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Japan fattens textbooks to reverse sliding rank

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By Malcolm Foster

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It is not how many pages you add to a text book that makes kids smarter, but what you put into it. Putting a lot of subjects in a text book is a good thing, but if it is useless information that has nothing to do with a child`s growth, then is it would be very useless in educating a child.

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Have they added Unit 731 to the Manchurian chronicles?

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It's not the number of pages, but the quality of material that counts.

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ilcub76 :

It's not the number of pages, but the quality of material that counts.

Agreed. I think the whole education system in Japan needs to be revamped.

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Yes, Japan is falling behind South Korea in suicides, let's ramp up the pressure on the kids to see if we can get more suicides.

Canadian school children typically start school at 9:00 am and finish at 3:30, have about 1 hour of homework, don't go to juku, have two months of summer vacation with no homework and score higher than Japanese children.

The problem with the “pressure-free education" is that more parents sent their kids to more hours of juku.

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Oh for goodness sakes, this is the most circular logic that I've ever seen. They're testing for the wrong things with faulty testing instruments. All I see here is multiple choice, multiple choice, and yet more multiple choice. Tell me, when was the last time that your boss walked up to you and said, "Here's the problem, please select the most correct answer from the list below...". Real life doesn't work that way, because if your boss knew the answer he wouldn't be in management, he'd actually be doing a REAL job.

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OK, well first of all Koji Kato for Prime Minister please! Joint with that Takahashi guy. And Eiiji Tajita for retirement! "Education has become too child-centered"??! What the hell?! Who on earth should it be centered on then? The government ministry? Oh, ok, don`t answer that.

Why is it here that whenever they want to do something better, they just do exactly what they have been doing, just even harder. Does it ever occur to anyone to actually change anything??!

I agree with Alladin - quality not quantity is the key here. Fattening up textbooks with more useless facts and figures they simply need to recall in exams is not going to change anything.

So why is the "pressure-free" education system not working? First of all "pressure-free" is a joke - if this is pressure-free then god knows what it must have been like before.

Second the questions are often set with ridiculous arbitrary rules. Case in point: a recent English grammar question. "Mike is ____ the library" - fill in the blank. If you answered "at" - you will have been marked wrong. The ONLY correct answer (apparently) is "in".

Finally the teachers have no idea HOW to teach the kids to think for themselves - because THEY have no idea how to think for themselves. They were educated themselves in the old-fashioned system. You can`t tell these teachers "teach the kids to think for themselves. Off you go now." and expect them to be able to do it.

3 hours a week of allowing kids to ask why a bird doesn`t fall off a perch is hardly going to produce innovative creative thinkers. It needs to be woven into the very fabric of everything they do. And here that just seems to be an impossibility.

My husband and I had this conversation recently. He said when the Japanese education model was first developed in the 50`s, it took "best practice" from around the world, and was the model everyone emulated. Problem is, over the last 60 years, those models that copied Japan have developed themselves and moved on, whereas the Japanese model has stayed stagnant and not reacted to what is required in the new modern world. THAT is why they are lagging behind.

I agree with Takahashi - the WHOLE system needs re-thinking. But hey, thatS way too much work, and an admission of failure. LetS just throw more pages at the kids and see what happens in another 10 years. My money is on "not very much".

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On the positive side: at least this lends to the possibility for a learner to have more to explore. :)

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Just more pages of junk and cartoons of "I am a boy. She is a girl. This is a pencil."

Liked the comments above on development of "Thinking abilities..." from the professors. I wonder if he does this in his University classes? You know, get students to ask questions during the 90 minute lecture he gives, and not just stand up there and talk talk talk with no clue if people are actually understanding what he is saying.

Asking questions and actively thinking is very hard for people to do here. It shows how stupid many people really are. In addition many people lack the ability to focus more than 5 minutes i.e. the people who actually sleep during meetings, an acceptable practice in Japan.

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Teachers are the problem not the text books. There is no way to dicipline teachers in ELementary or Junior High in Japan. So many horrible teachers around!!

