ESS debate #2
Yet again, I joined an ESS Debate meeting on December 11th and 12th. It was held at two universities in Kobe Prefecture and was also limited to freshmen. The topic was the same as last time: child care leave. It will change at the beginnig of the new year, so this was the last chance to debate about child care leave with other universities’ debaters. Until the meeting started, I spent much time on preparing for speech, attacks against the opponents and on supporting evidence.
Kobe is far from Mie, so I left for Kobe at 5:30 am to reach the university at 9:00 am. Twenty-two teams from various universities participated in this meeting. The first day, we did three games. The next day, we did one because only four teams were allowed to advance to the semifinals and the final; my team wasn’t among those four teams. However, we did our best and won two games!
I felt many freshmen have studied a lot and improved their debating skills considerably. Through this meeting, I also managed to make friends with many debaters from other universities. They stimulated me to go on learning debate as an ESS member. So I’ll go on!
In this meeting, prizes were awarded to some teams. Moreover, there was another prize which was awarded for good speaking. To my surprise, one of the Mie University students got the second prize out of 44 freshmen. His prize made me happy because I’ve been studying debate with him until today. I want to catch up with him someday.
After finishing the debate game, I went Osaka with the other ESS members. It was very crowded but we enjoyed it.
I had a good weekend!
I’m old-fashioned: I dislike plastic and synthetic substances, and the sheer abundance of of these materials displayed in any given toy store always depresses me. There seems to be hope, however. Akiko-san, one of my students, has just posted a few pictures of wooden building blocks being played with at Kodomo-no-shiro in Matsusaka.
New group weblogs
Here are links to two new sites that use the weblog format.
RealClimate.org discusses recent developments in climate science:
RealClimate is a commentary site on climate science by working climate scientists for the interested public and journalists. We aim to provide a quick response to developing stories and provide the context sometimes missing in mainstream commentary.
Highly instructive reads.
Supervised by Andrew Lih and Dan Gillmor, ChatterGarden.com is a project of University of Hong Kong New Media Workshop, taught during the Fall term of 2004. Unlike many other courses using the technology, this is a genuine online citizen journalism project that isn’t tucked away behind a login screen:
It is an online community for news and discussion about Hong Kong regional politics and public affairs. By allowing anyone to participate, it provides an independent and diverse forum for news, information, and exchange about Hong Kong’s local issues, future, and relations with China. By using a participatory journalism model, readers and contributors are one in the same.
Good stuff — worthy of imitation.
Hey, how’s it goin’?
Listen to Billy Harvey (requires Flash and a fast connection) and choose from the following statements:
[ ] Billy is tired.
[ ] Billy is a musician.
[ ] Billy hates promoting his music.
[ ] Whatever
[ ] All of the above
Thanks for stopping by.
On November 20th and 21th, an ESS Debate Meeting was held at Ritumeikan University in Shiga Prefecture. Only freshmen were allowed to join it. Many universities participated in this meeting, and I was surprised to learn that there are a lot of debaters at other universities.
The topic of the meeting was “should the Japanese government oblige every full-time worker to take child-care leave?”
Let me explain the debating rules. One team consists of two students, and five people participate in a debate game: there are two teams of two students coming from the same university and there is one judge. The two teams have to argue the affirmative side and negative side of the topic, respectively. The two sides debate the topic and then the judge decides which team is the winner.
There are four freshmen, including me, in Mie University’s debate section, so we could make two groups. In two days, I did six games. The result is … my team won four games! I was very happy about the result, particularly since I couldn’t win during the first meeting in October.
Through this meeting, I managed to improve my English skills and came to realize that debate is interesting. Preparation for debate games is very hard but I’ll keep on doing it. On December 11th and 12th, we’ll participate in the third meeting.
Lastly, I want to say that ESS is lots of fun!
Imitators or New Generation?
Asian Kung-Fu Generation is reputed to be one of the greatest Japanese “new generation” Rock bands. They sang “I want to be connected with you,” and attracted a huge fan base. Their work is praised by many music critics who admire both the lyrics, which have literary sensibilities, and the straight music.
A short while ago, the band released their second album named Solfa, and some critics observed that the songs had become less hard and more “pop” in feeling. I think this is partly true, because the album contains some music which has a pop feeling. But I think they also became stronger in their spirit.
Yet they are reputed to be imitators of Number Girl.
I feel there’s a conflict in perceptions.
How can they both be “imitators” and members of the “new generation”? To be sure, the vocalist, Masahimi Gotoh, admits that he was inspired by the music of Number Girl, and Asian Kung-Fu Generation also have a song named “N.G.S.”, which means Number Girl Symdrome. But I think they established their own identity and their music is quite different from Number Girl.
Many bands (not only bands) are reputed to be “imitators of X,” even if their music is great and they have their own identity. Maybe people should be a bit more careful when they label artists.
Mie University Festival 2004
A few photos.
I mentioned earlier that I was going to sign up a group of students to the photo sharing site Flickr.
They’re there now.
During the last two weeks or so, they’ve been busy uploading photos taken with their cell phone cameras and discussing these images amongst themselves in English. The photo project gallery page here on Tawawa displays everyone’s most recent upload and provides easy access to all the other photos.
Obviously, this isn’t a photography class; this is about the conversations that can evolve around the images posted and about English as a medium of actual communication. Some students have already ventured beyond the immediate group of their classmates and they are communicating with some of the thousands of users that Flickr has worldwide.
Which is great.
I don’t want to lock my students into a “distance learning” course. Instead, I’m trying to give them access to the conversations conducted out here on the Internet. To me, photos seem as good a starting point as any, and Flickr as good and delightful a community as the best of them.
Bonus link: Yukiko’s photos on Flickr.