Thursday, May 29, 2008


Below is a copy of a message that my friend wanted me to share.
Thank you, Julia. And now here's for you from Julia and me.


How much do teachers make? Tribute to all teachers.....


The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life. One man, a CEO, decided to explain the problem with education. He argued, 'What's a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?'
He reminded the other dinner guests what they say about teachers: 'Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach.'

To stress his point he said to another guest; 'You're a teacher, Bonnie. Be honest. What do you make?'

Bonnie, who had a reputation for honesty and frankness replied, 'You want to know what I make? (She paused for a second, then began...)

'Well, I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.

I make a C+ feel like the Congressional Medal of Honor.

I make kids sit through 40 minutes of class time when their parents can't make them sit for 5 without an I Pod, Game Cube or movie rental.

You want to know what I make?' (She paused again and looked at each and every person at the table.)

''I make kids wonder.
I make them question.
I make them apologize and mean it.
I make them have respect and take responsibility for their actions.
I teach them to write and then I make them write.
Keyboarding isn't everything.
I make them read, read, read.
I make them show all their work in maths.
They use their God given brain, not the man-made calculator.
I make my students from other countries learn everything they need to know in English while preserving their unique cultural identity.
I make my classroom a place where all my students feel safe.
Finally, I make them understand that if they use the gifts they were given, work hard, and follow their hearts, they can succeed in life.'

(Bonnie paused one last time and then continued.)

'Then, when people try to judge me by what I make, with me knowing money isn't everything; I can hold my head up high and pay no attention because they are ignorant...

You want to know what I make?

*I MAKE A DIFFERENCE.* What do you make Mr. CEO?'

His jaw dropped, he went silent.


Even all your personal teachers like mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters,grandparents, and your spiritual leaders/teachers - Pastor's/Priests/Clergy.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Justice Vs. Power - Chomsky Vs. Foucault

The video of the two great minds talking about justice and power is available on YouTube.

Justice Vs. Power - Chomsky Vs. Foucault, Part 1

Justice Vs. Power - Chomsky Vs. Foucault, Part 2

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Prof. Lantolf’s seminar in Temple University, Tokyo

Participating in Professor James Lantolf's seminar of 12 hours in two days (May 17th-18th, 2008), an opportunity offered by Temple University Japan, was a fascinating experience. The participants thoroughly enjoyed his lucid explanation and honest interaction with them.

The seminar was not a transmission of some established knowledge of the "mainstream SLA" which virtually defies being questioned in many cases. Prof. Lantolf challenged many assumptions of the "mainstream" ideas and through his explanation and discussion with us, he made points very successfully.

Lev Vygotsky says, according Professor Lantolf, "It's easier to assimilate a thousand new facts in any field than to assimilate a NEW POINT OF VIEW of a few already known facts." Professor Lantolf helped us assimilate some new points of view.

One of the basic tenets maintained throughout Professor Lantolf's seminar can be best described by the following remark by Vygotsky.

Education may be defined as the artificial development of the child. Education is the artificial mastery of natural processes of development. Education not only influences certain processes of development, but restructures all functions of behavior in a most essential manner.
p. 88. The Instrumental Method in Psychology, the Chapter 5 of The Collected Works of L. S. Vygotsky: Volume 4.
For Vygotskyan resources see

In this spirit, equating the natural process of development with the educational process undermines (school) education, for the very purpose of education is to intervene in the natural process artificially and help the development that would otherwise be impossible. Giving knowledge of natural language acquisition to teachers does not make good teachers.

In schools, teachers need both knowledge of theory and experience of practice to help learners successfully. However, theory and practice are not something that are just added up, nor is theory being simply "applied" to practice. Theory and practice are in the dialectic relation, Prof. Lantolf explains as he refers to Adolfo Sanchez Vazquez
and Richard J. Bernstein (Praxis and Action: Contemporary Philosophies of Human Activity).

