Skip to content

[wpaudio url=”https://www.btbpress.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Saturday-Classes.mp3″ text=”Click to listen”]

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.

[polldaddy poll=6891575]

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!

コメントを投稿するときは、名前とメールアドレス、メールアドレス欄下に表示される4文字の英数字(CAPCHA code)を入れてください。 最初のコメントは承認後の公開になりますが、2回目からはそのまま投稿できます。

※メールアドレスは公開されません。

※CAPCHA codeは時間切れになることがあります。コード右上の矢印で更新してから入力してください。

※ブログの更新のお知らせはFacebookまたはTwitterで!Facebookでは「いいね!(Like)」ボタンを、Twitterでは「フォローする(Follow)」ボタンを押して下さい。

52 Comments

  1. Biwa on Monday February 11th, 2013 at 05:05 PM

    Sorry, this comment should have been posted to the previous page. I forgot that it was Monday today! I’ll post my comment for the new topic later.

    Hi YU,

    Thanks for your kind message.(^o^)b
    Actually, I went to Maruzen today to see what kind of textbooks they’re going to use. My sons go to private schools, so the textbooks are different. Anyway, they told me that I’ll have to wait till March to get the new books, but I got the 教科書ガイド today. They also gave me information about 神奈川県教科書販売 so that I can have the textbooks sent to my house directly.

    Although I’ve been always interested in teaching older children, I hesitated because I don’t have any qualification. However, this might be a good chance to make a step forward. I’ll see what I can do. Thanks!

    Hi everyone,

    I’ve been at the department store today, and there were really lots and lots of chocolate! They gave me little pieces for tasting at every shop, so I’ve eaten quite a lot totally.
    I know things are quite different from the Western way, but do you(female members) usually give chocolate to anyone? And do you(male members)like receiving chocolate?
    My husband doesn’t like chocolate(!) so I usually give him 虎屋のひとくち羊羹. lol! I buy some for my friends and their families.(友チョコ)



  2. Tomo on Monday February 11th, 2013 at 07:24 PM

    Hi David and everyone

    When I was an elementary school student, I had two Saturday off a month. And after I entered a junior high school, Saturday classes were stopped. So I studied when it is Yutori Kyoiku period.

    In my opinion, it is not necessary for schoolchildren to go to Saturday classes. Because I think the most important thing for schoolchildren is not to attend many classes, but to think by themselves or solve problems on their own. It may be true that many people in Japan think that the more children study, the smarter they would become. However, it doesn’t get the point. If so, why university students have all Saturday off a month? Yes I know elementary or junior high schools and universities are very different in their purposes. But the study in university is pretty difficult to understand only by listening to a lecture once. So university students have to study on their own to understand what was professor getting at or to know more details. I think this also happen for schoolchildren. From my experience, many schoolchildren may not be able to understand perfectly only once. And what student can’t understand is not same among students. So they also study to understand what they really couldn’t in classes by themselves.



  3. YU on Monday February 11th, 2013 at 07:40 PM

    Hi everyone,

    今週のエントリーの訳です。

    Saturday Classes

    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.
    私が日本に来た当初、子供たちは週6日学校に行っていました。日曜日だけが休みでしたが、ほとんどの子は部活に入っていて一日も休みなく毎日学校へ行く羽目になっていました。

    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.
    約20年位前、”ゆとり教育”制度の一環として日本の政府は学校に毎月一回土曜休みを設けることにしました。3年後、さらに月2回の土曜休みに増えました。そして10年後土曜は完全に休みになりました。でも多くの私立校はまだ週6日制を続けています。

    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.
    今、政府は昔の制度に戻すことを検討しています。最近そのことの世論調査に関する記事を読んだのですが、どうもほとんどの日本人の親は前の制度に戻すことに賛成のようです。ほとんどの親たちが「(そうなれば)子供たちの勉強の機会が増えるだろうから」ということをその理由にあげています。

    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.
    私が学校に通っていた頃は、土曜日に学校に行くことを提案する人間がいようものなら子供たちにだけではなく、親たちにも撃たれるほどでした。イギリスでは、週末は家族と友人たちと過ごすための時間と考えられています。だから日本人の親たちが今より更に子供たちに家庭以外で週末を過ごして欲しいと考えていることは欧米人にはとても奇妙なことに思えるのです。

    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!?
    世論調査の中で、「学校でもっと時間を過ごすことで先生と生徒たちとの間のコミュニケーションがはかられる」、と答えた人たちがいます。でもそれって子供達と先生たちの間のどんなコミュニケーションの事なのですか!?

    The argument that increasing the number of classes will raise academic standards does not seem logical to me for a number of reasons.
    授業数を増やすと学力が向上するという理論は様々な理由から私には論理的とは思えません。

    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.
    まず第1に、日本の学校の最大の問題点は授業数ではなく、クラスの人数が多過ぎることです。
    ひとクラスの人数があまりにも多すぎて生徒数に対する先生の割合が他の先進諸国に比べて極端に悪いのです。

    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.
    第2に、日本の先生は既に働きすぎています。何人か学校の先生をしている友達がいますが、彼らは他の雑用で忙しすぎて授業の準備する時間がないと言います。先生たちの
    仕事量を増やすことで3授業の質は上がりません、下がるのです。

    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.
    第3に、日本の「受験」は非常に閉鎖的な制度です。もしあなたの子供が土曜日の授業の復活で何か恩恵を受けたとしても、周りの子供たちも同じように恩恵をうけるのですから
    結果的に何も変わりません。(自分の子供だけが受験に有利になるわけではないわけです)

    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.
    これはおもしろいアンケートになると思うので皆さん是非投票してコメントでその理由を説明してください。

    Should Japanese schoolchildren have classes on Saturdays?
    子供たちは土曜も学校に行って授業を受けるべきだ。

    Yes はい

    No いいえ

    Not sure わからない



  4. Biwa on Monday February 11th, 2013 at 09:27 PM

    Hi everyone,

    I would never want my children to have Saturday classes. School is not the only place that children learn things. I think they learn lots of important things by spending time with their families, friends and other adults.

    They also need time just to relax and look up at the sky, organize their thoughts and get ready for the next week. Just like adults! As Tomo said, some children might spend time to review their lessons. Talking with parents and siblings help them understand, too, and I think that is a very nice thing.

    I don’t think Saturday classes would raise academic standards, either. If so, it doesn’t make sense that children in Sweden and other countries get much higher scores in achievement tests. I don’t think they spend more time at school than Japanese children do.



  5. YU on Monday February 11th, 2013 at 10:02 PM

    Hi David and everyone,

    When I was in school(I was born in 1970), I had Saturday classes until noon every week and afternoons off. Around that time I never felt that I had too few time to spend with my family or friends because of Saturday classes.

    Actually, I’m not really sure if the government should go back to the old system.

