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Japan faces long, difficult road to promote inclusive education

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By Mie Sakamoto

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Make sure teachers get the support they need.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Having special needs kids integrated is a win, win for all students involved. Kindness, empathy and patience becomes fostered, life changing even; UNLESS of course you are a teacher in Japan, where it’s bothersome. The lack of will speaks volumes.

Have always been very uncomfortable around a group of adults that when given a difficult choice ( but know exactly what the right thing to do is ) fall into some sort of weird staged silence, quick side glance then eyes down, shutdown, say nothing. Until the voice of expediency makes the weak, lazy call. Usually some kacho or bucho, that should never have been there in the first place. Leadership is courage. Unfortunately witnessed this sad , sorry phenomenon over and over again working the school system.

The chance to do the right thing ( which everyone knows is possible ) often dissolves into dead thin air, gone forever. What gets me is as individuals most Japanese are super kind and understanding, it’s when the group forms things get weird. Where does this instinct to inaction come from?

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Sourpuss understand the ‘social justice’ banner reservations, but in this case I think it is a call for reform on how Japan bases its core educational models and precepts. The unfortunate tendency to shy away from anything difficult for one, has to be faced head on. In Australia, schools have integrated special needs kids into the classroom, while also having separate classes, volunteers and professionals care for them as well. Japan being great logisticians, should also be able to pull this off!

As one of the commentators said above, often the best volunteers are the other students themselves. What a great early life lesson. Much of the problem is also about resources so unfortunately there is no easy quick fix solutions for this delicate and testing challenge. It has to be an integrated approach.

You can judge a society on how well it treats its most vulnerable, so as long as the discussions are about what’s BEST FOR THE INDIVIDUAL STUDENTS ( not what’s easiest for lazy minded and inflexible educators ) are happening then upgrade and paradigm shift can and should happen, under what ever banner it takes..

5 ( +6 / -1 )

my K through 12 has many disabled students and I think it made us more sympathetic.

I’ve taught disabled students in regular classes in Japan and I couldn’t believe the hostility some ‘normal’ students showed them.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

I'm very sympathetic to parents and children in that situation and think they absolutely should be able to go to regular schools without experiencing the kind of trouble described in the article.

From the comments it seems some schools are better at being inclusive than others, hopefully the bad ones will learn to catch up.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I know children with ADHD who attend regular classes, one is in our daughter's class. He's a lovely lad, actually really good at drama, but cannot sit still and regularly goes walkabout or talks over the teacher. Sometimes he starts singing. There is a remedial/special needs class at the school, but our daughter says he's in with the others pretty much all of the time.

Japan spends very little on children by OECD standards. I'm sure Japan could do more for the disadvantaged and will be behind certain other countries, but its not because there's a big budget and the people in charge of it are prioritizing others. There is no big budget for any children in Japan.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

There was a Down syndrome little girl who went to the kindergarten I taught at, and the other kids were so lovely to her, but she really did need extra help and attention, and that wasn't always available. We had a school wide lockdown and search party when the teacher watching her take her shoes off in the genkan looked away for a moment and she disappeared. She was found on the roof by the pool over 30 minutes later.

One time, in my class, she started scratching her face until she was dripping blood on her clothes and chair, and even after she was cleaned up and bandaged, she kept scratching it.

I think we're in a very privileged situation if we're complaining about receiving too much help.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

What backwards part of Japan/Tokyo do they live in?

Context.

My daughter is high functioning Autistic, and is now in her late 20s so no problem in most cases and attended regular public school.

We lived in a lower income ward of Tokyo, from the first grade up there were several children with disabilities in her school including wheelchairs and far more severe cases of autism including a few that could lash out physically if upset , one that did not talk, make eye contact or even respond.

Go, for instance, must go to school with an escort or guardian, against his wishes. His mother has also had to find a helper on her own to sit with him in his classes.

This was never ever required, in typical Japanese style the first day of class other students were asked for volunteers to take turns watching out for those with special needs.

Despite her own ASD my daughter took to caring for one girl with severe ASD for the next 6 years ( they are still friends but I will be damned if I can figure out how they communicate the other girl doesn't still doesn't talk).

Older students in upper grades would walk the students home along with the afterschool elderly volunteers .

This was what our area schools did all the way through to Junior high school.

Remember my daughter started elementary school over 20 years ago and this was in place.

Perhaps the ward being a have not ward the lack of funding for special schools made it adopt a more inclusive way

I don't know but that was how it worked when I was raising my children.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

From the comments it seems some schools are better at being inclusive than others, hopefully the bad ones will learn to catch up.

As far as I understand it is less the school and more the city/ward/school board. Than individual schools.

Example was in the ward my children grew up in, girls in all public Jr high had the right to choose skirt or slacks, this was originally because one parent pointed out that his daughter in a wheelchair used a urine bag and a skirt was uncomfortable in public as the tube and bag were clearly always visible.

So instead of complicating things on an individual basis the simple solution was to give all girls permission to choose.

