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Thread: Education system : Japan vs other countries

  1. #1
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Post Education system : Japan vs other countries

    What motivates me to start this thread is the widespread stereotype of the difficulty of the Japanese educational system. Long before coming to Japan, I heard of the Japanese "exam hell" (university entrance exam or "juuken") and stories of numerous students who committed suicide because they failed. I heard of "cram schools" (juku) where children and teenagers went after the regular school to study till sometimes 9pm. I heard of 5 years old kids forced to exercice in shorts and tshirts outside in the snow.

    But all this is really isn't worth more than tabloid credibility. I don't know if the Japanese started spreading these stereotypes themselves to try to prove their "superior" education system, their industriousness or even their economic success in the 1980's. It all sounds like another "nihonjinron" ("theory of Japaneseness") to demonstrate the unique (read "superior") qualities of the Japanese compared to the rest of the world.

    Here is how I came to realise that all this didn't mean anything and the Japanese educational system was actually one of the worse among developped countries.

    After coming to Japan, I obviously came into contact with hundreds of Japanese, and my initial job as a privare language instructor gave me lots of opportunities to test my student's general knowledge besides language.

    I was shocked many times at the poverty of geographical, historical, political and even linguistic (for their own mother tongue) of adult Japanese. Shall I mention that my students were not farmers or manual workers, but almost exclusively well-paid Tokyo business people and professionals. I heard such things as Argentina was in Europe, Napoleon was a middle-age knight or people not able to name the Japan's main political parties or Buddhist sects (while I could soon after coming to Japan, like most Westerners).

    Then, I gradually asked as many people as possible about the Japanese education system and their personal experience at school (what subject did you study ? how many hours a week ? what kind of exams ? did you learn about this or that in this or that subject ?) to compare it with my own experience.

    Weekly hours

    I appeared that Japanese have less school hours than I did, as they both start later and finish earlier. I was used to start (primary or secondary) school at 8:30am and finish at 4 or 5pm, with an average of 32h/week. Japanese usually start at 9am and finish around 3pm, with an average of 25 to 30h/week. Most people going to juku do not exceed 5h/week. So altogether it is very similar, except for those who do not go to juku at all or just 1h/week (the majority I believe).

    Curriculum

    The main difference I noticed is that Japanese teachers follow almost exactly the curriculum and use only official books, while in my experience, teachers used any book or material they wanted (or more often wrote their own lesson material). Consequently, whereas it is said that almost all Japanese school teachers teach exactly the same thing, the same way at the same time all over Japan, teachers in my schools did not even teach the same from one class to another (depending on how their average ability), and each teacher of the same subject sometimes taught completely different things (esp. in languages, geography, etc.). This is probably the best example of difference between individualistic (Northern European) and collectivist (Asian) societies.

    Exam system

    Let us talk about the examination system, one of the most important difference, and what really made me understand the "exam hell" dillema.

    In the schools I attended in Europe, their was a system of continuous assessment, which means that there are small tests almost every week in every subject. The end of the year exams accounted for 50 to 80% of the total. To pass to the next year, pupils (from age 6) must imperatively score more than 50% in every subject. If they don't, they are given another chance at the end of the summer holiday, and if they fail again they must do the same grade again - which means they lose one year of their life. In my primary school, the failure rate was about 15%, but it was famous being a tough school. In secondary, 1 to 4 student per class or 20 to 35 people failed. I have never seen a class where nobody had to re-do the year.

    The contrast with Japan is huge. Apparently, nobody fails in Japan. Even if you don't understand anything in any subject, you automatically pass to the next grade.

    Understandably, when students are confronted for the first time to serious exams that they can actually fail at the time of entering university (which will decide their career), many are completely stressed out, and it turns into the "exam hell".

