Jun 13, 2008

What's cram school

My friend in US asked me a question.

>What is 'cram school' ? I was reading your blog and came across it.
>How many children do you have and how old are they?

Sad to say, but you can't talk about the education in Japan without referring to cram schools, Juku and Yobiko, these days.

Cram schools are private educational institutions that supplement regular school study.
There are many kinds of cram schools.
Some support children who cannot keep up with regular school study.
Some give higher education for children aiming for high-level schools.

If you want your child enter very famous private elementary schools,
then you need to let your child study at specialized cram schools to pass the entrance test.
To enter famous junior high schools, children start to go to cram schools from around the fourth grade.
There are quite many numerous large-scale schools for junior high and high school students that have developed nationwide chains.

When I was a children, none or few children went cram schools, but now more and more children go these schools after a hard day in regular schools.

Many believe cram schools are indispensable as supplements to public education.
But, I strongly doubt it.

So, why have these cram schools succeeded to develop nationwide in such a short period of time?
This is what I think.

There is a guideline for compulsory education in Japan, and I expected that all teachers might try hard to let their students learn basics 'thoroughly'.
But there seems to be some incompetent teachers who believe that
children don't have free time because there are too many things they have to memorize.
To develop the ability to think and learn independently,
the amount of things children need to memorize should be reduced.
They simply reduced the time to spend for memorize study and don't come up with anything different to replace the memorize-only study.

As a result, Children acquired insufficient scholastic ability, and they don't have enough ability apply for more advanced study.
This created big anxiety among parents and they decided to send their children to cram schools.

For example, my daughter is good at math, but she hadn't practiced enough to memorize multiplication when she was in the third grade, so she often makes mistakes in calculation and lose the score in math test even if she knows how to solve the questions.

So, do I make my children study at cram schools?
Oh, no no no!

I trust my children and believe if they want to study farther more and have ability to do so, they will do it their own way.
Well, this is one of minority opinions in Japan.


Whiskers said...

Hi, emmie-san!
I completely agree with you!
I have 2 daughters--one now 19 years old, and the other 15 years old. The younger one has been educated under the infamous YUTORI KYOIKU. I was so shocked to find how slow she was at calculating. Much slower than her big sister. When they were memorizing multiplication, both of their homeroom advisors made it a homework and I always had to check it. And I didn't think there were any differences. Looking back, I guess the school couldn't give enougu time for the younger one to drill it thanks to YUTORI KYOIKU!
We should make a law that those who make the guideline for compulsory education must send their children to public schools. Then probably they can seriously think about it.
As for cram schools:
Some parents expect their children study hard there but actually, most of them don't. At least in our town, I heard.
And the heated competition for elite schools is wrong. It's not good to train very young children to beat others. They have rights to enjoy their lives as children, I think. As your daughter! It was really a beautiful clay dumpling... My daugter(younger one) once said that she often caught rain frogs and inflated them or made them wrestle... Children really do things beyond their parents' imagination!

mrs. malone said...

Thank you for leaving me a message in English. I think exchanging ideas in English with Japanese friends can be a good starter to begin a mail-exchange with friends abroad because you can expect them to understand what you mean. With friends abroad you have to explain everything in detail due to the lack of cultural background, so I'm sometimes exhausted after just one mail. Now back to education: I think the concept of YUTORI KYOIKU might be ideal but it was introduced without having enough discussions among teachers. Sougou Gakushu could be a wonderful exciting study if many specialists gather around and discuss what kind of projects they can organize and how they will combine basics of each fields into the projects.You can't change fundamental 'hitono hanashi ha yoku kiki mashou' behavior pattern into global standard? acceptable behavior 'jibun no iken wo iimashou' in such a short time. As for cram schools, I don't think people who are truly eager to be a teacher wouldn't satisfy being a teacher in cram schools. We should remind that cram schools are companies pursuing a profit, so only those students who can give benefit to the company will be treated well. I found an interesting article concerning about education in US, especially about homework and reading, on the net and will upload it sometime soon. It says "A little boredom is a good thing". 去年、地方から都会へ引っ越して、まだ何をしたものか決まらず暇なもので、つたない英語ですがブログ楽しんでいます。言葉の学習には終わりがないんだから、今の時点でできること楽しもうよ、です。でもつくづく、もう少しはやく英語と親しくなっていれば、もっと自由に英語の海泳げたのになあ、です。