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Panel proposes easing teachers' workload as part of education reform

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First, 20 hours overtime per week is less than Abe's 'decision' to limit overtime to 100 hours per month.

Second, if teachers didn't also have to be club advisors, that would lessen the workload considerably; maybe, I don't know, hire a teacher to be a club advisor exclusively? Five clubs at five different school?

Third, I know I didn't read the entire report but I didn't see anything about reducing the number of students per class. That is the biggest problem; bigger than staggering holidays - when the kids will be having extra homework and extra lessons at the juku and teachers won't get f***-all.

But at least the committee spent four years working hard on these proprosals.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

The only way for this to work is for Japan to redefine "work." As a group, Japanese are so inefficient and waste so much time that it boggles the mind. Since the topic is teachers, let's focus on some of the more ridiculous and redundant activities that eat up vast amounts of time and energy.

Sports Festivals: hours and hours spent discussing a schedule that will be about the same as it was last year and weeks spent "practicing" running around a track or playing games that can be explained in about ten minutes.

Field trips: there is little or no educational value in walking five-to-seven kilometers to a park and then drawing the picture of that park.

Student home visits: unnecessary source of stress and a waste of time for both the teacher and the parent(s). Have the parents go to the school.

And while we are on the subject of "time," let's start curbing some of these club activities. There is no reason to have an "event" every single, cotton-picking day that there is no school. Students need some free time to develop independence, they do not need an adult-organized activity every single Saturday and Sunday and holiday and every single day during summer and winter vacation. Let's also stop having these events begin at seven in the morning and finish at six in the evening. Some will argue that this amount of time and energy vested in a show of dedication. These people are wrong. It is not dedication, it is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

Change these attitudes and the lives of teacher and families improves immediately.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Everything borscht said. Japan’s public spending on education as a percentage of GDP is regularly the lowest in the OECD. I know at one point they held the title for 6 straight years.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

borscht Today  08:26 am JST

But at least the committee spent four years working hard on these proprosals.

It should only have taken about forty minutes to confirm things everyone has known for years, but I suppose the committee members had to do something to justify getting their salaries.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Agree with all three above posters- Sam, EXCELLENT post. One more thing I might add is make sure the schools are closed on the weekends, NO school will be open on a saturday unless the following Monday is off, and schools must be closed by 6 pm at the latest BY LAW.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

cut back on all the excessive "club" activities and practices for the "sports" festival and you'll be able to reduce their workload. so much extra work that they do doesn't involve teaching.

but i love the simplistic thinking from the gov't. yeah, just make parents do more. like we have all the extra time in the world to help. parents are already asked to do a lot of stuff for the PTA. what more do they want us to do? start teaching the classes themselves? puh-lease!

6 ( +7 / -1 )

19 years in a private high school have slowly but sure succumbed to the endless extra curricular duties of a Japanese teacher. Had no choice really, didn't want to stay gaijin guest forever. Have a homeroom, bukatsu, department, exchange programme, sister school, even got sent to a PTA meeting last year. Every year I promise myself this is the last year but our karate team is kicking the proverbial so I convince myself to hang on for a bit more. When we have a big win you almost forget the sacrifices made to get there.

The overwork combined with outdated and hyper unproductive activities, top down poorly made decisions, monster parents, monster bosses, weekend duties, I am still in awe at how my colleagues keep their heads above water. Teachers cop a lot of flack and get little thanks for their efforts.  Any government incentive to ease the burden is welcomed. The students are suffering due to the lack of energy left for the actual job ie facilitating learning, which far down on the priority list if at all.  Changing the quantity over quality mentality though which is so engrained will be the biggest challenge. I feel that there is a total phobia of giving kids ( and staff ! )  any free time at all.

13 ( +14 / -1 )

As much as possible, I leave on or soon after my finishing time (5:15).  This keeps me sane, gives me time for the family, reduces time spent wondering why if other teachers are asleep at their desk they don't just go home, let's me enjoy my hobbies, etc...  I've also been here 20 years.  At a Brit, I firmly believe that the weekend and evenings are mine by rite. 

Any kind of change here takes forever to achieve so don't expect any changes for a while (years/decades).

Premiem Friday was a very good idea, pity it doesn't affect teachers! 

Decent teachers unions are sorely needed if any lasting change is to be made.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Yeah not just teachers but as others have mentioned, the kids need their workloads reduced as well. The amount of books some kids lug around in their bags is hard to believe. Lighten up a little Japan.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Government advisory panel on education reform proposed to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday steps to ease the workload of teachers in Japan and boost community and parent involvement with schools, amid concerns about overwork."

---Yeah, right how many times have different panels proposed exactly the same thing and nothing was done?

