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.