Kagoshima schools to resume Saturday classes once a month


Beginning in the next fiscal year, students attending public elementary and middle schools in Kagoshima Prefecture will be required to attend classes one Saturday a month.

The move comes nearly 13 years after Kagoshima public schools implemented a five-day school week, TBS reported Friday.

Board of education members cited falling national achievement test scores within the prefecture as the reason for resuming Saturday classes. In order to increase overall scores and restore the prefecture's international academic standing, the board decided to implement Saturday classes to begin either in the first or second semester of fiscal 2015.

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Because when something isn't working, you should do more of it?

30 ( +28 / -0 )

Typical Japanese solution: if there's a problem, then make people work harder, and harder, and harder.

26 ( +25 / -1 )

Next step, training to defend with bamboo spears.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Board of education members cited falling national achievement test scores within the prefecture as the reason for resuming Saturday classes.

...because in Japan the standardized tests are the end-all and be all-of educational/life success. When will they ever learn?

15 ( +14 / -0 )

I'm of two minds on this. One, my kids need to go to school more often just for the social time. Their friends don't live really close by, as the school district it's kind of big, and we live on the edge of it. On the other hand the kids do need time off from school to be able to refresh. If more homework is given, then there will be much less time to be kids, and I don't want mine to become mindless robots like so many others here.

9 ( +10 / -2 )

Poor kids... I guess suicide rates will go up then.

6 ( +11 / -5 )

If you do not know the background to the monumental stuff up called 'yutori kyoiku' then you may not understand this move. Yutori Kyoiku (which saw days cut) has impacted negatively on the educational levels of a generation of kids who attended public schools (private school not being bound by that system), it impacted on the family life of many since mothers had to get part-time jobs to pay for extra juku for their kids to keep up (private universities did not make any allowances in their requirements), it impacted on kids that were left at home (while mothers worked) and who also had to spend even more time at juku, it strengthened the grip of juku as the 'shadow education system'. Need I go on. It ignored that fact that you can't change one element of a cultural system without it impacting on other areas. It was a stuff up and I would like to sue the Japanese Govt on behalf of my three kids who suffered through it if it were possible. Add one Saturday or even two - I applaud it as a start to improving the system (yes, other stuff needs doing, carefully).

-14 ( +3 / -18 )

One reason for the falling test scores could be less students attending jukus (where the real preparations take place in small classes) because of the growing number of working poor families and expanding class divide.

13 ( +14 / -1 )

If they're worried about the prefecture’s international academic standing, mebbees they should look at how other places achieve high academic standards. (Hint: it isn't by forcing Saturday classes on jaded kids and teachers).

17 ( +17 / -1 )

My private high is preparing for a 6-day week from 2016. Not too happy about it. But the ones in power now, the teachers / politicians in their 50s-60s, all grew up with a 6-day school week when they were kids. So they see nothing wrong with it at all. It was just the norm.

Do I think it will raise test scores? For schools that only focus on studying and testing...perhaps. But for the majority of schools that focus on clubs and studying...not at all. Less club time for practicing baseball, socccer, etc., just means that the coaches will have longer practices on other days. Longer practices means kids too tired to study or do homework. So the only real study that may occur will be stictly in the classroom, and that is if you can keep the kids awake.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Honestly there is no difference to them going to school on a Saturday for classes. They all go to school on a Saturday for club anyways. If there was less wasted fluff time during the week they would never need to do extra classes on a Saturday. It is very rare for me to get through 2 weeks in a row without some classes changed for arbitrary crap.

5 ( +5 / -1 )

That sort of sounds like "Let's start teaching them English from an earlier grade. That should make the fluent..." Throw more of it at them.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

This won't change thing except monster parents will get a bit more relief with the time away from their children. As long as they're still going to juku schools to learn the content they are supposed to be covering in class but can't due to oversized classes and a non-existent discipline system, nothing's going to change. The only thing we'll see with increased school hours is the suicide rate go back up.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Luckily, our kids did not go to school on Saturdays, nor juku. They may not have been at the top of their class in elementary school but weekends spent away from structured learning payed off in junior high and high when they did jump to the top of the class. When they started to study things like the parts of flowers it was easy for them as they had spent time outside pulling flowers apart to see what was inside. The juku kids that were at the top of the class in elementary school really dropped off a cliff later because if they had not read it in a book they had no clue. I actually heard other kids say things like "your not supposed to know that, it is Chu 3 study."

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Kagoshima is the number one prefecture in Japan for young people moving out after finishing school due to lack of jobs. Maybe they think Saturday school is the escape plan for more kids to get out.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@Rik314. Thanks for the background.

As somebody whose kids experienced yutori and the had the sit their university exams, I wholly agree. Although in an ideal world it would be nice to have kids studying at their own pace, the whole Japanese education system is a huge and unforgiving elevator. It truly is the survival of the fittest, or the best trained lab rats. Moreover, before pointing fingers at people you need realize that the folks at the big end of town aren't very happy with the state of affairs. Anybody remember the Tokyo University initiative to cut out the crap from national university exams and shift to an academic year that matched the United States? That sunk like a stone because it upset too many people.