Aah Japan, the land of endless panel meetings full of recomendations / urgings that result in precisely zero change , almost comical if it wasnt tragic.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

By Teacher's Day, they mean they'll give all F/T educators a paid day off, either a Monday or a Friday, without them having to attend any wretched events, right?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

but i love the simplistic thinking from the gov't. yeah, just make parents do more. like we have all the extra time in the world to help. parents are already asked to do a lot of stuff for the PTA. what more do they want us to do? start teaching the classes themselves? puh-lease!

Are you being serious? Many kids here see their teachers far more than they do their dad on weekends. Poor you, you might actually have to spend some time with your kid(s).

PTA is a burden on teachers. Get rid of it. And then cancel clubs and ask parents to volunteer for coaching teams and start demanding that parents actually parents after last class and on weekends instead of sitting at school with club activities. It's not like your average mother here is working FT and contributing to the tax system that schools need to exist. Good thing you live in Japan because you'd have a heck of a time in any other developed nation if you think you have it rough with all parenting you have to do.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Yeah, yeah, yeah, let's give the proxy-parents a break (AKA, teachers). But! What about the students? There is all this talk about limiting overtime for employees to 100 hours a month, which is still absurd. However, if you calculate the amount of hours teenagers are spending in school, at Juku, club activities and homework, they are all doing nearly 200 hours of school related overtime work every month and surfing on two to four hours sleep every night. Is there any wonder so many teenagers kill themselves? They have no life! This can also be linked to the high rate of dimentia in the elderly, which is linked to poor sleeping habits when they are young. Oh, the poor teachers doing 80-100 hours overtime every month. The students are doing double that and nobody gives a fat rat's. I refuse to give any of my students homework. I will suggest things for them to do if they have time, but sleep is much more important than study.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I think one can blame the parents for the hours the kids suffer with. Kids don't HAVE to do club. They also don't HAVE to do juku. They don't have to be in piano, karate, swimming... (thinking younger kids here). The whole education system here is but around the fear of not getting into a decent university. Get rid of entrance exams, jukes, clubs... The whole system here is built around not giving anyone free time to actually think for themselves. I can't see the government wanting to do away with that. The people might revolt!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Disillusioned

I agree.  And I think that if the kids are taught the value of having their own time, and doing their own thing without having it all dictated to them by the school system, it might alleviate some of the problems we are seeing now with death from overwork and the like, a number of years down the track. 

If they want to give the teachers less to do, they could start by giving the students less.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Nothing. Will. Ever. Change.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

The grotesque education system is just another symptom of the national sickness, やりすぎ, that has caused untold misery for the Japanese people. As an academic I see every day in the classroom the damage that has been inflicted on so many innocent youngsters. My son's experience in Japanese schools characterized by rote learning, ruthless supression of the emotional side of learning, mountains of meaningless homework assignments, cramming for endless tests and club activiies that leave him physically exhausted when he returns home between 8-9 in the evening. The non-existence of free time and severe sleep deprivation have extinguished all desire to study since his curiosity and imagination have been starved by the the curriculum's rigid adherence to stem subjects. Now I can only hope that his education, like that of Mark Twain, will start after his schooling is over. I fear for the future of Japan.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Letting down a whole generation in their prime. Institutionalised.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I don't think the problem in Japan is that kids do too many extra curricular activities. Its good for kids to try different things.

The problem is that the vast majority of sports and activities are run by obsessives who expect complete obedience and have no concept of "fun" or "enough". So parents are left with the option of going along with it or not letting their kids do activities. In the city, there may be no places for kids to play by themselves, and inaka, kids may be many kilometers away from their classmates, making impromptu games of football impossible.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Sounds like a lot of the overtime is forced ex-pats. I sympathize since Japanese ELT companies pay nearly poverty levels.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It's crazy that in a country where teachers spend more time educating and "raising" kids than the parents themselves, there isn't a teacher's day.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

How about letting kids not do club activities when the season is done? Let them have a rest.

As for teachers, some of the overtime is hard work, but a lot is just sitting around in the teachers room after school chatting and wasting time. In many cases especially young teachers feel they can't leave before the boss or they'll look bad, so they stay even if they don't have anything to do.

If the principals and VPs had any sense of decency they would leave early as a show that it's ok for the other teachers to leave. But many don't. Many principals will sit in their office after school reading a newspaper or doing basically nothing for hours, not realizing the suffering they're inflicting on their staff.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

"School teacher" has got to be one of the worst jobs in this country. Get an office job that let's you hopefully go home at some point. Japanese leaders are all talk. They talk, go to meetings, do photo-ops and play golf. There is no evidence that anything will change or that people even believe changes are possible. You have to believe it first. Japan is "can't-do." That should be the motto on the flag.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

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