    This is just because their education had been too pampering and lenient before that. The exam hell happens at every year-end exam in European countries where I have studied (although it is softer thanks to the continuous assessment system). Actually, France and Germany also have big final year exams similar to the Japanese "juuken". They are called respectively BAC and Abitur. But they "only" determine secondary school graduation, not entrance to university, which do not exist in Europe to the best of my knowledge (except sometimes a maths or science test for medicine or engireeing).

    In other words, the reason why Japanese students have to study so hard for the "juuken" is not because it is that hard, but because they didn't know their real ability due to the lack of real eliminatory exams before that. As a results, many simply do not have the necessary knowledge and instead of "doubling" a normal school year like in Europe, they end up becoming "rounin" and study one or two more years by themselves or at a "yobiko" (preparatory school) to be able to enter university.

    It is this system itself that leads parents to send their children to cram schools, to increase their chances to pass the dreaded "juuken". Most parents seem to have no idea of their children's abilities or what is good for them, especially when it comes to English learning. Many people still think that because they pay for private schools or juku will increase their offspring's chances to go to university.

    Private schools : buying your way to university

    Unfortunately, the once socially equal Japanese educational system (in the 1960's) is becoming more and more elitist and class-divided. The reason is that some private schools have their own private university (which I never heard of in Europe). By joining one of these from primary school, children are almost sure that they can go directly all the way to

    I said earlier that Japanese did not have eliminatory exams until the "juuken". Actually they do have exams at the end of primary and junior high schools, but only if they change school in between. These exams will determine who will be able to join more prestigious schools, not whether they pass or fail that year. The advantage of paid (and expensive) private schools is that children do not need to take these exams and pass directly from primary to junior high, to high school to university in the same institution. In other words, they might not be gifted at all and not learn much, but they will be amost sure to graduate from university anyway because they pay for it. In Europe, only bribery can achieve this.

    Selection process

    So, we could say that the selection process happens annually in Europe from the first year of primary school and continues even more harshly through university (where failure rate often surpass 50% in the first year, because of the absence of preliminary entrance exam).

    In Japan, the selection is concentrated in the university entrance exam, and can even be skipped by going to a private school which has its own university.

    That surely explains the poor general knowledge of the average population, best reflected by their language inability - as you can't know one's maths, science or general knowledge level without asking them questions directly related to that.
    Last edited by Maciamo; May 22, 2004 at 17:26.

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  2. #2
    Cute and Furry Ewok85's Avatar
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    Nice read. The one thing that shocked me in japan is like you said, the lack of general knowledge.

    In my state we have an exam at the end of year 12 to receive a TER (tertiary entrance ranking). You pick 5 degrees that you would like to study from 1 to 5 then based on your TER you are given a course. This seems ok to me, but it has its problems. In australia though people do no ofter repeat years of school. Yr 12 sometimes....

    Edit: The school I went to in Japan went from 8:20 to 4:00, monday to friday, 8:20 to 12:30 on saturday. 1st year high school/junior high kids had the occasional 'overnight' thing where they would have an extra 5 - 7 hours of study.

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    I jump to conclusions mad pierrot's Avatar
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    Question Maciamo,

    Good idea for a thread.

    I've got a few questions, too. Maybe you can help me. At all of the schools I teach, the same texts are used. I have asked why, and I was told by a Japanese teacher that all schools have to use texts assigned by the Ministry of Education in Tokyo. This sounded like BS at the time, but now I'm not so sure.
    Any thoughts?

    Another question I have concerns actual class structure. For example, in the middle schools I teach at, there is one English class for each grade. (1-3) This usually means that the student's English ability varies tremendously in the class, often making it hard to teach them all at once. I've suggested that the classes be split based on ability rather than grade level, but I was shot down pretty fast. Again, all the explaination I recieved was mumbling about how this is the way it has to be, schools can't decide, etc.

    Any other teachers want to jump in on this one?



  4. #4
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mad pierrot
    At all of the schools I teach, the same texts are used. I have asked why, and I was told by a Japanese teacher that all schools have to use texts assigned by the Ministry of Education in Tokyo. This sounded like BS at the time, but now I'm not so sure.
    Any thoughts?
    That is exactly what I have heard and read (many times) so it must be true.

