Why do some Japanese use universities like parks?

I’m not at all sure about this, but I’ve been working in universities quite a lot in the last two years and it seems to me that a small but substantial minority of the people coming through the gates are people with no connection to the university just having a stroll, including people doing so with small kids. Don’t remember that from my own university times, though that was very long ago and I was probably too busy being drunk and/ or pretentious to notice stuff like that anyway…

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Why are there still so many chalkboards in Japan?

The most extreme example I’ve come across is a university I gave a workshop in that had two projectors and huge screens, but still had chalkboards rather than IWBs, or indeed just plain whiteboards. It’s not like the Japanese are generally anti-technology…

While working at another university with chalkboards recently it occured to me that the manic tapping noise I was producing and the sheer physical exertion were very conducive to a Japanese view of teaching and learning being mainly hard work. Sure there must be other more mundane explanations though…

Why doesn’t Japan do better in international university rankings?

They don’t do that badly- but we are talking about an education-obsessed country that has a far bigger economy than the UK, and the UK does a lot better. Explanations I have heard include young research high flyers leaving Japan for countries where they don’t have their supervisor putting only their name on their research for the first thirty years, not being able to attract similar talent from other countries, not getting lots of money from alumni, and language problems with getting published in the big (usually English language) journals.

I don’t know if these surveys can actually take the education people receive there into account, but the vast majority of the (few) Japanese I know who went to top universities seem totally incapable of imaginative thought and particularly ignorant of the world outside their chosen area- much more so than people in the junior college that I worked in. Of course, that might well have been forced out of them by the preparation to get into those universities and so not necessarily the fault of the unis themselves.