Wednesday, May 11, 2011

36 Views of Mt. Fuji, by Cathy N. Davidson


I read it first 15 years ago. I was impressed with the insight Ms. Davidson shared from her times in Japan. Felt, after the recent earthquake (plus aftermath), it was time to share.

So I got to read it again! I've been looking forward to this for years! There are too many sections of it I want to quote.

1) The Festival of the Dead.
2) "Toshi, a direct descendant of a famous samurai clan, explained that a samurai's clothes did not even have pockets. No samurai would deign to carry money; that was women's work.

'This is why boys do so poorly in math,' Toshi noted. 'If there weren't lower math standards for boys than girls, our best national universities would be filled with women.'

Other Japanese friends confirmed this. Boys in Japan often have math anxiety. There are special juku courses to overcome this fear.

When a study done in America in 1980 'proved' that girls have lower math scores than boys due to lower testerone levels, I made Xerox copies of the Time magazine article and brought it into my Rhetoric course at Kansai Women's University. I asked them to read the article first, and then to write an in-class essay about it.

It's one of the few times when my students began to laugh spontaneously, without my making it clear that they were 'allowed' to do so.

'Gomen nasai!' one of my students said, working hard to control her mirth. 'We know this article isn't supposed to be funny but it is. We all help our brothers with arithmetic.'

3) Let me know if you'd like one more.

I was not able to find a copy at powells.com. I do apologize.


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2 comments:

Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

I read and loved this book, and that part about the girl-boy gap in math struck me, too. I think back on that every time I hear another "scientific study" trying to explain why girls "just don't have the same aptitude for math and science." Our cultural assumptions are so much a part of us that they can be hard to shake off. People don't even realize how very early those expectations are conveyed: even as early as babyhood, with the selection of "female" and "male" colors for the clothing and the nursery!

gonovice said...

You might also like Hokkaido Highway Blues: Hitchhiking Japan, by Will Ferguson. Again, it's been years, but I remember enjoying it.