Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Pitfalls of Japanese Education Studies 1

In the previous postI wrote that the article by Elizabeth Green in the New York Times Magazine did not reflect the reality of Japanese education. I would say that it is almost misinformation or hoax, but it may be unfair to lay all the blame on the writer and the New York Times because its root cause resides in Japan. 
Quite frankly, it is Japanese education scholars (researchers) who are irrelevant, one-sided, and escaping from the reality of students and parents here. Therefore, I would like to discuss the past and the present of the Japanese education studies in order to elucidate why they are so irrelevant and one-sided.
Key words in this discussion are “xenomania” and “divinization of schoolteachers”
I hope you will, 
at the end of discussion, understand what kind of pitfalls she encountered .

1  Neglected reality of education:

As I explained, Japanese students have long been undergoing the dual structure of education, comprising school education and jukus, but this reality is considerably under-researched. Below are the search results of a bibliographic database in Japan, for comparing the number of articles searched by the word “juku” with the numbers of those searched by the names of Western educationalists.[i]

 Table 1. Search Results of CINII Article Database,[ii]  as of 14th December, 2014
Search Word
The Number of Articles
Articles of Education-related Studies
Articles of Other Academic Fields
Articles in Commercial Magazines and Others[vi]

The above table shows that 434 articles were hit by the word “juku”, while more than one thousand articles were hit by those three names of the educationalists. Since these 434 search results include the articles written by non-academic people and by experts of other fields than education[vii], I sorted them and put the subcategories underneath. 

Among those 434 hits, I count 102 articles as written on juku by the people of the education-related studies, while the rest is written by some non-academic journalists or the experts of other academic fields. Thus Japanese shadow education called juku is very much under-researched. In addition, many of these 102 articles even seem to only give some mentions to jukus or discuss irrelevant things, though I cannot check the contents inside. I feel that the articles which really discuss shadow education in Japan are less than fifty.[viii]
At any rate, it clearly shows that shadow education in Japan is considerably neglected in the academic circle of education studies.

2  Xenomania:

The search results also show the one-sided research efforts spent to the studies on Western educationalists. In fact, Japanese education scholars have been largely busy studying Western classics rather than educational phenomena and problems in front of them. As a result, it is almost impossible to find notable research works of them except for the importation of Western ideas.

For another example, while they have Japan Association Montessori, the Japanese Society for the Study of Pestalozzi and Froebel, and John Dewey Society of Japan, there is no academic society specializing in the Japanese educationalists.[ix] One of the friends in my university days joked that “The department of education is just another department of foreign literature”, which is to the point even now. 

Xenomania can be seen broadly in Japanese academia, but it is perhaps stronger in the education studies than in any other academic disciplines. And this mindset usually comes together with contempt for indigenous things, which must be one of the reasons for the neglect of jukus.

Xenomaniac people are always ready to welcome and entertain researchers and journalists from abroad and spoil the investigation. So you need sufficient preparation beforehand and strong self-control in order not to swallow their words, when you have some observation tours of Japanese education.

[i]  This is not a very rigorous survey. If you search in different times or search by Japanese language, you will obtain other results. But you will see the same trend which indicates the under-research of jukus.

[iii]  Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi

[iv]  Friedrich Frobel

[v]  Maria Montessori

[vi]  In the search results, you will find the name ”Juku journal”, which is the name of a commercial magazine for juku practitioners.

[vii] This confusion is caused mainly because Japanese language has a lot of homonyms.Juku” in Japanese sometimes means juku (), old highway station (宿), ripening (), etc.

[viii] Since juku is a very old and popular word, it causes another problem in searching. Old training institutes often carry the name “ - - juku” (e.g. Tekijuku), and people now like to put “- - juku” to their seminar courses or organizations (e.g. Entrepreneur juku, Sankaijuku). Some of those 102 articles talk about such jukus which are not necessarily related to shadow education.

[ix] At least, such academic societies are not found in the list of Science Council of Japan

No comments:

Post a Comment

Copyright of all the comments here belong to the blog master.