) that challenges your own worldview, on the grounds that it might be written by someone using less than a gold standard positivist research model (which qualitative research by definition and function, cannot have), and prejudiced by the author's own worldview. Considering you haven't actually mentioned any of their arguments or proposed any counter arguments of your own, it would seem that you don't really want your worldview challenged. So are you actually arguing in support of your own confirmation bias? It certainly looks like it on the evidence here.

You said: "To be frank though, your reference to this research comes across to me as that of the 'true believer' or the new Evangelical-- you've got a world view that you feel explains it all and if others only read this Bible they would surely come to see the light too. In keeping with this motif, it allows you to point out the sins found in non-believers practices, that they are 'a part of the problem', that they might never have been aware that stereotypes might be negative or that we shouldn't judge women by their appearances -- which are cautions of course that are inculcated into anyone who ever got to high school level-- and that any imagined assent to these practices or beliefs put one on the pathway to doom."

Ah, now I see. You are defining me. That's discourteous, as I have most specifically tried not to do that to you (I am not one of the people who called you sexist, you might have noted). You don't know anything about my political beliefs, my sex, or who or what or how I teach.

Essentially, what you have argued in this discussion is that you are happy with your biases and don't wish to have them challenged. And anyone who does challenge them is called "politically correct" or " a true believer" or an "evangelical". Logically, this is waaay inconsistent. Because here you are arguing for your right to teach by (and hence promote) particular kinds of stereotypes in the classroom. You don't want to question how you teach these values, therefore you promote them uncritically. In that, you are essentially propagandizing your own world view, whereas I am simply arguing that we need to be aware of our own gender stereotypes in our teaching and work to minimize their effects on our students. We (or at least most teachers) already do this for racial stereotypes, and I can't see how doing this has hurt us. I am not promoting a worldview. Or proselytizing for a controlled, restrictive world. Or one that conforms to my own preconceived ideas. It's you that's doing this.

Yes, I have stereotypes. And yes, about men and women. I just don't see the sense in pushing them on others in a way that is normative. Or arguing that I don't have to read anything that challenges my own confirmation bias because I already know I won't agree with it.

By the way, did you try to put a different racial epithet (or one belonging to another social group) rather than JF into your article above? It doesn't come off sounding nearly so clever. Try it.

Hi Sam. This will probably be my last post on the topic but since you want my response...

You wrote:
" you are arguing that you are right to teach based on gender stereotypes, which you have shared with others here, and that you don't see any problem with perpetuating those same gender stereotypes in the classroom"

To be fair, I am arguing that stereotypes CAN have a function in the classroom, and anywhere else, and should not be considered axiomatically detrimental. I am not arguing for a wholesale acceptance of widespread, unchecked stereotyping.

You wrote: "I would challenge you to find some research that the uncritical acceptance of gender stereotypes in the classroom has benefits for students. Also, you hedge around it, but I would also like to point out that it looks like you are saying here that you effectively are not going to read any research (particularly research linked to by me) that challenges your own worldview..."

I think you load the statement above by saying 'uncritical acceptance'. There is research that argues in terms of gender differences and that some of these differences are manifested in stereotypes. I don't think that's too hard to imagine.

As for your reference, well I wouldn't mind reading it but to be frank I just don't have that much time. (Late edit- Sam, I don't doubt that your references show the detrimental effects that stereotyping can have, no one is questioning that). And yes I have had my worldview changed, challenged, sharpened in many cases before. The point I am making is that you sound very sure of yourself, that this research is your proof. It's very easy to do that in an internet argument, so saying something to the effect that 'if you read X you'll understand' isn't all that persuasive.

You wrote:
"Ah, now I see. You are defining me. That's discourteous, as I have most specifically tried not to do that to you"

I'm showing you how your argument/approach comes across. And, wait a sec, you haven't tried to 'define' me? Whoa! Didn't you say initially that I was 'part of the problem?' that I am 'constructing and perpetuating a cycle' that I 'Don't allow human beings to to behave freely regardless of their gender" and that I've "shown a profound disrespect for anyone who doesn't fit the stereotypes"? All I did was try to find some practical solutions to deal with some actions noted predominantly in my F classes and I get this?

You wrote:
"I am simply arguing that we need to be aware of our own gender stereotypes in our teaching and work to minimize their effects on our students."