    As most of you may know, academic standards of children in each countries are measured by PISA(Programme for International Student Assessment), and it indeed shows that academic standards of Japanese students have been declining. When I lived in Germany, there was a big argument that academic standards of German students were getting lower and lower every year, and the government was trying to think of new programs for raising them of immigrants’ children in particular.

    In Japanese students’ case, I’m not very sure if their academic abilities are really declining.
    I heard that ゆとり教育 generations learned everything in easier way from easier textbooks (for example, 円周率=3, not 3.14!). So no wonder they can’t get a good score at the PISA test.

    > Firstly, the biggest problem in Japanese schools is not the number of classes; it’s the size of the classes.

    I agree with you that the size of the classes in Japan is big compared to other developed countries, but I’m not sure if it has something to do with the decline in academic standards of Japanese students.
    When I was in school there were 42~44 students in each class, too, but I don’t think academic standards of our generations were as bad as that of students today.

    > Secondly, school teachers are already overworked.

    I agree, however, I don’t think we should stop returning to the old system just because of that reason. I think the problem is that the government spends too few budget in education. I think if they spent more budget to employ more school teachers, their workload would decrease and they would have enough time to prepare lessons and to study and train for themselves, too.

    Hi Tomo,

    > It may be true that many people in Japan think that the more children study, the smarter they would become

    Actually, I don’t think that way.
    I think the less children take classes at school, the more parents will need to spend money for “jyuku” to fill a gap between your children and others who go to private schools.
    Because as David pointed out, “juken” is a very closed system and evey student has to take the same exam to enter a university, no matter whether you go to private school or public school.
    So parents may think that if their children could take more classes at school for free, they would make a better living?!

    > From my experience, many schoolchildren may not be able to understand perfectly only once.

    That’s very true.

    > And what student can’t understand is not same among students. So they also study to understand what they really couldn’t in classes by themselves.

    I’m very skeptical about if those students can study by themselves at home. I think they end up either going to jyuku or just dropping behind. So some parents might just want school teachers to teach children as slow as possible, taking enough time, as they used to do until about 20 years ago.



  6. Fumie on Monday February 11th, 2013 at 11:26 PM

    Hi David and everyone,

    I’m absolutely against having Saturday classes as the same reasons as David. When I knew this plan on the newspaper, I was shocked. I told my sons about this and they were furious about reducing their free time. Had this plan already been decided? As David said, children are busy even now with their school work, club activites and some students go to Juke. If they had to go to school one more day a week, they would have less time to play, spend with their families. It would be difficult to go somewhere by family if children had to go to school on Saturdays. I want my sons to play much when they are little/young. The time parents can spend with their children is limited, they will eventually live apart from us. I want to spend many time with them and have good experiences/ memories together.
    And for teachers, they are always so busy. If they had to work on Saturdays, they would have very few private time. Many of female teachers are mothers and they have to juggle family and job. They have their own children whom she has to take care of. They would end up sacrifice their own children. Because of above reasons, I want the current system continue.



  7. Tomo on Monday February 11th, 2013 at 11:56 PM

    Hi YU and everyone

    Though I studied Pi = 3.14, I think it is not so important whether Pi = 3.14 or 3. The reason is that Pi is irrational numbers (無理数). And it is written from 1992 in 学習指導要綱 which is a book about what teacher should teach in classes, that Pi is 3.14 but sometimes processes Pi as 3 according to purposes. So this is not new thing of Yutori Kyoiku. Addition to this, some researcher says Yutori Kyoiku(ゆとり教育) had already started from late 1970’s.

    YU, can you explain why 3.14 is better than 3.141526~.The most important point about Pi, I think, is why Pi is not 3 and 3.15. When I was a junior high school student, my math teacher taught us how to derive Pi. And there are one famous question of the entrance examine of University of Tokyo, 2003, which is that “Verify that Pi is bigger than 3.05. ” I think some people mistake “study”. Why we study is not to solve “given” questions and never to enter good university, but to find or look for questions by oneself.

    So I think one of the reasons why the PISA score of Japanese student is so low, is teachers teach their students only result or fact with little explanation.

    >>I think the less children take classes at school, the more parents will need to spend money for “jyuku” to fill a gap between your children and others who go to private schools.

    I don’t think so. To fill a gap between children going public school and children going to private school, parents should take much care of their children before let their children go to jyuku.

    When I was a junior high school student, my parents taught me every day. Though I went a crammer finally, it is for preparing effectively for entrance exams, not for preparing for classes. And I know some students entered very good university, for example Tokyo, Kyoto, and so-called seven imperial universities, without going a crammer. So it is not necessity for students of public school to go to crammers.

    >>I’m very skeptical about if those students can study by themselves at home.

    Yes, it may be true. So parents should take care of their children and shouldn’t leave their children alone.



  8. Kattie on Tuesday February 12th, 2013 at 12:27 AM

    Hi everyone,

    In the UK a lot of people live quite a long way from their relatives and friends, so it’s sometimes nice to stay with people at the weekends and also visit places which are not on your doorstep. Saturday morning classes would make this very difficult in term-time. We have an expression; ‘All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy’ do you have a similar one? When I talk to my foreign guests they often tell me that they have similar expressions in their own language.

    As some of you have said, I think children should learn to acquire knowledge themselves and should not always be spoonfed – it’s also important to have fun. This type of discussion always makes me think about the meaning of life!



  9. Fumie on Tuesday February 12th, 2013 at 06:03 AM

    correction

    I should change subject, mothers to parents thinking about today’s state.
    →Many of teachers are parents and they have to juggle family and job. They have their own children whom they have to take care of.



  10. YU on Tuesday February 12th, 2013 at 07:17 AM

    Hi Tomo,

    > YU, can you explain why 3.14 is better than 3.141526~.

    First of all, I think you totally took me wrong.
    Please read my comment carefully once again.

    – In Japanese students’ case, I’m not very sure if their academic abilities are really declining.

    As I wrote in above sentence, I’m not sure if academic abililities of students today are really declining.

    I wrote Pi=3, not 3.14 just because I heard it was an good example that you learned something in easier way at school.
    I’m not saying Pi=3.14 is better than Pi=3 at all nor our generations are smarter than ゆとり教育 generations.

    What I wanted to say was that if students learn only fewer things in easier ways, then it is very natural that they will get worse scores at the PISA, but it doesn’t always mean that their academic abilities are declining.
    私が言いたかったのは学校で習うことが易しく、少なくなればPISAを受けて点がとれなくなってくるのは当たり前のこと。
    だからと言って今の子たちの学力が落ちてきている、とは言えないと思う、ということです。

    > When I was a junior high school student, my parents taught me every day.

    I think your parents are very smart.
    I don’t think all parents can teach their children, especially when children become junior or highhschool students. If they could, why I’m correcting students’ papers now?

    > And I know some students entered very good university, for example Tokyo, Kyoto, and so-called seven imperial universities, without going a crammer. So it is not necessity for students of public school to go to crammers.

