• Taragi, Kumamoto


Since coming to Japan some years ago, the most surprising fact I learned about the education system was that it is impossible for elementary and middle school students to fail and repeat a grade.

Amid the debate over the value of adding Saturday classes, we could modify retired NASA astronaut Frank Borman’s statement about capitalism and bankruptcy to read: “School without failure is like Christianity without Hell.” In an environment where the results are the same for both the student who works hard and the student who sleeps in every class, is it surprising that Japanese schools have many of the latter and few of the former?

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