In fact I think you've said a lot, lot, more than that but I cannot and would not disagree with the above statement. In my piece I stated that I knew some points I raised met with stereotypes (not all do). (*This next point is key) But I did not create them. It's not as if I willed them into being- the students' actions, in this admittedly limited case, echoed them. My saying that a few generalities noted in my own EFL classroom which happen to coincide with popular stereotypes should NOT be conflated with my having a wholesale, uncritical acceptance and wilful perpetuation of stereotypes as a rule or habit. You are hitting a mosquito with a sledgehammer.

By the way, I don't think racial differences are nearly as pronounced, pervasive, or as meaningful as gender differences. Culture would be a better category for comparison and yes, in that realm too sloppy, uncritical, outdated and debilitating stereotypes should be challenged- and I have done that on many occasions in the past. But Sam, what do we do when they do in fact meet the stereotypes?

You can have the last word if you want.

Cheers

I've been following this whole thread - although the initial article just seems like the same old cliches, and I don't pay it much heed, the discussion has been interesting.
You do seem to take criticism of any kind quite poorly, Mike, and what a disappointingly childish ending to this discussion your last comment is.
Still, it's been an eye-opener/reminder of some people's attitiudes, and I shall probably log on again, to read other articles.

Hi Mike. Well, you've opened a can of worms and it's been entertaining. I agree with a lot of what you say regarding how to treat Japanese students, male or female. However, I think it's sad that this topic needs to be broached at all. Professionals should know how to treat students so that esteem and respect is maintained. Many of your comments about female students also apply to male students and I think the whole article, in terms of advice, is basic common sense - don't humiliate students, don't ogle students, don't play favorites, provide negative feedback discreetly, don't assume anything about anyone based on gender (particularly about what they might be thinking), etc, etc. I also feel some of the critisisms of the article are off base, almost as if you've broached a taboo, spoken 'honne' perhaps. Doing so is not at all politically correct and there is always a price to pay for not bowing to that particular god. Have a great one and let's read more of your 'honne'. Those articles always seem to be the best.

Mike,

It seems to me impossible to imagine a Japanese or a woman writing about Japanese female students in this manner. Could any adult Japanese woman respond approvingly of the advice contained within? But, then again, this article seems clearly written for white men, who numerically dominate English teaching in Japan. As such, the article provides an opportunity for such men to bond together, which for me accounts for its appeal to its targeted readership. I want to ask whether the article does not fall within a pattern of white, western men viewing Japanese women. Is such a question allowed? I suggest that we bear in mind that we live within history and a glance at Hollywood films suffice to show that a pattern of assumed white, male superiority has prevailed since the end of World War II, when a racially segregated conquering American army of mainly white men flooded into Japan to teach the natives how to be democratic (Anyone from the South of the US cannot miss the oblivious hypocracy of this). MacArthur famously referred to the Japanese as children, which is what they were to him. Being from the South , this article makes me think of white men in the 1950s discussing negro behavior. I hope the comparison is not offensive. The elements that convey such a tone to me are (1) the rather unquestioned acceptance of stereotypes coupled with what seems to be the positing of an imaginary reader who is a similar white, heterosexual male (or what in less academic speech is known as a good ole boy); (2)the reliance on observation (a classic tool in gathering information about the natives during colonial conquests) rather than dialog, and an unmistakable assumption of intellectual superiority that results in simple evaluations of female students' innate tendencies and abilities.

I would like to suggest that you make the claims in your article explicitly to your female Japanese students, and have a conversation with them about your perception of them and their perception of you. You could even introduce praise and criticism of your article and ask them to present their own ideas. The problem with such English exchange, however, is that it reinforces the assumption of complex western teachers interacting with naive, simple Japanese. In other words, all of us are in danger of appearing dull and simplistic when communicating in a second language. Giving students the opportunity to write Japanese responses to the claims being made about them in your article would be an even more interesting activity. I, for one, would be very interested in learning of their reactions.

I hope you will be willing to take my unsolicited advice and talk with your students about the article and and then report back about how they respond. This could be useful and insightful, much better than observing the behavior of the islanders while taking meticulous notes for later analysis with similarly minded men.

Cheers,
Charles

Charles, you are right in saying that this is clearly an article written by a male and I have made no attempt to mask the fact that this is one male's perspective. But can I imagine a Japanese male writing something similar? Sure! Why not? Except that he would write in Japanese and not refer to his female students as 'Japanese' females, since that would be largely redundant. And I can easily imagine a male teacher in Japan of Hispanic, Middle-Eastern, Asian, Sub-Continental, African, West Indian, whatever heritage or related nationality reading the piece and thinking, "Yeah. That's what I think too". I mean, why not?

