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.
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?
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.