世界で活躍するグローバル・リーダーを bimonthly (隔月ごと）にYGCでインタビューしていきます。全て英語でインタビューが記載されていますので、是非最後まで頑張って読んでいきましょう！
小林さんは、1974年東京都生まれ。1990年に東京学芸大学教育学部附属高等学校に入学しましたが、一年後に中退してユナイテッド・ワールド・カレッジのカナダ校、ピアソン・カレッジに全額奨学金で進学されました。1993年に国際バカロレアディプロマを取得して同校を卒業し、その後東京大学に進学。社会人として金融業界でキャリアを積み、2005年にスタンフォード大学大学院にて国際教育政策学修士号を取得されました。さらに2017年にはYale Greenberg World Fellowsとしてイェール大学大学院へ留学されています。
- You matriculated to one of the most prestigious institutions in Japan, Tokyo Gakugei University Senior High School, but you decided to study abroad the following year. What made you want to study at United World College (UWC) Pearson College in Canada? Also, what kind of English education did you receive until junior high school?
It all began when I was told to overcome my weaknesses. During the academic progress meeting held soon after I entered high school, my homeroom teacher told me that I lacked skills in math and science. Despite being relatively good at liberal arts subjects and being a member of the student council, he overlooked my strengths and went straight to pinpointing my weaknesses. I felt that my strengths and capabilities would be compromised in this learning environment, so I told my parents that I wanted to study abroad, which they approved under the condition that I be granted a scholarship. When I consulted with my school after the summer break, most of the study abroad programs had already closed their applications, and UWC was the only one accepting applications. I was successfully accepted into my first choice of Pearson College in Canada.
The only English education I received up until then was through classes at the junior high school and private after-school programs. When I entered Pearson College, I was actually shocked to discover I did not understand a word of English!
- At a glance, can you tell us about the education system of UWC?
One of the main features of UWC is that they provide scholarships to a dominant majority of its students to ensure diversity. This is a testimony that they strongly believe in their mission of “making education a force to unite people, cultures, and nations for peace and a sustainable future.” During my time at Pearson, 100% of students came on full scholarships.
UWC also adopts the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program curriculum: Students are required to select six major subjects from the fields of Studies in Language and Literature, Foreign Language Acquisition, Mathematics, Sciences, Individuals and Societies, and The Arts, at least three of which are at the Higher Level and the remaining three at the Standard Level so as to balance out and select subjects according to what the students are good at or need improvements in.
In addition, the IB program emphasizes lifelong learning and the development of skills to help make a difference and a better world, requiring students to take the DP core comprised of Theory of Knowledge (TOK), Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS), and Extended Essay (EE). TOK encourages students to reflect on the nature of knowledge and on how we know what we claim to know. An example is questioning whether what you learn from the media is reliable or not, what you see is in fact true or not, and so on. CAS requires students to undergo over one hundred hours of volunteer work and make a contribution to society. And through EE, students have the opportunity to further express and explore themselves by conducting research on their interests. For my EE, I wrote a comparison between Yukio Mishima and Dostoevsky’s approach on the notions of beauty and destruction. I wrote my paper in Japanese, but my advisor (who was fluent in seven languages) supervised my work.
Another feature is that UWC generally requires all students to live on campus so that they can “live” the diversity that its robust scholarship program creates – instead of being taught what diversity means. At ISAK, students live in a shared room of either two or four people, and we try to mix students from different cultures to stay in the same rooms to create a diverse environment.
- Can you tell us how ISAK has been accredited as a UWC in Japan?
In being accredited a UWC, the alignment of school values with the UWC mission is valued more than anything: “UWC is a global movement that makes education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future.”* In other words, by uniting people beyond race, cultures, and nations, schools are driven by a diverse environment. Currently at ISAK, we accept students from around 80 countries, nearly 100 countries if we included alumni. With 40 students in Grade 10 and 80 students from Grade 11 when they begin the IB program, we have a total of around 200 students on campus. And since we limit students from Japan to 20-30%, many of our international students come from various nations.
Just like other UWCs around the world, the availability of scholarships is another essential aspect. It is crucial that the school is not only diverse from a nationality perspective but really diverse in a true sense. ISAK has been offering financial assistance to about 70% of the students since before it was accredited as a UWC. All of our financial assistance is need-based, which means it is awarded based on a family’s ability to pay for school. This system brings socio-economic diversity into our community.
*UWC website: https://www.uwc.org/about
- How was your experience at Stanford University?
In the U.S., students are extremely passionate about their studies. They are intellectually curious; they study hard every day; and they also enjoy partying at night (laughs). They do the best they can in every way and with everything!
In terms of building a network, hanging out with peers is also vital. I attended gatherings not only within my academic department but also at the business school and other departments and really just mingled. It truly was great to be able to interact with people from different schools and backgrounds. Yet again, all the students I met in those gatherings were very enthusiastic about their studies and research. I was awestricken that some students were actually doing research that is beyond college level but could be applied in real life—I once met a student who said to me, “I developed my own combustion simulation system for diesel engines, and now I’m actually conducting joint-research with a company on its application.” I was just amazed by how college students in the U.S. engage in their academic studies proactively. There is a culture in which many students find learning a very positive experience, which was very refreshing to me.
- What kind of career did you pursue before establishing ISAK?
