A, B, O, AB

In the first week of class I asked students to come up with 3 adjectives describing their personality, using a thesaurus to experiment with new vocabulary.

How about your blood type?

This is a detailed explanation of the role of “blood type personality theory” which used to be so popular in Japanese society (from Tofugu).

When I first came to Japan, one of the first questions people asked me as I got to know them was, “What’s your blood type?” I thought it was an odd question, asked as casually as “Where are you from?” or “What do you do?” (or maybe the often asked in Japan but less commonly asked by native speakers, “What’s your hobby?”). In fact, at the time I didn’t know what my blood type was because to me it was one of those things only doctors cared about.

Here’s a chart that uses lots of adjectives for personality. Can you guess which blood type this is?

These days, people don’t seem to care about blood type as much. Maybe it was the realization that, like horoscopes, trying to explain a person’s character through blood type is, at best, a good conversation starter. At worst, it can lead to what the article calls “blood harassment”.

Do you and your peers care about blood type? Is it something you ask about when you meet someone new? Have you heard any stories about blood type affecting a relationship? What about horoscopes — do you read them or believe them?

The grass is always greener…

“The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.”

This is a saying that means we often are dissatisfied with what we have, and we want what other people have. I think the Japanese saying is almost the same (the grammar is a little different). Can you imagine what it is without using your dictionary or googling it?

This short video is about how many women in Ghana go to great lengths to whiten their skin, sometimes at great personal risk.

I think more people are concerned about protecting their skin from UV rays these days, but it’s true that many fair-skinned people wish they had tanned skin.

Discussion/writing/research questions:

  • Is there anything about yourself that you’d like to change?
  • Why do you think the Japanese saying uses 青 instead of 緑? How would you explain to an English speaker why 青 is both blue and green (think 青信号, too …)?
  • Make some example sentences from your own life or books/movies/currents events you know about, in which “the grass is greener.”
  • Why do you think many people (women only?) in Japan and other parts of Asia think that fairer skin is more beautiful? OTOH, tanning salons exist in Japan, too. What kind of people do you think use them?
  • Do you think tanning salons are safe? What about skin whiteners or self tanners? Hair bleach or hair dye? If you’re interested, do a little research and find out.
  • What famous people can you think of who use some methods to lighten or darken their hair or skin color?
  • One news story this week focused on Princess Aiko’s entrance into high school, but some of the media has focused more on her tan than anything else. Apparently, she went skiing.  Here’s a short article about her from the Japan Times. Try summarizing it and noticing some language.

Friend or foe?

Brain Pickings, one of my favorite places to find interesting things to read and think about, introduces a children’s book called “Friend or Foe?”

It’s an allegory with a not-so-hidden message about “otherness” — how we see people who are different, as enemies or friends. This Brain Pickings post is also a great example of how you can introduce a book to your classmates: with lots of pictures and selective quotes. Like this:

quote-1

quote-2

Whether or not you add a SPOILER ALERT (in this case, what the answer to the “Friend or Foe?” question is, which is NOT revealed in this post), is up to you.

Writing prompt: After reading the description of the story, what do you think the answer to the question is?

Put some color in your life

This is a reminder about what school (and work) often becomes … and what it can be if we encourage more creativity.

It also reminds me a lot of the movie “Pleasantville”. The metaphor is different, but there are similarities in the use of color.  If you haven’t seen this movie, you really should. The Japanese title is 「カラー・オブ・ハート」and it stars Tobey Maguire, a few years before he was Spiderman. Here’s the trailer. Fans of the “Fast and Furious” series (Japanese title: 「ワイルド・スピード」may recognize Paul Walker, too.