A foreign English teacher in charge of an English class at Shumei Yachiyo Junior High School is facing criticism after it emerged that the teacher drew pictures of a person being hanged (a la the game "Hangman") when students answered incorrectly in class. In 2008, a student at the school hanged himself, but the teacher allegedly continued using the game regardless.
The parents of the student who killed himself, meanwhile, are angry. "This kind of teaching is a problem," they have said.
Hangman can be particularly insensitive at schools and in certain cases like this, but I always hated hangman anyway because I disliked the violence inherent in it, and didn't think it appropriate imagery for an ESL class. I would also caution that "Battleship" would be an inappropriate game in South Korea, too. But when students would occasionally clamor for a game I'd put up __ __ __ or __ __ __ __ and finish things quickly, since they were never able to guess "fox" or "jazz" in time.
This was brought to my attention via a Dave's ESL Cafe thread, which brings up a few salient points. The Mainichi Shinbun article itself is pretty flimsy, with only loose, at best, connections between the foreign teacher and the suicide, and in spite of the headline "English teacher used 'hangman'-like game at school where student hung himself" goes on to say
no causal link has been made between the student's suicide and the teacher's drawings or any instruction on the part of the school.
When searching for reasons a middle school student would kill himself in a country with as high teenage suicide rates as Japan and South Korea it would be more productive to first look at school bullying, corporal punishment, and academic pressures.
The original poster on Dave's writes
If Japanese schools are anything like Korean (I only taught at an ekaiwa there) then there is a good chance the teacher didn't even know a student committed suicide.
Native speaker English teachers in South Korea know they're the last ones to hear about schedule changes, holidays, tests, and other arrangements, and we can safely assume a lot more information doesn't pass through the language barrier. One of my former middle schools had a dark side that I knew about because I followed local news pretty closely and because I could understand enough Korean to know what was said in the teachers' office. For example, a student was one of five who drugged and raped a girl on her way home from her cramschool. Another beat a classmate badly enough to put him in the hospital. Others were in trouble for sexually harassing female students. The student council president ran away with her boyfriend, and another officer attempted suicide the morning of midterms.