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Kaleidoscope of the Heart: Be direct in saying what you believe

Rika Kayama

Whenever I talk to university students, it becomes very clear that they are very considerate of other people's feelings. For example, when I asked them, "What do you think about holding events like a 'Miss Something Contest' that judges women's appearances being held at universities?" many students respond in the following fashion.

"I don't think it's a good thing. But if there are students who want to go see the event or participate in the event, then I wouldn't be opposed to it being held."

When I reply, "But if you think that there is a problem, isn't it better to raise your voice and let that be known?" the student may say, "It is fine if I simply don't attend. There are people who enjoy that kind of thing, so I wouldn't want to cause trouble for them."

While I feel that there is a kindness and consideration for the feelings of others in these kinds of responses, I also think, "Shouldn't you have more confidence in your own opinion and make those ideas known?"

At the same time, I worry that what those same students would like to say in my class is going unsaid. I decide the topics for my university classes thinking, "This is what I would like you to know," but sometimes I try asking my students things like, "Isn't there something else you would like to hear about?"

I also ask, "Is this too difficult or too easy?" The majority of students reply, "This is interesting," "This is just right," or other statements to that effect, but they may not actually think that at all. But even then, do they choose to say nothing because they think, "Since the teacher is trying their best to lecture to us, we shouldn't say anything?"

Of course, when someone flatly criticizes something you enjoy or says, "Let's talk about something else" when you are speaking passionately about something, then it's natural that you might be a little hurt. Still, that's something that should be discussed then and there and the needed changes be made. You, the other person and all of those around you will be better off for it.

"Just because someone is a teacher doesn't mean that everything they say is completely correct. If you feel like something sounds strange, just bring it up anytime," I often say to the students in my class. But even then, the students just smile back and say, "It's okay, I'm learning a lot from you."

Then I tend to get stuck thinking, should I believe that kindness? Or maybe it's not even good taste to question these things. Or maybe I am just becoming skeptical as I grow older ... Still, I want to say, "Young people, please say what you are thinking directly!" (By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)

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