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Why has literacy dropped so dramatically?

by Melanie Burton

Ana Mickle
Stay at home mom, 34
There’s been an upsurge in new forms of entertainment in recent years. I don’t think school hours should be extended. I think students should do better with the time they have — the kids should have a life. Schools should work on truancy rates.

James Orr
Graduate student, 23
I have no idea. I think it’s because Japanese is too hard to read — kanji, katakana and hiragana.

Alan Partee
Professor, 35
Refusing to localize control of education. Japan is one of the few industrialized countries that insists on centralizing education. They don’t allow local governments to make decisions to adapt to the local situation. It is a cookie-cutter approach that’s not effective.

Kana Shimada
Student, 20
Kids’ study habits are changing. It used to be encouraged to study at home, but now it’s not encouraged so much.

Atsushi Koiwa
Dentist, 36
They’re getting worse and worse here. We have the formal form of language, keigo, which shows respect for elders, but they can’t do that. I think it’s because of the parents. Things are changing here. They’re spoiled.

Brian Wood
English teacher,
I’ve been to a couple of schools, and the thing I notice is that discipline is nonexistent. The kids have total control of the classroom — not the teachers — generally speaking, in junior high schools.