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proxy :

Canadian school children typically start school at 9:00 am and finish at 3:30, have about 1 hour of homework, don't go to juku, have two months of summer vacation with no homework and score higher than Japanese children

What is interesting in the INTERNATIONAL study done CANADIAN EDUCATION ranked 3 rd in the world. Which proves your argument, proxy, that it is not the amount of TIME in school - but HOW THE SYSTEM WORKS when kids are there.

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Frungy: Oh for goodness sakes, this is the most circular logic that I've ever seen. They're testing for the wrong things with faulty testing instruments

Precisely ! Right on, Frunghy !

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Adding more pages won't really solve problems.. Good teachers USE text books but won't go through all pages, he/she uses what's in the text book to EXPAND kids' ideas and opinions. Teach kids how THEY can learn and how THEY can think and experiment/experience, and instead of adding more pages to their text books, recommend them to go to library and pick up a book THEY like so that they can learn what they are interested in instead of just memorizing everyone else is memorizing -- because every child is different and everyone is interested in different things, so teach them how they can learn what they want to learn.

My son's randoseru is full and so heavy with lots of books, and when he has to bring extra things in another bag like swimming stuff and etc... and if it is raining, he has an umbrella.. Homework (kokugo and math) everyday on top of reading assignment everyday.. For elementary kids that is a lot of work and instead of making them memorize more, I wish the school had given them more opportunities to experience things (like field trip and etc) and experiment (science, art, music).. to develop the kids' personalities...

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Second the questions are often set with ridiculous arbitrary rules. Case in point: a recent English grammar question. "Mike is ____ the library" - fill in the blank. If you answered "at" - you will have been marked wrong. The ONLY correct answer (apparently) is "in".

Kira- this made me laugh because I remember when I was in high school (Japanese school) we had those questions (fill in the blanks) all the time and there were times and they had Japanese sentences and the question was to translate into English -- I'd translate WITH MY WORDS and that's not what the teacher had in mind, then I'd get a wrong mark.. Several times I went up to the teacher and told him that I was not wrong because in English, like Japanese language, there are many different ways of saying same things -- I know I embarrassed the teacher but I always got correct mark AFTER confronting the teacher (yay!!). And yeah, Mike is in the library, Mike is at the library.. Both make sense to me.. But if the teacher doesn't speak English, he/she is just looking at the answer page/sample answers... so anything outside of the box would be marked wrong. I wish more kids would confront their teachers if they believe they are wrong, because teachers are NOT ALWAYS correct. Kids need to know that teachers are also learning everyday and kids can teach them a lot, too, and I hope more kids will have the guts to speak out when they believe they are right!

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they largely test ability to recall information, including finicky questions about English grammar that would baffle many native speakers.

This is the problem with the Japanese educational system, by adding more pages you don't address the problem. Seems people understand the problem yet don't do anything about it.

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“Just adding pages to textbooks and pushing for more memorization isn’t going to get us anywhere,” argued Koji Kato, professor emeritus of education at Sophia University in Tokyo. “Japan needs to invest in developing thinking people for its future.”

Yes, yes, and yes. Too bad it will probably go on deaf ears.

I don't understand this solution at all. The kids are already stretched thin as it is! And they're not learning anything. How is upping the quota of things supposed to help anything? I watch my students transition from one grade to the next, and sometimes it really is heartbreaking to watch. There is no real push for creative thinking-- they kill that the first year of junior high, and by the time they get to third year, everyone is so shocked because the kids aren't willing to be open or creative.

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It's amazing my country ranks at the top of the world raking in education and our text books don't even change.

Things still work as when I was in school (a long time ago) the same Math, Science, Languages, Biology books are used over and over because non of those basic principles change.

What I mean is the books are hardcover and given to each student at the start of the year and returned at the end of the year to be used by the next group the next school year these book are used for as long as 10 years or more in some cases. The basics don't change so why always rewriting the text books?

My children here in Japan would get these paperback text books with all these manga like drawings and fill in the blank space crap.

My nieces and nephew back home cannot write in their school text books so they must write everything in note books that means copying the question and putting the answer and taking notes that's how you learn.

Also Juku would be next to impossible seeing that there is a minimum homework rule by the government of 15 minutes homework for every hour of class, so 6 hours of class a day that is a minimum of 1.5 hours of homework but most teachers give more!