    I've suggested that the classes be split based on ability rather than grade level, but I was shot down pretty fast. Again, all the explaination I recieved was mumbling about how this is the way it has to be, schools can't decide, etc.
    I understand that Japanese schools don't divide classes by abilities because that is also the way it was in my schools in Europe - and gaps were indeed huge, making the brighest students bored to death or leaving the slow ones well-behind depending on the speed adopted by the teacher. Usually the class' difficulty depended only on the teacher's personality, with some hard ones that were feared by most and some easy ones that were longed by the lazy average.

    I would also have preferred a division by ability, esp. that we had about 8 classes (of about 30 students) per grade in secondary school. At least we were divided by options. One class for the "Latin-Maths", one for the "Latin-Greek", one for the "Maths-Science", one for the "Science-Modern Languages", etc. That makes it more difficult to divide, except for common subjects like geography, history, literature, etc.

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    Hullu RockLee's Avatar
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    In other words, the reason why Japanese students have to study so hard for the "juuken" is not because it is that hard, but because they didn't know their real ability due to the lack of real eliminatory exams before that. As a results, many simply do not have the necessary knowledge and instead of "doubling" a normal school year like in Europe, they end up becoming "rounin" and study one or two more years by themselves or at a "yobiko" (preparatory school) to be able to enter university.
    I think this is the mayor problem in Japan, you just learn "little" so to speak, and for entrance at a university the Japanese have to LEARN(not memorize like they did before) and that's something they never really learned so they will go completely COOCKOO !!
    ~ Parempi hullu kuin tylsä - Better crazy than boring ~
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    Cute and Furry Ewok85's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    I understand that Japanese schools don't divide classes by abilities because that is also the way it was in my schools in Europe - and gaps were indeed huge, making the brighest students bored to death or leaving the slow ones well-behind depending on the speed adopted by the teacher. Usually the class' difficulty depended only on the teacher's personality, with some hard ones that were feared by most and some easy ones that were longed by the lazy average.

    I would also have preferred a division by ability, esp. that we had about 8 classes (of about 30 students) per grade in secondary school. At least we were divided by options. One class for the "Latin-Maths", one for the "Latin-Greek", one for the "Maths-Science", one for the "Science-Modern Languages", etc. That makes it more difficult to divide, except for common subjects like geography, history, literature, etc.
    Ahah! I dunno if it was just my school but it was the opposite. Classes were by ability, 1 being top. Classes were grouped into topics (language, sciences, arts). They had different teachers for each topic (teaching their specialised topic). The kids stayed in the same class with the same people (cept for PE where they would split boys/girls).

    Its very annoying how little power schools and teachers hold on the education of their students. The Ministry of Education decides what books, the curriculum etc for the whole country. I do remember reading that some regions are able to change this if they wish.

    I wouldn't mind 'streaming' (grouping classes by ability) in Australia. It works fine in Europe, would be good here too.

  7. #7
    Omnipotence personified Mandylion's Avatar
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    It is going on 2:30pm here, ie the dark period before the coffee break, but I'll add a bit.

    Quote Originally Posted by mad pierrot
    At all of the schools I teach, the same texts are used. I have asked why, and I was told by a Japanese teacher that all schools have to use texts assigned by the Ministry of Education in Tokyo. This sounded like BS at the time, but now I'm not so sure.
    Any thoughts?
    Some do and some don't a lot can varry by regions. All texts have to be approved by the Ministry, but they are not assigned. How the process works is something like this (so I have been told). A publisher will put out, say, since we are JETs, a new text. They send it to Tokyo, Tokyo says OK, and then they go about trying to sell the text to local schools or districts. At my schools we are getting new samples in all the time.