Anyway, the situation for the kids and teachers is that the syllabus is so full of garbage that they need extra hours just to be able to compete with the norm, of course the "norm" itself is fundamentally flawed but certain powerful interests want to see it maintained rather than revised.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Scores don't just go up and up forever and definitely won't automatically go up just because you attended school more. Office productivity won't go up just because you spend more time in the office. The problems in the school system mirror those in the work environment.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

As usual, quantity over quality. Maybe if teachers had time to make and teach quality lessons instead of having their time occupied by all the other various duties forced upon them, they wouldn't need Saturday lessons now. Honestly, how pathetic this is.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

And there's the first domino. Now just watch all the others fall.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

@ HaraldBloodaxe at Feb. 21, 2015 - 10:27AM JST "And there's the first domino. Now just watch all the others fall."

Yes, I worry/wonder if this school on Saturday thing will lead us back to a 6-day work week etc. When I came to Japan it was the norm to work 5 1/2 or 6 days per week and I even knew people who had only 1 or 2 days off per month. Wouldn't want to see a return to that, but expect to hear reasoning that if kids can do it adults should be able to also.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I really don't understand why would this be a good idea for the kids though. More like overworking children to me.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Total lack of understanding of how education works. Why don't you increase the QUALITY of education instead of quantity. Just another classic example of how the education system can take responsibility for their own failings.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Japanese elementary schools should get their stuff together, too many public holidays, half day classes starting a week before any major holiday and half day classes after they are finished. Throw in the useless time spent on sports day and its training and you start to wonder, when do the kids actually study? To make up for the wasted time, they give the kids heaps of homework for the holidays, including things they haven't studied yet.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I've had this explained to me by a Japanese person that this kind of method, together with the policy of giving JHS kids and above the duty to take part in"voluntary" club activities through their school holidays, is designed to inculcate the mindset that "If I go home after eight hours' work or take a week off once a year, it will be burdensome for my co-workers". Thus guaranteeing another generation of drones on autopilot, not making waves.

I don't know if it's true, but it certainly seems plausible.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

What a waste of money. Nobody ever learned Algebra through his or her butt. More seat time means more boredom and resentment. If anything, schools should pay the teachers additional pay to provide enrichment on a voluntary basis. The first step is to make the textbooks interesting and challenging and to use on-line instruction for supplemental work. Textbook publication is a monopoly in Japan. A little competition and a look at the textbooks in the USA would be a good start. Secondly, eliminate the need for cramming schools by giving teachers the power to remove any students who hold the class hostage with their bad behavior. If the teachers do their job and the students learn their daily lessons from the teachers, the parents will not have to pay for additional instruction. The third point is the parents cannot be allowed to use the schools and cramming schools for supervision of their children. No teachers should have to work 7 days a week to supervise sports, etc. They need to raise and supervise their own children on the weekends and teachers need to supervise and raise their own children on the weekends. Teachers need to be assigned to classrooms and responsible for making the classroom more appealing. Presently, in most classrooms the only decorations are the sports awards hanging on the wall. Finally, listen to a few ALTs from the USA or other countries or send a few Japanese teachers to the USA expenses paid to visit schools.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

So, they believe one Saturday (an extra 3-4 hours) a month is the solution to the declining academic levels? I've never heard anything so daft in my whole life! More is not better! Better is better! I've worked in Japanese schools for over a decade and have seen what they consider education. It is not a matter of how much you learn. It's only a matter of how much you can remember for the test. The only thing it achieves is, a generation of brain dead yes men! Possibly, that is what they are trying to achieve.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

*...because in Japan the standardized tests are the end-all and be all-of educational/life success. When will they ever learn?

On Sundays...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

non-stop TV viewing AND non-stop 3DS= poor results in a child's education thinks

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This idea of making people work harder is indeed the Japanese disease. It is also the American disease. The worst aspects of Japanese schooling have infected the US. No Child Left Behind. Common Core. The high stakes examinations. In Finland students get lots of leisure time, moderate homework and do not have to deal with national exams (yet they do very well on international exams). That is the model that Japan and everyone else should follow.

With all the things that were wrong with my primary and secondary schooling, the thing I value most that large part of my education consisted of discovering things on my own. We were encouraged to do so. Teachers did not teach to the examination. That is gone now.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Didn't work before, we will not work again. Does not work. Study after study has shown it, proved it, delivered the facts: It is quality over quantity. For example put 'Homework doesn't work' into your search engine and read up. Waste of time.

Rote learning has it's place in aspects of learning but it is not in anyway the be and end all of the academic delivery package that sees people develop skills needed for success in than every more dynamic work place. More does not equate to better. More school, more, more, more as BEFORE didn't improve anything except children being deprived of chances to develop social skills and experience... happiness. As others have posted, Finland, in fact all the Scandinavian nations have a successful educational program. Japan, you DO not know best here and STOP the old MEN, who do not KNOW effective educational practice, from dictating the structure, model and approach...

OUCH! OW! 痛い!

