The Aug. 31 editorial “Is it twilight for cram schools?“made me think of young people’s education and the future of Japan. The editorial points out that at cram schools “students learned how to compete with people rather than cooperate.”
It is true they learned how to compete, but by studying together or sharing problems with friends for a year or so, they could learn how to cooperate in life with each other.
Even after passing the university entrance exams, some volunteered to work with students at the same cram school where they once learned. And they could make friends in cram schools, sometimes lifelong friendships.
The editorial says that cram schools “neglected the development of critical and creative abilities. Students passed the exams but did not learn how to discuss and write meaningfully, or think independently.”
It would not be easy to have debating, writing and critical thinking as academic subjects in cram school classes. Nonetheless, most students had plenty of chances to study and discuss many items with friends, and I would hope those experiences put them on track to independently look at things critically and write well eventually. It takes time regardless.
The editorial concludes that Japan needs “young people who can think outside the box, interact with diverse types of people, and engage with the world in meaningful ways.” Obviously Japan cannot live alone in the world. It is expected that young Japanese will learn what’s important as citizens of Japan and the world. All educators, whether they’re in a cram school or any school, must not forget “Japan in the world.”
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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