Thursday, April 28, 2005

The Education System in Japan

This is an article that ran in a recent edition of

I'm still formulating my thoughts on what it says - so I throw it out to you, my good readers, to leave comments or see what you think....


Tokyo Gakugei University Professor Masahiro Yamada says that the educational system no longer provides students with hope.

Addressing the issue of declining academic performance, Yamada claims that even if school education is insufficient, children can still raise their academic ability by studying at home or at a cram school.

What is taking place, he says, is a polarization between students who study and those who almost never do. In the postwar period, through the years of rapid economic growth up until around 1990, a setup existed guaranteeing students that their study and effort would be rewarded, he asserts, and school was a symbol of hope.

According to Yamada's analysis, the system had the following characteristics: (1) School fulfilled the function of shuttling students into employment commensurate with their ability, providing them with future prospects and peace of mind; (2) it served to quell unrealistic hopes; and (3) it gave students the expectation that study would allow them to attend better schools and thus lead to a better life later on.

But the penetration of the new economy brought on by globalization has made the working world unstable, Yamada argues, giving rise to a situation in which the "certainty associated with academic effort" has vanished. In this way, the polarization in expectations has led to a similar gap in motivation, he states, noting that the end result is a polarization in academic ability.

Yamada says that as this is a problem emerging in the "seam" between the domains of school and work, the decline in academic performance will not be rectified only by improving educational content or devising new methods of teaching. (Foreign Press Center)

April 25, 2005

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