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Campus Now

New Year Issue (Jan.)

A WASEDA Miscellany

Lee Thompson

This theme: Learning Through Questioning

Lee Thompson
Professor, Faculty of Sport Sciences

I have resided in Japan for over 30 years, mostly in the Kansai area. I have lived in Sapporo, Tokyo (Mitaka, Meguro, Bunkyo-ku) , Nagoya, Kyoto (Tanabe-shi and Nishikyo-ku) , Osaka (Toyonaka and Hirakata) , and Kobe (Rokko Island) . I currently live in Tokorozawa, and by the time you read this I will have moved to Nishi Tokyo! I have traveled to all four of the main islands of Japan plus Okinawa and a few smaller islands (Awajishima, Yakushima, etc.) I must have seen more of Japan than my native America!

At the graduation ceremony,
March 2008

This is my seventh year at Waseda. I came here to teach about sport and the media at the School of Sport Sciences, which was established in 2003. In my experience Japanese students participate less in class than their American counterparts. After every lecture I always ask for questions, but the students rarely ask any. After lecturing for over an hour, it can be a little discouraging when there are no questions and therefore no discussion. Without questions, it's impossible to know how much they understand. So now, in order to have some sort of communication, I hand out blank pieces of paper at the end of class and ask the students to write their questions and hand them in. It's funny: although they are apparently reluctant to ask their questions out loud, when given the opportunity to write them down they do have questions after all. At the beginning of each class I take up a few of the questions from the previous week before moving on to the day's topic.

I really enjoy getting questions. Waseda students usually ask very good questions that make me think, which helps me hone my own ideas. I just wish more students would voice their questions in class when given the opportunity. I wonder why they don't? I suspect that it's a result of their previous education. Perhaps they haven't had the opportunity to ask questions in class, or haven't been encouraged to speak their opinions. Of course, it's easy to blame the students. I need to ask myself if I am doing everything possible to create an atmosphere in the classroom that is conducive to discussion.

Carnival fun!

Here I am in my costume for the Carnival season in Cologne, Germany, where I recently spent a sabbatical year. Over one million people dress up in costumes and celebrate in the streets at the peak of Carnival, which usually takes place in February. At first I was embarrassed to leave the house dressed up like this, but once I got out on the street and saw that most other people had even more outlandish costumes then mine, I began to feel embarrassed for the opposite reason: I was underdressed!

Lee Thompson
Professor, Faculty of Sport Sciences

Born in 1953, Oregon, USA. Attended Lewis and Clark Born 1953 in Oregon, USA. Attended Lewis and Clark College in Portland Oregon, majoring in communication. Ph.D. in Sociology from the Graduate School of Human Sciences, Osaka University. Assistant in Department of Human Sciences, Osaka University; associate professor at Osaka Gakuin University; currently professor at the Faculty of Sport Sciences.