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Gov't releases guidelines for moral education

38 Comments

The Education Ministry has released guidelines to make moral education a special subject in schools by fiscal 2018. Education Minister Hakubun Shimomura says the goal of the guidelines is to encourage students to think impartially, as well as prevent bullying and juvenile crimes.

The guidelines were drawn up by a ministry panel set up last year to revise the teaching manual to include moral education as a “special subject” for elementary and junior high school students, TBS reported. The panel advocates revising textbooks to include ethics in the curricula.

The panel says youth problems are becoming increasingly complex due to expanding income gaps in society. It says that juvenile crime can stem from a lack of communication with family and others, an unstable employment outlook and the financial difficulties of parents. It recommends that approved textbooks should be used for moral education in the classroom.

According to the guidelines, elementary school students from first to fifth grades will be taught the importance of life, to listen to others with different opinions, to be fair, respect their country and learn about foreign cultures, TBS reported.

Teachers will be tasked with encouraging students to think for themselves rather than just giving their opinions. The panel advocated more class discussions and interactive exchanges between students.

In the past, plans to introduce moral education into school curricula have met with opposition from some teachers and parents concerned that it would impose certain values on children.

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38 Comments
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This won't work. If from now on, all students are moral, are fair, and listen carefully to others, where will the next generation of politicians come from?

20 ( +22 / -2 )

"The panel says youth problems are becoming increasingly complex due to expanding income gaps in society. It says that juvenile crime can stem from a lack of communication with family and others, an unstable employment outlook and the financial difficulties of parents. It recommends that approved textbooks should be used for moral education in the classroom."

That is beyond rich. The government that (dating to the Koizumi reforms) shattered egalitarian Japanese society is now going to gloss over this gaping divide with selected "moral" "values" that will, wait on it, ultimately reinforce the status quo. Naturally, healthy families able to raise well-adjusted kids would benefit from favorable economic policies, but since that isn't possible, with so many corporate chums to please, let's just indoctrinate them.

16 ( +17 / -1 )

Well I do believe the Education Ministry crats and pols would do well to remember what Soren Kirkegaard wrote about ethics and morality:

An ethical man knows theft, murder, and libel are wrong. A moral man will not steal, murder, or libel others. Ethics are taught, but morals come from within the character and integrity of the man.

From "Stages on Life's Way"

16 ( +17 / -1 )

I do hope the government and buracrats have their houses in order before they mandate ethics and morals.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

'The panel says youth problems are becoming increasingly complex due to expanding income gaps in society. It says that juvenile crime can stem from a lack of communication with family and others, an unstable employment outlook and the financial difficulties of parents. It recommends that approved textbooks should be used for moral education in the classroom.'

Perhaps the emphasis on 'thinking for themselves' is a good idea. Tell the kids what the panel said and ask them to discuss who put Japan in this situation, why they did it and whether it's a good idea to keep voting for people who created many of the enormous difficulties they will be facing. Then again, who am I kidding? Lesson one: Why is Japan unique?

10 ( +12 / -2 )

I thought I had managed to get an advanced copy of this new subject's textbook, but when I opened it it just had, "OBEY!" written on every page.

... anyone else have the same problem with this textbook?

9 ( +14 / -5 )

"Education Minister Hakubun Shimomura says the goal of the guidelines is to encourage students to think impartially"

So... 'guidelines' for them to think impartially? But I'm guessing certain topics you don't want the kids to broach or think on are omitted altogether. It's not impartiality when you have no choice. When you look at China doing this exact kind of thing it's called something else.

6 ( +11 / -5 )

I can't wait to see the multiple choice questions on the "morals" test that will inevitably follow.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

The biggest crooks in Japan, aka politicians are dictating moral education...what a joke.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Teachers will be tasked with encouraging students to think for themselves rather than just giving their opinions.

