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Number of teachers quitting for mental health reasons hits record high in Japan

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To address the shortage of teachers, the ministry is considering improving their working conditions and significantly increasing assistant staff, the officials said.

Considering improving, not considering how to improve? Makes it sound like you know that something is wrong, but you’re also considering doing nothing about it.

22 ( +28 / -6 )

After more than 3 years of Covid restrictions and all the extra crap they've had to go through, they should be applauded for hanging on as long as they did. I've talked with a few teachers and they're having a hard time.

22 ( +24 / -2 )

Teachers are spending too much time away from their own children.

18 ( +20 / -2 )

The increase in teachers' workload and subsequent long working hours are also leading to a decrease in the number of people seeking to become teachers, making it increasingly difficult to cover for those who have taken leave due to illnesses or have retired.

Experts have warned for a long time that this would spiral down with overworked teachers quitting in masse leaving the rest even more overworked so they would also quit and so on, but the culture of pretending tiny cosmetic changes would let the problem solve itself means the predictions are becoming a reality.

Eliminate unnecessary burdens, make smaller groups, importantly rise the salaries, make it illegal for schools to overwork their teachers as is usual right now. Those are not cheap nor easy solutions but anything shorter than that and the problem will continue to grow.

And then you will begin to have the same in small independent universities that also have staff shortages and end up with deeply unprepared professors (without even a master degree) teaching huge groups of students and are on the brick of quitting right now as well.

17 ( +19 / -2 )

Doesn’t surprise me. When my son was having issues with a kid at school I went in to see his teacher, the guy was covered in bite marks down his arms. He explained they were from the ‘problem child’ in the class and there’s nothing he or the school could do about it…..he was getting bitten every day drying to stop the child from attack other kids. Every day of that would force you down the path towards a mental break down.

12 ( +18 / -6 )

""The officials said they need to "tackle the mental health of teachers as an urgent issue.""

Shut the schools down at 5 or 5:30pm , turn off the lights saves energy and keeps the teachers healthy.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

To address the shortage of teachers, the ministry is considering improving their working conditions and significantly increasing assistant staff, the officials said.

oh really?

so what? They will FINALLY

raise pay?

make it mandatory, nationwide, that everyone leaves the premises by 6 pm?

eliminate any and all before school and after school lessons?

eliminate all “club activities” on weekends and after 6 pm?

eliminate useless summertime (when no one is having lessons) mandatory come to the office for no reason days?

allow flex vacation times and actual substitute teachers to come in?

etc etc

……we’ll believe it when we see it.

10 ( +15 / -5 )

Why does @sakurasuki consistently get voted down for making salient, cogent points and observations?! Is it because their English isn’t ‘perfect’?

Indeed, teachers here, especially elementary school teachers, are forced to take on so many extra responsibilities including disciplining the children of lazy parents, dealing with those same parents’ complaints that they have disciplined their undisciplined children, that of course they will burn out. And for what? A pay packet that can’t even support a single income family.

9 ( +20 / -11 )

The officials said they need to "tackle the mental health of teachers as an urgent issue."

What a joke! The proverbial "blind leading the blind"!

How in the hell can "officials" with ZERO experience or knowledge of what teachers are going through, because of THEIR policies that they forced down the teachers throats, expect to be able to even begin to "tackle" the problem?

They must outsource the issue to mental health experts, and more importantly follow their plans for implementing changes that helps relieve the underlying issues of the causes of all of this.

These "officials" just want to throw money at the problem, with no concrete solutions, and just play games making it seem like they are concerned, hypocrites the lot!

9 ( +12 / -3 )

Just say no to all that unnecessary overtime.

Do not take care of bukatsu.

Do not go to students' houses.

Do that or die in the job, literally. Their choice.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Japanese public school teachers are proxy parents to the students and slaves to the BOE. It should be no surprise so many teachers are cracking up under the ridiculous amount of pressure. The schools are open 7 days a week and the teachers are working 12-16 hour days. The staff will do their teaching duties then they have sports clubs to attend to on weekends and after school they are at the school from 6am to 8pm most days. Even the school holiday periods are taken up with club activities and extra classes. It’s absurd! The whole system is ludicrous. They are not producing scholars either. There is no way to fix the problem without throwing the whole education system in the garbage and starting again.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Nice to hear some people disparaging teachers on here. I'm assuming these people just taught themselves, made their own curricula, didn't bother with any study materials that were developed by educators from years of teaching experience, learned themselves the ABC and arithmetic from nothing, gave themselves a primary, secondary and hey, maybe even a tertiary education, then went straight into accountancy, engineering or running their own company, completely bypassing all that education lark. It's one thing to criticize flaws with an education system or relate bad personal experiences from your school days. However, if you're sneering at the teaching profession as a whole (that likely played a significant role in getting you to where you are today) as though it was always beneath you, then maybe you need to go back to school.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

