Education About Asia: Online Archives

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Book Review, Resources

Exploring Indonesia: Past and Present

BY BJORN SCHELANDER HONOLULU: CENTER FOR SOUTHEAST ASIAN STUDIES SCHOOL OF HAWAIIAN, ASIAN AND PACIFIC STUDIES UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII, 1996 This volume is an introductory textbook on the social history of Indonesia, a country of immense diversity. The book is divided roughly into three parts, written in strict chronological order. Part One deals with the physical characteristics of the country. Part Two deals with the historical development of the Indonesian state, and finally, Part Three de...

Essay, Resources

Masters and Masterpieces of Chinese Culture: An Interdisciplinary Study

Teachers seek opportunities for content-rich educational experiences. In the Poudre School District in Fort Collins, Colorado, a Focus Grant funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities provided just such an opportunity. Each month, twenty-four teachers engaged in a weekend of intellectual stimulation and discussion. The NEH Focus Grant enabled educators to explore areas of the humanities through focused study of one society. “Masters and Masterpieces of Chinese Culture: An Interdiscipl...

Feature Article

Chinese Religion: Ideas for Effective Instruction at the High School Level

Due to its impressive length and extensive documentation, China’s history presents many challenges for high school teachers. We know that all periods and cultural characteristics of China’s historical record cannot be covered; so what should we emphasize? Typically, we may have, at most, one month in which to explore the essence of Chinese culture. This often occurs in a course where students focus briefly on numerous widely disparate cultures. No matter how much time is available, however, ...

Film Review Essay, Resources

Doubles: Japan and America’s Intercultural Children

Doubles: Japan and America’s Intercultural Children is filmmaker Regge Life’s second work to examine the concept of “other” in contemporary Japanese society. Inspired by his experiences while filming Struggle and Success: the African American Experience in Japan, Life returned to the topic of intercultural communication in Doubles. The film attempts to evaluate the life experiences of Japanese and American intercultural children, and how these experiences have changed over the fifty year...

Essay, Resources

Asia Society’s Asian Educational Resource Center (AERC)

The growing recognition of Asia’s rich and dynamic history, its importance in global affairs, and the significance of the Asian American population have prompted many educators to strive to improve the study of Asia in the K- 12 curriculum. But, with thirty-three countries— including the central Asian republics, Australia, and New Zealand—accounting for over 3.3 billion people, this is not an easy task. At the very least, teachers and schools need up-to-date curricular resources, specializ...

Essay, Resources

Japanese Folklore and Kurosawa’s Dreams

Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams, released in Paris 1990, provides three brief visually stunning episodes that turn on Japanese folklore, each episode offering the teacher and student special insight into the context of folklore in Japanese life, even into the late twentieth century. The Warner Brothers home video contains the eight complete episodes, each of approximately eight minutes; however, only the first three are the concern of this review. Episode Five, “Crows,” focused on van Gogh, and th...

Feature Article

Practically Speaking: Teaching Hindu Traditions

Many of us who teach Hinduism find ourselves presented with thorny issues when we examine our own pedagogical practices. Because we think that teachers should prepare students to live intelligently in what has become, increasingly, a globally conceived world, we must be clear about conceptualizing ways of teaching the diversity within Hindu traditions. In particular, we cannot teach brahmanical texts as the essence of Hindu tradition. Nor can we let ourselves slip into presenting the development...

Essay, Resources

Kamishibai, Japanese Storytelling: The Return of An Imaginative Art

Many older Japanese have pleasant memories of the neighborhood storyteller whose tales of adventure and noble deeds brightened the lives of children everywhere in Japan. American children can now enjoy this imaginative activity. Kamishibai (paper drama) is a traditional form of Japanese storytelling that uses large color pictures to accompany a dramatic narration. This type of storytelling is enjoying a renaissance in Japan and has recently become available in English for use in schools and at ...

Film Review Essay, Resources

The Burmese Harp

DIRECTED BY KON ISHIKAWA CONNOISSEUR VIDEO COLLECTION, INGRAM FILM INTERNATIONAL APPLAUSE PRODUCTIONS 1575 WESTWOOD BLVD., SUITE 305, LOS ANGELES, CA 90024 1956. 116 MINUTES BLACK AND WHITE In many classes, at various levels, it is necessary to deal with the role of Japan during World War II. America’s enemies in that war, Germany, Japan and Italy, are often portrayed in crucially different ways. In Europe, the Nazis misled the German people into a series of misadventures and cruelt...

Essay, Resources

The Ramayana and the Study of South Asia

The Ramayana, while a tradition that is several thousand years old, is also arguably the most important story in India today, for it is the birthplace of the hero, Rama, that has been the center of the Hindu-Muslim controversies at Ayodhya in recent years. In 1994, Syracuse University, along with the American Forum for Global Education, hosted an NEH Summer Workshop for high school teachers focusing on this epic tradition. The Rama story tells of the events leading to the forest exile of Prince ...