    Often all the schools in a district will all use the same text. Since I only work in one district with one elementary and one middle school, we get to see all the sample texts and decide at the local level. Other JETs who work in a different district teach from a different book (maybe) and are told which ones they will use. - For example, I teach from Sunshine (that comes out my rear) and a good friend uses New Horizon (such positive-sounding names).

    Quote Originally Posted by Mad Pierrot
    Another question I have concerns actual class structure. For example, in the middle schools I teach at, there is one English class for each grade. (1-3) This usually means that the student's English ability varies tremendously in the class, often making it hard to teach them all at once. I've suggested that the classes be split based on ability rather than grade level, but I was shot down pretty fast. Again, all the explaination I recieved was mumbling about how this is the way it has to be, schools can't decide, etc.
    Again, a lot depends on how the district is set up. Mine is not representative since it only has one school to deal with, but I have heard of othersworking in similar ways.

    Classes can be split up, it all depends on if the teachers want to get off their rears and do it. My district is going over the problem of splitting up some classes now. We have a good number of really bright students and a good numbers of slower learners. In high school there is some tracking of students (advanced students in one class, more general folks in others) on rare occassion. If it will help is the real question...

    All is not as dark and dire as it may seem, but I do strongly disagree with the no-fail policy. Whoever thought this one up was someone who obviously never failed or perhaps came close to failing once.

    I think everyone needs the experience of at almost failing at some point. Doesn't have to be on a timetable, but before you get out of college or high school, you should have to look down into that abyss and find out exactly what you are made of. If you fall in, people are still there to help you out. If you get out in the real world on your own and don't know how to either stay away from failure or fix the problem, you are in for a very rude lesson...
    "It's a d**n poor mind that can only think of one way to spell a word."


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    I jump to conclusions mad pierrot's Avatar
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    Great info!
    Thanks Mand!

    Btw, New Horizons is used here, too.
    I bet you the next major text will be named something like, "Super-Fun Happy English."


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    tokyo dancer chiquiliquis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mad pierrot
    Great info!
    Thanks Mand!

    Btw, New Horizons is used here, too.
    I bet you the next major text will be named something like, "Super-Fun Happy English."

    Eww... yeah, New Horizons... I share your pain
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    me gots isshooz...
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    well, that just burst my bubble! where i live, the kids are constantly in fear of failing. we have end of course test which tests general knowledge of the subject, and so many tests all the time, and then we take the state's graduation test...it's just hard for me to imagine a place where you actually can't fail, and you don't have to learn much until the university entrance exam. every teacher teaches differently here, which of course can create some problems when transferring to another school or state, but either way, you learn or you don't pass, and unless you're at a private school the teachers will not let you advance no matter how much they like you.

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    Wandering Hobo-geek Eito's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandylion
    I think everyone needs the experience of at almost failing at some point. Doesn't have to be on a timetable, but before you get out of college or high school, you should have to look down into that abyss and find out exactly what you are made of. If you fall in, people are still there to help you out. If you get out in the real world on your own and don't know how to either stay away from failure or fix the problem, you are in for a very rude lesson...
    I completely agree with that. That's kind of what happened to me last year, and now I have to deal with it. I'm in the US, and with my school system they don't make you redo a whole year, only the few classes that you fail.
    At my school they basically do whatever they want, but they are a private school so they can. The state doesn't give us many guidelines about curriculum.

    In regards to "exam hell," it seems like a waste of time to me. From what I have read on multiple accounts, when a Japanese person goes to get a job, the employer rarely cares about college education. In fact, the Japanese system does not really entice people to aim for higher education so much, and less thn a third of them go on to university. So why do all the work when you don't have to?


    A conversation in the book Dogs and Deamons, Chapter 12:

    "If Japan's schools are so very good, why do you have to spend so much money for extra education?"

    "The children do not learn what they need to know to pass the exams for university in public schools."

    "Well, what are they doingin school, then?"

    "They are learning to be Japanese."

