Japan's Cut-Throat School System: A Cautionary Tale for the U.S.

Discussion in 'General Education' started by teacherman1, Nov 24, 2013.

  1. teacherman1

    teacherman1 Devotee

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    Nov 24, 2013

    This article appeared in Atlantic Monthly magazine.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/educatio...l-system-a-cautionary-tale-for-the-us/281612/

    Excerpt:
    "The one problem being, as Allison shows, that that dream has already turned to dung. Japan's bubble economy burst in the ‘90s. Its amazing, decades-long post-war economic boom turned into post-post-war economic stagnation. Precarious Japan chronicles the unraveling of the home/job/school unity on which Japanese capitalism was based. Through a combination of economic contraction and neo-liberal restructuring of the economy, the lifetime salaryman jobs which were to be the reward of success in high school dried up. Today one-third of Japanese workers are irregularly employed, including 70 percent of all female workers and half of all workers between 15 and 24. A full 77 percent of the irregularly employed earn wages less than poverty level, and so are working poor."
     
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  3. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Nov 24, 2013

    Thanks for the read... I just passed it on to our school President. He's always on the lookout for articles on education.

    The idea of the hikikomori was kind of bizzarre.
     
  4. 1cubsfan

    1cubsfan Companion

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    Nov 24, 2013

    Interesting read. I do like Atlantic's education articles.

    I have a question about this sentence from the article: "Perhaps though the problem, though, is not with the methods we are using to link education to economic advancement, but linking education and economic advancement in the first place."

    Is that a typo (with two thoughs) or am I failing to read it correctly?
     
  5. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Nov 24, 2013

    Thanks for the article. I have studied Japanese education and find while the article is filled with much truth, it leaves out a lot.

    While Japanese education is highly competitive in high school and in the ages similar to US middle schools, nothing could be further from the truth in elementary school.

    Students spend much of the time in elementary school working in cooperative groups and high stakes tests are fairly non-existent. The emphasis is on teamwork and on learning. Students love school at this age and there is less pressure than the US.

    Around the age of middle school (I don't recall the exact age), the schools do a 180 degree turn. The emphasis is on test prep and the rates of suicide sky-rocket and so do instances of bullying.

    The solid fun and hands-on education foundation that is given in Japan without test prep in elementary schools is often ignored.
     
  6. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Nov 24, 2013

    I found the article largely ludicrous, and completely unhelpful.

    One thing about the Japanese education system is that they're constantly seeking to improve, and are capable of making sweeping changes to the system in order to do so. The US simply isn't, and this article does nothing at all towards improving US education. It isn't about taking and incorporating new ideas, it's towards resistance towards changes.

    And the idea that the Japanese system has been somehow unsuccessful because what?-- they're the number 3 economy in the world? Really? With roughly 2% of the world population, limited natural resources and a mostly mountainous, volcanic country, their position is viewed as a failure?

    Japan definitely has issues, some that may lead to long-term difficulties. But this article is essentially using those to perpetuate our own.
     
  7. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    Nov 24, 2013

    I spent some time in an elite private Japanese elementary school. I found some very low level of teaching skills among several teachers. Some teachers would yell, hit and humiliate students to achieve their goals. I had to restrain myself when I saw the hitting.

    Also saw some fabulously talented teachers who gave me hope for their system.
     
  8. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Nov 24, 2013

    I was going to say the exact same thing except I was going to add that their country had be built from the ground up (quite literally) in the last 60 years. They are obviously doing something very, very right.
     
  9. teacherman1

    teacherman1 Devotee

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    Nov 24, 2013

    So 3sons, is this part of the article true or not? It sounds to me like the "new ideas" that are being forced upon us by U.S. educrats look a lot like the old ideas that led to the situation described below...

    "The one problem being, as Allison shows, that that dream has already turned to dung. Japan's bubble economy burst in the ‘90s. Its amazing, decades-long post-war economic boom turned into post-post-war economic stagnation. Precarious Japan chronicles the unraveling of the home/job/school unity on which Japanese capitalism was based. Through a combination of economic contraction and neo-liberal restructuring of the economy, the lifetime salaryman jobs which were to be the reward of success in high school dried up. Today one-third of Japanese workers are irregularly employed, including 70 percent of all female workers and half of all workers between 15 and 24. A full 77 percent of the irregularly employed earn wages less than poverty level, and so are working poor."
     
  10. dave1mo

    dave1mo Comrade

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    Nov 24, 2013

    Your point is so vague that it's surely almost impossible for him to respond.
     
  11. teacherman1

    teacherman1 Devotee

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    Nov 25, 2013

    I think if you read the Atlantic Monthly article the point is obvious...
     
  12. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Nov 25, 2013

    I can respond. Look at what Allison is doing, and then consider whether you really think the Us education system should be blamed for the 2008 mortgage-backed securities crisis, for example. "Lifetime salesman jobs" drying up doesn't mean the school system is faulty. The argument is essentially a non sequitur. Regardless of how you feel about standardized testing, to claim it's going to cause the unemployment rate to rise, without any support other than a few tangentially -related anecdotes, is foolishness.
     

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