Book Review, Resources

The Tao of the “Tao Te Ching”: A Translation and Commentary

BY MICHAEL LAFARGUE ALBANY, NEW YORK: SUNY PRESS, 1992 270 PAGES My undergraduate students and I just finished carefully reading Michael LaFargue’s The Tao of the “Tao Te Ching”, line by line. LaFargue’s book is the first study of this seminal text to utilize fully the methodology of textual criticism developed mainly within Biblical studies. This method provides an extremely useful and much needed contextualization of the Tao Te Ching within the specific historical, religious and s...

Book Review, Resources

Rude Awakenings: Zen, the Kyoto School, and the Question of Nationalism

EDITED BY JAMES W. HEISIG AND JOHN C. MARALDO HONOLULU: UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII PRESS, 1994 381 PAGES Reviewed by Brian Ruppert Rude Awakenings is a work that addresses the concerns of European and North American scholars who have for at least a decade longed for a well-balanced consideration of the relationships between Zen Buddhists, the philosophical proponents of Zen in the so-called “Kyoto school,” and nationalistic trends in pre-World War II Japan. Most scholars recognize that many fi...

Film Review Essay, Resources

China’s Cosmopolitan Age: The Tang (618–907 A.D.)

CHUNGWEN SHIH AND ANDREW PLAKS THE ANNENBERG/CPB COLLECTION 1993. 60 MINUTES China’s Cosmopolitan Age: The Tang incorporates valuable images and broad cultural and historical understandings. This videotape will enhance Asian surveys at the college level as well as term-contained Chinese history courses. For high school students the film will prove effective within both world history and world culture courses. But at neither the college nor high school level do I recommend the film’s use ...

Book Review, Resources

The Way of the Warrior

BY HOWARD REID AND MICHAEL CROUCHER WOODSTOCK, NEW YORK: THE OVERLOOK PRESS, 1995 240 PAGES This attractively produced book is an introduction, not only to the Asian martial arts, but also to the philosophical systems and spiritual values which underlie them. While examining the martial arts of India, China, Okinawa and Japan, the authors emphasize the connections between fighting styles and diverse religious traditions, including Hinduism, Taoism, Buddhism and Shinto...

Feature Article

Siddhartha — A Journey to the East?

Over seventy-five years after its initial publication, Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha enjoys the status of a minor literary classic. Yet, despite its continuing popularity, or perhaps because of it, an important question for those of us teaching Asian religions is whether Siddhartha has any useful role to play in our classes. Part of me inclines against using it in the typical religions of the East or introduction to Buddhism course. As Catherine Benton points out, Hesse was profoundly disappoi...

Resources

Going Beyond Hesse’s Siddhartha

For years I used Hesse’s Siddhartha in my 11th-grade world religions course; now I don’t. Here’s why. Siddhartha fulfills most teachers’ desires for a text (and no book fulfills them all). It’s an engaging read that’s accessible to even the weaker students and yet is thoughtful enough for even the best. Students do, as Mossman says, often get very enthusiastic about it, and just about anything that fosters a love of reading and encourages thoughtfulness is worth assigning. Siddhar...

Book Review, Resources

China for Women

EDITED BY THE FEMINIST PRESS TRAVEL SERIES TRAVEL AND CULTURE NEW YORK: FEMINIST PRESS OF THE CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK, 1995 XV + 357 PAGES (PAPER) Reviewed by Joanna Kirkpatrick This book is just a marvelous read for anyone. Secondary school and collegiate audiences will find it pleasantly  accessible both in style and content. The editors divided the material into four parts: Part One on History and Politics; Part Two on Contemporary Life; Part Three on Women Today; Part Four on Land...

Book Review, Resources

Chinese Religion: Two New Sourcebooks

Chinese Religion: An Anthology of Sources Edited by Deborah Sommer NEW YORK AND OXFORD: OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS, 1995 XXIII + 375 PAGES Religions of China in Practice Edited by Donald S. Lopez, Jr. PRINCETON: PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS, 1996 XVI + 499 PAGES   These are the first English language collections of primary texts designed specifically for studying Chinese religion.1 Both are solid collections of well translated texts, but they are very different from one anoth...

Book Review, Resources

The Final Confrontation: Japan’s Negotiations with the United States, 1941

VOL. 5 OF JAPAN’S ROAD TO THE PACIFIC WAR EDITED BY JAMES WILLIAM MORLEY TRANSLATED BY DAVID A. TITUS STUDIES OF THE EAST ASIAN INSTITUTE NEW YORK: COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY PRESS, 1994 XXXVIII, + 437 PAGES When I ask my students why Japan and the United States went to war in 1941, the answer I sometimes get is “because Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.” This is not a satisfactory answer, of course, and one of my tasks is to show why the war began. My own understanding of this problem has bee...

Columns

Teaching Japanese Religion(s): Balancing Materials and Approaches

by H. Byron Earhart Looking at a course on Japanese religion (or religions) more from the perspective of the undergraduate audience than from the professoriate persuades me that the aim of such a course should be to challenge and awaken young minds to the richness and variety —and ambiguity—of religion in Japan through its historical span and diverse manifestations.1 This enables students both to appreciate the Japanese heritage and to raise questions about the nature of a religion or tr...

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