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GLOBAL ISSUES IN LANGUAGE
EDUCATION NEWSLETTER
April 2000 - Issue No. #38 (p.7-8)

Our Windows to the Globe

Student Essays on Global Issues

by Masaharu Nagasaki & Carole Ray

Kochi, Japan

In 1996, Masaharu Nagasaki and Carole Ray taught an Advanced English Seminar on global issues at Kochi Otemae Senior High School in Kochi, Japan. As part of the course, 38 students wrote essays on global themes for a class booklet Our Windows to the Globe which was subsequently published and is now posted on the Internet at the website listed below. This article introduces the course, explains the aim of the class booklet and lists sample essays from four students.

Our Windows to the Globe

Advanced English Seminar 1996 3-1-H
Kochi Otemae Senior High School
COURSE AIMS
  • To study global issues through English
    1. To know the facts about global issues
    2. To think about and discuss these topics
    3. To express opinions through writing essays
TEXTBOOK
  • Shiokawa, H. (1996) The Real World. Kirihara.
SYLLABUS
  • 1st semester - Global Studies
    • Reading comprehension (Japanese teacher)
    • Lecure (ALT native English speaker)
    • Discussion and paragraph writing
  • 2nd semester - Essay Writing
    • introduction to essay writing and computers
    • outlining, writing and editing
TOPICS OF STUDENT ESSAYS
  • I. Environment
    1. Japanese Love for Nature
    2. Dying Earth
    3. Save the Earth
    4. Energy

  • II. Economics
    1. Japanese attitude toward labor
    2. Too much to do?
    3. Development

Preface to the Book

Many challenges face the youth of today, challenges of a personal, cultural and environmental nature. Perhaps these challenges may never truly be solved, but it is vital that the young generation recognizes the problems and works towards a solution - they hold the power of the future.

The array of environmental problems facing the Earth today is terrifying to consider - global warming, the Greenhouse Effect, pollution. These problems will only get worse; prevention and solutions must begin now, through education and awareness. What has happened in the past cannot be changed, but the future is ours to control, and young people are the ones who will decide that future.

As the bonds between countries grow, the world, in effect, gets smaller. Today's international community must work together to find solutions to the challenges that face us. Within the international community, however, we must also ensure our cultural identity. The youth of each country must recognize the good and bad aspects of their culture, and decide how they fit into the international community - should they change their work ethic to be more like another culture's? How can they best help poorer countries? What responsibility do they have to other countries?

In this Advanced English Seminar, we have examined many of these issues - solutions are not easy to find, but as long as we are asking the questions, we are moving towards finding the answers. In these essays, the students have shown great awareness of the challenges that face the Earth and the international community. I am impressed not only with their English ability, in their understanding and discussion of concepts difficult even to native speakers, but also in their knowledge and comprehension of the problems. Their ideas and their understanding of the issues give us great hope for the future. - Carole Ray


Do the Japanese love nature?

by Maya Sasaki

Do the Japanese love nature? I don't think so. I think Japanese people are insensitive to nature rather than loving it. They often say, "We love nature", but they only think they do. In fact, they have destroyed nature for a long time. Primitive people lived in awe of nature, but modern people are in hot pursuit of our own profit.

In Japan, environmental pollution has been a problem with rapid industrialization and urbanization. Factories spewed wastes into the air or water and large city populations increased the problems of human waste disposal. But nobody cared about it. As a result, more pollution was created than could be disposed of by the purification function of nature. For example, polluted water killed fish and polluted air began causing illness and death of humans and other lives. Fertilizers and pesticides demand soils and crops. Not until crippling pollution began to interfere with every persons' lives did we start to question our reckless use of the earth's resources and to see nature as a force to be protected.

And also their actions are contradictory to their words. For example, some say Stop whaling while others eat whales. There are recycling campaign while there are many throwaway goods such as cameras, lighters and diapers. These acts are nothing but a waste of resources. In addition, they don't stop throwing fish lines or empty cans in spite of seeing many birds getting entangled in the fish lines and bristling with oil.

But recently, Japanese people have begun to take an interest in preserving nature. They are protecting many kinds of species which are on the brink of extinction in many places. And we often hear about recycling. Recycling shops have opened in various parts of Japan and some people are using them. In addition, we are using recycled notebooks or toilet paper and milk packs and aluminum cans are collected. But, in fact there are a few people who carry it out. What we need is not words but deeds.

Do the Japanese love nature? I don't think so. But, now that we are aware of environmental pollution, we should do what we can. What can we do? We have to change from a wasteful and destructive lifestyle to an environment-friendly lifestyle. Pass down used clothes to other people. Let's can use our own shopping bags. Each of us should learn to consume less and recycle more. We should do sustainable development. In these small ways we can all help to make the world a cleaner, healthier place for future generations. The biggest problems is that Japanese people separate humans from nature and they have looked at it objectively. Every ecosystem is dependent on another. We owe nature a debt of gratitude. We are part of nature.