But the present ward I live in is actually fighting over the same issue right now as female students want the right to wear slacks.

It seems stupid and a waste of time but it is apparently a group of parents with influence that are against the girls having a choice.

So they are now going to court to waste a lot of money.

Note that at my daughter's Jr high despite the girls having a choice only 3 girls attended regularly in slacks a girl in a wheelchair, my daughter and the same previously mentioned ASD friend from primary school that does not talk.

The rest preferred skirts except on cold days with field trips suddenly most girls decided slacks were preferred.

So I really don't know but more concervative and we'll off the area in Tokyo it seems toe the more resistant to change.

The ward I raised my children in was the first to dump uniforms in primary school as being to expensive for the lower income population, long before the rest of the wards followed.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Mixed feelings. Some kids can benefit from inclusive education, to a certain extent. And I agree that Japan is, and tends to be, behind the times on this kind of issue.

However, throwing around buzz-words like "social justice," is meaningless and lumps in everyone regardless of their unique needs and abilities. It really does depend on the circumstances of each individual case, and some kids will indeed do better under the more intensive guidance of a special needs school.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Sometimes the parents, in their desire to have their disabled child be a part of regular classes, actually hurt their children in the long run.

There was one boy who comes to mind, he had learning disabilities, and was rather disruptive in class, at the pace of about once a week, where his parents had to be called to take him out of school. The teachers, BOE, child physiatrists, social workers, municipal office, all sorts of professionals encouraged the parents, argued with the parents, to have their son enrolled in a special needs class or school.

They adamantly refused, and the boy was tolerated and passed on grade to grade, through JHS. Everyone told the parents, the child would never make it into HS, even the prefectural special needs HS, because he didnt learn much of anything. But the parents still held out hope that somehow he could get in, but he didnt, and now he evidently stays at home everyday, pretty much doing nothing, and not having much of a future at all.

There are varying degrees of disabilities, and out of love and hope for their children, I can understand the parents wanting the same life for their children, but there comes a time when they must follow the guidance and advice of the professionals. Yeah, it's got to be painful as hell, but for their child's future well being, sometimes not being with the regular classes is the smart way to go

2 ( +2 / -0 )

But a United Nations panel that deals with the rights of people with disabilities harshly criticized the situation, urging the Japanese government in September to cease special education that segregates children with disabilities from those without.

Japanese schools have traditionally been selective to an unjustifiable degree, maybe as a reflection of the whole culture that still thinks uniformity is a goal that makes segregation a valid choice. Children with learning difficulties are not the only ones suffering from undue exclusion, but they are a very clear example of why this is not adequate.

She said Go has developed remarkably since starting at the school, where he has come to show a selfless concern for helping others. She has also discovered that his classmates sometimes understand him better than his teachers.

And so Japan slowly comes to the modern age, little by little discovering these kind of details that have become so common in other countries. Excellent that articles like this are promoting this understanding.

1 ( +12 / -11 )

Having a focused special ability does not, should not exclude these “Children” they have a view of the world that’s different that should not result in them being viewed as different, rather gifted.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Because my daughter is high functioning Autistic, I have met parents from around Japan and it is shocking how different each place can be.

Some parents complained about bullying, others needed to provide care takers, other had flat out refusal to enter standard schools.

The one common thing was if introduced in the primary system and the schools used a buddy system getting other students to volunteer to help those with disabilities ( usually a group share responsibilities) all sides benefit long term relationships are formed and bullying becomes rare.

In my daughter's school the volunteers from 1 grade to 6th grade were extremely protective if those they chose to help, anyone bullying them would not have a good time afterwards.

A long term example is the severely Autistic friend of my daughter, she still has never said a word as far as I and her parents know, she will not reply, look at you directly, etc . But has a good job working IT at the office of a former elementary school friend that was one of the volunteers caring for those with special needs.

I know him well, I know his father and their family business, they have zero problems with her, she is paid very well because she does her job better than most. Only complaint I have ever heard was she times her work and leaves exactly at finishing time and does not stay even if they need overtime work. ( My daughter says the routine is set the young lady is not able to be flexible that way) this I a local Zeirishi 税理士.

So in this case the contact and mutual aid generated multiple long term friendships even if some seem very strange.

Honestly I see this girl near weekly at my place with my daughter they sit back on tablets and my daughter kills herself laughing non stop as her friend just sits there tapping away on her tablet.

But this is the result of having diversity in school

1 ( +3 / -2 )

The member said it is essential that such children associate with those without disabilities in order to function as capable adults later in life.

Back in the real world...... special needs students take up much more of the teachers time and have to have their own "special curriculum" which is best taught within there own group. "Normal" children lose out if they are schooled with special needs cases.

Some parents should stop being so selfish and just accept that there child is "different" and is always going to be different.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I've been in classrooms where they mixed "disabilities" with "non-disabled" children/teens. Each case definitely varies. Some of the disabilities can range from not having the use of their legs, to MS. Which are two very different things. It can be hard for everyone involved for sure.

