In reply to: Why Are Little Kids in Japan So Independent?, via CityLab
What accounts for this unusual degree of independence? Not self-sufficiency, in fact, but “group reliance,” according to Dwayne Dixon, a cultural anthropologist who wrote his doctoral dissertation on Japanese youth. “[Japanese] kids learn early on that, ideally, any member of the community can be called on to serve or help others,” he says…
…“Public space is scaled so much better—old, human-sized spaces that also control flow and speed,” Dixon notes. In Japanese cities, people are accustomed to walking everywhere, and public transportation trumps car culture; in Tokyo, half of all trips are made on rail or bus, and a quarter on foot. Drivers are used to sharing the road and yielding to pedestrians and cyclists.
I originally read this article a few years ago. I remember at the time being struck by the idea of a system’s design’s audience: what would public infrastructure look like if children weren’t seen as the accessories of adults, but rather first-class participants? What does the world become when childhood isn’t a state to be grown out of—adulthood being the end-all-be-all goal—but rather as a set of the world’s population worthy of primacy?