Education About Asia: Online Archives

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Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Graduate School Confidential: Misguided First Impressions of Japanese Preschools

I started graduate school in 1980 after living in Japan for four years. In my second semester, a nearby college held a colloquium for business and community leaders in Detroit, Michigan, on “What We Can Learn From Japan.” They asked me to talk about Japanese education, specifically high achievement test scores. There wasn’t much scholarship available on Japanese education then, but after an extensive card catalog search at the University of Michigan library, I discovered some Japanese g...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Rain Gods and Rice Farmers in Rural Japan

In the mountains above the town of Chitose flowed a narrow stream. Clear, cold water zigzagged around trees and tumbled wildly over rocks before finally being corralled into cement-lined troughs that directed the water to the valley below, where it filled the rice paddies and then spilled into the Hozu River, and, flowing wild again, cascaded through the rocky gorge and into the city of Kyoto. A short hike up the mountain from my house on the edge of the paddies, the water tumbled over a twen...

Feature Article

Japan’s Schools: Myths, Realities, and Comparisons with the United States

In the 1980s, when the Japanese economy was booming, debates over educational reform in the United States seemed often to start in Japan. The Japanese economy was outperforming the US economy because Japanese schools were outperforming our schools, or so the argument went until their economy collapsed. When the US economy eventually rebounded, no one cited our educational system as a source of its recovery, and the connection between education and the economy was forgotten.

Book Review, Resources

Japanese and American Education: Attitudes and Practices

In eight chapters and 336 dense pages, Harry Wray presents his description of the strengths and weaknesses of the educational systems of these two countries. At the end of each chapter, he makes specific recommendations based on insights gleaned primarily from practices in the other country. As a long-term resident of Japan, most recently as Professor of Japanese History and International Relations in the College of Foreign Studies at Nanzan University in Nagoya, Japan, Wray has the benefit of a...

Book Review, Resources

Brush Meditation: A Japanese Way to Mind & Body Harmony

“We are witnessing the meeting of East and West. Through positive, non-biased Eastern and Western cultural exchange, a new, more balanced, more enlightened global culture may result” (preface). So begins Brush Meditation by H. E. Davey, who according to the author biography is the first non-Japanese ever to receive the highest rank from a worldwide Japanese calligraphy association and who has received numerous awards for his calligraphy.

Essay, Resources

The Tigers Foreboding Allure

Without a doubt, the teachers who participate in the Keizai Koho program and NCSS publishing efforts receive many benefits from both activities. But after reviewing the Tora no Maki lesson plans, I wonder whether other educators, too, can benefit from these teachers’ efforts. Although the goal of the Tora no Maki series, to bring Japan into the K-12 classroom, is admirable, the publications as they exist may in some cases do more harm than good. My criticism of the publications should take ...

Film Review Essay, Resources

Schools of Thought: Teaching Children in America and Japan

PRODUCED BY OREGON PUBLIC BROADCASTING FILMS FOR THE HUMANITIES & SCIENCES P.O. BOX 2053 PRINCETON, NEW JERSEY 08543 800-257-5126 1994. 55 MINUTES Schools of Thought contains two twenty-five to thirty minute documentaries, one by an Oregon television crew visiting Japanese schools and the other by a Japanese crew visiting schools in Oregon. According to the narrator, the goal of the project is to explore “efforts in both countries to balance creativity and discipline in education....