Print Story "Looser Educational Control Yields More Artists...."
By lylehsaxon (Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 11:48:58 AM EST) (all tags)
I hesitate to write this, as it's not based on proper research, but rather just my own observation and surmising. Nevertheless, combined with some generally well-known trends, it might even be on the mark.

In the early eighties, there was talk in Japan of how the country could be a little less obsessive about working and studying all the time - how this might be the key to becoming a more creative country, where ideas were not just successfully taken in and implemented, but where innovation and new ideas would originate. And so the six-day work week soon became a five-day work week, and soon thereafter, the six-day school week became a five-day school week (at public schools anyway - many private schools still have six-day weeks). In school, the amount of homework was reduced, and the grading system was simplified in order to place less emphasis on completing for top grades. (Ironically, this led to ever more people sending their kids to juku's [cram schools] after school, but going into that now would derail the point of what I'm writing about.)

And here we are in 2009, with the current crop of people in their early twenties being the product of the changes made to the educational system. There are stories in the newspapers about how fewer and fewer college students are studying science, and how science and math test scores are down compared with other countries, etc. In fact, people are so worried, that they've begun reversing the changes made in the late eighties and early nineties. More homework, talk of returning to the old educational system, etc.

The upside to all this? There seem to be many more people interested in art - certainly in creating it, and hopefully also in appreciating it.

And... just when I reach the part where I thought I'd take off and write several paragraphs, I realize I've basically said what I wanted to say, so... there it is.

Why do I bring this up? I've recently spent a little time checking out some art galleries over on the edge of Ginza in 1-chome, a bit away from the central (and more fashionable) part of (overly?) fashionable Ginza, and the following gallery and artists' links are from postcards I picked up while walking around looking at art and talking to artists. Most of the art on the cards I saw myself.

I may be wrong in my assessment of Japan becoming more creative and artistic, but I hope not. In talking with young artists at exhibitions on the fringe of Ginza (some from Tokyo, some in town from other regions of the country), I believe that there really is a wave of artistry rising up with this next/current generation.

It may turn out to be a special generation - as the world heads into more troubled waters, and the educational system goes back to an environment more conductive to math and science, and less tolerant of art and free thinking. But change is the only constant anyway, and once you have a generation thinking in a different way, that thinking doesn't change overnight.

And so, as I feel myself on the verge of derailing the point of this... essay (is that what it is?), I'll stop here and leave the links below:

Offside Gallery
Aoyama 3-10-21

Ginza 1-9-8 (Okuno Bldg.)

Gallery Camellia

Gallery Ginza Itchome

Yuco Oyama

Illustrator - Nishibata Nobuhiro


Vivant Annexe

Masashi Ito

Saihodo Gallery
Ginza 6-7-7

APS - A Piece of Space
Ginza 1-9-8 511 & 502

Gallery L Mer


exhibit Live & Moris Gallery
Ginza 8-10-7

artist RIXY

galerie non

Ginza 4-3-14

leather & brass artist

Vivant Annexe

Gallery Platform Studio

Yoshino Akira


Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

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"Looser Educational Control Yields More Artists...." | 12 comments (12 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
ever read The Diamond Age? by clover kicker (2.00 / 0) #1 Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 01:04:52 PM EST
Education -vs- creativity is an important theme.

Not released yet? by lylehsaxon (2.00 / 0) #3 Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 05:50:52 AM EST
I just did a quick search at Amazon and it says it hasn't been released yet?  Another book by the same title?


The shortest way home is the longest way 'round....
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(Comment Deleted) by xth (4.00 / 1) #6 Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 07:10:46 AM EST

This comment has been deleted by xth

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Creativity and learning by duxup (2.00 / 0) #2 Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 02:16:30 PM EST
Mrs. duxup is working on her masters in an education field.  Frequently her books point to studies that point out that students who are more often engaged creative play in education don’t consistently out score students with less creative focused education.  However, they note signs point to what they think shows that those students with more creative play involved in their education seem to have an advantage when it comes to understanding, applying, and wielding what they’ve learned outside answering a question on a test.  The short of it is that it seems sitting on your ass in a classroom is really good for being tested on sitting in your ass in a classroom. 