What we can do for the Earth

by Jun Nishitani

What can we do for the earth ? What we must think is not what we can do but what we must do. Because the earth is our home and we are in charge of it, we must protect it. If it became impossible to live here, we would have to move to another planet.

First and foremost, we must stop destroying our environment. We are producing more waste than the earth can take care of. Deforestation is making many deserts. Global warming is one of the most serious problems. If the earth continues to be destroyed at this rate, we will be unable to live here. So we must make developing countries stop cutting trees to make farms. It is necessary for them to be helped by developed countries. And we must reduce amounts of carbon dioxide. So, the number of cars should be reduced. We have first of all to recognize this critical situation.

Second, we must solve the problem of war and peace. A nuclear weapon is getting ready for war which will takes place someday. A nuclear test is the reason by which inhabitants are frightened. If a nuclear war took place, earth would die out. So it must be done away with. We can't do anything for ourselves. We must unite to rid of them. If the earth is kept peacefully, a nuclear power is unnecessary. People sometimes fight for borderlines. But, they can't to be seen from space. If we see the earth from space, we can recognize how valuable the earth is.

We take the earth for granted. But it is the one and only our home. We must make the world a cleaner healthier place for future generations.


Do the Japanese love nature?

by Chihiro Hamada

I don't think we Japanese love nature. Rather Japanese have, little interest in nature. Because, although there is a vast nature in Japan, Japanese are too busy to enjoy it. Why don't Japanese think to take good care of nature?

We make a lot of garbage and we cause great environment deterioration. For example, when we buy some things at a supermarket, we receive four or five bags. Finally these bags are thrown away as garbage. A lot of garbage which is made this way is collected and thrown away in the mountains or the sea.

Another thing, young people in Japan want to leave the hometown and to live in the city. They think they can't realize their dreams in country life. And they long for city life. They forget the importance of nature to human beings. As the numbers of people more and more think this way, great environment deterioration in Japan is caused.

I watched a man who came from Papua to protect his hometown .He was sad that nature of his hometown was destroyed. I think he has a mind which we Japanese lost. He loves nature with all his heart. Japanese, however, have destroyed not only their nature but also foreign nature for the purpose of developing their country. To be sure, environmental problem is discussed lately. I think, however, it is more important that we turn our eyes to this problem and love the nature around us.


What can developed countries do to help developing countries?

by Kana Sumida

Whenever I watch the situation of developing countries on TV, I feel sorry for them. But to my regret, I have no idea what to do for them. Because in fact is that I do not know the situation of developing countries. Actually, it is due to the actions of developed countries that developing countries are still developing.

A long time ago developed countries advanced to the southern countries, it was a start of the colonial policy. Then, the southern countries are exploited by developed countries. For example, developed country have been discarding the great of waste in developing countries. They have been trying to stop the forest exploitation more over to protect the environment, and they have warned developing countries against exploitation. However, developing countries want to keep exploitation to decrease a gap between North and South. Developed countries must accept the responsibility that give rise to the gap.

If developed countries hope for a better future, they have to cooperate with developing countries. Developed countries have already been helping developing countries, giving food, clothes, and various materials to live. However these countries keep on starving. Limited materials do not save people of developing countries.

We may be mistake about how to support them. I am sure that there are better ways. If developing countries are given a lot of food , they will soon eat all of it. Materials will finish someday. Therefore we have to give them knowledge. Now there are many volunteers around the world. Some people call them ̵0abroad young cooperate team̵0. They communicate various knowledge, for example, how to make grain, or grow up plant, or speaking and writing language. It is important for developing countries to learn the way for live. Of course, the exploitation must be able to continue and not have bad influence.

In some developing countries, great of crop for export to Northern countries have been growing It is fruits, coffee or sugar mainly, and inhabitants in there can not grow their own crops. they should insist on right of growing their staple food, or rise the price of export crops. While a small number of rich man are governing a great of land and inhabitants. this is also one of reasons that exploitation is late. Developing countries have to make up the better way together. They must not think only their profit.

Developing countries must do not only depend on developed countries, but also make efforts to advance toward between ways. There are many problems that they must solve. First they must control the population growth. Excessive population growth cause the shortage of food and undernourishment. However they seem to continue bearing many children to take care of them after their children grow up. And it may be because of their religions. To control the population growth, they should get rid of the misunderstanding that many children leads to a good life. It may be a good system to limit the number of children by government as China has done with its "one child policy". Then government should encourage inhabitants in increasing their zeal for production. In Malaysia government has had a "Look East Policy" that follows Japanese success. This is a good thing to do. Developing countries should find the way to development.

Let's trade material and human being with each other. It is best way that each of the countries become a rich country. Developing countries should sell their products more. Developed countries should buy them in high price. More trade, more support.

For more information on the course or to get the full texts of all 38 student essays, go to: http://www.nagasaki21.com/efl/lesson/grathesis.html [Link no longer active]


Masahiro Nagasaki, Kochi Prefectural Board of Education, Kochi, Japan

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