It is "Praxis as the dialectic of theory-practice" that teachers need in classrooms.

Scientific concepts in theory make something invisible visible to teachers and learners. If the current emphasis on methodology goes too far, as I also fear too, language education would be very shallow indeed; you just remember words and grammar and use them. There, a notion like "grammar allows users to override lexical aspect in order to bring a specific temporal perspective into linguistic discourse", which neatly explains our creative use of language is non-existent.

Prof. Lantolf explored the issues of language further. To mention only a few of them, he raised the issue of the role of L1 in the use of L2, and demonstrated with a lot of empirical data that we may indeed be thinking through L1 even when we speak through L2.

The issue of externalizing emotions in L2 was also convincing, as I myself know that sometimes a learner can express him or herself in L2 in a way he or she can never do in L1 because L1 is tied with the learner's identity too closely. L2 for this purpose is a clumsy and shallow, but more effective and appropriate medium for learners.
For some episodes and theoretical explanations that are related to this issue, please see my article if you're interested.

The issue of gesture was another fascinating topic. Prof. Lantolf introduced the studies of gesture by Professor David McNeill and demonstrated his own studies.

It seemed to me (and I hope my understanding is not too wrong) that speech and gesture are in a dialectic relation, each complementing and influencing each other to create a synthetic mode of expression of spoken language. The study of spoken language cannot be complete without the study of gesture.

Last but not least, the idea of Dynamic Assessment is not just a technique, but a radical attempt to reconceptualize teaching and assessment to change school education as it should be.

Some of the books Prof. Lantolf recommended are:
Newman & Holzman (1993) Lev Vygotsky, Revolutionary Scientist Routledge
Rieber & Robinson (eds.) (2004) The Essential Vygotsky Springer
Peter Sacks (2001) Standardized Minds Da Capo Press
Peter Sacks (2007) Tearing Down the Gates University of California Press

All in all, the twelve hour seminar was a sheer intellectual joy for me. I really thank Prof. Lantolf and Temple University, Japan for providing such a wonderful opportunity.

Osaka seminar will be held on May 24th-25th.

Below is the introduction to Prof. Lantolf’s seminar written by himself. It was taken from the website of Temple University Japan.

Distinguished Lecturer Series (Seminar 1): Sociocultural Theory and the Pedagogical Imperative

1 credit hour

Since the field of second language acquisition came into its own a bit more than thirty years ago, SLA researchers have wondered about the relationship between the basic research they conduct in an attempt to develop a systematic and scientifically based understanding of SLA and pedagogical practice. Some have argued that basic research does not, nor can it be expected to have, implications for language teaching (see Chomsky 1966). Others (e.g., Krashen 1983) have proposed that it is the responsibility of SLA researchers to try to make the results of their work relevant for classroom practice. Indeed, Krashen and Terrell (1985) developed an approach to language teaching, the Natural Method, based on the claims made by Krashen's Monitor Hypothesis.

More recently, proponents of Skill Acquisition Theory (e.g., DeKeyser 2007), Interactionist SLA (e.g Gass & Mackey 2007), Input Processing (e.g., VanPatten 2007) and Dynamic Systems Theory (e.g., Larsen-Freeman & Cameron 2007) have each discussed the pedagogical implications of their particular approach to SLA. In all of these approaches, however, there is not a necessary connection between theory, research and teaching. One could perfectly well carry out a robust basic research program in any of the models without paying any attention to the world of the language classroom.

In my view, the reason proponents of the various theories, models, and hypotheses have attempted to bring their work to bear on language teaching is because of a deep and long-standing commitment to language teaching, no doubt in some measure at least due to their histories as language teachers. Clearly, this is a good thing. The argument I want to put forth in this talk, however, is quite a different matter. Sociocultural theory of mind, as developed by L.S. Vygotsky his colleagues and followers, including, A. R. Luria, A. N. & A. A. Leontiev, P. Galfperin, and V. Davydov, among others, must, by necessity, be relevant to educational settings.

