Japanese Education

Whenever people start to think about education and IQ’s in general they tend to think of Japan. Japan has the leading literacy rate; at over 99% of its population having the ability to read and write. The Japanese system of education is very well organized and structured. This is due, in part, to the standardization of the subject matter and teaching tools. Students have an equal chance to get the curriculum if they transfer to a different school. This is because the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, and Science sets the curriculum at a standard for teachers in all schools to follow. Japan’s modern school system was established about a hundred years ago. This was about the time when Japan was opening trade to the rest of the world and westernizing in general. It modeled its education systems after the French and German school systems. However, it does not model just one country; it models many of them. They combine this with their own ideas to form their own personal school system.

Students at the elementary level have great expectations. Their environment reflects their academic priorities. There are around twenty-five thousand elementary schools throughout Japan. A typical Japanese Elementary school will have around 300 students and a variety of activities that go on. This means that the schools are many and can focus more on the children. Students get the chance to excel in their lives.

In the Japanese school day, students are in their classrooms by 8:30 a.m., and school gets out at 3:45 later that day. Those are for their typical public school classes. They have six classes throughout their school day. There are a lot of things to do in addiction to learning and studying. There are committee meetings, club activities, eating school lunch, and even cleaning. The students take almost full janitorial responsibility for their schools.

The students get their lessons from their homeroom classes and have the teachers switch between the classes. This allows for the students to get bonded with their peers that are in the same homeroom. This creates a teamwork ethic that the students follow. They are taught math, Japanese, science, social studies, calligraphy, and some other subjects from their homeroom teacher. Even lunch is served, for the most part, in the homeroom classes. Their lunch also varies greatly than what we’re used to eating.

“The school lunch today is deep-fried food on rice, boiled potato seasoned with sugar and soy sauce, sauteed Szechwan pickles and leeks, and milk.()”

The only reason the students would leave the classroom for the curriculum is if they required special conditions. These could be subjects such as physical education or chemistry, which would require a lab.

Students are also encouraged to study for themselves. On top of learning in school and having an average of two hours of homework a night, they also study on their own time to give them an edge at school. Fifth and sixth year students even further this in school in their computer labs. The students are taught the basics of computer functions, after that they begin to learn on their own. They also have one hour of club activities every second week. They decide what activities the club should perform. Schools have many different clubs, including a sports club, science club, computer club, bicycle club, and many other clubs. Schooling is very important to them.

Japanese also have very unique schools that are being developed. Some of these include Akabanedai Nishi Elementary School in Tokyo. This school is one of the leading schools to incorporate computers into the classroom. Each classroom has at least one computer on a LAN (Local Area Network) and is connected to high-speed Internet access. The curriculum is also quite advanced. Lower-grade children learn the basics of computers and begin to learn with them. The gather information over the Internet, use the information in a presentation, and report what they’ve learned on their own homepages. They also use groupware to set up such things as email addresses, databases, and group Internet study. Another such development is that of an “open plan” method. Inside the open planning method, students have no set timetable and they learn in open areas. And since schools are open to the public, this allows for the outer world to involve themselves with the students. Since students can’t conceal themselves in the classroom, they tend to talk to the teachers more freely and also become more outgoing and independent.

Junior high school is quite the jump for the most part. Instead of having six subjects, they have implemented eight subjects, which include math and science. Other subjects that are required are music, fine arts, health, and physical education. All these are required throughout ninth grade. Math and science, in particular, are such subjects that become increasingly difficult. The teachers feel stressed to teach all that is needed to pass the High School entrance exams. They need to get the entire curriculum out in a space of time that is almost insufficient to allow students to learn it.

“The junior high school science curriculum is quite difficult. Even high school teachers will look at it and say, ?Wow, these kids are doing difficult things in junior high.’ I feel that content is such that students are probably memorizing it without understanding it. (10th-grade chemistry teacher, Naka Vocational High School)”

Students have to memorize things instead of learn them to pass their entrance examinations for High School. Despite reactions to the difficulty of the materials, the pace of the lessons in the classrooms is not what one would expect from such observations. These classes appeared to progress at a slower pace that what you’d expect. In fact, there are usually a lot of students who finish early and work on homework from other classes.

Textbooks in the Jr. High School situation are much different than here. Most of them are no larger than a short paperback novel. Since they belong to the students, they are allowed to write notes in the margin and keep for review for the entrance examinations. Students are required to take them home; they do not even have any lockers to keep them in. Major tests are also incorporated into the Jr. High. They are called periodic major exams (teikishiken). They are similar in form to the entrance examinations of High School and College, and they come about once every month. A lot of students admit that they wouldn’t study as much if there weren’t these tests to motivate them. And most students do not begin studying for them until about a week before the examination.

Those teikishiken (periodic major exams) are a preparation for the real entrance exams. Completion of Jr. High School marks the end of required education in Japan. However, even though it is the end of the compulsory education, over 95% of Jr. High School graduates go on to High School. To make this transition, one must pass standardized High School examinations. The examinations consist of five core subjects: mathematics, social studies, science, Japanese, and English. These tests may be prefectural or national, depending on where the student is applying. The majority of students choose prefectural schools. Unlike most countries High Schools where the area in which the school you attend is based on where you live, Japanese students have access to a larger system of schools so long as the requirements are fulfilled. Japan is highly urbanized and most places have a sophisticated public transportation system, therefore creating an intense competition for higher-ranked schools.