Perhaps it's just a bad translation, but why on earth do they think that these two items are somehow mutually exclusive of each other.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Guidelines for moral education made by old men who frequent establishments that are at odds with said moral education. Same said men approve child porn, and spend their nights being "entertained by young girls " just trust them to make a moral choice.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

I find moral education immoral. When they start morality lessons, that should be the first thing they teach.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Teachers will be tasked with encouraging students to think for themselves rather than just giving their opinions

What does it even mean? This is meaningless.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

The problem is that children's moral education is left up to the government. Families need to take more responsibility for the morality of the children. The more the government tries to indoctrinate children and babysit everyone with Japanese blood, the greater the pushback will be by the youth. At least, this is the case in western countries. I have two kids here and plan on having more, and they are gonna learn morals from their families. I'm going to teach them to question everything. I have read through some of the existing moral education books and they mostly resemble stories I read in English class in elementary and junior high school, but there is always an overtone of us vs them mentality.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

SenseNotSoCommonFeb. 07, 2015 - 09:22PM JST

respect their country

The backbone of moral rectitude.

I would politely disagree. I put the following far above respect for your country:

Consideration for others Respect for yourself Respect for humanity in general

Frankly, respect for something as nebulous, ill-defined and every-shifting (if you're a student of history) as a country is like saying one should respect companies. I find the idea utterly ridiculous.

What politicians mean when they say, "Respect your country!" is actually, "Respect the politicians who run the country", and frankly politicians in general are not normally worthy of respect, normally having disqualified themselves by showing no respect for large portions of the population.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Children do have motives and goals for their behavior. If we understand their motives and goals, we can help them to change their behavior to be acceptable to themselves as well as to us. Textbooks should be published freely, and the choice of which textbooks should be used must be left up to teachers and parents and not the Education Ministry inspectors. The inspectors' powers come not from law, but from the purse string.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

The issue is far deeper than simply amending the curriculum. It needs to start with parenting - the father figure is never around, as he's constantly being held back at work by inefficient & incompetent managers. Because that's how it was 'back in their day'. If Japan Inc. was to concede that the current modus operandi just cannot continue, then we may start to see progress. With more family time created, this will also take pressure off miserable stay-at-home mums. Who knows, maybe they could even return to work & the fathers actually commit to child rearing - and enforce wisdom & values.

The family dynamic here is to blame. Once kids enter high school here they basically do what they please. Fathers cannot simply 'catch up on fatherhood' over the weekends, which seems to be the approach here. It's dysfunctional.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Will do nothing to remove the Confucian BS that is inherent in every one of the other classes and life in general in Japan.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Sorry - isn't this what parents are for?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Interesting to see this report on the same day a teacher was rrimanded for showing 5th graders images of the slain Japanese hostages.

They cannot teach kids morals by Molly-coddling even more than they do now. They have to teach kids the importance of themselves and encourage individuality, which is totally against the main stream schooling system in Japan. Until they change the school system so that kids who are not academically inclined are not ostracised this panel of experts' decision is nothing more than lip service put on paper!

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Unfortunately, I do not think that the alteration's impact will do much since errors exist within the japanese school system. Of course others countries as well but we are speaking about Japan now. Improvement will only come, if the ministry changes the fundemental bricks of education.

Eventually, I'll wait for the result. Since we all know politicians are masters in promising and twisting words. They might even use this modification for their own goal.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Teachers will be tasked with encouraging students to think for themselves rather than just giving their opinions. The panel advocated more class discussions and interactive exchanges between students.

Sorry, I may not quite have understood this comment. Does it mean that teachers will encourage students to express their genuine, heartfelt feelings as individuals on such subjects as, let's say, homosexuality, nationalism, and racism, and, thereby, bring about reasoned discussions of the world students can expect to inherit, or does it simply imply that, as has been the norm in Japanese education in the past (and unfortunately it seems until today) that students will be "encouraged" to discuss anything as long as it stays within the accepted bounds of "moral education"? My god (with a little g)! Isn't this type of article depressing? If a country really has a free and open system, the question wouldn't even arise. Does nobody in Japan even realise that the quote I gave at the top of this comment applies equally to IS (ISIS, Islamic Caliphate) as much as it does to the Abe-state?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

i love japanese culture, but nothing's perfect. therefore, i would suggest to teach kids here to say sorry, to acknowledge their mistakes without the withdrawal from society and depression and possible suicide.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I can't imagine teaching morals to students at school would take away some accepted norms in Japan like for example: watching high school girls bicycling in mini-skirt uniforms, or what about students having easy access to buy pornographic magazines in convenient stores, or hearing high school freshmen, or worst, as young as elementary students shouting "Baka" at their parents. Whew! What a tough job for the government to fix these.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I would politely disagree.

