Japan and its standardized test based education system Part 4

by Kevin R Burns

(Kanagawa, Japan)

Japan and its standardized test-based education system

Part 4

Comments about the Article from Japan Today:

“…I think you and I live in the non-eikaiwa, non-kindergarten part of Japan. Maybe I am just lucky, but I see creative intelligent people all the time. Yes they are opinionated in all ways.

Japanese people have faces they put on for everything, and yes, there are faces for bosses and for teachers. Those faces have “don’t make waves, don’t take risks” written all over them. But the guy next door plays his clarinet for hours every day (he is pretty good and jumps genres), and on the other side is a guy who roasts his own coffee and varies it quite a bit by season from what I gather. I can go to five restaurants within five minutes of my house with menu items I have not seen anywhere. Japanese software, in my experience, is very good. Their space program is special. They have made some of the best horror movies ever made in any country, and they are often imitated. If you can’t find creativity in Japan, you are talking to too many 20 year olds or kindergarteners.

Standardized testing, with all its ugly bits, has enabled Japan to keep some standards more or less intact and provides some rule of “fairness” and some measure of “aptitude.” Within this rigid system, perhaps because of it or perhaps in spite of it, Japan produces greatness

every day. It is not Japan’s failure that it cannot show it to people like Kevin. It is Kevin’s failure for not seeing it.

Some people have 20 years’ experience, and some people have one year’s experience 20 times. If a person truly walks through life with eyes open and views Japan’s education system in a circumspect manner, I don’t understand how they could reach Kevin’s conclusions.” –Klein2

Japan and its standardized test-based education system

Gonemad says:

“…I think there is a lot of creativity in Japan, but compared to other places it seems more unevenly distributed among the population, the average Tanaka Tarou being rather dull and uninspired while there is a fantastic creativity at the small top.

As much as I personally like controversial discussions, that’s impossible in Japan. But that doesn’t mean Japanese don’t have opinions, they will just not articulate them in the same way as “westeners”. The Wa is more important. You have to read more in between the lines.

It’s better to hold back your opinion – or “have no opinion” as the author writes – than proselytizing uninformed drivel, isn’t it?

The problem with the Japanese education system is not so much the tests per se, but the way they are used. Because children have to outperform their peers in order to proceed to the “right” school or university, these tests have become overly important and hence too much effort is wasted on them.”

About kintaro63

Writer and teacher in Japan
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