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Views on Society on Global Understanding 1

Source: Chapter 2:Global Mindset from Monograph vol.53, " Relationship with Society -the Social Awareness of High School Students" edited by Educational Research Center, Benesse Corporation, May 1, 1998
(Supervising Editor: Dr. Masashi Fukaya, Professor, Tokyo Seitoku Junior College)

(1) Research Objective of the Survey "Global Mindset of High School Students"

It seems that high school students nowadays are more interested in their daily life and in familiar issues rather than thinking about the future. Do they think about the society, different cultures, and the issues of global environment? Is there a new type of social perception or interest in volunteer activities? The purpose of this research is to clarify their social perceptions and values on the society.
(2) Survey Method

This survey covers 1,699 students of 6 high schools in 5 prefectures (5 public schools and 1 private school). By gender, 903 are male and 792 are female, 4 are unknown. By grade, 891 students are seventh graders, 649 are eighth graders, 155 are ninth, and 4 are unknown. The survey was conducted in October and November 1997.

(1) Internationalization of High School Students

About 30% of the high school students have been abroad. A little more than 80% want to travel abroad, and 50% want to go abroad for study or on business. Furthermore, a little over 50% can give directions in English, or go shopping alone in foreign countries; a little over 40% feel capable of taking part in a homestay program, and a little over 20% can go abroad to study. Compared with the past data, high school students these days are more aware of and feel more confident of their capabilities regarding globalization (Table 1, 2, and 4).

(2) High School Students' Views on Foreign Countries

There are many foreign countries they want to visit including Western nations. On the other hand, the majority of them (70%) want to go to study or have friends in the United States. In general, they are highly Western-oriented and have less interest in Asia and Africa. Asked about their images on those countries, many students gave specific examples of, or made concrete value judgments on, the Western countries while there were many vague or stereotyped images of Asian nations.

(3) High School Students' Attitudes toward Different Cultures

Half of the students are ready to adapt to and assimilate different cultures while the other half want to coexist with diverse and multiple cultures. The "multicultural coexistence-type" students read political and economic articles in the newspapers and are interested in the global community. They also have much interest in current social issues such as "comfort women," "people's referendum," and "food assistance to North Korea" (Table 8, 9, and 10).


About 10 years have passed since the various norms and structures that supported the society during much of this century began to collapse. The same can be said about the framework of the nation. Internationalization in political, economic and social areas takes precedence while conflicts often take place among peoples or ethnic groups. As a possible solution to cope with this situation, one can think about the transition from the traditional idea of being an adaptive and assimilative nation to the idea of multicultural coexistence. Accordingly, school education in Japan has been promoting "education in compliance with globalization" or "education to enhance international understanding."
During these four weeks, we will look at how high school students are experiencing and undergoing globalization, as well as, to examine their international understanding from the three points of view: internationalization, views on foreign countries, and responsiveness to different cultures. We would like to understand the true meaning of internationalization or international understanding.

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