"Teaching to Transgress" and "An Urgency of Teachers": The Individual and the Institutional Application of Critical Digital Pedagogy
Statement of Teaching Philosophy

Critical Digital Pedagogy's Application to Hikikomori (Japanese social isolates)

Last night I watched an Al Jazeera documentary about the Japanese condition of hikikomori. It made me think of bell hooks and Terry Eagleton.

Hikikomori turns adolescents and young adults into modern day hermits. Its central feature is a desire to remain confined to their home. These digital hermits spend their time online gaming and internet surfing. 

No underlying physical or mental condition can (yet) account for this extreme social isolation. Researchers say its angst and distress could begin with prior trauma and bad social experiences. It’s written that the condition rarely improves.

There are several suspected causes. Japan's fast-paced urbanization and technological progress; and its strict, competitive education system. There were 700,000 such isolates in Japan, with an average age of 31, as per a 2010 estimate. It’s spreading to other countries. 

The significance for our class is its connection to education. (15:45 to 17:40 in the embedded video below). Unaccredited free schools promise to return the students to themselves. They have been around since the 1980s. They serve as an alternative to Japan’s disciplined and rigorous schools. There were 7,424 such schools in 1992; the number has increased to 20,346 by 2017. 

Freedom, flexibility, and individuality characterize the safe environment these schools provide. The two minutes of the Al Jazeera video (noted above) reminded me of what we’ve studied and discussed. The ideas of play and spontaneity. Of the teacher not acting like a teacher. Of the students not being afraid to express themselves and have fun. The documentary does not mention Critical Digital Pedagogy, bell hooks, and Terry Eagleton. A cursory examination of free school literature doesn't, either. That doesn’t mean that free schools' evidence isn’t relevant.


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Glenn DeVoogd

Thanks again James. Your ideas and the video are so interesting. We probably need to work on building curiosity, joy, love for life, and perseverance. I know this is true for schools. Last class, we looked at reading instruction as 'experts' describe it on YouTube. The YouTube experts are so focused on skills development instead of appreciation, meaningfulness, and curiosity about the ideas in the text. So often the skills the teacher is teaching, the students already know. So the teacher is not teaching anything the students don't already know. They also suck up all the time that the students could be loving and analyzing the ideas in the text.
I understand that often these hikikomori never recover from trauma they had. So what is the path to recovery? It seems like the artist at the end found a way out of isolation through his creation of art.
I am constantly fascinated by the stories of different people I meet and their perspectives. If I can ask the right questions, I can often find out some things about them. Yet, I feel that I am not very skilled at asking questions and getting into the meaningful core of people. Something to work on I guess.

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