Mental Models and High School English

A mental model is the way we think about the world. They are beliefs, values, thoughts and feelings that we have about the world that have come from our society, our culture, our family and our friends. They are things that we don’t question because they have become part of who we are. This isn’t a bad thing. It is part of being human, however it is important to understand our mental models so that we can choose which models are the best for us. For example, I am Australian so I am very flexible about time. I am currently living in Japan which has a very rigid perspective on time. Since I am living in Japan I have found it essential to change my mental model knowing that if I don’t I will upset the people around me.

An amazing part of travelling is that you get a chance to question those mental models. When we visit another country we see a country with a different set of mental models. Some are similar to ours but there will always be differences. When we come into contact with another culture we can reflect on our own and learn more about ourselves and how we think about the world.

Not all of us can travel though, but we can still learn a language. A language is a form of mental model. It holds the way a group of people see and think about the world. In learning a language we can learn about different ways of seeing the world. In doing so we can understand our own life and upbringing. In this we can come to better understand our culture. We can appreciate the cultural ways of thinking that bring us a happier life and we can shed the ways of thinking that haven’t.

One of the interesting things about learning English is that it holds a wider range of perspectives than usual languages since it is truly a global language. Every nation with English as its national language has its own unique culture that changes the way English is used. Australians, people from the US, Canadians, New Zealanders, South Africans, Singaporeans to name a few all have their own mental models. You don’t just learn about one culture or one way of thinking. When you add that to the number of countries that learn English as a second language then you really gain a sense of just how many cultures are contributing to the mental modes available in English.

This brings me to the second part of this article’s title, high school English. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to observe the way English is taught in high schools in Japan. One of the things I noticed is that English language despite being a different way of seeing the world is being taught as a way of reinforcing Japanese perspectives. To repeat that, the subject English in Japan is used to teach Japanese moral education. I would not be surprised to find that that our countries treat language education the same way.  This means that a major benefit to learning a language, the chance to reflect on our own society and our own ways of thinking, has been removed.

To conclude, when you teach a language you should include the way that native users of that language think and why they speak the way they do. In doing so we can work towards creating a better way of living in which we combine the mental models of the world’s cultures.

 

Google Translate:

精神モデルは、私たちが世界を考える方法です。彼らは、私たちの社会、文化、家族、友人から来た世界についての信念、価値観、思考、感情です。彼らは私たちが誰であるかの一部になっているので、私たちは疑問に思っていないことです。これは悪いことではありません。それは人間であることの一部ですが、どのモデルが私たちのために最適であるかを選択できるように、私たちの精神モデルを理解することが重要です。たとえば、私はオーストラリア人なので、時間に関して非常に柔軟です。私は現在日本に住んでいますが、これは非常に厳格な視点を持っています。私は日本に住んでいるので、私の心のモデルを変えることが不可欠であることを知っています。

旅行の驚くべき部分は、あなたがそれらのメンタルモデルに疑問を呈するチャンスを得ることです。私たちは別の国を訪問するとき、異なる精神モデルを持つ国を見る。いくつかは私たちに似ていますが、常に違いがあります。私たちが他の文化と触れ合うとき、私たちは自分自身に気づくことができ、自分自身についてもっと学び、私たちが世界についてどのように考えるかを学ぶことができます。

英語を学ぶことに関する興味深い点の1つは、それが本当にグローバルな言語であるため、通常の言語より幅広い視点を保持していることです。国語としての英語を持つすべての国は、英語が使われる方法を変える独自の文化を持っています。オーストラリア人、アメリカ人、カナダ人、ニュージーランド人、南アフリカ人、シンガポール人の人たちは、それぞれ独自の精神モデルを持っています。あなたはただ一つの文化や考え方を学ぶだけではありません。それを第二言語として英語を学ぶ国の数に加えれば、あなたは英語の精神的なモードに貢献している文化の数を実際に知ることができます。

これは、この記事のタイトル、高校の英語の2番目の部分に私をもたらします。私は日本の高校で英語を教える方法を観察できるほど幸運でした。私が気づいたことのひとつは、世界観を見る方法が違うにもかかわらず、英語が日本の視点を強化する方法として教えられていることです。それを繰り返すために、日本の英語は日本語の道徳教育を教えるために使われます。私たちの国が語学教育を同じように扱っていることに驚くことはありません。これは、言語を学ぶことの大きなメリット、自分の社会や自分の考え方を反映する機会がなくなったことを意味します。