That's the wall we are all shouting at.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I am definitely not enamored with all that goes on as 'education' in the Japanese system, but having taught in it over 30 years and with three kids still going through it I can say it is not all bad compared to my home country (which is thinking of implementing basic math and English language skill tests across the board - for teachers!). But that there is a point, too. What works (or doesn't) in one culture doesn't necessarily work (or not) in a completely different one. Last I looked Japanese weren't Fins, and Japanese culture was not Scandinavian in it's values, beliefs and social and career expectations. Yes, elements of the Japanese education system could change, but it needs to change with the context of Japanese society, not someone else's.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I see that teachers, too, will be required to come in one extra day each month. Will they be getting a 5% salary raise to make up for the fact that they're now working 21 days a month instead of 20?

And if not, what are their plans to combat the likely decline in teacher quality as talented potential teachers choose other professions which don't suddenly extend the work week?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

...has its place... an ever more dynamic...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Huuum, I can see where they are going with them to strive for perfection and high grades, but the Japanese education system does not seem or to allow any room for flexibility, what happens if a child is Dyslexic? or if they are not as bright as there other students. would they get swept under neith a carpet? whats the point of cramming in all of this education when the less bright students can't keep up! lets face it we all can't learn at the same pace. will this lead to more suicides? I hope not.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The way of thinking is quantity over quality.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

As so many have said, quality over quantity.

When I was an ALT, I had many schools that only had 100-150 kids, and yet had 40+ teachers. What did they do with all those extra teachers? Nothing beneficial for the kids, that is what. I would have made additional classes, if not home room classes, to help out the slow kids, and challenge the smart ones. Instead, you had classes with 35 or so kids in it.

Japan, like the US, has some seriously flawed edu system. Every fix, simply makes things worse

2 ( +2 / -0 )

rik314 - sorry to hear your kids suffered under the "relaxed education" era. I hope they are doing ok now.

However I'm of the belief that it's individual schools, their principals, teachers, auxillary staff, and school community's way iof thinking and acting that has a much greater influence on a child's education. The way in which htey interact with children, they way in which they organize and execute a rounded curriculum, the way in which they use the time and resources available to them, the way in which they can elaborate upon what they see as desirable educational goals (in short what are the roles of schools and needs of kids). While schools are constrained by the ropes of Monbusho and the blinkereed expectations of society, from my experience & observations, the good schools, while accomodating such bounds, are able to think and act outside of the box and offer stimulating opportunities. Sadly many schools don't and for fear of failure or ridicule, follow the standard line - often preached by PTAs - that more rote learning in more classroom time is best.

It's already been a proven a simplistic and incorrect model. The highest achieving standardized test scoring prefecture is Akita - and it has been well noted that it's approach to education has not been to follow the ideas of the "enlightened ones" and cram the kids with more nonsense. In fact individual Akita schools have been highly praised and researched for their "relaxed" styles, group teaching, small classes and focus on the kids "as the center of education" approach.

If anyone believes a few extra hours a month on odd Saturday mornings holds the key to success in life, then they needs to do some of their own serious re-evaluation on what constitutes education.

And of course jukus will thrive on all the uncertainty, prerssure and stress placed upon children - pitting all against all - in the ugly scramble to supposed superiority by drilling kids to get the passes required for higher elevation, appeasing the parents who pay handsomely for this.

Glad my daughter's old enough now to have missed the return to the clouded notion of more is more and more is more best!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Good move. Education is a life saver. The dividends will pay off for the rest of your life. Education is a legacy more important than a basket of cash. Thank you for caring for the children. They are the future. 5 Gold Stars of appreciation. Thank You Thank You Thank You

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

It could be trying to system back. Used to be 5 and half days a week since kindergarten. Someone mentioned algebra. That was Jr HS subject. In HS, Calculus. not Algebra or Geography. Of cause it was no TV yet. Check Japanese school hours history, You will find that 5 & 1/2 days a week for many years. The time I am writing is time when students were prohibited to gi ti theaters. Once in a while school brought us to watch American B W movies for English study.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Don't increase the hours, increase the quality of teaching!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The problem is that teachers don't view teaching in schools as affective. One of my students is a junior high school teacher and she said the main role of the school is to I still morals not getting students high marks. If they adopted a system closer to Finland and get rid of all test from year 1 to year 9, they would have more time to teach. Someone commented about homework. Homework is useless. It just repeats what happened in class. Increasing schools in the UK are changing the way students learn. In fact a failing school in my home town was turned around by radically changing the way students and teachers interact. Students are now co-creators of educational material. Standards have improved and the school is getting national attention on how it turned itself around. Maybe If Japanese schools learned from this things would improve.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I assume that Saturday classes are in the morning only with children going home at noon. Right?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Kagoshima may be dreaming to be leading area for Kapamese tchnology education. Now, Japan is not ahead but Japan's technology growth in last half of 20th century were done by people who went that 5 and 1/2 day a week sxchoos. But time changed. /don't Kagoshima schools allow students use i pad and i phone to use wikipedia etc?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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