Frungy old bean, apologies for omitting the canned laughter to denote my sarcasm. Must be my splitting headache from all the uyoku vans today.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I've never seen a more paranoid and cynical group of people than the commenters on Japan Today.

It's important to be skeptical of government policies like this, especially given Japan's history of state-mandated indoctrination, but so many of the comments here are just irrational kneejerk reactions. There's no way any of you could possibly have enough information about this specific policy to justify all of your paranoid ravings about government conspiracies and evil politicians.

And you all want to talk about group-think? Look no further than the comments section of this article.

Sure, it's possible that the goals of the policy aren't genuine and are just trying to throw a smokescreen over existing problems in Japanese society, but there's no way to know that because we don't know yet how this policy is actually going to play out in schools. Learning about other cultures, encouraging free discussion of ethical issues - those sound like pretty good things to me, and things that Japan desperately needs.

It's possible, maybe even probable, that this policy is BS, but it's much too early to come to come to such strong conclusions.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This sounds like a great course to catch up on sleep in.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

In some countries the moral education is at primary school level while the civic education at secondary level.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

respect their country

The backbone of moral rectitude.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

A very Japanese concept, sunao 素直, is for better or worse a key aspect of the orientation of the Japanese. It means docile, meek, diligent, honest, frank. If non-Japanese are confused by this mix, imagine how confusing this must be to people who internalize these concepts.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It says that juvenile crime can stem from a lack of communication with family and others, an unstable employment outlook and the financial difficulties of parents.

So, in other words, they are having to add curriculum to compensate for the structural issues in Japan -- fathers working too much, a poor economic future for future generations, and parents being pushed to their limits just trying to keep their heads above water -- rather than solve the issues. Typical Japan.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

I'm not sure about Kirkegaard, I forgot all i read about him...but i'm sure that SUNAU is used like to say innocent or pure or predictable for a child...for an adult in should mean like to by respectful and considerate of what people are saying to you and keep from lashing out at them ( suppress a desire to be defensive and try to swallow your pride). The Buddhist core that came from extended family living and hard-working parents- a whole generation of post war and post boom adults who instilled a sense of duty toward the community- is eroding. Religious morals is kinda hidden and unnoticable to the unaccustomed eye, but this new generation will really suffer (project this nation fifteen years from now) as a 'want everything, got nothing' generation of spoiled rotten fiendish adults...on their way to a life of working-poor-slaves. Anyway, every nation is unique, with a history and language and blood that binds them. Nothingbwrong with proping up one's own culture and national identity. One last point, television has got to be the biggest Evil and over here it truly catches and captivates the minds of most ( 'most' because practically everyone watches on a daily bases ). but we should watch milleniums or hamachanmatchan as case studies...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

SenseNotSoCommonFeb. 07, 2015 - 11:54PM JST Frungy old bean, apologies for omitting the canned laughter to denote my sarcasm. Must be my splitting headache from all the uyoku vans today.

Ah, terribly sorry for the misunderstanding. It seemed a little uncharacteristic for you, but you never know when seemingly sensible people will start frothing at the mouth when you accidentally use a rag that's lying around to clean up a spill without noticing that it had a flag on it (true story - although not literally frothing, just ranting about disrespecting their flag, like the cloth actually cares what it is used for).

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Moral education is for those who wish to retain power; humanitarian education is for a fair and just society. Little surprise that Abe's government would impose the former.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Gov't releases guidelines for moral education"

I had to pinch myself, to believe I was not dreaming. Japan is truly a very funny country....

Yes, it's getting funnier by the minute....

Groupthink in action..

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Until Japan truly comes to terms with its past crimes against humanity "moral education" will be a joke. Study about the unspeakable "research" carried out at Unit 731 for starters.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

For a European it is exceptionally hilarious to read a headline like this:

"Gov't releases guidelines for moral education"

I had to pinch myself, to believe I was not dreaming. Japan is truly a very funny country....

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

North Korea and Japan have more in common then either want to admit, aside from DNA. Teaching children to fear others and a victimise ideal, good lord ( if there was one) the hive fears others.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

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