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CBS News is all gaga over how awesome Japanese education is given how it stresses the importance of respect and how much they accomplish with so little is spent on it.

How do they do so much with so little? By investing in top-notch teachers.

"Teachers are given a good deal of respect; they're expected to devote their life," said Catherine Lewis, distinguished research scholar at Mills College. "The whole system is set up to emphasize the development of teachers."

Here's one of those top-notch teachers in action.

Teacher tells students to write ransom note as part of moral education

An elementary school teacher here instructed his students to make a ransom note as part of their moral education, it has emerged.

[...]

The teacher came up with the idea of creating a threatening letter in an attempt to enhance mutual cooperation among students, a monthly topic for the ethics class, a school official said.

Coercion is the key to developing cooperation and creativity!

Back to CBS News:

What hasn't changed in Japan is the value placed on education best summed up by a Japanese proverb: better than a thousand days of study is one day with a great teacher.

Like this guy, right?

Teacher replaced over math class question on killing children

A teacher here has been replaced as head of a third-grade class after posing a math question asking students how long it would take to kill a certain number of children.

In a math lesson at a municipal elementary school in Okazaki in May, the 45-year-old teacher asked students the question: "There are 18 children. Three children are killed each day. How many days will it take to kill them all?"

[...]

It has also emerged that the same teacher hit a girl on the head on July 1 because he didn't like the way she received paper distributed to the class. The student was not injured but was reportedly left in tears.

Great teachers either scare their students into learning or just beat it into them.

The next day...

Seeing as this is about oversimplified reporting, Our Man in Abiko has a brilliant post on how to write in Japan.

The angle that CBS report takes (Japanese education is cheap AND good), while it may appeal to some of the more idiotic thinking that has taken hold in the United States (respect, meaning obedience to authority, and low spending, meaning fewer wasted tax dollars), is at odds with what is happening in Japan now. The low spending is perceived as a problem. Japan is second last in education spending in the OECD. Moreover, the pendulum is swinging away from "relaxed education" (yutori kyoiku) to fatter textbooks or more classroom hours to help boost academic performance. As has been noted in comments, the issue is quite a bit more complex than what CBS presents.

Comments

I was rather appalled at the reporting last night. Had to sit down and explain it to my family why their reporting is BS. But hey when has that ever stopped a news organization from oversimplifying and glossing over the reality of situations here and there. Lets see what they totally ignored: Culture, Juku's, importance of education, length of days and school year, way education is taught, homogeneous society vs. heterogeneous society. Thats just what I can come up with off the top of my head.

They just repeated stereotypes.

Then, they get one of the Honey Pot "Experts" to sternly confirm whatever the stereotype happened to be. These people just sit in universities and think tanks and collect checks to be Japan Experts. They know less than they should about Japan.

(Honey Pot refers to the money made in trans-Pacific relations, be it business, academia or the military. It's the trans-Pacific Honey Pot.)

It is up to people who actually know about Japan (like Shawn and a number of the readership) to bat these goofy CBS stories down. I know B.S. when I "see" it, too.

I think there is some responsibility on BOEs to make sure they've got teachers that don't do things like this. However, I don't the teachers are 100% to blame.
The demands placed on Teachers are far greater than they have been in the past in Japan. Due to the overly lenient way in which the current generation of children has been raised combined with the neglect of responsibility of most parents, it's no wonder some teachers have snapped under the pressure. So-called 'Parenting' is non-existent as far as I can see. Parents no longer scold their children for misbehavior, and if they do make an halfhearted attempt at scolding, it usually ends up confusing the child resulting in them having a contorted understanding of what is acceptable or unacceptable. As these parents completely fail and fulfilling their role, they expect their child's teacher to raise their children for them. Parents seem to expect teachers to teach their child everything from table manners to proper etiquette. It's no wonder that some teachers feel their backs up against a wall. They probably didn't expect they would have to do anything other than teach the children regular school subjects. These days, parents are no longer held accountable for the misbehavior of their children. Everything falls on the shoulders of the teacher.

And you said Debito was full of crap on the subject of JET when he talked about the classroom environment.

No, I said that the problems in the classroom were well known. The problem was that Debito used the "psychotic classroom" situation as a reason to keep JET and save from kids running around saying, "Gaijin da!"

Shawn
Let's Japan.org::Blog

Where do the Japanese BOEs find these losers?

CBS probably shouldn't waste their time on Japan and focus on Finland (They top the PISA ranking).
Also, the report praises the teachers and compares their pay scales (with American teachers), but if they compared them on an hourly basis (instead of a yearly basis) I think the Japanese teachers would be paid less - all those early starts and late nights - even during school holidays.

Having said that, I would rather (and do) send my kids to a public Japanese school than a private school.

indeed, government spending on public schools is low in japan, but if these low budget public schools are so great, why do so many spend so much sending their kids to private schools?!? CBS are morons!

I would have to agree. On average, if you're a teacher in any school in Japan, you can expect to have very, very little time off. Even during the laughably short Summer break, they are required to be at school. I've asked what they do during that time, and I was told they just read books, or having meetings about the next term. That means the Japanese tax payers are paying these teachers to read some novels for a month. Great use of tax money there.
I've also heard a lot of those teachers take their work home (correcting papers,tests, etc.), and that, of course, is unpaid.
I wouldn't mind sending my kids to elementary school in Japan, but after that, the education system in this country is fucked.

You see some right tosh about Japan in most newspapers, but this one really takes the biscuit. Some great debunking comments from the readers though

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