A US teacher visiting Japan notes that we're heading in opposite directions, but towards the same goals:
[Sarah] Folzenlogen and 200 other American teachers spent three weeks in Japan as part of the Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund Teacher Program. They examined the country's education system and compared it to ones in the United States...Posted by kswygert at December 14, 2005 01:21 PM
One of the issues Folzenlogen learned about was Japan's desire to move away from standardized testing and more toward creative thinking. "They have a test students take in the ninth grade to determine what high school they will attend," she said. "They're trying to get away from test-based knowledge to innovation and problem solving."
Students oftentimes spend several hours after school reading and memorizing information. They all strive to do well on their high school entrance exam. This exam will determine where they attend high school and later college.
Although Japan ranks highly in the world for factual knowledge, it is falling behind in critical thinking and originality. Kevin Lydy, a teacher at the academy, said the focus on group welfare may impede individual critical success. "Over here in the U.S. it's me, me, me," he said. "There it's more about the group. It's a matter of finding students who are creative, not afraid to give their responses."
This country now is trying to target standardized testing through No Child Left Behind to improve its base knowledge. "We're two countries with the same goal going in opposite directions," said Lydy.