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Creative Children:Japanese High School Girls' Narratives of Life

Murphy, Margaret Elizabeth (2006) Creative Children:Japanese High School Girls' Narratives of Life. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Japanese high school girls assert enormous creativity in actively and strategically pursuing educational and personal goals. Girls disregard their teacher's advice about academics because they rightly perceive that their school's in-class academics have little or no influence on their chances for success on university and junior college entrance exams. Girls argue that their high school education is tedious because it relies on rote memorization, and boring in-class lectures that bear no explicit relationship to the college entrance exams that determine their futures. Girls pursue educational opportunities outside of their school in the form of cram schools, self-study, one-on-one tutoring, and group study. The school reinforces the girls' negative views of in-class education by offering after-school cram classes focused upon entrance exam materials, and by allowing seniors in-school time to prepare for university entrance exams. The school's economic survival is dependent on girls' successes. Therefore their support of individual initiative is unsurprising.Japanese young people are often portrayed as either obsessed with academics and controlled by their parents, or as defiant rebels, engaged in anti-social behaviors such as teen prostitution. In contrast to these pathologizing depictions, this work argues that within the constraints of a seemingly inflexible educational system, girls eagerly pursue educational opportunities and ideas, are highly motivated and focused on academic objectives and are not perceived as rebellious by their elders.Studies of adolescence often rely on adult-centered views and thus stay comfortably within the confines of familiar negative images of the young. In contrast, by relying on the girls' view of their world this work builds a more complex portrait of Japanese young people. It argues that Japanese adults' anxieties about rapid socio-economic change often emerge as laments about the young. Relying on ethnographic data collected at a girls' private school in Tokyo, especially the use of taped diaries, this work provides an in-depth examination of Japanese high school girls' lives, culture and thinking. This approach allows for the opportunity to learn about the lives of girls from them as they teach us how they creatively pursue educational opportunities and manage their social lives in contemporary Japanese society.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Murphy, Margaret
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairBrown, L. Keithlkb@pitt.eduLKB
Committee MemberHashimoto, Akikoahash@pitt.eduAHASH
Committee MemberDewalt, Kathleenkmdewalt@pitt.eduKMDEWALT
Committee MemberConstable, Nicoleconstable@fcas.pitt.eduNCGRAD
Committee MemberScaglion, Richardscaglion@pitt.eduSCAGLION
Date: 29 September 2006
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 25 April 2005
Approval Date: 29 September 2006
Submission Date: 3 August 2006
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Anthropology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Education; Gender; Girls; Japan; Adolescence; High School
Other ID:, etd-08032006-115353
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:56
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:47


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