Japanese Educational System: What Can We Learn From It?
In February 2017, Japan’s consumer inflation stabilized at around 0.5%, after hitting a 20-year low of 0.3% in 2016. So, while Japan’s economic health has improved, there’s no denying that there is still some way to go before the country becomes a sustainable and competitive market.
One notable aspect of Japan’s economic success – and ongoing challenges – is its education system. In a recent interview, there are several points to be addressed here, according to Andrew Johnson, CEO of Japan-focused MindShift.
The Education Game Is Set To Become Deadlocked
The idea of traditional education – and the social and economic advancement of societies through it – is an idea that is well established by now. Japan is still practicing its lesson-based system, but the way it’s going to take place is changing.
1. The entrance exam in Japan is becoming a standardized, high-stakes test.
In 1989, Japan’s Ministry of Education introduced the high-stakes exam in an effort to eliminate examination cheating by students, for their national exam at 18 and another one four years later, adding to the most rigorous entrance test in the world.
The problem: In order to satisfy rigorous tests, teachers adopt test-mode teaching models, which focus heavily on testing and little, if any, teaching. Japan has lost its edge on innovative new student learning, and is losing its edge in industrialized education.
2. Quality education has proven to be unreliable in the past.
School quality has been declining for a while, as the quality of Japanese teachers has become increasingly questionable. In 2015, an OECD survey ranked Japan as the 12th most ineffective country in which to send your children to school.
Rigid competition is set to keep this declining quality going: At a time when students have never been as desperate for learning, test-centric curriculum is likely to continue making learning highly competitive.
Related: Want Kids To Learn?! Try To Discern Between Doing-What-The-Subject-Teacher-Wants And Doing-What-Kids-Want
Why Does Japan’s Knowledge Economy Deserve Its Wealth?
There are several arguments advanced that education is the sole way Japan will come back to prosperity.
Many argue that Japan’s continued wealth cannot be attributed to other factors, like a superior lifestyle, positive and secure work environment, and a lack of risk-taking.
Instead, economic systems are based around an excess of knowledge, and the flexibility that results. Modern, innovative economies are founded on this assumption: When the entire world is responding to a topic and has all of the knowledge necessary to determine its outcome, the final outcome is someone else’s definition of the “right” action to take.
Whether it’s the Japanese government supporting they end of each and every Japanese job with subsidies, their high-tech business sector taking decades to become established, or their richest 10,000 people owning roughly half of Japan’s wealth, nothing equates to the speed with which the Japanese productivity, technological development, and wealth come to the surface.
Entrepreneurship is in Japan’s DNA. If Japan is unable to be innovative enough to recognize this, it will continue to be the same, falling behind in innovation, skill development, and wealth creation.
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