My children here if they even have home work it is no more then 30 minutes, when I ask the teacher why they tell me the children should just study what they learned that day (basically memorize).

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Facing the prospect of teaching more material next year, Japanese teachers are pushing for smaller class sizes, which now can be as high as 40. The education ministry says it is considering the request and plans to hire more teachers.

I think this paragraph gives the game away.

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Only good thing I could get out of this is that they are pushing English lessons start from 5th grade instead of 7th. They could've pushed it even further.

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Oh, I get it! They've already memorized and understand EVERY SINGLE other fact in the textbook, so the kids need MORE facts and figures to memorize (so long as they're not actual historical facts related to Japan, that is)!

(sarcasm off) I agree with posters above... it's QUALITY, not quantity that is needed. Perhaps instead of trying to have the kids memorize by rote for meaningless tests and watching them slide FURTHER as they refuse, have them engage in active debate (in subjects where that's possible). Utilize modern technology -- have them twit each other as a form of debate, agreeing or disagreeing in replies in a class forum. If they're too young for cell phones, have them talk about how they WOULD twit, or use an online community, etc. Even without the tech it can be more fun to learn than the current methods employed, clearly.

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@limboinjapan The general rule, backed up by quite a bit of research, is 10 minutes a day per grade; so 10 minutes for grade 1 and 60 minutes for grade 6.

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Well @proxy back home it 15 minutes for every hour of class.

My youngest niece is in first grade and has 1 to 1.5 hours a night.

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It's always quantity and not quality in this country. It's not working, Mombusho no minasan. “Just adding pages to textbooks and pushing for more memorization isn’t going to get us anywhere,” Good for you, Mr. Kato. This country needs more people like you.

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@proxy is that a US research you are quoting? If so that would account why it is so low on the world ranking.

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What's distressing to me about this article is to learn that some people (Takahashi, etc) clearly have an idea about how education can be made better - and to also learn that the policy makers aren't listening to them.

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I hope they are putting wheels on the kids' book bags.

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Sigh. I just left after five years of teaching in jnr and elementary, and this just saddens me. I read about it happening some time ago, of course. It's just precisely the opposite of what's needed. They're rubbishing the child-centered approach to teaching when they didn't do it right even in the slightest! What a tragedy! They will have a few years of crippling failure coming up as they revert to the old system to find the kids are more resistant to that than ever - they know it's the path to monotony, to dead lives as salarymen for companies they don't give a damn about. And they aren't willing to put themselves in line for that, especially if they already enjoy some luxury on their parents' backs.

Japanese teachers have -no- training on student-centred methods of teaching, and anything even slightly outside the top-down teacher-knows-all approach doesn't get a look in. So how can they say they encouraged thinking and child-centred learning when they completely f-----d it up? It's so aggravating.

I kind of hope this fails dismally and Japan is forced to really examine its approach to education honestly. Because the system is a sinking ship at the moment.

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Well, they need to try something. The kids at the high school I'm working at now are astoundingly dumb.

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I think Japan is doing quite well CONSIDERING....the ridiculous conditions the teachers and students work under. June to mid-late September is a cruel joke and the winter months with no heat are almost as bad. Half of this year was pretty much a write-off.

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I think this is a type of solution that hasn't worked elsewhere, and probably won't work here either. It is similar to the idea of adding more classes, which is also being tried. In my opinion, the best way to improve education is to reduce class size and give teachers, and not administrators, more control over the classes and the way they are taught.

For this to work, the screening of new teachers has to be very carefully done, since giving more power to someone who will abuse it won't work either.

One recommended model of business is to hire good people and let them do their job, and I think this is true of education as well.

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@BPoint:

A study showed that when students were to hot or to cold they could not concentrate properly.

Many Tokyo wards started renovating and adding AC and proper heating BUT believe it or not it was parents groups that intervened to stop this because they said it would just spoil the children.

Now some wards are circumventing this blocking by putting in AC and heating as the build or rebuild new school buildings

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so the solution is to make the problem worse! nice one. At what point is the system then a complete lie when the next ranking comes out? What will Japan do then? I feel sorry for the kids

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I think they might want to decrease the number of pages so they can have time to absorb the important stuff. Rather than memorize stuff for the short term for a test, then forget it and be walking around in a daze preparing for the next test.

