Education About Asia: Online Archives

Using Videos to Compare K-12 Schooling and Society Within Japan

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Often when we hear about Japanese education in the U.S. mass media, stories dominate about young children taking entrance examinations, cramming for tests, and facing stress. Seldom do we discover what students do in schools and how society influences schooling and children. As a result, many children and adults develop the notion that the process of education in Japan is homogenous from elementary through high school. Issues such as examination hell and cram school become associated with the entire K-12 educational system. For example, many Americans may think that most Japanese students attend juku or cram schools. Yet, cram school enrollment in 2000 was 29.2 percent for elementary, 57.3 percent for lower secondary, and 31 percent for upper secondary.1 Americans may have the impression that most high school graduates from academic high schools attend a university. Yet, around 29.7 percent of graduates go from academic high
schools to a four-year college, 16.2 percent to a junior college, 33.3 percent attend private specialist schools, 13.4 percent start full-time work, and 7.2 percent do something else.2