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It is surprising that the same thing happening in Japanese schools is happening in England. If the Japanese government views the current British school system as an exemplary one, Japanese educational reform is destined to fail. It is a banal fiction that British education is superior.

In Britain many secondary school teachers find it so difficult to go on teaching violence-prone classes that many of them are thinking of quitting the profession before retirement. Teachers are very nervous about how their students get on with lessons, because if their classes fail to achieve a high rank under the assessment of the National Curriculum, they will be criticized. So naturally they tend to impose severe discipline on students. An unruly student that disturbs a class may be given a prescribed drug that will allay irritation and aggressiveness. The teacher, however, will not probe into the real cause of the aberration — because he or she has no time.

There are various reasons why English as well as Japanese schools are in a deplorable mess. One of them is that an increasing number of families can’t afford to make ends meet unless both mother and father work. Consequently, their children suffer from stress and depression. Some children get worse psychologically and behave violently.

It is very difficult to solve the problems in the schools amid global competition demanding the kind of inhuman meritocracy pushed by former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Now that the Fundamental Law of Education has been revised in Japan, I am afraid that teachers and students will be caged and insulated within tight regulations and that they will be compelled to be cowardly and obedient to authorities. Our young children will have their sensitive and creative natures cut out so that they become harmless.

yoshikazu uehata

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