I nearly performed a spit-take reading Dipak Basu’s Jan. 19 letter, “Unfair criticisms of education,” in which he stated that “The Japanese education system creates the most disciplined and most civilized teenagers in the world.”
Has Basu ever taught at a public elementary, junior or senior high school in Japan? Visitations and observations do not count, as a school will often steer visiting professors, politicians and the like into best-case scenarios — I’ve witnessed and taught far too many examples of this to count.
I’ve watched students carve profanity into walls, desks and clothing. I’ve stopped students from physically striking teachers because they knew they could get away with it. I’ve been cursed at and disrespected in at least three languages I recognize.
Public school teaching is akin to trench warfare, with each inch gained costing dearly in mental blood and treasure. Quality has undeniably, measurably, declined here across several disciplines. Defending a system in need of repair doesn’t help. Reforming it honestly in ways that involve everyone affected — teacher, administrator and, just as vitally, parent — does.
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.
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