A free trip to Japan? Okay, so what’s the catch?
Well, there are a few requirements... • You have to be a first through twelve grade teacher or administrator • You have to continue to teach for at least a year • You must be willing to share your experience with students, colleagues, and your community • Finally, you can’t go if you don’t apply!!
Your journey starts with a visit to the FMF Homepage... http://www.glocomnet.or.jp/fmf You can apply online, or have the application sent to you. After you apply, the waiting begins. But, if accepted, you are in for an adventure of a lifetime!!
In this show, I’d like to tell a little bit about the education system of Japan. I had many misconceptions and was often surprised at what I learned.
First, a few Facts…. We all know that Japan’s students rank among the world’s top students, particularly in the Math and Science area. What you may not know is that education officials are dissatisfied with the Japanese education system and reform is currently under way. What follows is an overview of the Japanese education system today, reasons why they aren’t satisfied, and some common problems that US teachers can certainly relate to.
Ministry of Education • Highly centralized • Prescribes the courses of study for all elementary and secondary schools • Authorizes textbooks for elementary and secondary schools • Pays the total cost of textbooks for compulsory education*, and half of the salary for public school teachers of compulsory education • Organizes training courses for in-service teachers • Subsidizes the cost of construction of school buildings • Runs 99 state universities * Education is compulsory through 9th grade
Purposes • Ensuring the quality of education and efficiency • 100% enrollment in elementary and lower secondary schools • 97% attendance in upper secondary schools • 46% participation in higher education • Zero illiteracy ratio • High achievement in IEA (International Association for Evaluation of Educational Achievement)
Reasons why they are not satisfied... • Japanese children have large amounts of knowledge, but lack “an ability to learn and think by themselves” and “the ability to apply this knowledge” • Excessive competitions for (university) entrance examinations • Existence of “crammies” (sometimes called Juku or cram schools) • Successive incidents of school violence and bullying • Kindness to others, respect of life and human rights are not sufficiently fostered
Current Problems • Japanese children are under stress • There is excessive competition for exams • Underdeveloped social side and moral sense • Delayed development of independence • Problems concerning health and physical stamina • Continuing decline of educational power of families and communities • A period of unpredictable acute social change
Concerns in Common with the U.S. • Students refusing to attend school • Drop-outs at the upper secondary level • Increased incidences of bullying • Violence at school • Violence against teachers • Juveniles under 14 being arrested • Poor social ethics
So, what are their major goals... • To Enhance Emotional Education • To Realize the School System That Helps Children Develop Their Individuality and Gives Them Diverse Choices • To Reorganize Schools out of Respect for Individual Schools’ Autonomy …and the plan to accomplish them?
Enhancing Emotional Education Enhancement of educational strengths in the community and home 1) Provision of information on children’s hands-on activities 2) Expansion of opportunities and areas for children’s activities 3) Development of a counseling structure for children and parents 4) Support etc. toward home education Schools should be places to cultivate children’s sound minds 1) Improvement of moral education 2) Reinforcement of counseling services 3) Strong measures against children’s problematic behaviors Cultivation of children’s “zest for living” and actualization of school life with free scope for children’s growth 1) Implementation of the comprehensive 5 day school week 2) Careful selection and reexamination of educational content 3) Study of modalities for evaluation of learning
Training teachers who can deal with children’s distress 1) Improvement of the teacher training curriculum 2) Further improvement of the educational personnel certification system 3) Establishment of a system of teacher training leave 4) Facilitation of cooperation in the cultivation, appointment, and training of teachers
To Realize the School System that Helps Children Develop their Individuality and Gives them Diverse Choices Promotion of the unified lower and upper secondary school system Increased flexibility in entrance requirements for universities and graduate schools Improvement of articulation between elementary and secondary education, and higher education, Loosening of restrictions on school district for public elementary and lower secondary schools Tighter cooperation between kindergarten and day nursery
To Reorganize Schools out of Respect for Individual School’s Autonomy Development of independent and active education Improvement of local education administration systems and their operation Establishing independence and autonomy at schools 1) Realization of responsible school operations 2) Improvement of school operation systems 3) Reorganization of schools which reflect the opinions of parents/ guardians and local residents Promotion of a liberal and lively social education Improvement of the social education administrative system
So, what this all mean for us aseducators in the United States? • We have more in common with Japan than we might have previously thought. • Every system has its share of problems • We are doing many things right, but... • We have a great deal to learn from each other
In closing, my perceptions... • Education is constantly evolving and we have a lot to learn • Testing alone won’t prepare our children for success in the world • We need to remember that we teach“children” not just “content” - and to strive to educate the “whole child” • We’re in this together: teachers, parents, children, and administrators -If we remember this, everyone will benefit.