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February 18, 2010



I believe the great American behaviourist BF Skinner confirmed experiemntally that reinforcement is better than punishment for affecting behaviour. He and his contemporaries had a lot of influence on Western teaching and parenting philosophy, and I suspect we could attribute some of the relative differences between Japanese and American methods down to this.


I think it stems more from the senpai/kohai or sensei culture where the sensei is all-knowing, dispensing wisdom and correcting his charges be it kendo, English grammar, or hair cutting. And I think a lot fo this coems from the confucian tradition of teaching and throw inteh the over reliance on "yarikata": which suggests there is only "one" true way of doing something, where parents try to correct children who favor their left hand over their right or where teachers strictly teach kanji writing through tortuous repetition bent on perfection of traditional form. I think it goes beyond B.F. Skinner, but we did study him in graduate school alongside progressive thinkers/philosophers like John Dewey. I think it might have more to do with the west having Socrates as a model rather than Confucious in the end.

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