• Kawasaki, Kanagawa


Takamitsu Sawa’s Dec. 19 article, “Motivation for college study,” shows us what is wrong with the educational system in Japan. The comments made by a university president that are not based on knowledge or statistics are quite shocking. I started out hoping to learn more about motivation and ended up questioning the author’s background to be writing the piece.

Sawa implies that the SAT (a pre-college entry test) is easy for Japanese high school students as the education level in Japan is high. He should know that there is no passing grade for the SAT or any other standardized test. Perhaps he can explain why Japanese students rank lower than almost all other Asian students in the TOEFL test. And why can’t Japanese students do well on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)? Does the fault perhaps lie with the poor educational system in this country?

Japanese students generally do better on the mathematical skills sections than on the verbal sections. Yet, most good universities require a balance in section scores. Sawa says American universities are easier to enter than Japanese universities. Aren’t there schools in every country, including Japan, that are “easy” to get into?

How in the world can Sawa mention “easy to get into” and Harvard University in the same breath? (I’m not a Harvard grad by the way, just a frustrated educator).

According to Sawa, Japanese students lack incentives to study, compared with Chinese and South Korean students. Why is this so? Does the attitude of one Japanese university president explain this? It would seem that nothing in life is easy, except Sawa’s writing misconceptions for one and all to read!

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.

name withheld by request

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