結論として、あなたが言語を教えるときには、その言語のネイティブユーザがどのように考えているのか、そして彼らが自分のやり方を話す理由を含めるべきです。そうすることで、私たちは世界の文化の精神モデルを組み合わせて、より良い生活の方法を作り出すように働くことができます。

Parental Support in an Ideal World

One of the hardest parts of my day is going to work.  This isn’t because of work though.  It’s the hardest part because I have to leave my daughter behind.  Both my wife and I work meaning that at one point during the day we have to leave our daughter at day care.  While this is a reasonable solution its not the best case scenario for my daughter.  The best case scenario would be for both her parents to be with her full time.  She loves us both and her happiest times are when she is with the two of us.  This blog is about what society and the government should do for parents to create an optimum world.

My proposal is simple.  When you are having a child you should be given two years paid parental care to look after your child full time without worrying about money or work.  This may sound impossible but it’s not at all.  The whole thing would need paper work of course to ensure that the child is getting the care the service is providing and not just paying a drunk or gambling addict a living in wage.  There would need to be checks and measures the whole way through the process.  Most importantly though there would need to be advance parental education and counseling throughout the process.  During pregnancy or while awaiting the adoption papers future parent/s would sign up for the parental leave support network.  They’d begin parental education and for the next two years be full time parent/s.  After all we are already full time parents we should be recognised as such.  This programme would need far more than the baby bonus or parental pay that is in use at the moment.  Parent/s would need enough money so that feel comfortable but not enough to bring the government to its knees financially.  This money would have to come from taxes but given what the tax is for I’m sure there wouldn’t be much to complaint about it.

Possible arguments against this policy; it would create professional parents; the sheer amount of money it would cost.  it would destroy the day care industry; it would result in a population boom.  Starting with the first argument I would say that this isn’t such a problem if they are good parents.  After all, the reason for such a policy change would be to better educate and care for our children thus creating a better future.  However, if this is really such an issue in getting this kind of policy through then it can be limited to the first two babies and everyone after that is on your own time and money.  The second issue I have partly covered.  Money can always be found.  There are numerous ways enough money could be generated for this; have companies fund part of it; higher taxes; implement a mining tax, a fast food tax, commercial support, fundraising, funding cuts to the military, etc.  The third issue with the policy isn’t really an issue.  After all it is a small price to pay for a better world.  People in those professions can still be utilised though.  Parents would still need breaks.  Day care would just turn into a few hours care.  The need would still be there just the format would change.  There would also need to be people to teach the parenting education modules so a new industry would arise.  The final problem, that of the population boom. While it may create a temporary population boom the increase in focus on educating parents would eventually result in the population plateauing as educated people tend not to have so many children.  People would want to do other things with their lives.

So that’s my proposal.  A two year full time parental leave from work supported by the government and the people.  It would improve our society in more ways than I can imagine.

Encouraging Positive Behaviour

Lately my baby has taken to biting.  It started with biting my nose now it’s nose, fingers, arm, stomach, basically wherever she can sink her teach in.  It all started with the nose though.  Baby would lean in for the chomp grabbing my ears to make sure I couldn’t escape.   At first I thought it was funny and would make the funny I’m in pain noise and then tickle her.  She is usually not ticklish except when she is tired or when she is trying to bite me.  Clearly we have established the biting tickling routine.  I still tickle her and think it’s quite funny but I’ve been wondering if I’m just encouraging negative social behaviour.

This is actually something that I am always wondering no matter what I am doing with baby.  I always ask myself what is she learning from my behaviour.  For us playing with a child is just fun.  For the child though this is an important socialising experience.  Through play children learn how to be human.  They also learn how to be human by observing everything we do.  My daughter has learnt that humans sweep and vacuum the floor and so always wants to do this.  This of course is a positive behaviour which we encourage.  It’s up to us to make sure they learn positive social behaviour.  Sometimes I make a funny noise when my daughter hits me.  I wonder if this is the starting point for bullying behaviour latter on.  Did a bully learn that if i hit someone they make a funny noise when they were toddlers?  Whether it is true or not I am always checking my behaviour.  Making sure that I am encouraging positive behaviour.