• Chikushino, Fukuoka


Regarding the Nov. 20 editorial, “Teachers leaving jobs“: One central problem with teacher training in Japan is that it tends to take place while those in training are undergraduates. This has several side effects.

First, those in training may lack the emotional and worldly experience necessary to understand and deal with their eventual students. Another problem is that they may have to split their time between trying to master their special subject as well as the methodology to teach it. There is also the unrelenting pressure of finding a job before one has even graduated.

Surely undergraduate students should be concentrating solely on mastering their major before they try to master how to teach it!

One anachronism of Japanese tertiary education is the graduation requirement of four years when three should be enough for students with ability. Because so many people go to university, it seems the extra year is necessary to ensure that they qualify, but would-be teachers should be able to graduate in three years. Then, in a yearlong postgraduate course, they could focus exclusively on methodology as well as acquire a more mature viewpoint.

Another problem is that many teacher trainers have varying ability and it is often a skeleton staff who train, so this again leaves those in training with a shallow viewpoint. Because of Japan’s time-conformity ethos, the situation is unlikely to change and the gap between training and the ability necessary to survive will widen.

Even the best-trained would find the teaching life hard at first, so it is no surprise that there is a crisis. Japanese parents also seem to be very demanding; young people who have just graduated are no match for their onslaught. Japan is infamous for withholding the funding needed to enable schools to put new teachers in ancillary roles instead of on the frontline.

When one sees the horror of how public funds are misused, as at the Japanese consulate in Switzerland, there seems to be little hope for immediate improvement.

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.

david john

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