    I had those friends in my highschool, too.
    When you go to 進学校, the students usually know how they should study by themselves, but I think what you say is only a little part of many other cases, I’m afraid.
    If what you say is applied to every student, why a number of children go to 塾 or take 通信添削?

    > So parents should take care of their children and shouldn’t leave their children alone.
    I don’t think so. To fill a gap between children going public school and children going to private school, parents should take much care of their children before let their children go to jyuku.

    I think so, too. But I don’t think I can teach all subjects to enter a university to my son alone, it’s too difficult for me. Some of my mom friends told me that they do part-time only for their chuldren’s 塾. They say it sometime costs 20000~30000yen/child. That means,if you have 2, 3 children, you will pay more every month.

    What mom friends around me told me is different from what you say. I’m not saying you’re wrong, by the way…
    They say “in general”, if your children go to private schools, teachers teach them more difficult things by using different textbooks from public schools. In fact, Biwa has just told us that her sons go to private schools and use different textbooks. I wonder if her sons have Saturday classes, too, as David mentioned in the entry.

    See you!



  11. YU on Tuesday February 12th, 2013 at 08:55 AM

    Hi Tomo,

    I’m sorry if you took me wrong because of my sentence below.

    > I don’t think academic standards of our generations were as bad as that of students today.

    I didn’t mean your generations aren’t as smart as our generations, but I just meant at least we learned much more things at school than your generations did, so if our generations had taken the PISA test, I guess we would have had better results than yours. Actually, I can’t compare them because I don’t think there was the PISA study when we were in school. Or was there already? I don’t know when Japan has joined the PISA study….

    May I ask you a question?

    > So I think one of the reasons why the PISA score of Japanese student is so low, is teachers teach their students only result or fact with little explanation.

    Why do you think they teach that way?
    Because they have less knowledges than teachers of our generations? Or because the number of classes got fewer and the time is limited? Or for any other reasons?

    Hi everyone,

    I’m not for restarting Saturday classes, but I understand somehow why most parents today are for it as the survey shows. I think people may think this way :

    The results of PISA got worse -> People think there must be some problems in education today -> They try to figure out the differences between the education in the old days and that of today. -> They realize that it is the number of classes and the contents what students learn at school. -> So people start to hope going back to the old system.

    I don’t think this way of thinking is correct, but I don’t wonder why most people think this way at all. I think this is a very natural way of thinking.



  12. Biwa on Tuesday February 12th, 2013 at 10:20 AM

    Hi everyone,

    >This type of discussion always makes me think about the meaning of life!

    I totally agree. I know some people that feel uncomfortable when their schedules are blank, but I’m certainly not that type. It also reminds me of the discussion a few weeks(monthes?) ago about “The busy myth”. Lots of people tend to think that they must spend more time at work/school to achieve results.

    Regarding the “pressure-free education” or “ゆとり教育”, I don’t think the basical idea is not wrong, but there seems to be many problems with the way they do it. For example, they have a period called “integrated studies(総合的な学習の時間)”. As the name suggests, it’s a very “vague” subject, and the teachers often ended up using the time for just practicing dances or songs for school events. If not, they gave a certain “topic” to the children, and let them do some kind of research and presentation usually with a group of 4 or 5 students. However, I couldn’t help thinking that the teachers were aiming too high from the beginning. I mean, how can the students find anything interesting enough to research, collect material, write up a report and present it in front of their classmates without any practice or idea? Naturally, they just start chatting to each other because they don’t know what to do.

    By the way, have you ever heard of “show-and-tell”? It’s a kind of practice for young students (I think!) to get used to talking about things in front of people. It’s also a good practice for listening carefully and asking questions. Anyway, the student of the day “shows” something like their favorite toys or books, and “tells” his/her classmates about it. You don’t have to talk for a very long time, and you don’t have to be nervous, either because everyone is relaxed and listening or asking questions. I think these little practices are very important, and the Japanese teachers need to go step by step like this.

    I also think that many parents rely too much on the teachers about educating children. It’s a matter of course that those people are in favor of Saturday classes. Actually, some of my friends who work on Saturdays say that it would be nice if their children had classes on Saturday. I don’t think so!

    Hi YU,

    My sons don’t have Saturday classes. If they did, I would never let them go to that school.



  13. Biwa on Tuesday February 12th, 2013 at 10:24 AM

    Sorry, my first sentence in the second paragraph should be:
    “I don’t think the basical idea is wrong”



  14. David Barker on Tuesday February 12th, 2013 at 11:01 AM

    Hi Biwa,

    There is no such word as “basical.” Do you mean “basic”?

    Hi YU,

    I think there is a natural tendency as people get older for us to think that we learned more than the children who followed us. In the UK, most people believe that academic standards have fallen, but I have a friend who is the headmaster of a high school, and he says that what children learn nowadays is actually more complicated and difficult than what we learned.

    The main reason I disagree with Saturday classes is that if the classes from Monday to Friday are not effective, then just having more of them will not make any difference. There are many, many problems that need to be addressed in the Japanese education system, including class sizes, teacher workloads, teaching methods, the obsession with tests and exams, bullying, and mental health issues. Of course, these are very difficult problems to deal with, so the politicians just look for some easy way to show “We are making changes.” The easiest solution for them is always to just “do more” of something that they are already doing.

    It’s the same with the Japanese economy. None of the politicians has any idea how to make the changes that really need to be made, so the only thing they can do is say “Let’s go back to the old system!” The current government’s “idea” of spending lots of money on public works projects has been tried (and has failed) countless times before.

    I think the problem is that Japanese people have a very positive view of the past because of the “bubble” years, so they tend to think that going back to the old ways is the best way to move forwards. As you say, I suppose that is just human nature. I’m not an expert in economic systems, but the world is a different place now, and Japan is a different country. What worked twenty years ago will not necessarily work again. What is needed now are new ideas and new methods, not just endless attempts to recapture former glory. Schoolchildren need to learn how to think for themselves, because that is what big companies need now. The current education system was set up to produce “automaton” salary men and office ladies for Japanese companies because that was what those companies wanted and needed at the time.



  15. Biwa on Tuesday February 12th, 2013 at 11:31 AM

    Hi David,

    I’m so embarrassed! Yes, I wanted to say “basic”. I often do this because of the adverb “basically”. Thank you!



  16. David Barker on Tuesday February 12th, 2013 at 11:50 AM

    Hi Biwa,

    Having students do research and presentations is nice, and it’s very beneficial, but it’s just not possible in a class of 40. Also, remember that teachers were never taught these skills themselves, so how can they teach them to anyone else?



  17. Biwa on Tuesday February 12th, 2013 at 12:30 PM

    Hi David,

    Exactly. However, as you said, most of the companies really want those kind of people that can think for themselves and present their ideas to other people. I think that is what the goverment is trying to do as one of the most prior issues.