I can also see white men, or men of any ethnicity/race, not liking it too. In short, I don't see racial factors coming into play. Moreover, I can easily imagine (and want to see more) NJ female teachers write about classes where Japanese male students are dominant.

It's not that I am unfamiliar with the whole 'colonial discourse' model (which can, ironically, approach a type of racial profiling). Hell, my first university was Simon Fraser in Vancouver! In the 70's! In philosophy and sociology! If I remember correctly the standard daily greeting there went as follows:
Bob: Hi Ed. How goes the fight against imperialism?
Ed: Fine Bob- thanks to women and minorities.
I've written academic papers criticizing the othering of Japan as 'exotic' and, in doing so, corresponded with Ryuko Kubota. You can't get a less good 'ole boy pedigree than this.

(side note- I don't expect all readers to be familiar with what I write elsewhere but I'd say that my socio-politics are pretty slippery, hard to pin down. I'm not a big picture theorist. You can find stuff I've written that will get a conservative all excited and then read something else where a progressive would be rasing his/her fist in support).

But let me address the 3 points that lead you think I'm arriving at this prespective based on a white hetero good ole boy motif...

You say that I unquestioningly accept stereotypes in the piece. I strongly beg to differ. I begin the piece by hedging and localizing. I state clearly that others may not find this to be the case, that it is based on only my experience, that I understand that collective viewpoints do not represent individuals. I repeat this hedge again at the end- that this is hardly the last word. None of this hints at an 'unquestioned acceptance'.

Further, in the piece, I state categorically and knowingly that certain comments do match a popular stereotype. This means I am aware of the stereotype but my localized situation and experience on some points happens to match it. As I've said earlier, if my observation happens to match a stereotype I can't very well deny it or close my eyes to it simply because stereotypes are 'not good'. It's not as if I'm oblivious to the stereotype.

I should add here that the white hetero good ole boy or frat boy are themselves popular stereotypes. Could it possibly be that some people see a white male writing about women and start to unfairly predicate to him features of that particular stereotype? Food for thought.

Regarding the role of observer...
First, if a teacher is not observing the general mannerisms and mechanism of his/her classes there is something wrong. Making assumptions about typical behaviours and applying these thereafter is just common sense, the proviso being that the teacher be open to potential shifts, changes, and variations in the classroom (or demographic) meme and adjust accordingly.

But, more to the point, why assume that my perspective with my students is limited to the detached observer role? Well Charles, here's my brief interactive resume:
- 20 years teaching this demographic
- hundreds of interactive seminars, tutorial, small groups with extended or open discussion
- numerous one on one sessions on matters personal, social, and academic with students of both sexes, including advisory and counseling roles
- active and direct involvement with students in club and extracurricular activities
- more house parties (my own) or downtown nomikais with students than you can shake an umbrealla stirring stick at
- travel with students
- many students becoming friends are maintaining friendship and correspondence after graduation.
And yes, the topic of M/F students types and differences has come up in these interactions on many occasions.

This is quite standard fare for most teachers like myself. What it means is not that every impression I expressed must therefore be fully accurate but rather that I'm not exactly pulling this stuff out of my observer's hat while standing at the front of the classroom.

As for the male dominant or intellectual superiority remarks, I refer you first to my point #6 in the article wherein I explicity state that many male teachers have the habit of underestimating female students and duly criticize this. Moreover, the latter part of the piece focuses almost exclusively upon some of the buffoonery that one might/can see in some male teachers and I duly criticizes such behaviours- most explicitly where I talk about the habit of some men to automatically assume authoritative roles around women and use them as foils for his jokes, insights etc. I'm really not sure as to how you could have overlooked these (maybe because they don't mesh with the good ole boy motif?).

However, I can see one glaring problem with the article- a point made by Mark Hunter. That is, most of these points and bits of advice can be applied to either sex when the particular behaviour is noted. The article lacks a twist that will cause the reader to sit up and think "Hmm. I hadn't thought of this regarding young Japanese female students before," which is what I'd like to think of as a characteristic of most of my writing in the uni-files. In that sense, yeah, it's not fresh enough.


Recent Columns

Recent Comments

Categories

Comments

Events

World Today