日本教育的好處 ~ Japanese Education’s Strong Points
Japanese Education’s Strong Points
Author: James Smyth
Editor: Zhou Chang-zhen
After graduating from college, I taught English in Japan for two years. I had class with over 40 teachers and 1000 students altogether; it was a precious opportunity to learn about Japanese education. Though Japanese schools don’t surpass my home country in every respect, it still has many good qualities, some of which I’ll describe here.
Many of my American friends, especially men, have told me that they hated going to elementary school because it bored them out of their minds. What’s worse is that many educators assumed restless students like them had mental problems and fed these children medicine day after day. But young people aren’t meant to sit and read all day: they need to exercise and try different things. Although Japan has more than a few bookworms, its schools, especially elementary schools, still offer several kinds of activities designed to provide a well-rounded training of the body, knowledge, teamwork, and morality. My students participated in a seemingly endless number of events, including gardening, rice-planting, daily exercise, art, work experiences, visiting nursing homes, and so forth. This helped them realize their own interests and abilities and expand their horizons. I think the majority of schools devote most of their time to the “knowledge” side of education simply because that’s the easiest to teach.
Japanese teachers have to meet higher standards than their American counterparts and also receive more respect. Teachers have to compete for positions in Japan because the occupation has so much esteem, stability, and remuneration. Teachers receive training and work overtime throughout their careers. Hence, most of the teachers I met there were not only intelligent but also hard-working.
Finally, I’d like to discuss Japanese teachers’ sense of responsibility to their students. If a student is injured or arrested, the doctor or policeman will call his homeroom teacher, and the teacher will drop everything and visit the student no matter what. At the beginning of the school year, teachers visit students’ homes to understand their families’ circumstances. Students also write diaries for their teachers, who after reading them give their students guidance. I’m not saying American teachers should become the most important people in their students’ lives, as Japanese teachers are – for one, there is a vast cultural differences between the two countries – but after teaching in Japan, I felt regret about the distance between me and my elementary and junior high school teachers.
Because of time constraints, I can only discuss these three phenomena, but because I’m very interested in this topic, I invite my teachers and classmates to discuss Japanese education with me any time.