The increase in teachers' workload and subsequent long working hours are also leading to a decrease in the number of people seeking to become teachers, making it increasingly difficult to cover for those who have taken leave due to illnesses or have retired.

Maybe offer teachers a 5-day work week and end their often mandatory participation in after school hour activities and more would stick around!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

There is no reason why teachers should have to go to work (I know they have club that continue training) during long summer holidays.

I'm sorry, but you have to understand the "komuin" system to understand why teachers are in school during vacation times.

When schools were open on Saturday's and then later closed on the 2nd and 4th Saturday's of the month, those "half-days" of work were totaled together and the teachers took off during the summer.

Then schools closed on Saturdays, and the teachers lost all that comp time, and had to use their vacation days, or go to work, because they are "komuin" Hence elementary schools starting up club activities more and more, as because teachers were in school, they were "hima" so they started calling the kids in too. And the ball kept rolling down hill.

It is a systematic problem, and one that is not going to change, as other "komuin" bitcved to high heaven about "teachers" getting such long vacations and they didnt get them!

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Lather, wash and rinse 'em. Then repeat over and over again (but expect a different result)!? Teachers in many countries have been betrayed by big gub'mint serving big capital as has been evident since 1848 (“The executive of the modern State is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie”). And aside from scrooging overworked teachers, governments view "guided" education as a tool to create a pool of workers who have mastered STEM subjects essential to a modern technological society while neglecting the Humanities and Liberal Arts and viewing with suspicion those that teach and wish to study them, fearing the latter groups could challenge and weaken their control over the voting populations resistant. Teachers are society's canaries in the cage that governments ignore under the rubric, "they should be employed and not heard".

3 ( +7 / -4 )

ElecFixerToday  09:06 am JST

A teacher is only "qualified" up to the educational level of an 18 year old.

So those 18 year olds can go on to college or university.

What is an 18 year old worth in the job market? Not very much.

They're not exactly the finished product though, are they.

And yet most of the teachers commenting here continually grumble about their low salaries.

Bad life choices. Should have studied and trained for the higher paid jobs, instead of taking the easy path and resenting those that didn't.

Who should they have studied with? Or should they have just buckled down and got multiple PhDs all by themselves like you presumably did?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

All nice people who aspired to be good teachers but dropped to immense stress - you have my empathy. Stay strong and priorotize your own well-being over what society demands of you.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

But that's the whole point. The barrier to entry is extremely low. Why should we revere teachers any more than we should revere cleaners or checkout girls?

Im assuming you are fishing for some sort of outraged response here. Not sure why you have such a thing against teachers. Many school teachers have to go above and beyond their job description every day.

Anyway, everyone should be respected no matter what their job is. In fact most service jobs are paid poorly despite their work having some obvious value. On the other hand you have people who dont clearly add anything of value to society through their work, and its these people who tend to develop a disdain for those who do.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

When schools were open on Saturday's and then later closed on the 2nd and 4th Saturday's of the month, those "half-days" of work were totaled together and the teachers took off during the summer.

Whatever, teachers should not be in the school during the summer rest.

And then it comes as a shock to them when they find out they have to work for 6 hours a day, 10 months of the year.

Your are obviously being trolling-aggressive here but it's more like 10 hours a day, 11.5 months of the year.

The officials said they need to "tackle the mental health of teachers as an urgent issue.""

They will prescribe a bunch of strong drugs for them. Problem solved. That's how far the Government will go to solve the problem. The issues are evident and they have been for years, they just don't want to change the whole system,.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

This issue seems like something that recently came out with all these headlines, but it has been an issue for quite some time now, just not documented. With decreased pay and over demanding jobs comes lower "will power" to work. The gaman shakai can only hold for so long, there needs to be a light at the end of that tunnel in order to make it through. This goes for all sectors.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

so please drop the "they are all wonderful" nonsense

"It's one thing to criticize flaws with an education system or relate bad personal experiences from your school days."