    We all know that it’s nice if you can talk in front of people fluently, but I don’t think that is the most important thing. Isn’t it the content what counts most? And I think that comes from daily learning, so I don’t really like the way they leap into “presentation” like a trend or something and miss the step-by-step teaching.



  18. Biwa on Tuesday February 12th, 2013 at 01:36 PM

    Hi Kattie and David,

    I might be off the track, but I often feel that Japanese polititians are very bad at dicussing. They broadcast the discussions at Diets on TV, and they just seem to find fault with each other and spend time for deciding nothing. Actually, I don’t think so many Japanese really know the idea of “discussing” or “debating”. I don’t, either. Do you learn about these things at school?



  19. Biwa on Tuesday February 12th, 2013 at 01:38 PM

    Sorry again, “politicians”



  20. YU on Tuesday February 12th, 2013 at 02:45 PM

    Hi Kattie,

    >‘All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy’ do you have a similar one?

    I think 「よく学び、よく遊べ」might be the one in our language. It literally just means, 「Study hard and play a lot」, but its true meaning is “If your children only study and never play, they will be a dull and boring adult.”

    Hi Biwa,

    > I mean, how can the students find anything interesting enough to research, collect material, write up a report and present it in front of their classmates without any practice or idea?
    > And I think that comes from daily learning, so I don’t really like the way they leap into “presentation” like a trend or something and miss the step-by-step teaching.

    I couldn’t agree with you more!
    I have told you this story before, but when I studied Japanology in German uni, I had to do research and present about a certain theme in front of my professor and other students of 50~60(!) to get a credit.
    Of course, I had totally no idea what I had to do because I’d never learned those things at school in Japan, besides, I had a language barrier. However, it seemed to be a very usual event for all other German students to do research and present it in class. I heard that German students start learning those things already from elementary school.
    So as you say, I think Japanese schoolchildren should learn those things step-by-step, too. However, as David pointed out, who on earth can teach them?!

    Hi David,

    > but the world is a different place now, and Japan is a different country. What worked twenty years ago will not necessarily work again.
    > Schoolchildren need to learn how to think for themselves, because that is what big companies need now.

    I agree with you, however I don’t think nothing would move forwards unless Japan abolishes the “jyuken” system. Communication, researching or presentation abilities aren’t necessary at all when you take entrance exams. “Juken” is a paper test and nothing else. Anyone can enter good universities only if you study desperately at school, at home, and at 塾. I think “juken” makes Japanse children to have a gray schooldays.



  21. Tomo on Tuesday February 12th, 2013 at 02:49 PM

    Hi YU and everyone

    >>First of all, I think you totally took me wrong.

    I’m sorry, maybe I took you somewhat wrong.
    But what I want to do is not to make a charge against you, but to say that, though some people say “I heard that students today study Pi = 3 not 3.14. So they are stupid” and such things, they also take many mistakes.

    And Pi is not good example to explain students’ today study in easier ways.

    The one of reasons why I asked you “can you explain why 3.14 is better than 3.141526~?” is that I wonder people who say “students today study Pi = 3 not 3.14” really understand why Pi should be 3.14. 

    By the way, I think one simple reason of Pi should be 3.14 not 3, is when you find the area of a circle, if you calculate it by radius * radius * 3, you will calculate a circle as areas of three squares exactly. This is very bad mathematically.

    >>I think your parents are very smart.

    I don’t think my parents are very smart. Because they didn’t teach me Math, Science, English, and so on, like teacher in school did. My parents were, so to speak, coaches. So what they taught me were when and how to study, and works like making word cards or summarizing in notes beautifully are not study. So what they only did was correct my way to study.

    >>the students usually know how they should study by themselves, but I think what you say is only a little part of many other cases, I’m afraid.

    Yes it is really true. But, how can parents who don’t study and think very much teach their children. It is too difficult, I think. And this may be true that that crammers make student to study by themselves at home spontaneously, is also little case. I know many students don’t study very much even if they go to crammers.

    >> Why do you think they teach that way?

    One reason is, I think, that textbooks in Japan are too thin to study. There are not so many explanations, but so many formulas and facts. This is also a reason why people think things taught in school aren’t relevant to entrance examine and difficult to understand.

    Additions to this, there are many students, and student’s abilities to understand are so different among them. If teacher teach very deeply or carefully, it is very boring for some children. And if teacher teach simply, it is too difficult to understand for the other students. And the time is so limited; teacher can’t answer all their children. So there are nothing but teach what students study at home.

    YUのコメントについて取り違えていたところがありました、すみません。
    でも、YUを非難したかったのではなく、何人かの人は「今の子供達はパイを3.14じゃなく、3で学んでいると聞く。だから今の子供たちは頭が悪い」といったことをいうけれども、彼らもまた多くの間違いを犯しているということを言いたかったのです。

    それから、パイは今の子供たちが簡単な方法で学んでいることを説明するいい例ではありません。

    なぜ僕が3.14のほうが3.1315…よりいいのか説明出来ますか?と尋ねたのは、今の子供たちはパイを3,14じゃなく3で学んでいるという人達は、なぜパイが3.14であるべきなのか本当に理解しているのかな?と思ったからです。

    ちなみに、なぜパイは3ではなく3.14であるほうがいいかという一つのシンプルな理由は、もし、円の面積を求めるときに半径×半径×3で計算すると、それは円の面積を3つの四角の面積として考えることになるからだと思います。これは数学的に非常によくことないです。



  22. YU on Tuesday February 12th, 2013 at 03:56 PM

    Hi Biwa,

    >My sons don’t have Saturday classes. If they did, I would never let them go to that school.

    Sorry, I forgot to mention this :
    Thank you for telling us about your sons’ schools.

    It’s very interesting that both Fumie and you are a mother of junior and highschool boys, but either of you is for Saturday classes, although the survey shows the different results!

    Hi Tomo,

    Maybe 円周率 was not a “good” example, but I think that is at least an example to show the differences between what we learned and what you learned at school. I read your generations skipped to learn many other things besides 円周率 and instead learned different things from what we learned like Biwa explained in her comment.
    To be honest, if Pi should be 3.14, 3, or 3.15 is not very important to me(sorry), however I know exactly what you mean. I mean, it is often said that ゆとり教育 generations are the victims of reforms in Japanese education and people tend to think that they are less academic. I also hear that lots of Japanese companies are in trouble to “handle” ゆとり教育世代 employees and they often complain like this :
    「まあでもゆとり世代だから仕方ない」
    However, as I mentioned in my comment, I don’t think they are dull or less academic, but I think they just learned less in their schools. I think the reasons why some of them are difficult to deal with is not only because of “ゆとり教育”, but also because of many other reasons like changes in the society.
    As David mentioned, children today have much more opportunities to get information they need through the Internet or other modern technologies and they are just getting rational. Older generations like us just do what teachers or companies say because that is the way we learned at school. That’s it.



