The education system is something that will always be under scrutiny. People, voters, and families will always compare the state of their education system to those of other countries, which means it’ll be impossible to satisfy everyone. But that isn’t a bad thing; it’s good that we constantly hold the current state of education systems under the microscope because it has an impact on our future.
If we never thought about what we or our children learn in school, how would we ever progress as a society? It takes comparisons and unsatisfied people to make real changes.
It’s in that spirit that we should look at the Japanese education system. There are a lot of differences to say the least, but the system itself is having a positive impact on the students. Here are three surprising and inspiring facts about the Japanese education system.
1. Students Clean the School, Not Janitors
In the United States and other parts of the world, cleaning the school is something that is usually reserved for the custodial staff, but in Japan, the students perform the work.
Not only do they clean the classrooms themselves, but they also clean the bathrooms. The point behind having students clean the school is to teach the importance of teamwork. It takes everyone working together in order to get the job done, and the better they can work together, the faster the job gets done.
It also teaches the students character. School is a place to grow, learn, and achieve success; by cleaning it, students are showing respect for a place of learning. School helps them, so they in turn help the school. This way of thinking differs greatly from other places around the world.
2. All Students Eat the Same, Balanced Meals
For the Japanese, school is about learning life lessons, not just math, science, and the like. That means healthy eating is a part of the curriculum, and unless a student has serious allergies, all students eat the same balanced meals during lunch.
The United States is notorious for feeding their students terrible meals with poor nutrition and too many trans-fats, but not the Japanese. They prioritize realistic portion control, healthy ingredients, and using fresh, locally-sourced food.
Another interesting fact about lunchtime in Japanese schools is that the teachers eat with their students, which further strengthens the bond between student and instructor. Sometimes, students even serve lunch to one another as a way to show respect, and display a sense of responsibility for the well-being of others in the class.
3. Japanese Students Wear Uniforms in Public School
In the United States, only some private school students are forced to wear uniforms, but in Japan from junior high school on, all students are required to wear uniforms. Standards can vary from school to school, but it’s typically black uniforms for the boys, and sailor blouse and skirt uniforms for the girls. They are always modest in color, cut, and decoration so that they don’t cause any unnecessary distractions.
Uniforms provide students with a sense of community, as everyone has to wear one. It also lifts a social stigma that comes from wearing certain brands, styles, or whatever else. This promotes a focus of learning while at school, and takes the focus away from looking good.