There are a number of reasons for this, but two, I believe are central to my claim: (1) Vygotskyfs theory emerges from his insightful reading of Marx's writings, and therefore takes seriously the Eleventh Thesis on Feuerbach "Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world, the point is to change it;" (2) formal education is the primary site where a specific type of development occurs—development grounded in systematic scientific understanding of the object of study. Given these two points, Vygotsky argues that the true test of his theory does not take place in the experimental setting, but in the world where what he calls "artificial development" takes place. This is the world of intentional, conscious education.

The course will examine Vygotsky's argument with regard to L2 language education. The crux of the argument is that instruction must be based on well organized conceptual (i.e., scientific) understanding of language and that we cannot leave learners to their own devices to try to figure out how the new language is structured and how it functions. This knowledge is available as a result of decades of high quality linguistic and applied linguistic research. Our task is to make this knowledge available to learners in a systematic and pedagogical useful way and to help them make the connection between this knowledge and their own practical activity. Vygotsky also argued that the only good instruction is that which leads rather than follows development. This notion he formulated as the well known, but often misunderstood concept of the Zone of Proximal Development. The course then will consider two general SCT approaches to responding to the pedagogical imperative: Gal'perin's Concept-Based Theory of instruction and pedagogical formation of Vygotsky's concept of the Zone of Proximal Development known in Russia as the Pedagogical Experiment and in the West as Dynamic Assessment.

P.S. In his kind reply to my e-mail, Prof. Lantolf (Jim) also recommended the works of Paulo Freire such as:

Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Teachers as Cultural Workers

Pedagogy of Hope

Education for Critical Consciousness

Saturday, May 3, 2008

A brief introduction to Hannah Arendt's "The Human Condition"

The following articles (move backwards) are originally made for students who take Yanase's graduate course in which Arendt's work Vita Activa oder Vom tatigen Leben/ The Human Condition is explored and discussed. The course uses the Japanese translation as the common textbook with occasional reference to the German text and the English text. Yanase introduces his own Japanese translation words when necessary in the course.

The German text
The English text
The Japanese translation

A good introduction to Arendt is written by Osam Kawasaki in Japanese.

ONLINE RESOURCESハンナ・アーレント人間の条件

Hannah Arendt's biography


Below is a brief of biography of Hannah Arendt, complied from the information available on the online resources mentioned above. I thank all the contributors and writers of the sites.

Hannah Arendt was born into a family of secular Jewish Germans in the city of Linden (now part of Hanover), and grew up in Königsberg and Berlin.

1924 (18 years old)
At the University of Marburg, she studied philosophy with Martin Heidegger, with whom she embarked on a long, stormy and romantic relationship.

1925 (19 years old)
She moved to Freiburg University where she spent one semester attending the lectures of Edmund Husserl.

1926 (20 years old)
She moved to Heidelberg University and met Karl Jaspers, with whom she established a long-lasting intellectual and personal friendship.

1929 (23 years old)
She completed her dissertation on the concept of love in the thought of Saint Augustine, under Jasper's supervision.
She married Günther Stern, later known as Günther Anders, in 1929 in Berlin (they divorced later).

1933 (27 years old)
She was forced to flee Germany in 1933 as a result of Hitler's rise to power, and after a brief stay in Prague and Geneva she moved moved to Paris where for six years (1933-39) she worked for a number of Jewish refugee organisations.In her Paris days, she was imprisoned in Camp Gurs but was able to escape after a couple of weeks.

1940 (34 years old)
She married the German poet and Marxist philosopher Heinrich Blücher, by then a former Communist Party member.

In 1941 (35 years old)
She escaped with her husband and her mother to the United States
Living in New York, she wrote for the German language newspaper Aufbau and directed research for the Commission on European Jewish Cultural Reconstruction.

