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When I first came to Japan, children used to go to school six days a week. Sunday was their only day off, but most of them were in clubs, so they ended up going to school every day of the week without a break.
About twenty years ago, as part of the “yutori kyoiku” program, the Japanese government decided that schoolchildren should have one Saturday off every month. Three years later, this was extended to two Saturdays off a month. Ten years ago, Saturday classes were stopped altogether, although many private schools continued with a six-day week.
At the moment, the government is talking about going back to the old system. I read a survey about this recently, and it seems that most Japanese parents are in favour of the change. The reason most parents give is that it will give their children more opportunities to study.
When I was in school, anyone who suggested having school on a Saturday would have been shot, not only by the children, but also by the parents. In the UK, weekends are seen as a time for families and friends, and it seems very strange to Westerners that Japanese parents would actually want their children to spend even more time away from home. In the survey, some people said that having more time at school would help to develop “communication” between the teachers and the students, but what about communication between the children and their parents!?
The argument that increasing the number of classes will raise academic standards does not seem logical to me for a number of reasons.
Firstly, the biggest problem in Japanese schools is not the number of classes; it’s the size of the classes. There are far too many children in each class, so the teacher/student ratios are much worse than in other developed countries.
Secondly, school teachers are already overworked. I have several friends who are teachers, and they tell me that they don’t have any time to prepare lessons because they are too busy doing other stuff. Increasing their workload will decrease the quality of the lessons, not increase it.
Thirdly, Japanese “juken” is a closed system. Even if your child did benefit from Saturday classes, all of his/her friends would have the same benefit, so the total result would be no change.
I think this would be an interesting topic for a poll, so I hope a lot of you will vote, and please explain your opinions in your comments.
このブログは英語学習者のためのものです。レベルの高い人もいれば、初心者もいますので、自分のレベルや学習経験を気にする必要はありません。「いつもコメントを書いている人は仲間みたいだから参加しにくい」と思う方もいるかもしれませんが、勇気を出してコメントを書いてみてください。必ず温かく迎えてもらえます。多くのコメントは英語で書かれていますが、もちろん日本語もOKですし、英語と日本語を混ぜて書いても大丈夫です。言いたいことが言えないときは、How do you say 「〜」in English? と聞けば、きっとだれかが教えてくれると思います。私のエントリー、または他のメンバーのコメントの中に分からないところがあったら、「”…”はどういう意味ですか？」と遠慮なく聞いてください。このブログで使われているフレーズや表現をたくさん吸収すると、より自然な英語に近づけることができますよ！
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