  23. Biwa on Tuesday February 12th, 2013 at 04:04 PM

    Hi YU,

    >However, as David pointed out, who on earth can teach them?!

    I’m not sure, either! That’s one reason why I asked David and Kattie if they learn those things at school. If they do, they must have a method, so I thought the Japanese government can learn from them.

    Hi Tomo,

    >If teacher teach very deeply or carefully, it is very boring for some children.

    I really think so, too, and that is one of the reasons why my husband and I decided to let my sons go to a private school. As they enter the school after passing the exams, it means that they have a similar understanding-level, and what’s more, they are sorted into different classes according to their levels for math and English.(進度別クラス) I think it’s almost impossible for a teacher to manage the whole class with students of different understanding-levels. Of course, this system makes the students happier, too.



  24. YU on Tuesday February 12th, 2013 at 04:58 PM

    Hi Tomo,

    Sorry, I forgot to comment on this part.

    > I don’t think my parents are very smart. Because they didn’t teach me Math, Science, English, and so on, like teacher in school did. My parents were, so to speak, coaches. So what they taught me were when and how to study, and works like making word cards or summarizing in notes beautifully are not study. So what they only did was correct my way to study.

    I don’t think all parents can teach their children how they should study like your parents, I’m afraid. I still think you grew up in a very healthy family. I think parents of those who need to go to 塾 didn’t know how to study by themselves and I suspect they must not have been doing well at school when they were in school. As a result, they are not able to “coach” their own children, either.
    Actually, I hear lots of stories like this from my mom friends. I think another Tomo(お母さんの) told us a similar story before, too.

    > But, how can parents who don’t study and think very much teach their children. It is too difficult, I think.

    Sorry, can you explain what you mean with this sentence?

    > And this may be true that that crammers make student to study by themselves at home spontaneously, is also little case.

    Maybe you mean, “Having children go to a cram school doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll learn to study by themselves soon.”?
    If so, I agree, but I think parents like I mentioned above still want them to go there because it is better than nothing. I mean, their children will never learn how to study by themselves as long as they stay home because their parents can’t teach it to them.

    > If teacher teach very deeply or carefully, it is very boring for some children. And if teacher teach simply, it is too difficult to understand for the other students. And the time is so limited; teacher can’t answer all their children. So there are nothing but teach what students study at home.

    I wonder if those who feel what they learn at school is too difficult can really study and solve their problems alone at home.
    学校で勉強についていけない子達は果たして家にかえってわからないことを一人で勉強してわかるようになるのでしょうか?

    Of course, some parents can help them in their studying, but some can’t as I explained, I guess.
    もちろん子供の分からないことに答えてあげられる親もいると思いますが、そんなにみんながみんな親は賢くないと思いますよ。私も含めて!(*゚▽゚*)

    So I think some children go to 塾 to keep up with other students. Or are there still 補習授業 by school teachers for those students today?
    だから学校の勉強についていくために塾に行く子もいるんじゃないですか?それとも学校の先生って今でもできない子達に
    補習授業とかしてくれるんですか?



  25. Tomo on Tuesday February 12th, 2013 at 05:35 PM

    Hi YU and everyone

    >>To be honest, if Pi should be 3.14, 3, or 3.15 is not very important to me(sorry),

    Well, I know if Pi should be 3.14 or not is not very important for you. But what I want to say is that what we should get from school or studying at home are the abilities to look for their own problem or question and to decide on your own what you should do. How many things students learn at school is not so important for me. I don’t want to say practical things are good and unpractical things are bad. But there are too many things in our world to understand all and to acquire all knowledge from them. As David mentioned:

    >>The current education system was set up to produce “automaton” salary men and office ladies for Japanese companies because that was what those companies wanted and needed at the time.

    The current Education system doesn’t fit modern country, I think. It is changing rapidly. main purpose of PISA is also to measuring not only amount of student’s knowledge but also abilities of using their knowledge for what they haven’t been taught.

    And I think teachers today also don’t adapt these changes yet and are in a huge labyrinth now.



  26. YU on Tuesday February 12th, 2013 at 06:15 PM

    Hi Tomo,

    I think what you say is very true, but it is also true that no one can think further or deeper like you as long as you don’t have basic knowledges in many kinds of field. So I think it is important for schoolchildren to have opportunities to learn practical things or facts at school as well as developing the habits of studying and thinking by themselves.

    > And I think teachers today also don’t adapt these changes yet and are in a huge labyrinth now.

    I totally agree with you!
    I’m glad to know that a very young man like you are already aware of that well.



  27. Tomo on Tuesday February 12th, 2013 at 06:21 PM

    Hi YU

    >>>> But, how can parents who don’t study and think very much teach their children. It is too difficult, I think.
    >>Sorry, can you explain what you mean with this sentence?

    I think I should say “Can parents who don’t study teach their children? It is No, I think.”
    Sorry for my broken English. I have many things to say about this topic but my English skill allows me to say all of them correctly.

    >>Maybe you mean, “Having children go to a cram school doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll learn to study by themselves soon.”?

    Yes, what I want to say is that. Thank you.

    >>parents like I mentioned above still want them to go there because it is better than nothing.

    Yes, it may be true for many parents. But I heard from my mother that she studied and read many books about how to take care of children. I think parents should fulfill their duty as parents of their own children. And it would be better for children that their mother or father are at home in evening to see what their children is doing than parents come home late at night and leave their children alone while parents go out.

    >>I wonder if those who feel what they learn at school is too difficult can really study and solve their problems alone at home. Of course, some parents can help them in their studying, but some can’t as I explained, I guess. So I think some children go to 塾 to keep up with other students. Or are there still 補習授業 by school teachers for those students today?

    Yes, but I think how to study by themselves is too difficult to teach. And I know many parents can’t teach their children properly. In such a case, why do parents study with their children at home? My mother was NOT good at English (even now she isn’t), but she wanted me to learn English, so she decided to study English with me.

    Actually, when I was an elementary school student, my teacher made me to stay in school to study. But I don’t know it still last or not. But if there are things which students can’t understand when they studied at home, students will be able to ask their teacher at school.



  28. Tomo on Tuesday February 12th, 2013 at 06:28 PM

    Hi everyone

    I am not a father. I am nothing but a university student. So I know I am saying an idealistic thought.

    I’m sorry if I may offend you.



  29. Erina on Tuesday February 12th, 2013 at 06:31 PM

    I don’t agree with restart of Saturday classes.

    Children should be given a lot of choices and opportunities.

    For example, there are many Japanese professional sports players known globally now. It proves that if they want to be a professional sport player and they train hard, they can to be it.
    I want children to have much time to do what they want for their dream.

    However, of course, some children want to study. Also, we should give comfortable opportunities, for example supplementary lessons, to such children.

    P.S. My brother is a elementary school teacher in Japan. He is learning children, visiting children’s houses and meeting their parents, making reports…He seems be always very busy as David-san said!