In 1950 (44 years old)
She became a naturalized citizen of the United States.
During the post-war period she lectured at a number of American universities, including Princeton, Berkeley and Chicago, but was most closely associated with the New School for Social Research, where she was a professor of political philosophy until her death in 1975.

1951 (45 years old)
She published The Origins of Totalitarianism.

1958 (52 years old)
She published The Human Condition in 1958.

In 1959 (53 years old)
She became the first woman appointed to a full professorship at Princeton.

1963 (57 years old)
She published Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil and On Revolution.

In 1970 (64 years old)
Her husband Blücher died.
She gave her seminar on Kant's philosophy of judgement at the New School (published posthumously as Reflections on Kant's Political Philosophy, 1982)

1975 (69 years old)
She died in New York in 1975.

The Life of the Mind was published posthumously.

Hannah Arendt's major works


The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951)
A radical criticism of Stalinist Communism and Nazism.
The German text
The English text
The Japanese translation

The Human Condition (1958)
See below.

Eichmann in Jerusalem (1963)
Arendt saw in Adolf Eichman, "the architect of the Holocaust", not a monster, but inability to think and judge by himself. "Banality of evil" was what she ironically found in one of the most terrible human disasters.
The German text
The English text
The Japanese translation

On Revolution (1963)
She regarded the American revolution as a success, the French revolution as a failure. She thought the former was a political, the latter a social revolution. In her view, “revolutions are the only political events which confront us directly and inevitably with the problem of beginning.” (p. 21) Hence, a revolution should be political, not social. (The meaning of "society" is explored in The Human Condition.)
The German text
The English text
The Japanese translation

The Life of the Mind (1978)
This book should be read together with The Human Condition. Thinking, willing, and judging, or Vita Contemplativa, are important aspects of human life as well as Vita Activa.
The German text
The English text
The Japanese translation currently out of print

The Promise of Politics (2005) / Was ist Politik? (1993)
Arendt thought of politics as a matter of plurality. In her analysis, Western philosophy was mostly about "Man" in the singular form. Therefore, she thought philosophy was unfit for politics which is about men or persons in the plural.
The German text
The English text
The Japanese translation of the English text

Denktagebuch. Bd. 1: 1950-1973. Bd. 2: 1973-1975.
Arendt's thoughts are written down succinctly.
The German text
The Japanese translation
The English translation is not published yet.

"The Human Condition" by Hannah Arendt


Vita activa oder Vom tätigen Leben
The Human Condition


Einleitende Bemerkungen

ErstesKapitel: Die menschliche Bedingtheit
I. The Human Condition
第一章 人間の条件

Zweites Kapitel: Der Raum des Öffentlichen und der Bereich des Privaten
II. The Public and the Private Realm
第二章 公的空間と私的領分

Drittes Kapitel: Die Arbeit
III. Labor
第三章 労働

Viertes Kapitel: Das Herstellen
IV. Work
第四章 制作

Fünftes Kapitel: Das Handeln
V. Action
第五章 活動

Sechstes Kapitel: Die Vita activa und die Neuzeit
VI. The Vita Activa and the Modern Age
第六章 行動的生活と近代


The tree important types of Vita Activa (tätigen Leben) or human activities are labor (Arbeit), work (Herstellen) and action (Handeln). Labor (Arbeit) is a struggle for biological survival, whereas work (Herstellen) is producing artifial things. In the modern time, labor was regarded as primary and it subsumed work and turned the latter into a never-ending consuming process. According to Arendt, society in the modern time is considered almost as one entity where private wealth is pursued by labor (and work). Thus we are seeing the disappearance of public realm (der Raum des Öffentlichen). However, it is only in the public realm where human beings feels reality and found themselves among others. Human beings appears in the world through action (Handeln), that is mostly performed by speech (Sprache). Speech, action and the public realm are absolutely necessary for human beings, for one of the most important human conditions is plurality, or the fact that we live together as different beings.