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    Omnipotence personified Mandylion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eito
    In regards to "exam hell," it seems like a waste of time to me. From what I have read on multiple accounts, when a Japanese person goes to get a job, the employer rarely cares about college education. In fact, the Japanese system does not really entice people to aim for higher education so much, and less thn a third of them go on to university. So why do all the work when you don't have to?
    The employers don't look at what you did in university but rather the university you went to. Simply put good university = good job, great university = great job. So, they do all the work to get into a good university to get a good job on the strength of the reputation of that school alone, not to really further their academic horizons.

    It always amazes me when a talent (pop star / idol / actor fluff) gets oohhs and aahhs when it is said they graduated from a top university. If they are smart, Japanese TV never lets them show it... This thing holds true if you went to a good univeristy overseas too (so mych so that some members of the government have lied about doing exchange programs or even graduating from top US universities). There is a foreign guy on TV here, can't recall his name - went to Harvard. Speaks good Japanese, but I think the name on his degree is the only reason anyone puts up with him. My wife - usually a kind, mild person - has pronounced him a complete git and very snobbish.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandylion
    There is a foreign guy on TV here, can't recall his name - went to Harvard. Speaks good Japanese, but I think the name on his degree is the only reason anyone puts up with him.
    On TV, the only reason anybody puts up with ANYBODY is because they think it's going to draw in audiences and help make a profit (if we're not talking about NHK).

    Disclaimer: I know your foreign guy on TV quite well personally, but I think there are some more pertinent reasons he's on TV.


    • Speaks EXCELLENT, not good, Japanese
    • The only foreigner (to my knowledge) half of a manzai comedy duo. Not only does this require fluent Japanese, but also a damn good understanding of Japanese culture and what makes Japanese people laugh. Granted, I guess it's not working on your wife, but..
    • Looks good on TV



    My wife - usually a kind, mild person - has pronounced him a complete git and very snobbish.
    I can assure you he's not snobbish, but I think we all know that on TV (especially in Japan) everything comes off *exactly* the way the director wants it to. Frankly, I don't think he seems snobbish on TV either, but granted, I'm not going to be the guy to pick up subtle queues like what seems snobbish to a Japanese person.

    [on edit: hey, how did my post count get set to 1? I was almost sure I've posted here before, but maybe I was hallucinating...]
    Last edited by omae mona; May 28, 2004 at 21:59. Reason: amusing comment about my post count

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    Junior Member kixot's Avatar
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    In my country (Chili, that's the "that's why" of my avatar) there's a huge jump between public and private schools. Private schools are far above public schools' levels.
    We get 14 years of school in which you can't fail two classes or you simply don't pass the year.
    In my school particularly, if you failed 2 years in a row you were out. But my school was particularly tough (no wonder we were studying form 8AM to 6PM almost every day in the 4 last years).
    When you finish school there are big university entry exams and depending on your score you can apply to a good career and/or university.
    The good thing is that even if private (i.e. expensive) schools are better, public universities are still far better than private ones.
    It's interesting how different can different countries' educational system be.

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    Good post,

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Actually, France and Germany also have big final year exams similar to the Japanese "juuken". They are called respectively BAC and Abitur. But they "only" determine secondary school graduation, not entrance to university, which do not exist in Europe to the best of my knowledge (except sometimes a maths or science test for medicine or engireeing).
    but can you clarify what you mean by this? Because in England unversities set required grades for entrance into their courses, which vary from low to high exam passes. Unless you mean what I think you do, and that they don't require *extra* exams to be taken (except prestigious uni's like Cambridge, which require a very hard Maths extension exam to be done if you want to do maths there)

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    Cute and Furry Ewok85's Avatar
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    If this foreign tv comedian is the same one as im thinking about his japanese is amazingly good for the time hes been in japan, and he is funny, saw him live once.