Those who can... Do

Those who can't ...teach

And those who can't teach...... Teach gym!

Which category did your good teachers fall into?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Many moons ago when I worked in a public school in Japan, the teachers were terribly overworked. In particular I remember one older English teacher who always looked exhausted, and another who was always miserable because he could never see his daughter. In the end the older teacher had a heart attack, and left the school. The younger teacher was then left to teach the older teachers classes in addition to his own classes, club activities, and homeroom duties. He probably had a heart attack too.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Not surprising at all. We get this report yearly and the same response urging urgency. Yet... nothing has changed. Teachers are always at work, have no personal lives, no family lives, constantly answering to parents and BoE, doing presentations to other random visitors, presentations to parents, clubs that have FOR SOME REASON been expanded into the elementary school level despite all the JHS and above teachers claiming them as the biggest stressor, having to work after official working hours, working weekends, working holidays, working summer and winter vacations and more.

Teaching in Japan is the blackest company on the books as far as I can see. Fix your system and you'd get thousands more applying each year.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

There is no real education system in Japan. There is a kind of filter system that selects those who can absorb huge amounts of useless, unrelated data and select the right answer in a multiple choice test. Anyone with ideas of their own, with even a spark of creativity won't make it through this screening to one of the "top" universities. This system produces yes-men, malleable types who will do what they are told and who won't "cause any trouble."

The administration of this system is similarly weird. Teachers are expected to spend almost as much time on admin as they do in the classroom. They have to write detailed reports, detailed lesson plans, attend useless seminars and meetings. They don't even have time to visit children's homes any more.

It's not surprising that so many quit because of mental problems. And in the middle of this, those that suffer most are the children. They need a real education. Something that gives them the skills and knowledge to deal with life as it is lived now and in the near future when they enter society. They don't need quadratic equations in junior high school and Japanese English "teachers" droning on and on about English grammar “rules” in Japanese doesn't help either.

They need a curriculum that's relevant to their needs. They need real dedicated teachers. And they need an administration comprised of people with actual experience in the classroom who know and understand the teachers' situation and what the children need.

0 ( +24 / -24 )

Easy to solve, but only if wanted to be solved. Only two main problems eliminated, much less paperwork and taking the troublemakers out into outsideseperated special schools, that alone will take away 80% of the burden teachers could potentially face. And then they have time again for teaching, the success rates become much higher and in the long run even the then better educated and mannered parents will return to cooperation with the teachers instead of contributing to trouble and workload. Try it out, my concept, while you still can, before otherwise everything tumbles down.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Yes I have seen it, when a teacher becomes Mom and Dad because the real parents aren't parenting at home then teachers can't teach, better look for another job.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Can you blame them? The focus is all about following stupid rules instead of educating the kids. Neither of which get any chance for a break with all the clubs, holiday homework (what an oxymoron) both are expected to do.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

There are numerous factors involved and many of them are interconnected to other institutions like universities, corporations, and the government. You can't just change one part; they all have to change at the same time. But the main factor is the Ministry of Education. They're lazy, resistant to change, archaic, ignorant, arrogant, and useless. When leadership at the top is this rotten, what chance to those below, on the front lines have to change the system.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

The sad thing is, it is actually a valuable and necessary role in society. We definitely need teachers, just as we need police officers and fire fighters.

Exactly. We need teachers just as much as we need all other blue collar workers performing manual labour.

But that's the whole point. The barrier to entry is extremely low. Why should we revere teachers any more than we should revere cleaners or checkout girls?

The answer is we shouldn't. It's just as easy to become any one of them.

A few years pass, the regret of life choices kicks in, a teacher sees all the more affluent parents younger than them and the children / luxuries they can afford, and we end up rehashing the same old bitterness.

Or, rather, the rest if us have to tolerate listening to it all over again.

You chose your path (the easy one). Accept it.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Teachers need pay rise. With little salary and long working hours, it’s almost embarrassing to say “i am a teacher”. It should be something to be proud raising the future generations.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The same survey also investigated the age structure and average age of teachers working at public schools as of Oct. 1, 2022, and showed that teachers are becoming younger as compared with the previous survey in 2019.

Might have something to do with it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There is no real education system in Japan. There is a kind of filter system that selects those who can absorb huge amounts of useless, unrelated data and select the right answer in a multiple choice test.