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saborichan: "Japanese teachers have -no- training on student-centred methods of teaching, and anything even slightly outside the top-down teacher-knows-all approach doesn't get a look in."

You are BANG on in your assessment. Just look at the 'teacher education' system in Japan and you can see this to be true. The system is one or two years of self-study and seminars to pass a test that includes every subject BESIDES your desired subject to teach. A young man or woman who wants to be a highschool English teacher, say, must pass a rather grueling exam with history, math, geography, science, etc. The actual teacher training practicum is a useless two weeks (one week observation and being the teacher's lackey in most cases, and one week where you 'teach' a few lessons); it gives you NOTHING by which to learn about the would-be teachers' rapport with students, and there is almost NO emphasis on classroom management. As a result, we're seeing one-year contracts with pseudo-teachers who have yet to pass the stupid exam and get their licenses (perfect for the government as they have to pay little or no benefits!), as well as teachers who leave on 'mental/stress leave' after a single semester on the job.

What's the government's proposed solution for that? add another year to the university program to become a teacher (ie. thicker textbooks and more self-study). In most developed countries the teacher's college consists primarily of practica with the university lectures/seminars to SUPPLEMENT, as well as a simple 'pass or fail' result. In other words, if you can hack the months you spend in schools TEACHING, you pass. Those that can't take it, do not.

This is the approach we are seeing with the fattening of the textbooks here; a complete inability to come to terms with and deal with the actual problems. It's going to crush this society. In fact, I predict within the next few years a return to Saturday classes, and even LESS free time for the kids. Other nations that are higher in rank than Japan don't necessarily have juku, thicker books, and rote memory-based exams, so why don't these guys get with the times?? (exception number one being South Korea, which is even worse than Japan, even though SKorea somehow pulls it off). It's the same with companies -- you can force a person to work every waking hour of their life, but I guarantee if you give them REASONABLE working hourse they will be happier and MORE PRODUCTIVE.

Give the kids LESS work and cut out juku, but make the work more student-oriented and have them working in groups more to solve problems. Use technology and not the old-fashioned 'teacher as disseminator of knowledge and students as sieves to soak it up and say nothing'.

Anyway, it's hopeless.

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The relaxed curriculum was sabotaged by the old men that were dead set against it. People like Mimizuka sitting on boards of education across the country did everything they could to make sure the system failed.

Hiroaki Mimizuka is idiotic, his opinion is just that, an opinion based on bias with not one bit of research to suggest that adding more class time will help students. Show me some facts. (He can't)

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As a teacher of English, Eiken, Toeic and Toefl for the past 14 years in Japan, thicker text books will just mean more students stressed out and a lack of enthusiasm for studying. With more and more students graduating H.S. and "cramming" to pass without retaining anything they learned will not do this society any good. So making even harder for them to study is a great idea...NOT!

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I always laugh when people tell me how superior Japan's education system is. Going back to "alladin's" comment in the first post, the content is what is most valuable.

If Japan's system is so superior why is it that they have to do more in order just to keep up? "proxy" also one of the first posts talked about the fewer hours of study in Canada, but how kids there still do better than J-kids.

Teachers don't really do anything, but stand in front of a room, expect students to be quiet and expect them to memorize everything.

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smith: I agree, Juku has got to be looked at too. It's great that J-kids are so healthy - I just came back to Aus and all I see is fat people around; I believe we recently surpassed America as the most obese nation. I think there should be a three-day limit on Juku per week. And with less drills and more game practice - kids don't get excited by drills, they get excited by playing. I feel so sad for the ichinensei who have to stand at attention by the courtside and barrack for their teams - what the hell kind of training is that? Give them passion and the cheering at game time will come naturally.

I wonder why S. Korea, which is basically doing the same thing Japan was twenty years ago in terms of exam hell and intensive hours for schooling, is succeeding? I suspect it's because S.K. is on the rise like Japan was. The challenge will be if S.K. can keep things going in the second/third generations to be put through this wringer.

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Juku is a ridiculous out-dated system. The Education Minister if he can find time...ask why they need the Juku system at all. I always wonder that since Juku is almost self-imposed mandatory activity who is really making money off the high fees. I also understand that there are no clear studies to the effectiveness (or lack of) of the cram schools.

