Japanese way of doing things has its limitations

8th June 2001 at 01:00
I was interested to read the article about Japan and Japanese schools (April 27). I live and work in Yokohama, and was recently privileged to visit a Japanese middle school in Shizuoka prefecture. The students were less regimented than I had expected, but their uniforms were very much in keeping with the naval style that schoolchildren often have to wear here. However, the students were just as lively and diverse as their English counterparts.

The teachers are very overworked, often starting extremely early and running clubs on evenings and weekends. I met several teachers who had been working a seven-day week for nearly two months without a day off. Students have to attend school on Saturday morning, and often n Sunday.

The science lesson I observed was alarming. Students were holding sealed Coke cans above bunsen burners - but holding them with rags, one of which I saw catch fire. One of the two exits to the packed classroom was locked while all the students did this experiment at the same time.

English was a matter of reading by rote and it is here that the Japanese are beginning to realise the limitations of their approach to education. Even though all children have to study English at school, virtually no adult can speak English. This is a factor that politicians say they are keen to address, but no significant changes are forthcoming.

Jeremy Fox, St Maur international school, Yokohama, Japan

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now