Skip to comments.Why the United States Should Look to Japan for Better Schools
Posted on 11/21/2005 12:14:01 AM PST by neverdem
The United States will become a second-rate economic power unless it can match the educational performance of its rivals abroad and get more of its students to achieve at the highest levels in math, science and literacy. Virtually every politician, business leader and educator understands this, yet the country has no national plan for reaching the goal. To make matters worse, Americans have remained openly hostile to the idea of importing strategies from the countries that are beating the pants off us in the educational arena.
The No Child Left Behind Act, passed four years ago, was supposed to put this problem on the national agenda. Instead, the country has gotten bogged down in a squabble about a part of the law that requires annual testing in the early grades to ensure that the states are closing the achievement gap. The testing debate heated up last month when national math and reading scores showed dismal performance across the board.
Lurking behind these test scores, however, are two profoundly important and closely intertwined topics that the United States has yet to even approach: how teachers are trained and how they teach what they teach. These issues get a great deal of attention in high-performing systems abroad - especially in Japan, which stands light years ahead of us in international comparisons.
Americans tend to roll their eyes when researchers raise the Japanese comparison. The most common response is that Japanese culture is "nothing like ours." Nevertheless, the Japanese system has features that could be fruitfully imitated here, as the education reformers James Stigler and James Hiebert pointed out in their book "The Teaching Gap," published in 1999.
The book has spawned growing interest in the Japanese teacher-development strategy in which teachers work cooperatively and intensively to improve their methods. This process, known...
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
FWIW, The Conspiracy Against the Taxpayers (Why public servants live better than the public) states the following: "In the last 30 years, per-pupil spending has nearly doubled, after accounting for inflation, to about $10,000 a yearfar more than in most other industrialized countries, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, whose latest figures show that the U.S. outpaces Germany in per-pupil spending by 66 percent, France by 56 percent, and the United Kingdom by 80 percent. Even so, American students rank only in the middle of countries on student achievement tests, the OECD reports."
Oh wait...that would invalidate all the idiocy that the Liberals have piled on our public schools! Silly me...
Umm.. we might want to reconsider, and start teaching content again. Of course, most teachers don't know any content.
Does Japan have a teacher's union? ;)
That's a great question.
New York Times again.
The US liberals don't know what a can of worms they are opening: the way teaching is done in Japanese schools today are either the same, or more likely far stricter, than the 1950s American high schools.
But wait...going back to the reactionary era is anathema to the folks at the NEA. How terrible!
(PS: Also notice that this article looks like a reprint of another NYSlimes article about Japanese education 10 years ago)
My daughter has been teaching in Japan for the past two years. There is NO WAY she would teach in a public school in the U.S.A. No teacher's union, no disciplinary issues, teachers arrive well before the start of the school day and are there till well into the evening. They also participate in all the students' club activities and eat lunch with the students. Even the brightest, most accomplished students tend to think they are not good enough in their best subjects.
The most startling difference is that she was invited by the school to put up a CHRISTMAS TREE !!!! (not a holiday or wishing tree, either) The staff and students helped cut and trim the tree and enjoyed it so much they wanted a second one in the school. You all can just IMAGINE that in a US public school.
"New York Times again."
And looking suspiciously like dusting out a news story on the Slimes 10 years ago, re-edited the focus, and then published again as a "new" news story. (The original article was reprinted on the Reader's Digest so I remember its contents)
Yes and very political. NYT doesn't mention that high bully and suicide rates in Japanese schools.
There is definitely a profound cultural difference between our two countries.
Yes, they do. They have a teacher's union, which is traditionally left-wing, anti-nuke, and pacifist. I haven't heard they are resorting to any virulent extremism. They are not like "Middle-Core," a militant leftist organization frequently resorting to violent protests.
These left-wing groups appear to suffer from sagging grass-root support.
Thanks for posting this!
No sweat. Government will fix it up just dandy. Our Rulers promised.
Are you constipated?
New York Times again.
So what? What's wrong with this OpEd piece? What's your proposal after GWB's "No Child Left Behind"?
Thanks for answering the question with that link!
Is your daughter in a public or private school? At least two comments on the thread state that they have teacher unions.
And making a killin' $$$ too. Lot's of perks- tax free, IIRC.
I'll never forget seeing in my wife's issue (she was a HS teacher) of IL-NEA news of Chinese Communist school teachers visiting Illinois schools. Now I don't remember if China was here to give or receive lessons of indoctrination. But I'm sure the visit hurt America.
-good times, G.J.P. (Jr.)
That's a very good idea, and I agree completely. \
Honestly, a lot of the blame falls on the parents, too.
My mom brought a class that had only the year before had 30% of the class pass reading at a level of proficiency and brought 83% of the class to proficiency.
She was singled out and bullied by a group of mothers (i.e. old hens) who said that she was making their babies work to hard, giving them homework (gasp!), and she was GIVING them lower grades than they were used to getting.