But I've also seen supposedly "disabled" students, who were just anti-social. Absolutely nothing wrong with them physically or mentally.

But what got to me was that some of these "disabled" students did much, MUCH better than their "non-disabled" counterparts. Some of the latter were just too darn lazy or just not bright at all.

My point is, maybe it was just those schools in particular, and not across the nation. But it seemed like there were no real tests or prerequisites to declare which students were "disabled" or "non-disabled." Sometimes it just felt like people were just randomly placed for convenience. In other words, stuff the "difficult" students aside and focus on the others.

One would wonder if there is an actual "correct" answer for these types of situations.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Laziness on the part of the Japanese government and the education department is the main problem.

-1 ( +17 / -18 )

I think it is a wonderful opportunity for children to learn together with others who are not like exactly like themselves. I feel a bit for the poor teachers who are trying to cope with all that is going on in classes and also trying their best to help students who require more care. Back home, classes have teachers assistants who are there to help out in these cases. But TIJ, they have such a small budget for education they would never think of hiring someone to help out!

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Yaburu, great example of the systemic problems the education system refuses to face. If a system that claims to facilitate learning fails so badly it’s just proof of how much work has to be done. We all know that the facilitators of the system only seek band aids to gaping wounds, and refuse to even take one step forward to approach the problem well. No one wants to take responsibility, meaning the whole game becomes fakery and failure. Am a big believer that a few good examples of what could be done can change that. My revenge lust on the system didn’t fall into futility nor system. Live every day just trying to show them what could be done if your heart is in the right place.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

"It's a question of social justice," he said, "not creating a more effective society or one that guarantees a more effective learning environment."

I suppose it depends on the class, but I fail to see the "justice" in making anyone sit through a class that is too difficult for them to keep up with; that will only lead to frustration and apathy as they fall further and further behind their classmates. If anything, I'd encourage students to be split up for each subject based on individual ability into remedial, intermediate or advanced classes. But that would take precious funds that the government would rather spend on beefing up the military.

-2 ( +8 / -10 )

this happens when LDP crooks stealing hard in their pockets through moonies,taxes collections and spending for good friends business/remember so called Tokyo olympics and Dentsu?/ for some meaningless "campaigns" /remember go-to something campaigns?/and "investments",dont need to mention zero support for young families with kids and zero financial support during covid times,but yes keep in mind abt chinese and russian "threats" as uncle Sam need to sell his overpriced outdated weapons...these are LDP "priorities" guys...and there are taxes are going...

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Mr Kipling

Today 02:28 pm JST

The member said it is essential that such children associate with those without disabilities in order to function as capable adults later in life.

> Back in the real world...... special needs students take up much more of the teachers time and have to have their own "special curriculum" which is best taught within there own group. "Normal" children lose out if they are schooled with special needs cases.

> Some parents should stop being so selfish and just accept that there child is "different" and is always going to be different

Actually most of what you said is false, in the long run both sides benefit as all long term research has proven.

The intolerance you show is an example of not knowing what or who these people are.

Look at the rapper 50 cents jumping to conclusions that a special needs airport worker was on drugs, he recorded and live streamed his degrading of the young man.

Has 50 cents ever in his life had personal interaction with such people he wouldn't have so quick to judge.

Then you have the longer term problems that without knowing how to interact with society these people will need more care as they get older and especially after their parents can no longer do everything for them.

No the quicker they are introduced to the world they live in the better for all of us financially and socially.

As for other students losing out another full on rumour started by bigoted people.

In my parents day classrooms had one teacher and 60 student.

Today that is one teacher and at the most 40 students but more likely 30 so now more than ever teachers have far more time to help those more in need.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Japan faces long, difficult road to promote inclusive education

Japan face long difficult road to promote inclusive on every aspect not education.

-4 ( +22 / -26 )

Tachibatake said people in charge of education cannot imagine the positive outcomes of an inclusive approach as many have not grown up with children with disabilities.

Inability to think outside the box or even to compromise seems to be the norm in Japan where the one size fits all approach is common.

-4 ( +16 / -20 )

Sounds like the powers-that-be would rather put the kids in cages.

-5 ( +14 / -19 )

It has been tried before in Japan, but about 30 years ago I seem to remember that a disabled girl was killed by other pupils at the school in Japan because she was "different". That incident became lost in time.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

traditionally been selective to an unjustifiable degree, maybe as a reflection of the whole culture that still thinks uniformity is a goal that makes segregation a valid choice.

Valid point.

Japan as a society has a well established mindset when it comes to segregation and systemic discrimination. It has been developing for literally thousands of years. However, Japanese society is slowly coming to realize that these philosophies and approaches are no longer the globally accepted norm.

But as long as this country is controlled by over aged, status quo protecting, self entitled ojisans, change will come slowly and painfully.

S

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

Well, I believe there is a solution to every problem and the problem in japan is that there is deep-seated racism in the psyche of virtually any japanese so it will take numerous generations to even begin to start the thaw.

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

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