Education in Contemporary Japan

Numbering Code U-LAS04 20008 LE47 Year/Term 2021 ・ Second semester
Number of Credits 2 Course Type Lecture
Target Year All students Target Student For all majors
Language English Day/Period Wed.3
Instructor name KAWAI JUNKO (Institute for Liberal Arts and Sciences Professor)
Outline and Purpose of the Course This course provides an introduction to approaches to and topics in Japanese education. The course examines the characteristics of schooling in Japan from the past to today, and includes analysis of contemporary issues in education.

"Education" has several functions: it transmits values, culture, and customs while at the same time instilling societal rules, and selecting individuals (for example through examinations) and allocating them in a certain position within the society. We will study how these social functions operate in Japanese society by comparing Japan's educational system with that of other countries. Students are encouraged to share their own knowledge and experiences.

Class will be interactive, mixing both lectures and discussions with activities, including a field trip to a local school. Throughout the whole course, students will have opportunities to take a close look at what is happening and what has happened in Japanese society by examining Japanese education from various perspectives.
Course Goals ・To gain knowledge and understanding of the characteristics of Japanese education through comparisons with other countries and students' own experiences.
・To develop interest and skills to participate in discussions with classmates from various cultural backgrounds.
・To develop skills in critical analysis through structured reading, written assignments, and a field observation.
Schedule and Contents Topics
1. Introduction to approaches to education (Session 1)

2. Overview of Japanese education system (Session 1-2)

3. Characteristics of Japanese education (Session 2-9)
(1) Historical background for understanding contemporary Japanese education
(2) Egalitarianism in Japanese elementary education
(3) Ability grouping and effort-ism (Spirit of “Gambaru”)
(4) Individualism and group harmony
(5) Life of adolescents - Roles of Japanese school clubs, functions and culture of cram schools, teacher-student relationships, school-family relationships.
(6) Entrance examinations
(7) Transition from school to work

4. Observation in real educational settings: field trip to a local school (date to be decided)

5. Contemporary education issues (Session 10-14)
(1) Japanese educational problems: a historical overview
(2) Ijime (Bullying) and Futoko (Truancy, Non-attendance)
(3) Over-demanding parents
(4) Language education
(5) Studying abroad

6. Feedback (Session 15)
Evaluation Methods and Policy Participation in class activities (30%), Mid-term report (book review) (30%), and Final report (40%)*.
*For the final report, students may choose one of the following assignments: (1) A report on observation at school site or (2) An analysis of a personal educational history (In-depth Interview).

Course Requirements None
Study outside of Class (preparation and review) ・Students are expected to complete the reading assignments and actively participate in class discussion every week.
・Students are required to give a 10-15 minute presentation on one of the selected reading assignments as a small group.
Textbooks Textbooks/References Handouts will be distributed.

References, etc. (1)Apple, Matthew T., Da Silva, Dexter, and Fellner, Terry, Language Learning Motivation in Japan (Second Language Acquisition), Multilingual Matters, 2013

(2)Cummings, William, Chapter 5, “Egalitarian Education”, Education and Equality in Japan, Princeton University Press, 1980

(3)Fukuzawa, Rebecca E. and LeTendre, Gerald. Intense Years: How Japanese Adolescents Balance School, Family, and Friends, Taylor and Francis, 2001

(4)Mock, John, Kawamura, Hiroaki, and Naganuma, Naeko, The Impact of Internationalization on Japanese Higher Education: Is Japanese Education Really Changing? Sense Publishers, 2016

(5)Rohlen, Thomas, Chapter 5 “Space and Time", and Chapter 6 “Organization", in Japan’s High School, The University of California Press, 1983

(6)Shavit, Yossi, and Muller, Walter, (eds.) From School to Work; A Comparative Study of Educational Qualifications and Occupational Destinations, Clarendon Press Oxford, 1998

(7)Tobin, Joseph J, Wu, David Y., and Davidson, Dana H. Preschool in Three Cultures; Japan, China, and the United States, Yale University Press, 1989

(8)伊藤茂樹「心の問題」としてのいじめ問題」『教育社会学研究 59』1996 [Ito, Shigeki, “IJIME Constructed as a Problem of Mind,” Kyoiku SyakigakuKenkyu, Vol. 59, 1996 (Abridged translations in English will be provided.)]

(9)森田洋司『不登校現象の社会学』学文社、1991 [Morita, Yoji, Futokogensho no Shakaigaku, 1991 (Abridged translations in English will be provided.)]

(10)小野田正利『悲鳴をあげる学校―親の”イチャモン”から”結びあい”へ』旬報社、第7刷, 2007
[Onoda, Masatoshi, Himei o ageru gakko, 2007 (Abridged translations in English will be provided.)]