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Japanese Elementary School Education

Harold W. Stevenson
The Elementary School Journal
Vol. 92, No. 1, Special Issue: International Education (Sep., 1991), pp. 109-120
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1002079
Page Count: 12
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Japanese Elementary School Education
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Abstract

The high success of Japanese students in international competitions has heightened interest in Japanese education. Underlying the development of elementary school education from its origins in the Edo period in Japanese history through its transformation following World War II is a great reverence for learning. The central government currently plays a strong role in determining the national curriculum, but some latitude in filling out the curriculum still resides in the individual schools. Classroom enrollment is large, but compensation for this is a relatively light teaching load. Teachers spend a great deal of time in interaction with each other in the pursuit of effective teaching procedures. Supplementing the content of the school curriculum are after-school, nonacademic courses. Pressure felt throughout the Japanese school system comes from the college entrance examination, but the stereotype of rote learning by students and boring lectures by teachers is inappropriate in describing the interactive style of teaching characteristic of Japanese elementary school classrooms. Of critical importance for the successful operation of schools are the support and cooperation provided by the Japanese "educational mom," who, nevertheless, tends to be critical of the quality of education provided to her children.

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