Japan and its Standardized Test-Based Education System Part 2

by Kevin R Burns
(Kanagawa, Japan)

Japan and its Standardized Test-Based Education System Part 2

There aren`t any viable options for our family. Plus I hope that my influence, the influence of my own English school (where they also study) and having two creative, critical thinking parents, will help my children to thrive in spite of that latter half of their "education."

We cannot afford to send even one child to an international school which charges anywhere from 2 million yen per year and up. Some of the private junior high schools are almost as expensive as the international schools, but teach in the same formulaic, rote memory style of learning. I have taught at one of them and my wife has taught at three different junior high schools in Japan.

Though some Japanese agree with rote memorization as a learning method. It isn`t necessarily the teachers fault about the way things are taught. Curriculum decisions are made from above, and Japanese junior high students are not the easiest people to teach.

While we can afford shiny new tanks, and jet fighters for Japan`s military, we cannot even afford to plant grass at even one public junior high school. (My wife cringes and says,we choose not to plant grass.)

Why? Wouldn`t it be nicer for the kids to run around and play soccer on grass than dirt? When it rains, it turns to mud.

Anyway, the students play their sports on dirt. However they are used to it. They played on dirt at elementary school as well and probably even at kindergarten. We cannot afford to air condition (or at least) turn them on, on a consistent basis. How do the kids study on 30 degree days with 90% humidity?

Perhaps it is a statement about the resilient nature of Japanese students that they do it in spite of the weather and in spite of the spartan facilities they have to study in.

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