Do you have any idea of what you are talking about related to this issue and more importantly NOW, in 2023?

Wait, let me answer this for you. NO you dont! You should educate yourself about changes, and while they take time to implement here, your "rant" is outdated.

-1 ( +14 / -15 )

When society and parents blame teachers for their students for everything, why not resign. It’s a horrible job in Japan and there is very little respect for the educators. On face they bow and smile but in reality all society blames them for all their stupid kids trouble.

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

Good for them.

Teaching is an incredibly foolish career path in 2023. You make less money, have less flexibility over your schedule/vacation time, spend entire days babysitting children, indoctrinating them to exhibit behavior society/government expects, all while having to live up to this unrealistic role model cliche.

It is not a fiscally profitable option. And you get type-cast after so many years of doing it, and it becomes your only option. So of course people are abandoning it/not doing it to begin with.

The sad thing is, it is actually a valuable and necessary role in society. We definitely need teachers, just as we need police officers and fire fighters. But you don't pay them enough or give them the resources they need and as a result people avoid it like the plague. Often times, the very people and groups that talk about how important education is never really seem to be spending that much time advocating on behalf of teachers. And what I mean is not simply using them as a mechanism for proliferating your preferred political ideology and social theories; them actually having an opportunity to make more money and have more time off.

If you're in college right now, ignore what everyone says about doing something that is inherently selfless. Get a finance degree. Society in its current form views you as disposable, you have to climb above them or be crushed.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

What does invalid mean?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The officials said they need to "tackle the mental health of teachers as an urgent issue."

Meaning they're going to do nothing at all because they can't or won't do anything about the things that cause these mental health problems.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

It happens a lot at the Japanese public school in my neighborhood.

However, rather than being because of the students, it looks like the teachers who are dropping out in my area are very weak and didn't really want to be teachers to begin with.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Good to hear. I've heard that the conditions for teachers in Japan are atrocious. They're probably better off working at one of the many convenience stores - still get paid and have more downtime.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Gym teachers are not losers! In my American military school upbringing, the gym teachers were quite nice, and dedicated. Now, I'm a multiple black-belt in karate and aikido, university running & cross-country winner, and a tidy package of a body builder at the gym. Do not discount gym teachers!

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Elecfixer...

Bad life choices. Should have studied and trained for the higher paid jobs, instead of taking the easy path and resenting those that didn't.

Those who can... Do

Those who can't ...teach

And those who can't teach...... Teach gym!

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Considering improving, not considering how to improve? Makes it sound like you know that something is wrong, but you’re also considering doing nothing about it.

Improve and changing things? In Japan they'll prefer employee leave their workplace rather than really improving things and changing things.

-5 ( +25 / -30 )

Nice to hear some people disparaging teachers on here. I'm assuming these people just taught themselves

I had some good teachers, but for every "good" one there was another who was useless or worse. I very much doubt things have changed, so please drop the "they are all wonderful" nonsense.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

The increase in teachers' workload and subsequent long working hours are also leading to a decrease in the number of people seeking to become teachers

This issue has been known long before however because this is Japan nothing really changes.

A record high 953 teachers at public schools left jobs for mental health reasons in the 2021 academic year, up 171 from the previous survey in 2018,

This one vicious cycle, when teachers left their job the current teacher will have more workload which will lead adding back to original problem, workload and long working hours.

After that more teachers will resign giving more workload to teachers who still staying and so on.

-11 ( +15 / -26 )

@BertieWooster exactly. In an ideal Japan, that is exactly what is needed. But this is not ideal Japan, “here is Japan”.

-12 ( +8 / -20 )

A teacher is only "qualified" up to the educational level of an 18 year old.

What is an 18 year old worth in the job market? Not very much. And yet most of the teachers commenting here continually grumble about their low salaries.

Bad life choices. Should have studied and trained for the higher paid jobs, instead of taking the easy path and resenting those that didn't.

-14 ( +5 / -19 )

OMG! Japanese teachers with mental health problems teaching children

in schools in Japan?

OMG! The children will be infected!

-15 ( +3 / -18 )

It's an easy job requiring minimal qualifications. That's why the salaries are not high... Because anyone can do it.

And then it comes as a shock to them when they find out they have to work for 6 hours a day, 10 months of the year.

Just more self entitled millennials giving up when things get a bit challenging.

-22 ( +2 / -24 )

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