In the United States and Japan there are cultural attitudes that both promote and hinder education. While Japanese education is usually described as superior to an American education, a careful examination reveals that in both systems certain values and attitudes are carried to extremes and have a negative impact. This book shows how cultural attitudes shape schools and how Americans and Japanese can overcome the educational maladies in both countries. Under the present educational centralization Japanese secondary school teachers are severely handicapped in carrying out the goals of cultivating a spontaneous spirit and creating a culture rich in individuality. Although Japanese nursery, kindergarten, and elementary teachers could provide many hints to improve the methodology of their American counterparts, the reverse is true at the secondary and college levels.
American teachers try to encourage students to be creative in approaching a problem, writing an essay, and sketching an object, and they will suggest appropriate courses, recommend books, and encourage intellectual challenge, while Japanese secondary school teachers' goal is narrowly focused on presenting designated textual material in as efficient a manner as possible. In the United States, farmers constitute less than ten percent of the population, but American schools still operate as if students had to return home each day for chores, or as if the summer vacation and fall schedule had to be used to help parents with planting, cultivating, and harvesting crops. Today, most American mothers work full time and children have much more free time and live in less secure urban environments. The amount of time spent attending school in Japan and the United States is just one of the cultural attitudes that is examined in this book.
HARRY WRAY is Professor of Japanese History and International Relations in the College of Foreign Studies, Nanzan University, Nagoya, Japan.
Japanese School' Higher Achievement, Literacy, Efficiency, Discipline, Classroom Management, and Strengths of Centralization Factors Shaping Current Japanese Education Japanese Educational Weaknesses and American Strengths The Distorting Influence of School Ranking, Entrance Examinations, and Supplementary Institutional Educational Systems on Individual and Schools; Societal Attitudes Debilitating American Education and The Compelling Need for Educational Reform; Teaching Morake, Policy Input, Remuneration, Competence, and Professional Education in Japan and the United States American and Japanese Curricular Differences Conclusion Selected Bibliographies Index