Most students could not take just the regular public education and hope to test well on the entrance examinations. To battle this unfortunate cause, most of the students prepare for the tests by attending cramming schools known as Juku (Gakushuu Juku or Shingaku Juku) and Yobiko. Juku is a privately run education service that is offered for a price. Most students attend these services after school and sometimes even during the weekends. They vary in size from an individually run Juku, to a gigantic Juku that is overseen by a large corporation with many teachers hired for the cause. Sometimes even college students are hired and brought to teach the students.

Jukus fall under two catagories: Shingau Juku and Gakushuu Juku. Shingaku Juku is what most people refer to as cramming schools, where students who wish to gain a competitive edge on other students to enter higher-ranked schools. These types of Jukus also vary greatly in targeted age. They have Shingaku Juku for kindergarten students preparing to enter a private grammar school. They have elementary school students who take them to prepare for private Junior High Schools. The other form of Juku is called Gakushuu Juku. These Jukus helps students keep up with the lessons at school by offering supplementary classes. Most of these students attend these Juku between five and eight at night. This means that on the days they attend Juku, they do not get home till sometime between eight thirty and ten.

Yobikos, or preparatory schools, help prepare students for their continuing education. Most Yobiko offer education to help students pass their entrance examinations into the college level. However, there are still some Yobiko that offer help for High school as well. Yobiko are focused around College level examinations, so their main audience consists of High School students. A lot of Yobiko also target those students who did not pass the entrance exams into college and have to wait another year to take the exams all over again. They take the year and study diligently in Yobiko.

Public education is no longer required when a student graduates from ninth grade. Students who move on to High School have a choice between some different types of schools, including the academic schools (futsu) and vocational high schools, such as shogyo (commercial) and kogyo (industrial). The credit requirements for high school students are greatly increased than what most students are used to in Jr. High. The cause for this is due to the material that must be covered in order to pass the college-level entrance exams. Many students and teachers described the pace of the curriculum as very rapid and many students reported that they were having a hard time keeping up.

Although it is forbidden to begin tracking in Jr. High, it begins happening in Senior High School. The most common practice was the separation of students into bunkei (humanities) and rikei (science) tracks. This means that the student determined the placement in a track. A student who would be going into humanities would not need as much math and science and could receive less than one third of the instruction. Some high schools even divide the track further by categorizing students into national and private universities. On top of tracking students to make sure they get good placement, some schools also take the high end of the spectrum and give them accelerated classes to help in their preparation in the entrance examinations.

Materials that follow into the High School curriculum are very similar to the materials in Jr. High. They use thin paperback textbooks. Although similar in appearance, they vary greatly in content. Oftentimes, a much more difficult textbook is selected to help the students to well on entrance examinations. A lot of teachers use these textbooks as supplement instruction along with other materials to create practice booklets for the students to work on and study. These booklets allow a student to study and review out of class to prepare for the college level entrance exams.

These Japanese children definitely have a competitive educational edge over a lot of the world. Although they are oftentimes pressured into their studies, they come out on top and have learned a great deal. And most of the children actually want an education. They are not just at school because they have to be. Senior High schools have over 90% admission rate to Colleges and Universities. Once they attain the College-level status, a lot of students describe it as a walk in the park in comparison to their previous years of education. These years of education allow them to become a major educated force to be reckoned with.

Japanese Educational Study

Kris Powell B4 May 5th

Heibonsha Ltd. Special Feature.

http://jin.jcic.or.jp/nipponia/nipponia16/cont.html Nipponia 2001

Hidetada, Shimizu. The Educational System in Japan.

http://www.ed.gov/pubs/JapanCaseStudy/index.html/ June 1998

Japan Online! Japan Education. http://www.asiadragons.com/japan/education 1996-2002

Kinboshi Media. Japanese Education System. http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2150.html 1996-2001

Shakunage Consulting, Inc. The Japanese Educational System.

Michigan: http://www.shakunage.org/page.cfm/33/ 2001

Title: Japanese Educational Study

Haven’t you ever wondered why Japanese students continually score higher in academics than the rest of the entire world? Education and schooling in Japan varies greatly than the schooling in America. Japanese students have a greater advantage over their American counterparts in such a way that they are gaining more of an education than the Americans. The Japanese students have to study diligently and work hard to gain a hope of getting a continued education. Japanese children have a greater opportunity to seize hold of their education than the American children.

I. Standardization

A. Environment

II. Primary Schools

A. Duties

B. Curriculum

C. Studying

D. Modernization

III. Secondary Schools

A. Difficulty

B. Materials

C. Entrance Examinations

IV. Juku and Yobiko

A. Cramming

B. Time

C. Entrance Examinations

V. High School

A. Curriculum

B. Tracking

C. Entrance Examinations

These Japanese children definitely have a competitive educational edge over a lot of the world. Although they are oftentimes pressured into their studies, they come out on top and have learned a great deal. And most of the children actually want an education. They are not just at school because they have to be. Senior High schools have over 90% admission rate to Colleges and Universities. Once they attain the College-level status, a lot of students describe it as a walk in the park in comparison to their previous years of education. These years of education allow them to become a major educated force to be reckoned with.

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