The perils of ‘exam mentality’

In the course of my application to obtain an indefinite leave to remain (permanent residence permission) in the UK, I had to take and pass the notorious ‘Life in the UK test’, which anyone wishing to settle in the UK is now required to pass, as a demonstration of ‘sufficient knowledge of life in the United Kingdom’.   Continue reading “The perils of ‘exam mentality’”

Unexamining life

(Afterthoughts on the experience of marking undergraduate exams for the first time, June 2018)

1.    I do not know how much work is done in philosophy of education (a field in need of urgent expansion) on the significance and the end of examination at the university level. What justification is there for subjecting so many students to severe and sustained stress (and distress)? Continue reading “Unexamining life”




これが繊細で複雑で感情的な激論を引き起しやすい話題なのは容易にうかがえるけれど、あまり広く認知されていないと思われるのは、この種の議論には哲学が建設的に貢献できる余地が相当あるということだ。教育、法律、規範、善悪、罰、苦痛、暴力——これらの事柄について、多くの哲学者たちがずっと昔から極めて真摯に考えを巡らせてきた。哲学者たちが「答え」を知っているとは言えないが、参考にするべき思索の積み重ねはある。それに、教育における体罰というのは多くの人にとって具体的で日常のすぐ近くにある問題だから、これを反省的に考える際には、個人的な経験や気持ちが邪魔をして、論証の妥当性を的確に吟味できなかったり、そこで使われるさまざまな概念の意味を正確に把握できなかったりして、混乱に陥ってしまうこともある。そこで、哲学的、批判的思考あるいは態度がある種の対抗手段になる。 Continue reading “体罰が暴力であるのはどういう時か”

On becoming worthy of having a master

It’s not uncommon for some Japanese students pursuing academic research to casually call their supervisor “shisho,” which very roughly means “master” (I’m not sure how many of them actually address their supervisors that face-to-face, but that’s another matter). This is the word that a disciple of some craft (e.g. carpentry, calligraphy, or some traditional performance art), martial arts, or religious order would use to call his or her master. Continue reading “On becoming worthy of having a master”