  30. Erina on Tuesday February 12th, 2013 at 07:17 PM

    Sorry(//_//) Hi everyone!

    まだコメントに慣れていなくてごめんなさい…



  31. YU on Tuesday February 12th, 2013 at 07:44 PM

    Hi Tomo,

    > I think I should say “Can parents who don’t study teach their children? It is No, I think.”

    Thank you for your explanation.
    Maybe you mean :

    “Do you think those who never attempt to study themselves can teach their own children?”
    自ら全く学ぼうとしないような人間が自分の子供を教えられると思いますか?

    > But I heard from my mother that she studied and read many books about how to take care of children.

    I think your mother is very smart, kind and patient. I know some mom friends of mine read books like that, too, but I often hear that they finally gave up of teaching their children. I asked them “Why?” and everyone answered the same.
    “Because it always ended up quarreling with my son/daughter!”.

    > I think parents should fulfill their duty as parents of their own children.

    That’s very true. That makes my ears burn!!

    My parents have never ever taken care of my studying at home. My mother was a very bad mother. She was a so-called 放任主義 mother.
    She always said, “I don’t like to see other parents expecting too much from their children. They should know the limits of their children’s abilities from their own school grades. It is not possible that plain parents can produce a genius child.” What do you think about her? hahaha…
    Many of my school teachers told my mother at three persons meeting that your daughter tended to give up of doing everything before she tried them.
    I think I received this nature from my mother!

    > And it would be better for children that their mother or father are at home in evening to see what their children is doing than parents come home late at night and leave their children alone while parents go out.

    I think so, too.
    I will try to study with my son when he starts school two years later. I’m not sure until when I would be manage to teach him, though…



  32. Kattie on Tuesday February 12th, 2013 at 11:14 PM

    Hi Biwa and everyone,
    >I don’t think so many Japanese really know the idea of “discussing” or “debating”. I don’t, either. Do you learn about these things at school

    Actually I often get fed up with our politicians too, especially when they refuse to answer the question! As far as school is concerned, I get the impression that teachers in the UK have more inter-action with their pupils than in a lot of other countries. One of our French students went to school with Rosie for a few days to see what it was like and he said how different it was to his school; he said the teachers were very friendly and the classes were generally much noisier! I think a lot of teaching is done quite informally and the classroom is often quite a lively place. I sometimes helped out in my children’s classes when they were little and the kids were encouraged to ask questions and discuss things. For example, the teacher might ask a class of 5/6 year olds whether a map is a useful thing and, if so, why – s/he might then ask the kids what types of things they would put on a map – the children might get excited at this point and shout out their ideas and the teacher might write the ideas on a white-board and then ask questions like ‘Do you think it’s important to put traffic lights on a map? Would you put farm animals or people on a map and if not, why not?’, the children might then be asked to draw a map themselves.

    When Emily and Rosie were at secondary school, this type of approach continued. In English, I remember they had to choose 3 things which they would like to put in their Room 101 – Room 101 has come to be known as the place where you put your most hated of feared things and comes from George Orwell’s novel; 1984. They had to write and present a speech to the class explaining the reasons for their choices – the choices could be serious or funny, the aim was to entertain the audience and argue their case well. The class and the teacher would then ask questions and a discussion would ensue. This was actually part of their final English exam at secondary school.

    You mentioned ‘Show and Tell’ – Rosie was still doing this when she was in her final year at school. She was studying music and every Friday morning the teacher would ask if anyone had written or heard anything in the week that they would like to share with the class – there were no guidelines except that they should not bore everyone!

    I have several friends who are teachers and I think the best of them want to teach their students how to think, not what to think. One of my friends, who teaches drama in secondary school, told his class about the Milgram experiment which took place in the 1960s (If you haven’t heard of it, it’s worth googling). They were studying the Holocaust in drama lessons and he wanted them to learn that blind obedience to an authority figure can be dangerous.

    I don’t think school is the only place to learn the art of discussion – I think you can also learn a lot within the home environment – even games like Monopoly can encourage negotiation/discussion. This blog is also another good place for a lively discussion!

    Hi Yu,
    >“If your children only study and never play, they will be a dull and boring adult.”
    I thought you might have a similar expression. My last Japanese guest told me you also have an expression which is similar to “When in Rome do as the Romans do”



  33. Kattie on Wednesday February 13th, 2013 at 02:45 AM

    Hi everyone,

    I didn’t really know much about the PISA tests but I quickly googled the most recent results and it looks like Japan performs well in the three areas tested and the UK, by comparison, performs quite badly – I don’t think you need school on Saturdays…. but maybe we do! Only joking, actually I don’t think any child needs more than 5 days a week at school.

    One of the main problems with education in the UK is the fact that there are only 7% of people who are educated in the private sector but these people dominate all spheres of public life and are also massively over presented in all the highest paid jobs. Private education in the UK is often extremely good but education at the other end of the social scale is often very poor and it’s very hard to get to a good university from certain backgrounds. Unbelievably there is less social mobility in the UK now than there was 30 years ago and this state versus private school system is, I think, one of the main reasons for this. My views are radical but if we abolished private schools in the UK, pushy middle class parents/politicians/the powerful would make sure that state education improved. There are too many vested interests so this will never happen!



  34. Biwa on Wednesday February 13th, 2013 at 10:14 AM

    Hi Kattie,

    Thank you for answering my question. I wish I was educated in the UK!
    I think most of the teachers in Japan know well that a class with a lot of inter-action would be more exciting and effective, but sadly, there still are many that think a teacher is a person who teaches, and the pupils should be quiet and just listen. I don’t know why, but maybe still many teachers take it wrong that a noisy or lively class is a badly organized class. As you said, sharing ideas and solving problems is something what we always do at home, so I wonder why many teachers don’t do it at school. However, I often notice that the older the children get, the more they hesitate to present their ideas in front of people, probably because they don’t want to show off or be laughed at by making mistakes! Yes, I think it’s true that many people think they must say something “correct” than to say something original to join a discussion. So, if you say “Talk anything you like. All you have to do is not to bore anyone.”, I guess no one would raise their hands!

    I also notice from home-party scenes in Western films and from my own experience that even little children are encouraged to do things in front of people. Like singing songs, playing musical instruments. I think we have less of those opportunities here. These differences always make me think about the word “share”. I mean, I don’t think we have a perfect word in Japanese that shows the whole idea. We have words that mean “Let’s share the crayons together.”, but I would use a different word to say “Please share your idea with us.” It would just mean as “Please tell us about your idea.”, so it doesn’t convey any inter-active nuance. If we had this nice word “share” in Japanese, it might be much easier for many people to discuss freely.

    For the proverb you mentioned, we also have an expression as “A sound mind in a sound body.” I like it!



  35. Biwa on Wednesday February 13th, 2013 at 10:56 AM

    Hi Kattie,

    It’s interesting to know that there are so few private schools in the UK, and also that those few people dominate the country.