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    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Areku
    but can you clarify what you mean by this? Because in England unversities set required grades for entrance into their courses, which vary from low to high exam passes. Unless you mean what I think you do, and that they don't require *extra* exams to be taken (except prestigious uni's like Cambridge, which require a very hard Maths extension exam to be done if you want to do maths there)
    Yes, that's what I mean. there are no "extra exams" between the final exams of secondary school (whatever they are called) and entering university. In Japan, "juuken" are given by each university independently, regardless of which school one comes from. So they have the exam twice, but only the university entrance exam seems to be difficult, not the one to "graduate from highschool" (to use the AmE expression). Some universities have specialized entrance exams for subjects like engineering or medecine, but most subject do not require it.

    However, contrarily to the UK's A levels, I think that in most continental European countries, it doesn't matter how well one performs in each subject or even overall. People just pass or fail. If you pass, you can go to any uni and study any subject and that's it. However, the failure and drop out rate at university is extremely high. At my university, only about 10 to 20% of the students entering manage to graduate. In Japan, I heard the success rate is close to 100% (probably 95% or so) because the "juuken" have already made the selection.

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    Thrill Seeker canadian_kor's Avatar
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    Well, I'm glad that I was educated in Canada and not in Korea or Japan. I heard that suicide is not uncommon for youngsters in those two Asian countries (due to "exam hell" or failure). Education seems like a major thing for those two Asian groups. If you fail, not only do you fail in advancing to get the career you want, but you fail socially and let your family down.

  19. #19
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by canadian_kor
    Well, I'm glad that I was educated in Canada and not in Korea or Japan. I heard that suicide is not uncommon for youngsters in those two Asian countries (due to "exam hell" or failure). Education seems like a major thing for those two Asian groups. If you fail, not only do you fail in advancing to get the career you want, but you fail socially and let your family down.
    Actually, my impression is quite the opposite. I feel that most Japanese do not care very much about their education. They study because they have to or just in order to get a good job. That is very sad, as in Europe at least, education is seen as a way of fulfilling oneself. Teenagers entering university in Europe are usually told (by teachers, parents, friends..) to choose a subject they like, even without clear prospect of employment, rather than studying to get a well-paid job we might not like. I guess that is one of the biggest cultural rift between Europe and Japan.

    In Japan, some students commit suicide not because they feel more stupid than the rest, but because they are afraid about their future employment. Money is a major daily concern in Japan (not honor, that was a long time ago !). I guess that most Japanese would agree that if one could buy their university degree when they were children, they just wouldn't bother going to school and uni, except for socialing and learning to interact with people. It already kind of happens with the expensive private schools which one enters from kindergarten and lead you directly to university ("elevator system", as they call it). This is just paying for one's degree, as the failure rate is almost inexistant. In contrast, education is free in Europe because everybody should have equal opportunities to learn regargless of their social background.

    Anyway, Japanese school teaches more about how to live in harmony with the rest of the group and social manners than how to reason logically, analyze ideas or be creative.

    In short, European education is idealistic and care about personal development and how to think well. Japanese education is practical (job-oriented), and care about social developement and how to interact harmoniously with people in society.

    In my feeling, the US education is also job-oriented, but concentrates on personal development than social harmony. So it's somewhere in between.

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    Regular Member bossel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    I think that in most continental European countries, it doesn't matter how well one performs in each subject or even overall. People just pass or fail. If you pass, you can go to any uni and study any subject and that's it.
    In general this correct for Germany, too. The exception are some subjects where there are too many applicants for a university place. The places are distributed by the ZVS, which is the "Administrative institution for deciding on and awarding admittance to certain academic majors, admittance to which is restricted by an N. C. [numerus clausus] (e.g. medicine, law, pharmacy, dentistry)."

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    I wonder how many others here have gone to school in both Japan and the U.S. (or another foreign country). I have.