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saborichan: "I wonder why S. Korea, which is basically doing the same thing Japan was twenty years ago in terms of exam hell and intensive hours for schooling, is succeeding? I suspect it's because S.K. is on the rise like Japan was."

Again, I agree with you. I have a couple of theories as to why SKorea is succeeding in the same system where Japan has failed. One: I think that there is far less apathy amongst SKorean youth than with Japanese, and I think this is at least in part due to what you said -- SKorea is on the up-and-up whereas Japan has been at the top (of Asia, anyway) for some time and there's a feeling of complacency. That may well change, BUT... Two: there still seems to be a stronger sense of moral responsibility to family, social morays, and what not that has more or less disappeared here. Say it's due to Confucianism or what have you... I don't know, but I know there are far less discipline problems at regular school, and despite the Korean kids having even less free time from 'school' (including juku work) than their Japanese counterparts they are still top in a few subject areas.

Again, this could well change as the number of poor increase in Japan and those kids that DON'T actually get what they want strive harder, and Japan in general tries to break out of the funk that is seeing it drop over and over to China and other nations. Likewise it could change in a generation or two in South Korea and they could mirror the current problems that Japan is facing.

Regardless, it's a sad fact that the kids in these nations have to spend so much time at school, and if they don't go to juku they don't learn the things they can't learn at public school for whatever reason.

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flip, I've heard various explanations for Juku - that it's free childminding, that it is to exhaust teenagers so they won't go chasing sex, that it's to teach good team spirit more than make sports stars... I suppose they are all partly right.

I actually dislike juku because it crushes the individual ego. Students have no time to develop their own identity - they are just what they do. I asked countless kids what they like 'oh, baseball'. And what else? Uhhhh... now they have to think about it. They just become club members and it becomes a huge part of their self. Then their three years ends and they bawl at their last match because a huge part of them has been ripped out and they have to make a concious choice to continue with it or find something new.

Doing something with passion is great. But I worry that the kids don't develop rounded egos because they overdo it. And not even an ego as players, either. They play as team members, but they're sometimes awful at playing as individuals. As I told my students when I left them, I think you guys would beat an Australian team hands down - but one-on-one? I don't know. Because their style of drilling gives great fundamentals but no room for individual discovery of play styles, tricks, your own special skills, etc. Thus why I think they should cut it to three days a week, to leave kids to their own devices more - however scary that may be.

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As an ex-ALT, I was always alarmed at how THIN the English text-book was - about 100 pages, often filled with large pictures and large spaces, with limited examples or exploration of new grammar points.

On the topic of maths, a topic that Japan loves to do well in, wrote learning of tables and processes helps kids answer mathematical questions well, but never helps them to understand the relationship between the numbers.

By coincidence I had this discussion with my wife yesterday. She can follow all the steps to multiply out brackets and get the right answer, but she does not understand the fundamental relationship between the starting algebra and the answer. She does not think it matters because the answer is right.

She only knows it is right because her teachers told her that is the way to do it. If her teacher had told her that (x^2+3x+2y^2)^2 multiplied out was a banana, she would have believed it quite happily. This is what we need to move away from, not return to.

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The idiots who make these decisions are absolutely clueless! They don't need MORE information, they need MORE interaction instead of just being expected to commit everything to memory from a mind dulling book!

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reading this makes me even more certain that my kids will not get all their schooling in japan.these poor kids must already be wrecked by the huge workload and long hours they have to put in...surely by now japanese would realise that its about quality not quantity..students will be burnt out by the time they reach high-school.whoever said your schooldays are the best of your life obviously wasnt from Nippon!

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The textbook debate mirrors one in the U.S., where new Common Core State Standards for math and English

I think Japan needs to get over the "Let's copy what America does because it must be right" mentality. How about looking into how effective the South Korean or Hong Kong education sysrtem is, and adapting elements from them?

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You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink

One alarming and depressing problem in Japan is many young people's pride in their own stupidity. Stupid isn't cool, it's stupid. I've had high school kids tell me, among other things, that Euro-Disney is in America, Paris is the capital of New Zealand, and Hiroshima is right below Akita prefecture.

Adding pages to text books and increasing hours in cram schools will do little or nothing to fix the problem.

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Judderman: as someone who worked in jnr and elementary schools for five years, I wouldn't send kids there when I have some. Maybe elementary, but only someplace progressive where kids get a chance to be themselves and not repeat inane crap and call it 'opinion'.

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Yep, more pages and more rote memorization- brilliant.

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What pressure-free education are they talking about? Less rote memorization? Learning driven by students' questions? When I was in junior high schools here, almost everything I observed was memorization and I honestly can't remember a student ever asking a question.

So many good comments on this thread. If it so obvious to so many people that education is much more than how many facts and figures you can cram into your brain for regurgitation at a later date, then how come the morons who are in the Ministry of Education can't see that? 'training children to think for themselves,'? Isn't that an oxy-moron?

'"Japan needs to invest in developing thinking people for its future.”'--AGREE!

'"There’s a need to change the system so it’s not based just on test scores. We need to rethink the entire system.”'--TOTALLY AGREE!!

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Oh, and one more thought. Little kids ARE creative and DO think for themselves. It's a poor education system that sucks it out of them!

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My 6 year old daughter is in first grade at a Japanese school and I can`t believe how much she is expected to learn. She has pages of homework every night and had to do an amazing amount of homework over the summer. They have only started second term and I was suprised to see that they are already starting kanji as well as katakana (they studied all the hiragana in first term).

All I seem to do in the afternoon is try to get her to do her homework. What about time for play and a childhood? Thank god we are not doing Juku as well.....

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@letmesee:

I'd like to know what public school or where your kids are I've been here 19+ years and raised 2 kids on my own and all I ever have seen as so-called home work was copying the same set of Kanji, Hiragan and Katakana over and over again in any first grade in Japan, that's not studying that just repeating the same thing till you can do it blindfolded!

I mentioned the other day on the bullying article here on JT that my daughter goes to a special type of High school of which there are only 4 in Tokyo-to and that it is completely structured differently and most if not all the student are the type that in Junior high did not fit in but in other countries would have all been the odd but advanced students (Genius level).

Well she came home today and this announcement was apparently the talk of the school, these kids did their first 2 year under the old system and the rest under the present system ( first 2 years they had Saturday school and all that crap ).

Now even their teachers are worried about this announcement as they are building a 5th school like this but now there is talk that it will be changed to a standard high school and not this type of open class choice advance learning University prep type high school.

Her school has only existed for a little over 3 years and last May the first students graduated and to everyones surprise they blew away some of the so-called top high schools in Japan in the University entrance and acceptance to the top Technical and Medical Unis, They even got a good number into some of the top overseas Unis.

What many don't like about these 4 schools is that they have a student oriented class system that lets the students chose the classes that will best help them in what the want to go into in university and heavy teacher student cooperation on how the subjects will be taught, I was amazed at how pro-active and progressive all her teachers are (except PE what wrong with PE teacher are they all Neanderthal in every country?)

Here is an example of how different this school is;

It is geared toward 2 types of students all science one group is Technical ( computer engineering, robotics, etc..) the other Medical ( Doctor, technical research, etc..)

My Daughter is aiming for advanced computer engineering based on 3D holographic and the such so for next year she has the choice of 5 Math classes ( she must pick 2) 2 are your more standard math 2 are high level math and one is advanced Algorithms, those going the medical way generally take the 2 standard the tech side the high level.

In her case she will be taking 2 high level and Algorithm and dropping one of the elective classes like art or some other non mandatory class.

These are children that for the most part hated school prior to this place and now they can't even stand summer vacation because they are bored, now they are worried it will all be dismantled despite ( or perhaps because) of their proving it works and even better then anyone expected.

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@movieguy-Also the really crazy paradox about the Japanese, so called superior education(being funny)is that the students spend basically all day learning how to be Japanese and be a part of the collective and then its back home to eat often a meager lunch and back to Juku to study subjects they should be learning during the day! Kids are quiet only listen and absorb, no debate, no challenging some of the topics or assignments, no real feedback. How can you tell if a child really understands and comprehends the subjects? Why is it that Japan spends billions each year on English programs, but still so many can't even speak basic English. This kind of force feeding education, lack of interaction and kids can pass examinations often with minimal effort is not helping the kids. At best, it is severely crippling them, not to mention the society.

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How about looking into how effective the South Korean or Hong Kong education sysrtem is, and adapting elements from them?

Eliminate the "Yutori" education. They should of never implemented it in the first place.

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This idea that the 'yutori' education is somehow bad is misleading. The so-called relaxed education isn't any different to the previous broken model except for having less hours. Both systems are broken, and they are just veering back the other way to the older one.

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Saborichan, You have hit it on the nail. The system is broke, and they are now going back in progress.

Here's a scary fact to ponder:

Most European countries, as well as USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, make changes to their educational philosophies (the way to teach children) every 5-10 years, they are changing all the time. Yet Japan has made only one change since the 1960's. Yutori (pressure free)education. Meanwhile the kids have been changing, technology has changed and society has changed. Yutori education didn't work because the whole idea was to basically just teach the children less, so over the last few years Japan has been reversing the changes and have now gone back in time. That is the best they have come up with.

A board made up of members of JT regulars would make a better job at Educational reform than the Japanese Educational Board. They are stuck in the 60's, and even in the 60's Japan's educational philosphies were a hundred years behind.

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“Just adding pages to textbooks and pushing for more memorization isn’t going to get us anywhere,” argued Koji Kato, professor emeritus of education at Sophia University in Tokyo. “Japan needs to invest in developing thinking people for its future.”

No more comments are needed.

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i say so what........... because on the plus side Japanese schools don't require metal detectors at the gates, nobody sells crack in the toilets or behind the bike sheds, you won't find graffiti, there won't been any heroin sharps in the yard or in the park, and there are very few teenage pregnancies. i have a son in his final year at elementary school in Japan, for me the pros outweigh the cons all round compared to the UK (I have a brother who is a high school vice principal in the UK so in am current on the situation in British schools). Change would help, but a lot of the teachers are old dogs (like anywhere), and they don't take easily to new tricks of course.

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@limboinjapan

I am very interested by what you said. What is the name of this school?

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A. Apparently, the sustained attention of parents to their children could enable the kids to develop their talents and reach their fullest promise.

B. To the best of my knowledge, well-prepared educators are more likely to lead the session to a lively, two way communication. Given. schools might consider schoolchildren's satisfaction rating over class contents.

C. I for one vote for the policy in Finland to value educators with master's.

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I would prefer not to give the exact name of my daughter one, but there are 4 all called SOGO like Blah, blah, blah Sogo.koko

Now be careful some Japanese make big mistake and think these are the same as trade schools ( senmongako) THEY ARE NOT they are more like specialty prep schools ( based a lot on similar schools in Europe).

I hope that helps.

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ngeorge,

Lack of sex, drugs, and violence is enough for an educational system to be okay in your book? Setting the bar kind of high, aren't you?

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@ngeorge There is plenty of sex and pregnancies in Japanese junior and senior high schools. Don't be fooled. The average age of loss of virginity is exactly the same in Japan as in France and only a few months later than the UK.

I do appreciate you looking at the brighter side. I would say that the low level hard nose kids in Japan that quit school or struggle though the end of high school are a lot better off than similar young people in most countries.

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@limboonJapan, Sounds like the NZ school system. Choose what you want to do and be good at it. I think that is the best way forward and concentrate on what interests the student so that they get enjoyment out of learning.

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Are these twits missing the point or what? Education is not about quantity! It is about quality! And, the sliding educational levels are a good reflection of the 'quality' of education in Japan (or lack of it).

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The number of pages in your textbook is an excellent indicator of the quality of education. Just like the number of politicians in your legislature dictate the quality of your laws, and how much trash your country produces dictates your prosperity. Great to know how easy it is to solve these pressing issues!

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Thicker textbooks are suppose to somehow draw scholastic passion from students addicted to manga, um, don't think so. They should have included manga with the material in the textbook.

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chineseguy1 - They should have included manga with the material in the textbook.

Sadly, they do! There are many textbooks written in manga, especially history textbooks.

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Aren't there enough suicides from educational overload already ?

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