As students we stretch our boundaries, attempting to understand different cultures, examining them through tinted glasses. These glasses are tinted with Western ideologies, thoughts and theories. During second block this year, I had the unique opportunity to represent Cornell at Aoyama Gakuin Women’s Junior College in Tokyo, Japan, and was simultaneously enrolled in Professor Mackler’s Foundations of Education course for which we arranged an independent study during my week in Japan. As part of the course we looked at how education propagates what society’s expectations are of its young and the future it foresees.
To pursue this matter, during my stay in Japan I conducted a comparative study to examine how socio-cultural and political aims factor into education in both the U.S.A. and Japan. For this I examined literature that analyzes how education began and its evolution to its present state in the U.S.A. as well as literature that explores the cultural significance of education in Japan. Combined with this were my observations of classrooms I visited during my stay at Aoyama Gakuin and my interaction with students as well as faculty at the college.
It was interesting to realize that different activities and programs are used to instill in students the importance of one’s culture. These methods, however, are different in both cultures but in tune with their respective cultural beliefs. This experience was enlightening in many ways but raised many questions, such as, “What is the significance of education and how it should change to possibly create a more global understanding?”
Puroitree Majumdar, ’10 Delhi, India
Majors: Psychology, Biology
Sponsor: Stephanie Mackler