In my lesson last night with a student who is working to improve her TOEFL score, we worked on a reading exercise which happened to be about the Canadian Government. Although it is probably well known to my Canadian fellow franchisees and I seem to remember that Canada is still a part of the British commonwealth, it was interesting to read about the fact that Queen Elizabeth II is still the official head of state of Canada and the Governor General, her personal representative, appoints the 104 member senate based on the recommendations of the prime minister. Those senators, who have limited powers but must approve all legislation, can serve up to age 75. Members of the House of Commons are elected by the popular vote of the people and serve 5 year terms unless the parliament is dissolved which often happens before the completion of the 5 year term. The House of Commons introduces bills and has control over spending and taxation. This was all quite educational for me as well as my student.
The second thing we read was an article about the McDonaldization of Society which described how the principles developed to help McDonald’s to succeed as a fast-food chain are pervading other businesses and other aspects of our society not only in the US but around the world. The key aspects of Efficiency, Calculability, Predictability and Control are being applied in everywhere. The one thing that stuck in my mind was the extent to which McDonaldization has dehumanized the process of ordering food in a restaurant. It reminded me of the nearly mechanized voice of the girl at the local KFC when she takes my order. I know for sure that the voice she uses is not her normal voice. The one thing that remains to confirm that she is not a machine is the name badge she wears and the small card that introduces her as my server that she puts into the bag which has a contact number to call if the service is not satisfactory. To break her out of her mechanized trance, I once asked her if the Kanji of her name were read as “Nozomi” and she said yes and smiled. Let’s not let McDonaldization, the McPaper, the McChildcare and the McDoctor completely take over our lives and make us into robots!
Again teaching English in Japan continues to be a fun and educational experience that I intend to continue for a long time.
Al Bartle (Smith’s School of English – Okamoto-Kobe)