End of story: my mother was run out of the school, undermined by a group of parents who NEVER came and brought their complaints to her but rather ran to the administration. Lots of false accusations went around, the mothers, ganged up on her, and she spent the next 3 years looking for a new teaching job.
Now that she's there, imagine the fact that their test scores have gone up substantially!
Parents are a major, major problem. Until they start becoming proactive and fostering a learning environment at home WITH EXPECTATIONS our kids are bound for failure.
I have been an ALT in Japan for 10 years ...They've got English teachers in the schools who can't even speak or understand the language they are teaching ...Great . I could write a book about the Japanese education system , but can tell you that like anywhere else it has its +s and -s ...Also , nepotism rules .
No thank you for the kids being nannied from dawn to dusk. I love my kids and they are subject to enough as it is. I am praying for an opportunity to home school, but it isn't looking good. For the amount of time they are in school, neither can spell very well, and math could be improved.
The worst of it, instead of teaching science all year, they teach social studies then science half year.
I used to teach. I have degrees in Chemistry and Biology. I took my teacher programs in order to obtain certification. I did not particiapate in a Teacher degree program. I was a good student. I love my subjects and believe kids in Chemistry need a rigorous course to prepare them for college Chemistry. A principal told me (I kid you not) that he didn't think smart people made good teachers. He didn't like me. I didn't do enough group teaching (making molecules out of gumballs etc).
I meant I took teacher courses. This did not come out right!
Or, to put the same thing differently, life is way too long to think it's over if you're not slotted into your government-approved niche by the time you're 18.
Actually, the US needs to study Singapore---not Japan.
But never believe that there is no academic excellence in this country. It's just that it is sometimes difficult to see the wheat because of all the chaff.
Japan is xenophobic, increasingly sterile, and the US takes in many legal immigrants in accordance with US law (and deals with illegals as well)--in Japan, there are immigrants who've been in the country generations who aren't allowed to apply for citizenship.
THe Japanese are still taught the way we were 40 years ago. The liberal, touchy feely learn in a group at your own pace is total nonsense. Too emphasis is placed on false self esteem and not enough on getting things in kids heads early on. Over their, the younger you are, the more intense the education. That's because the younger you are, the more readily you learn! THey also go to school 6 days a week with very little time off for breaks. THey also have an extremely competitive academic environment where the school you go to depends on your grades and entrance tests. It's more competitive to go to a good highschool there than to get into a good college here. You can only go to a school with a score less than what you did on your entrance exams. SO if you got 80%, the schools you could go to had to have a score of 80 or lower. There is intense pressure to get good grades so you can get into a good highschool.
Unless the U.S. completely dumps the current education system, we will never be a match for the elementary schools in Japan.
How about the US should start teaching again instead of indoctrinating? That might help.
One thing Japan does not have is a flood of non-Japanese speaking immigrants.
If you look at America's public schools there are basically two kinds: those that are doing a pretty reasonable job and achieving a decent outcome and those that are overwhelmed by non-English speakers.
We don't want to be like the Japanese?
Let me ask you a question: At your place of employment you get to choose a summer intern to work for you. One is a product of Asian elementary schools and one is a product of American public schools. Which would you choose?
Are you aware that the children of many immigrants excel within a few years after arriving here? Some of the Vietnamese, Japanese and Chinese students learn English rapidly (if they don't already know it) and many go to the top of the class within a year or two.
Funny, the United States managed to educate and assimilate hordes of non-English speaking immigrants 100 years ago ... not to mention a large population of previously uneducated black Americans.
The problem is not the people themselves, and the educational deficiencies they begin with, but the ideology that says they should be left as they are out of "respect" for their "culture."
Never question American omnipotence, you will get the hate on from those who would rather think nice things and feel good about themselves.
You've nailed the problem.
A change in Society, youth's attitudes toward education, heroes, Hollywood's glorifing criminal behavior, etc. will have to take place before any progress is made.
Schools are part of the problem but as the saying goes,
You can lead a horse to water , but you can't make him drink.'
Every culture has it's good and bad. I'm sure the Japanese have a bunch of reasons why they don't want to be like us either, LOL. In any case, we should emulate the good parts of their education system
Public schools are bad all over the country. That goes for places with few English speakers and those with 100% English speakers. The hispanics are not the reason our schools are failing.
Are you sure? Assimilation was working rather poorly until the Immigration Act of 1926, the Great Depression and then World War II shut it down. The melting pot worked great when it was coupled with a 50 year immigration hiatus. As far as our schools went, I think you would find that far more people dropped out and that there was far higher illiteracy 100 years ago then there is today.
That is really not true. Schools are wasteful and too expensive but lots of schools are achieving decent educational outcomes. There is nothing wrong with the schools here in Wyoming.
My guess is that if you were to identify the bottom 30% of schools they would almost all be located in inner cities and most of them would be overloaded with English as a second language students. Further, without this bottom 30%, if we were to look at the remaining 70% we would be reasonably satisfied with the quality of the educational outcomes. Kids from these schools are learning Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. We would probably still have a substantial beef about the cost, the waste and the liberal agenda being taught.