    All I can say is, the quality of education I received in an American elementary school was far inferior to that I received in a Japanese school.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    That is very sad, as in Europe at least, education is seen as a way of fulfilling oneself. Teenagers entering university in Europe are usually told (by teachers, parents, friends..) to choose a subject they like, even without clear prospect of employment, rather than studying to get a well-paid job we might not like. I guess that is one of the biggest cultural rift between Europe and Japan..
    In Japan today, daigakuinsei (graduate students?) are like European univ. students what you described.

    And I don't think 100% of European univ. students choose a subject they like, even without clear prospect of employment. Do you know Florent Dabadie? In his book he wrote:"I wanted to major in Korean, but my father strongly opposed it because of the future employment, so I majored in Japanese at パリ東洋学院日本語学科".

    Their must be a difference in greater or lesser degrees, but I hesitate to call it "one of the biggest cultural rift".

    In Japan, some students commit suicide not because they feel more stupid than the rest, but because they are afraid about their future employment. Money is a major daily concern in Japan (not honor, that was a long time ago !).
    In these days many middle aged male commit suicide for money, but students? Teenagers easily can find a job for survive. What they hardly find are honorable, meaningful jobs for themselves. In such cases, should we say he died for money?

    I guess that most Japanese would agree that if one could buy their university degree when they were children, they just wouldn't bother going to school and uni, except for socialing and learning to interact with people. It already kind of happens with the expensive private schools which one enters from kindergarten and lead you directly to university ("elevator system", as they call it). This is just paying for one's degree, as the failure rate is almost inexistant. In contrast, education is free in Europe because everybody should have equal opportunities to learn regargless of their social background.
    I half agree with you. "socialing and learning to interact with people" but only with promising kids in famous private or national schools (not with ordinary kids in public schools) is the main reason for "ojuken" parents. Not the university degree itself. You know universities like Meiji, Hosei, Rikkyo, Gakusyuin, Aoyama-gakuin, Musashi, Seikei... etc are ranked not so high and their university degrees mean almost nothing comparing to Todai, Kyoto, Keio, Waseda, Hitotsubashi...etc. To be an elementary or (junior) high school student of them is by far important for parents than to get a university degree from their univ. category.

    They believe their kids will grow up to be a intelligent person among intelligent friends, or to be a successful adult with the help of successful friends. So, they want their kids to keep getting touch with his/her friends in school. "they just wouldn't bother going to school and uni" is perfectly off the mark imo.
    Anyway, Japanese school teaches more about how to live in harmony with the rest of the group and social manners than how to reason logically, analyze ideas or be creative.

    In short, European education is idealistic and care about personal development and how to think well. Japanese education is practical (job-oriented), and care about social developement and how to interact harmoniously with people in society.
    I feel Japanese education is not so good both about personal development and about practical training. There is much room for improvement.

  23. #23
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    Anyway, Japanese school teaches more about how to live in harmony with the rest of the group and social manners than how to reason logically, analyze ideas or be creative.

    In short, European education is idealistic and care about personal development and how to think well. Japanese education is practical (job-oriented), and care about social developement and how to interact harmoniously with people in society.
    I enjoyed my education here.Primary school was relaxed, lots of play and basics for maths, english and sciences. High School mixed tradition education with more practical things. At first you do everything, English, Maths, a 2nd Language and Society and the Environment are compulsary. Technology (Woodwork, Metalwork, Plastics, Computing, Electronics, Photography, Structural Design) and the Arts (Design, Sewing, Cooking, Outdoor Education - think camping, Music, Modelling (Clay etc)) are done over 2 years. In the third year you pick the tech and arts subjects. The other interesting subject is Work Experience, where they go over important things like workers rights and laws, occupational health and safety and one week of actual work experience. We go out and for one week work somewhere with the permission of the business owner (unpaid).

    Apart from normal school stuff we have extra courses on offer all the time, I did a tourism and hospitality course, agriculture, mechanics, 6months at Mitsubishi Motors doing computing, web design and alot of Air Force stuff.

    I mean its all nice to be able to do calculus maths and be knowledgable in physics but the fact of the matter is unless you go into that feild of work does it do you any good? I've done all that and its been of little use. On the other hand I can look after my self around the house, make things, mould things, weld things etc.