    Things are a bit different in Japan. According to the information I have just googled, almost 30% of the high school students and 73% of the university students go to private schools. It might be true that graduating from the so-called “good universities”-and these are both national and private universities-benefits greatly when getting highly-payed jobs. However, people’s ways of thinking are changing(I hope!) that what you really studied is more important than the level of the university.

    Actually, our prime minister, Mr.Abe graduated from a private university which is not such a common one for a politician. Well, anyway, I don’t think he really studied anything at all, and he was born in a politician family, so probably this is not a good example!



  36. Biwa on Wednesday February 13th, 2013 at 04:47 PM

    Hi Tomo and everyone,

    I don’t feel offended at all. Actually, I really enjoy reading your comments.
    I like the way your parents did, and I hope I can support my children not only about studying but also about lots of other things. As I said before, I don’t really like people who rely too much on schools/teachers about educating children. There are many things that parents should teach at home, and they shouldn’t blame the teachers for their children’s bad grades/behaviors. I guess lots of those “monster-parents” are in favor of Saturday classes.



  37. YU on Wednesday February 13th, 2013 at 05:05 PM

    Hi Kattie,

    >The class and the teacher would then ask questions and a discussion would ensue.

    That is exactly the same in Germany!
    It is often said that German people are argumentative, but I think British people are the same!
    By the way, when your classmate did a very good presentation or your professor gave you a nice lecture, how would students show it in the UK?
    In Germany, students “beat the table with their fist” (or with their pencil) to express it.
    When I saw it for the first time, I thought that everyone was angry because “beating the table” is a very rough behavior in Japan and we never do that except only when we are very angry with someone’s behavior or remark!

    > told his class about the Milgram experiment which took place in the 1960s (If you haven’t heard of it, it’s worth googling). They were studying the Holocaust in drama lessons and he wanted them to learn that blind obedience to an authority figure can be dangerous.

    I learned it when we discussed “death penalty” on this blog last year. At that time, David recommended me to watch the video of “the Stanford experiment” and I knew that the idea of the experiment actually came from “the Milgram experiment”. Anyway, it was a hair-raising video.

    > I quickly googled the most recent results and it looks like Japan performs well in the three areas tested and the UK, by comparison, performs quite badly – I don’t think you need school on Saturdays

    I think the problem for us is rather its “ranking”. I heard that Japan’s ranking is falling in all the three areas, although Japan was ranked top 3 in 2000 in the two areas of three. Most of us connect the decline of the PISA ranking and the “yutori-kyoiku”(pressure-free education) which was adopted about 20 years ago because both happend in the same period by chance.
    However, I hear that our ranking has begun to go up again in recent years, it is only “slightly”, though. Some people believe that it is bacause some public schools in some local governments have started having “Saturday classes” again. I don’t think that is the reason, though!

    Hi Biwa,

    I didn’t know that Mr.Abe graduated from 成蹊大学.
    I googled the academic background of 小泉進次郎 in passing. It seems that he graduated form the private university which is not so common for politicians, too.
    They say that Koizumi Jr. would be our prime minister someday in the future. People often compare Mr.Abe and Koizumi Jr. because both are second-generation politicians, and both experience(d) the post of 青年局長 in the LDP.



  38. YU on Wednesday February 13th, 2013 at 05:15 PM

    【correction】

    > how would students show it in the UK?

    should be :

    how would students praise of their good performances in the UK?



  39. amo on Thursday February 14th, 2013 at 01:15 AM

    Hi David and everyone,

    When I was in school, children used to go school six days a week, and I didn’t complain about that, though I wished no school on Saturdays.

    > The argument that increasing the number of classes will raise academic standards does not seem logical to me for a number of reasons.

    The reasons that you listed are very true, so I don’t need to say anything!!
    As you said, school teachers are already overworked so increasing their workload will end up decreasing the quality of the lessons. Who would think that poor quality of lessons raise academic standards??

    Hi Tomo,

    > I think parents should fulfill their duty as parents of their own children.

    I think so too. By the way, your comments didn’t offend my feelings at all, I rather enjoyed reading them. I admire your parents and you should know that you are so lucky to have them.

    Hi Biwa,

    >I don’t really like people who rely too much on schools/teachers about educating children.

    Me either. I don’t have any children so I have no idea if it’s true that there are some parents who blame the teachers for their children’ bad grades. If so I can’t understand their feelings.
    About “show and tell,” my sister who lives in the US told me about it once, and I thought it was good practice. I remember that I wished I had that practice when I was in elementary school. I really don’t like to talk in front of people. If I had trained like that, I wouldn’t have been like this:(

    Hi YU,

    >but what about communication between the children and their parents!?
    でもそれって子供達と先生たちの間のどんなコミュニケーションの事なのですか!?
    I am afraid but this translation seems to be wrong. Shouldn’t it be like this?
    親子間のコミュニケーションはどうなるのでしょうか?

    Good night and sleep tight,
    amo



  40. Kattie on Thursday February 14th, 2013 at 03:22 AM

    Hi Biwa,
    >It would just mean as “Please tell us about your idea.”, so it doesn’t convey any inter-active nuance
    That’s really interesting, I wonder whether there will soon be a new word in Japanese for this idea.

    All of our universities (except 2) our, government funded (so I think this is different from Japan) and the best universities are extremely good. However, it’s very difficult (almost impossible) for people from more deprived backgrounds to get into them because they can’t get the grades and don’t have the necessary skills. Schools in deprived areas, for various reasons, often find it hard to help their pupils achieve their potential. I get the impression other countries are dealing with these problems better than we are. (By the way, I meant to say over-represented – not presented – it was a typo!)

    Hi Yu
    >how would students praise of their good performances in the UK?
    I think the teacher would probably just say that they had given a good speech and that would be it, so perhaps we’re not quite so rowdy as the Germans! I suppose we might bang on tables if we were in a place like a pub and people had just seen a live performance which they enjoyed and were wanting an encore but I haven’t come across this very often

    >It is often said the German people are argumentative, but I think the British are the same!
    I suppose we would argue (ha ha) that we’re not argumentative, we just enjoy a good discussion!

    >I think the problem for us is more its ‘ranking’.
    Yes I understand, I don’t know what these tests involve but I am always a bit sceptical about these sorts of statistics. I saw that China came top of the list but I recently watched a documentary about schooling in China and I was appalled by it. The education was so intense and disciplined it was very sad to see. I’m sure the children can all read well, do complicated maths sums and know about science at a young age but what about sensitivity, creativity and happiness -surely these are important life skills too.



  41. Biwa on Thursday February 14th, 2013 at 10:21 AM

    Hi YU,

    “Banging on tables” reminded me of the Americans on the same flight when I came back to Japan. When the plane landed-the pilot did a very nice and smooth landing-they suddenly clapped their hands or whistled and shouted “Bravo!!”. I thought that would never happened if all the passengers were Japanese. I really like the way they show their feelings.

    Hi Kattie,

    >I get the impression other countries are dealing with these problems better than we are.

    I’m not sure if Japan is doing better because we have many schoolchildren who drop out and get involved in drugs and all sorts of crimes. Also, more and more people are getting income supports these days, and I think it’s not that easy for them to receive good education, either.
    However, I don’t think I see those “deprived areas” in Japan as I do in other countries. Especially, in America, there were always those places, buses and trains that you shouldn’t step into especially in the night time. Well, I’m just not sure because I live in such a limited community!

    Hi amo,

    I’ve met lots of those crazy mothers! What is worse, they blame the teacher in front of their children. I would never do that because it just affects their(the children’s) views and they would never try to work harder themselves.



  42. YU on Thursday February 14th, 2013 at 10:32 AM

    Hi amo,

    You’re right. Thanks.
    I’ll try to review my translations before posting them from now on.

    > so perhaps we’re not quite so rowdy as the Germans!

    I think so, too!!

    > I suppose we might bang on tables

    Maybe I should have writen “tap their middle finger(pen) on the desk”?! Anyway, it would not be so noisy if only one student did the action, but because all the students in the class do it at the same time, I found it very noisy and weird. It even looked a kind of rituals of a new religion to me!!
    By the way, I read that the action was originally born when students wanted to give applause, but they couldn’t, because one of their hand was occupied with writing down what their teacher wrote on the blackboard.

    > I suppose we would argue (ha ha) that we’re not argumentative

    I like your joking!! hahaha…

    > I saw that China came top of the list but I recently watched a documentary about schooling in China and I was appalled by it.

    I’ve watched a similar one, too. I heard that China didn’t join the PISA study for the reason that they use several kinds of languages in their country, but only some cities like Shanghai joined it individually. Students in Shanghai performed pretty good in the test, but I didn’t wonder why they could get such good scores in the test. What they receive now is just “cramming” and as you say, I guess they would be lack in something as a human in the future.



  43. Biwa on Thursday February 14th, 2013 at 10:42 AM

    Hi David,

    For my last sentence to YU, should I have written “I thought that would never happen, if all the passengers were Japanese.” or “I thought that would never have happened, if all the passengers had been Japanese.”?



  44. David Barker on Thursday February 14th, 2013 at 04:19 PM

    How about “I remember thinking that would never happen if the passengers were Japanese”?



  45. Biwa on Thursday February 14th, 2013 at 04:43 PM

    Thank you, David.
    Just to make sure, is that because my sentence would sound more natural if I use the present tense “I remeber”?

    By the way, I tried opening the app from my smartphone this afternoon, but I couldn’t. I tried several times, and I still can’t. Is something happening?



  46. YU on Thursday February 14th, 2013 at 04:58 PM

    Hi David and Biwa,

    I know David’s sentence sounds the best, but what you(Biwa) wanted to ask him was something like this?

    I think you should use a past counterfactual conditional(仮定法過去完了) in your sentence.
    (過去の現実と異なる仮定、「仮にこうだったら、こうなっていたはずだ」)

    “If + S + 動詞の過去完了, S + would/could/might/should(<-1人称のとき) + have + 過去分詞"

    I always use the list below when I write 仮定法.
    Please have a look if you like.

    http://eng.alc.co.jp/newsbiz/hinata/assets_c/2012/03/Conditional-1578.html



  47. YU on Thursday February 14th, 2013 at 05:09 PM

    Hi Biwa,

    I forgot to mention this.

    So I mean the latter one :

    “I thought that would never have happened, if all the passengers had been Japanese.”

    is correct, I guess….



  48. Biwa on Friday February 15th, 2013 at 07:50 AM

    Hi YU,

    Thank you for thinking together.
    Yes, 仮定法過去完了should be correct (grammatically) for my sentence, but the main problem was that I began the sentence with “I thought”. I shouldn’t overuse “think” to translate “~と思う” and that’s why David suggested another way to say it. (It’s in the A-Zbook.)

    I might be able to say as follows:
    1. I thought to myself “That would never happen if all the passengers were Japanese.”
    2. I guess that would never happen if all the passengers were Japanese.
    3. I don’t think that would ever happen if all the passengers were Japanese.

    Thanks for the link, too. It’s very useful!

    Hi David,

    I’m glad I can read the site from my smartphone this morning. Maybe I was being a bit noisy. Sorry about that.



  49. YU on Friday February 15th, 2013 at 08:39 AM

    Hi Biwa,

    I see.

    – I thought that would never happen, if all the passengers were Japanese.
    – I thought that would never have happened, if all the passengers had been Japanese.

    As you say, both your sentences look already fine without the part of “I thought” to me.

    どうしても「そのとき思った」と言いたかったら”I remember thinking~” が使えるのかも。そうでなければ既に”I thought” なしでも自分の推測を表す文になっているからない方が確かに正しいですね。

    By the way, it was Valentine’s Day yesterday.
    I bought chocolate for my husband and son.
    My husband bought a decorated cake and came home last evening.
    I wondered why he bought it and I asked him why.
    He answered, “Don’t you remember today is our wedding anniversary?!”
    It was our 7th wedding anniversary yesterday! LOL!!



  50. Mika on Friday February 15th, 2013 at 09:45 AM

    Hi YU,

    Congratulations on your 7th wedding anniversary!
    In my case, last year my husband and I completely forgot our 40th wedding anniversary. When I (not my husband) noticed it, already two weeks had passed.
    So, you are a very lucky wife.

    Hi everyone,
    This time I couldn’t write any comment about Saturday class due to my weak eyesight. I wasn’t able to keep reading everyone’s comments even for a few minutes. But, today I’m fine.
    I’d like to say “thank you” to you because I love reading your comments, and they always give me a strong motivation.



  51. Tomo on Friday February 15th, 2013 at 01:00 PM

    Hi everyone

    Some weeks ago I found Khan Academy, which is a free educative site with more than 3900 videos. I watched some of the videos, and I found that it is what is needs in education today.

    I think that it may be good if there are such useful sites in Japan.



  52. David Barker on Friday February 15th, 2013 at 01:47 PM

    Hi Biwa,

    Please don’t apologise – it is very useful to get feedback like that. I hope everyone will let me know if you find something wrong with the site.

    And congratulations on figuring out the answer to your own question. As you said, the problem is nothing to do with tense: it’s to do with the use of “think.” In English, we do not use “I thought” in the same way we use “I said.” If you say, “I said…,” you are referring to a single utterance (発言). “I thought,” on the other hand, is used to say what you believed to be true at a past time.

    If you want to use “think” to express the meaning of “a thought popped into my head,” you have to either use direct speech (I thought to myself, “…”) or use an expression like “I remember thinking….” This is explained in the A-Z under the key word “think.”