Upshot of starting in spring

Fukuyama, Hiroshima

I am writing with reference to the front-page Jan. 19 Kyodo article “Todai panel recommends fall enrollment.” As a longtime resident and teacher here in Japan, there are many aspects of the current education system that I would like to see change. However, the April start to the academic year is not one of them. This is one feature I think the Japanese have got absolutely right.

What better time to start a new school or college year than in a season where everything around you is also starting afresh. As a schoolboy growing up in England, I can remember the rather depressing feeling of beginning another academic year in September after the summer break — the days quickly getting shorter, the weather colder and the nature around me fading away and tucking itself in, in preparation for winter. It really was not a particularly encouraging companion.

Admittedly September weather in England does not exactly equate with the often oppressively hot humid September in Hiroshima, a problem for study in itself, but those long dark cold nights are not far off.

With all the press citing falling educational standards and lack of enthusiasm for study, it is clear that students and teachers alike need all the help they can get. I’m not saying that there is necessarily a direct correlation between season and study, but starting the new academic year in September is hardly going to help put a spring in our steps now, is it!?

So, rather than schools and colleges here bowing to our overseas counterparts, I feel we should be strongly encouraging our counterparts to change their system to coincide with Japan’s and, in so doing, “see the light” of an April start.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

steve hampshire