Indeed... by lylehsaxon (2.00 / 0) #4 Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 05:52:25 AM EST
Scoring well on tests also trains many people for being "good" office drones - helping to drag down the company that hires them, but making mid-level management scum happy....


The shortest way home is the longest way 'round....
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or by bobdole (2.00 / 0) #5 Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 06:17:40 AM EST
it shows that they have enough understanding of the system to be able to game it to their benefits (notably so, multiple choice tests - often hailed as the gender neutral holy grail of education).

Why this dichotomy people, to be a good scholar you have to have elements of being able to learn (including rote learning) as well as elements of creativity - i.e. being able to apply your skills in possibly new and creative applications to stand out from those just repeating the same thing over and over again.

Exams have never been a valid way of testing students, but it's the best we got if you want to test a lot of students in a short time - there's a reason why higher level education (doctoral programmes for instance) usually don't award degrees based on sitting one exam, but actually takes the hassle of peer review and defence (depending on field and geography)

-- The revolution will not be televised.
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Right... by lylehsaxon (2.00 / 0) #8 Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 08:27:41 AM EST
Yeah, I have a bad habit of overstating my case when I get fired up about something.  Intensely disliking office politics, I get downright passionate about it.

As for tests - indeed.  I realized this when I taught English at a nursing school here for three years.  Tests are designed for teachers - not for students!  And I have sympathy for the teachers - realizing it's a logistical issue.  If you have 40 students, and you have to test them, some sort of streamlined assembly line type of testing is the only logistical way to do it.  Poor students, and poor teacher too, but there one to forty, there's no way it can be done the way it ought to be done.

I did try to do something different for the main test at the nursing school - but then I found that it took an immense amount of time to grade all the tests in a personal way - paying proper attention to the partial merits of answers that were not completely right..  It would work with ten students, but 40 calls for streamlined logistics, or vast amoutns


The shortest way home is the longest way 'round....
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... or vast amounts of time by lylehsaxon (2.00 / 0) #10 Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 08:36:29 AM EST
The end of my sentence got cut off.  It should have been ".... or vast amounts of time).


The shortest way home is the longest way 'round....
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More artists doesn't necessarily mean better art by lm (2.00 / 0) #7 Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 07:53:47 AM EST
Maybe I'm too much of an elitist but it seems to me that the quality of art being produced should be the metric rather than the number of artists.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
True enough, but... by lylehsaxon (2.00 / 0) #9 Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 08:33:51 AM EST
The interesting/strange thing I've begun to notice about the self-promoting artists I'm meeting off the beaten display space track on the edge of Ginza, is that they are sort of forming their own economy.  The artists pay to display their art, and other artists doing the same thing are the bulk of the people who come to see the art.  And there being a lot of people who want to have exhibitions of their creations (certainly the quality varies widely - from really horrible to really fantastic), is what makes it feasible for the many small galleries to run their business of renting out the space.  And then there's compettion, etc.

Actually, come to think of it - I think it really isn't a bad thing to have a lot of people creating (or attempting to create) art.


The shortest way home is the longest way 'round....
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I won't say that its a bad thing by lm (2.00 / 0) #11 Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 10:40:03 AM EST
I'm just saying that more artists isn't necessarily a good thing. The cottage economies springing up are interesting but in and of themselves more or less irrelevant. What really matters, or so it seems to me, is whether or not the increase in attention to the arts has lead to an increase in the amount of good art. It may very well have. But my own experience among creative types and the work they produce is that Sturgeon's Law is a vast understatement.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
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Thinking about this some more... by lylehsaxon (2.00 / 0) #12 Sat May 02, 2009 at 06:20:42 PM EST
After thinking about this a bit more, I realize that there is an element of this that I didn't go into, but is important to me personally living in Japan.  When I came here in 1984, it was the usual things - unique, clean, safe, etc., but also rather uptight and lacking spontaneity.  So, for me, aside from whether the art is good or bad, I'm just happy to see more people here now who are less uptight and rigid.  I think this sentiment was shared locally, since it was a conscious decision to loosen up education, in order to loosen up the next generation.


The shortest way home is the longest way 'round....
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"Looser Educational Control Yields More Artists...." | 12 comments (12 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback