Well, I guess I am not the first one who tried to complain or give insight into the poor state of the Japanese public education system. There are legitimate concerns from parents about their children's education and future. Yes, there are many problems. And yes, there are many proposed solutions out there. But most of the proposed solutions or all of them are problems themselves rather than real solutions.
One of the supposedly major problems among students in Japan is discipline. There has been big media hype about classroom violence toward students and teachers, childhood prostitution by some middle school and high school girls and general unruly behavior unacceptable according to Japanese customs and traditions.
People fail to see that these kind of problems are not educational in nature at all. Do we call it a medical problem when a patient physically assaults his or her doctor? No, we do not. It is a security problem and someone who is an expert in security should address it.
The proposed solutions by the bureaucrats are to "relax" the curriculum to lower the stress of the students and to always keep an eye on trouble students by having a designated teacher to attend to them. In a nutshell, the solutions are meant to decrease the educational standards and assign personal nannies inside the school.
I should know all of these. I have seen it firsthand as a teacher in a public school here in Japan. People do not realize that discipline problems should not be a concern at all. Putting a lot of children in an area and forcing them to absorb ideas they have no way of pre-approving is a recipe for disaster. Child discipline should only be between parents and their children. When other people decide how to discipline someone else's children, it is always a bad idea justified as necessary and good.
Next is student prostitution. This is not an educational problem at all. Again, this is an individual or a family matter. What is next -- childhood obesity considered as an educational problem?
Another very obvious supposed problem in Japan is poor English communication skills among the students and the general population at large. Some Japanese teachers who teach English as their main specialty cannot even speak proper English. The solution was to introduce Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs) from abroad to teach and communicate in English with the students, Japanese teachers taking English lessons outside the school time and introduce standardized English exams.
Again, these "solutions" opened an array of problems instead of solving any of the original problems. Discrimination, poor treatment and low salary for the ALTs ... and poor exam results even with increased educational budgets.
To be clear, there was no real problem to begin with. This is what eventually happens when anyone tries to solve a fictional problem. It just compounds the original problem rather than solving it. Students should not be forced to learn English. Japanese students and the majority of the Japanese people do not speak English because they do not see the need for it. Yes, being proficient in English will be a definite advantage anywhere but it does not make it a necessity.
Japan is a modern and a rich developed country. To be really successful in Japan, the Japanese language is a necessity, not English. So, when politicians and educational bureaucrats start to meddle with what children ought to be learning, they themselves create the problem. If there is a case to be made to give students an advantage in the future, it should be learning computers. Even that is not given any priority at all. Public elementary and middle schools have outdated and insufficient numbers of computers. At the public elementary school where I taught before, students are given one hour of computer instruction every six months.
So, how to fix this whole Japanese public educational debacle? Easy. Abolish all public schools. Let private schools and private teachers compete with each other. And let parents and students choose their own education. This way everybody is happy. The solution is very easy but very hard to achieve. The reason for this is that people think the end of public schools would be the end of education in Japan. Most people worry about paying high tuition fees to private schools. But everybody fails to realize that private schools are only expensive because public schools exist. Without public schools, private schools will get a lot cheaper and affordable.
The current Japanese educational policies are misguided and misinformed. Eventually and unfortunately, the children pay the price for these mistakes and they are left with bad education unsuited to an uncertain future. If we really value our children's future, we should make bold and brave steps to change the current system. Because we, the human race, only advance if our children can have a better education and opportunities for themselves.© Japan Today