Learning lessons from Japan’s schools

The school system is quite different here in Japan.

The school system is quite different here in Japan.

The students are tested almost on a daily basis in different subjects, so it’s no surprise they are in the top five academic countries in the world.

The lessons (at least English) are structured to be mostly grammar, vocabulary, (and since I’m here) a bit of pronunciation. There isn’t much room for free learning or games.

In Japan, the school year starts in April and ends in the following March.

They get a three-week break in between years, a three-week break in August, and a three-week break in December.

There are things that I think are quite brilliant in the school system but there are also things that completely perplex me.

For instance, during the break in March and April, teachers are relocated with about one to two weeks notice.

I can see some benefits in turn over like that, but I can’t imagine having my life change so quickly without much notice.

I’ve asked several teachers why the government does this, and no one that I’ve asked, so far, has been able to give me an answer other than, “I don’t know why, that’s the way it is.”

So, as of now, the teachers that will be teaching at a new school in April, do not know, and won’t know until the break starts at the end of March.

Probably my favourite aspect of the Japanese school system is when a teacher starts in elementary school they stay with that same class throughout the years until the students move to junior high school in Grade 7. If a teacher starts with Grade 1, he or she will be with that class for six years.

Another thing that is incredible is the treatment of disabled students and the student to teacher ratio.

In both my Grade 5 and 6 classes in elementary school, for each disabled student, there is an extra teacher in the class to help them, one on one.

In a different elementary school, there are a total of nine students in the entire school but there are five teachers. For example, one day in my Grade 4 class of two students, there were a total of three teachers in the classroom.

Lastly, before students enter high school in Grade 10, they go through a process similar to our college and university systems.

They have to take entrance examinations and interview tests for each high school they apply to.

Students in their final year of junior high school attend programs after school called Cram Schools, which are focused on the entrance exams.

It is very common for students to go to cram schools everyday after regular classes.

Getting into a good high school means getting into a good college or good university, and eventually a good job.

And now, to end on a happy note, ‘Mikka bouza’ (three-day monk.) Someone who gives up easily.

Anna Marshall is in Summerland’s sister city of Toyokoro, Japan as the assistant English teacher.


Just Posted

South Okanagan curling team sweeps into BC Games

Team consisting of Summerland and Penticton players qualifies for the BC Games

Interior Health managers voice discontent

Negative comments about work culture aimed at CEO Chris Mazurkewich.

Penticton hospital fourth busiest in the region for opioid overdose

Incarceration and residential treatment could be adding to the number of deaths… Continue reading

Video: Bulky bobcat goes for a stroll

Bob Lindley shared a video of a sneaky bobcat strolling through his yard in Vernon.

Students frustrated by UBCO response to harassment allegations

Kelowna - Students were unaware of resources on campus

OK Falls pot shop vandalized a week after opening

Windows were smashed Wednesday evening and spray paint called the owner a “goof” and a “pedo”

WestJet appeals lost bid to scrap harassment lawsuit

Airline argues judge was wrong to have dismissed the company’s application to strike the legal action

Can U.S. border guards search your phone? Yes, and here’s how

Secretary of homeland security explains a new policy that let’s border guards check phones

‘Beautiful writer’ Nancy Richler dies of cancer in Vancouver hospital

Montreal-born author spent most of her adult life in B.C. as a fiction writer and novelist

B.C. commuters vote to rename bus service to ‘Jeff’

The company asked and the people of Facebook answered

EDITORIAL: With harassment allegations, students deserve better at UBCO

The lack of communication with students isn’t good enough for the Kelowna campus

Physical altercation turns to online threats in Celista

Police were called to a Shuswap ice rink after a group of men physically fought each other

Arson suspect heads to court

Vernon man suspected of starting a string of 2014 fires in Vernon

Opinion: Dare to be smarter

Just say no works for more than just substance abuse

Most Read