Comparison of the North American and Japanese Educational Systems
The comparison between Japanese and North American educational systems is often used. The Japanese system, along with other Asian cultures, places importance on the group and the interdependence of its members (Cole & Cole, 2001, p. 541). The North American model, in contrast, focuses on the ideals of individuality and independence (Cole & Cole, 2001, p.541). This contrast is due to a conflicting cultural/social structure and outlook of the world. Japanese look at the development of self as doubled sided: the inner self and the social or public self (Hoffman, 2000, p.307). Within the Japanese education system, the teacher's goal is to develop and cultivate both layers. Opposing this concept can be found in the North American style, which does not distinguish the two, but instead stresses the importance of the one true self (Hoffman, 2000, p.307). It is interesting to compare my personal experiences as an educator in both Japan and Canada. Both educational systems aims towards the same outcome: the development of the child toward their future role in adult society. However, the difference can be seen in the differences in the educator's desire for the children’s development, and their role in adult society.
The Japanese educational system emphasizes the importance of the group (Hoffman, 2000, 301). The national, cultural image reflects its stress on group interconnectedness (Hoffman, 2000, p.301). Within a classroom’s daily life, large group activities are encouraged. Japanese students spend less time seated and more time participating in whole or small group activities (Hoffman, 2000, p.302). On a regular basis, as a teacher in elementary schools in Japan, I prepared group or whole class interactive activities. As children learn, the attention is given to the children' development in terms of a collective effort as a class (Hoffman, 2000, p.302). In Japan, the greatest task of the children's education is considered to be their socialization into group life (Hoffman, 2000, p.302). In the middle childhood years, there is a large increase of formalization and rituals in schools. Every part if life is a routine. The school code of dress, attitude, and daily routine, all are oriented to encourage proper observance of form (Hoffman, 2000, p.305). The role of the teacher is not authoritarian, but instead warm and friendly. Teachers look to the group or class to guide behaviors. Japanese teachers rely on the group, by emphasizing interdependence and the importance of each other's relationship to one another (Cole & Cole, 2001, p.541). This follows the cultural theme of interconnectedness in contrast to independence. This theme is the backbone to the Japanese educational and cultural system.
In contrast, the North American education system stresses the ideals of individualism. The aim of the North American system is to socialize the children to become independent...