    School here really feels like a stepping stone to getting out into the real world. Prepares you for the things that matter.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Golgo_13
    I wonder how many others here have gone to school in both Japan and the U.S. (or another foreign country). I have.

    All I can say is, the quality of education I received in an American elementary school was far inferior to that I received in a Japanese school.
    Oh, yes. I never argue with that. It's just that there absolutely no comparison btw the US and Europe in terms of education.

    Quote Originally Posted by kara
    And I don't think 100% of European univ. students choose a subject they like, even without clear prospect of employment. Do you know Florent Dabadie? In his book he wrote:"I wanted to major in Korean, but my father strongly opposed it because of the future employment, so I majored in Japanese at パリ東洋学院日本語学科".
    It cannot be 100%, but that is true of any trend in any culture/country. I don't know how old is that Florent Dabadie, but choosing one's favourite subject is a quite recent trend, maybe 10 or 20 years old. There are of course conservative families in every country in the world, in the same way that some Japanese families wouldn't allow their children to get married to foreigners (but that %age is probably higher than European parents who oppose their children's choice either at university or as spouse).

    In these days many middle aged male commit suicide for money, but students? Teenagers easily can find a job for survive. What they hardly find are honorable, meaningful jobs for themselves. In such cases, should we say he died for money?
    Well yes, because they won't get as good a job as they were hoping for, so eventually a a money problem. There might be people commiting suicide for honor in Japan, but only if are ashamed of not being as good as others.

    I half agree with you. "socialing and learning to interact with people" but only with promising kids in famous private or national schools (not with ordinary kids in public schools) is the main reason for "ojuken" parents. Not the university degree itself. You know universities like Meiji, Hosei, Rikkyo, Gakusyuin, Aoyama-gakuin, Musashi, Seikei... etc are ranked not so high and their university degrees mean almost nothing comparing to Todai, Kyoto, Keio, Waseda, Hitotsubashi...etc. To be an elementary or (junior) high school student of them is by far important for parents than to get a university degree from their univ. category.
    Interesting.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ewok85
    At first you do everything, English, Maths, a 2nd Language and Society and the Environment are compulsary. Technology (Woodwork, Metalwork, Plastics, Computing, Electronics, Photography, Structural Design) and the Arts (Design, Sewing, Cooking, Outdoor Education - think camping, Music, Modelling (Clay etc)) are done over 2 years. In the third year you pick the tech and arts subjects. The other interesting subject is Work Experience, where they go over important things like workers rights and laws, occupational health and safety and one week of actual work experience. We go out and for one week work somewhere with the permission of the business owner (unpaid).

    Apart from normal school stuff we have extra courses on offer all the time, I did a tourism and hospitality course, agriculture, mechanics, 6months at Mitsubishi Motors doing computing, web design and alot of Air Force stuff.
    It seems that the Australian education is very open and emphasize a lot practical, manual, physical and artistic activites. In Europe, the education system is divided in 3 categories of schools :
    - general schools (maths, languages, theoritical natural sciences, social sciences) which about 80% of the people do (?)
    - technical schools (mechanics, applied sciences, metal/wood works...), attended by about 10% of the people
    - professional schools (artistic, sewing, cooking...) attended by about 10% of the people.

    This is a kind of hierarchy and it is not noramally possible to change from professional to technical, or technical to general, although the other way is possible (usually for dropouts of the general). It is not possible for people graduating from technical or professional schools to go to university. These schools prepare directly to specific jobs, such as mechanics, plumber. electrincian, carpenter or other non-intellectual jobs.

  25. #25
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    In England, most of the technical schools (although, usually people just do an apprenticeship with a firm) for manual labour are full of 16 yo dropouts from school.

    Still, there's good money in joining and plumbing. Just that most people would rather go to university, and aim for even more money (takes longer to reach that goal though)

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