Jul 7, 2014

High test scores, low expectations

by Walt Gardner

Young people in Japan, like their counterparts in the U.S., know that high scores on tests have little to do with their job prospects. So why do a higher percentage of American students still report being hopeful about their prospects for a good life?

Jun 21, 2014

Struggling with gender identity

The education ministry's first-ever survey on gender identity disorder reports a minimum of 606 children across the country who deserve, and greatly need, attention and care.

May 24, 2014

Stop the bullying of LGBT students

A recent survey of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the Kanto area finds that 70 percent were bullied during their school years. Learning respect and tolerance for individual differences should start earlier.

May 10, 2014

Good example of English use

Perhaps an education ministry division's decision to begin conducting its meetings in English this month will help shake loose Japan's grammar-translation paradigm, which does little to compel students to communicate and understand English better.

May 9, 2014

Japan should treat test scores with discretion

by Walt Gardner

Although the education ministry's decision to allow local boards of education in Japan to make public the results of achievement tests for individual schools appeals to those who are frustrated by what they perceive as a lowering of standards, the tests are far too ...

Apr 28, 2014

Stressing over test scores

The education ministry's new policy of letting municipal boards of education release the results of nationwide achievement tests for individual public schools risks distorting the approach to education in Japan.

Apr 19, 2014

Kids wasting too much time online

A Cabinet Office survey finds that the amount of time that Japanese youngsters spend on the Internet with mobile or smartphones has increased 50 percent from a 2010 survey.

Mar 1, 2014

Handle moral education with extreme care

by Walt Gardner

When Education Minister Hakubun Shimomura met with a ministry panel recently to discuss the inclusion of moral education for elementary and junior high school students beginning in 2015, he unwittingly stepped into a potential minefield.

Feb 27, 2014

Steps toward politicized education

The Abe administration plans to submit bills in this Diet session that would reduce the autonomy of a local board of education and make it easier for the education ministry to challenge a board of education's decision on, say, textbook selection.

Jan 18, 2014

School costs gap wider than ever

A fiscal 2012 education ministry survey of parents throughout Japan reports that total spending for a child going to private schools from kindergarten through senior high school came to ¥16.77 million on average, significantly more than the ¥5 million for a child going to ...