Japan and its standardized test-based education system

by Kevin R Burns
(Kanagawa, Japan)

Japan and its standardized test-based education system


Hensachi is a term used in Japan to establish one`s rank relative to others. (Yuko Kawanishi p. 79) It is quite a demeaning thing to say the least if you are ranked lower than your friends. It is something that separates Japanese from each other, and lowers self esteem.

Japan and its standardized test-based education system:

Indeed today`s Japanese mothers are of the Hensachi generation and want to do all that they can to insure the success of their children. Perhaps these mothers did not do well in school and felt humiliated as a result. They don`t want the same thing to happen to their own children. So they too put pressure on their children to study, study, study! So do peers, so do junior high school teachers, and if the family can afford it,so do the cram school teachers. Is it any wonder that students sometimes commit suicide?

Furthermore, for these mothers, success must be tangible.

"Anything that does not contribute to high grades is considered unnecessary. In the mother-child centered family, many mothers find their greatest joy in educating their children. But they interfere in their children`s lives and often deprive them of the chance to be on their own....These factors combined with an absent and unavailable husband or father make sensitive and vulnerable Japanese children end up developing deviant and abnormal characterstics." (p. 80 Yuko Kawanishi)

The first 8 years of my children`s education were great! Two years at a public kindergarten, where they taught the basics, played, had fun, learned to get along with others, and learned the basics for living in Japan.

Then 6 years of elementary school where they were allowed to be creative, play, hold hands, and slowly grow up.

My daughter goes to a local elementary school. My two boys regrettably go to a local junior high school. I don`t agree with the way they teach at the junior high schools in Japan. Then why send my kids to a local junior high school?

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