Regarding the Feb. 11 editorial, “Exam system put to the test“: Japan’s use of high-stakes tests is the unavoidable outcome of its system of differentiation in education. While the anxiety surrounding these tests is unfortunate, it is unavoidable as long as students have to be sorted out.

Even if Japan were to adopt a system of democratization in education as exists in the United States, it does not guarantee a stress-free atmosphere. The excruciating pressure to score high on the SAT, for example, to enhance one’s chances of being admitted to brand-name colleges and universities extracts a severe price from students and their parents.

In the final analysis, it’s important to remember that it’s altogether possible to have a productive and gratifying career without a “sheepskin.” Colleges and universities are merely the most convenient places to learn how to learn.

walt gardner

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