I often carry out impromtu surveys in my university classes to get a quick feel on what the students are thinking. Some of these surveys are admittedly silly, but some of them can be eye-opening.
In the final class of the semester at Seinan, I asked my second year students how satisfied they were with the semester that was about to come to an end. On a scale of 1 to 10, six of the students told me they had a satisfaction level of "7", ten had a satisfaction level of only "5".
Although I considered the students' level of satisfaction to be low at first, my friend Adi, a student of engineering at the Kyûshû Institute of Technology (KIT) wrote, "Satisfaction of 7. . . Classes must be fun there . . . Surveys here in Iizuka for technical subjects range in 0.5-1.5 out of 5."
When I asked the kids why they weren't satisfied, many replied that they hadn't studied or had skipped too many classes.
That got me to thinking about tuition, which is about ¥800,000 a year. Not expensive by American schools, but not cheap. The average student has 480 classes a year (13 subjects x 15 weeks x 2 semesters). The average cost of one class comes to ¥1,667. I told the students that if they were to skip one day, say 3 classes, then it was the equivalent of taking a five-thousand yen note, wiping it on their arse, and flushing it down the toilet. I think it was the first time they ever thought about it in those terms and I could read it in their faces.
I then asked them how many of their classes they considered worthwhile. The typical answer was 3 or 4, with the remaining 8 to 10 classes being a waste of time. Why? Invariably, the blame fell on the teacher.