After I graduated from the University of Tokyo, I joined the investment banking group at Morgan Stanley. There, I was involved in the real estate and corporate finance division. I then went on to join an IT startup company, followed by working at Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), and later I went to UNICEF to gain experience in the field of international aid.
Through my career experiences in various sectors, I realized that I truly enjoy working in a fast-paced organization and multitasking, rather than working for a large organization. Working at an investment bank and a startup was so exciting and fulfilling for me, and this excitement of working for (or starting up) a small organization remained with me even after I left those companies.
The other thing I realized through my career is that I genuinely enjoy working for the cause that I believe in. At JBIC and UNICEF, I felt that I was able to contribute to the betterment of the state of the world (in my very small way), which was such a rewarding feeling to have.
In a way, I came to a conclusion that building a school would allow me to combine those two things that I have enjoyed: working in a fast-paced organization or starting a small organization myself, and pursuing my passion of contributing to society.
- What motivates you the most at work?
I think the reason I devote so much time to what I do now is because I do what I love.
This is something that I tell my students to keep in mind as well, but I believe it is important for one to question the inward and outward facets of oneself. When getting out in the real world and entering the workforce, we tend to focus on outward-looking quests such as social climate and economic trends. However, I think it is equally important to go on an inward quest by asking yourself what you want to do and accomplish in life, what excites you the most, what are you best at, and where can you make the most of your abilities. It is then that I believe you can only exert great power at a crossroads of your inward and outward quests.
- You mentioned in your TEDxKyoto Talk that “not taking risks is a risk.” This, I think, truly speaks to what you must have been through in founding ISAK. How did you actually take risks?
I believe that risks are inherent in all entrepreneurship. It is said that only 3% of entrepreneurs will succeed and 97% are bound to fail. But, even after comprehending and contemplating the risks, entrepreneurs are driven by uncontrollable passions and impulses to take action. In my case, I left my steady job at the UNICEF to start a social enterprise with no guarantee of success. On top of that, when I returned to my home country after gathering what I thought were sufficient funds, the global financial crisis hit Japan and the rest of the world, and we ended up with little money to start a school. Adding to that rather tremendous risk, we faced the challenge of clearing government approval. Seeing these situations, I am sure many people thought that building a school from scratch was just not feasible.
- There are many problems we face in Japan that need to be solved. What do you think the younger generation needs to be aware of in the future in order to face and tackle these problems?
There are three skills we want our students at ISAK to value and nurture. One is the aforementioned ability to ask what is most important and needed. The second is the ability to use diversity as a strength. What we now consider to be right may not be the case in 20 years’ time. We will not be able to foresee the future if we were to follow a uniform set of values or take an established course of action. I believe there are things that you cannot envision or come to a certain awareness of unless you experience different things in an environment unfamiliar to you and get involved with people who have different perspectives than you do.
And the third skill is the ability to take action in the face of discomfort. This may be due to the strong influence of public opinion, but I feel that today there is a strong social pressure in Japan that educational institutions should avoid risks at all costs. For example, a lot of playground equipment has been removed from parks and schools in recent years on the grounds that it is unsafe. But there are things we learn by physically experiencing things on our own. I find the role of education to be providing children with experiences that take them out of their comfort zone both physically and mentally while maintaining a certain level of safety. When you enter the workforce straight out of school, will you suddenly be able to take risks? I think not. It is thus necessary to begin taking risks on a gradual basis starting from a young age. I am truly concerned that many young people today are stumbling over trifling mistakes because today’s education hasn’t provided them with the opportunity to take risks and learn from their failures.
- Can you tell us what plans and prospects you have for your next project(s) at ISAK?
The COVID-19 crisis has fundamentally questioned the existential meaning of schools. As of December 1, approximately one in four students are attending classes remotely, online from their respective regions. This raises the question of whether there is a need to conduct classes in Japan’s time zone or have teachers physically come to school and teach when some students remain overseas or when we can piggyback classes from other regions around the world. It is time that we rethink various issues on a clean slate, borderless perspective such as the purposes of having a campus, what constitutes teaching from faculty members, and so on. It has been frequently observed that things that we expected to occur in 3 or 10 years are now appearing right before our eyes within a matter of months.
- Who do you respect as a global leader?
Everyone is special, unique, and different in their own way, so I personally do not believe in having a role model. I just think that if you define your role model, you may compare yourself to that person—this may be good if that person positively influences you, but I feel that there is not much point in aiming to become someone else and then always making comparisons.
- Please share your message to the younger generations who aspire to become future global leaders or who aspire to become change-makers.
I would say this is like my personal motto, but I quote a French philosopher, Alain’s (pseudonym of Émile-Auguste Chartier) words from “Theory of Happiness”: Pessimism comes from the temperament, optimism from the will.
We see our society, family and school affairs, and various events that happen in this world and tend to be pessimistic about them. However, it really is up to our own will to take action and change the outlook to one of optimism. Pessimism is merely a temperament (mood), but it can be overridden with a strong will for optimism. Whether you plan on becoming a global citizen or not, I would like all young people to live by these words as we live through this era of turbulence. The future will only be inhibited if you are frightened or pessimistic in the face of ever-changing circumstances. We can create an optimistic future by relishing the changes around us and working with determination to do what we can from our respective positions.