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Education and Equality in Japan

Education and Equality in Japan

William K. Cummings
Copyright Date: 1980
Pages: 324
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7zvh4z
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  • Book Info
    Education and Equality in Japan
    Book Description:

    On the basis of direct personal observation in the classroom, systematically gathered data, and extensive reading in primary sources, the author provides a rich description of how a society can be gradually transformed by the educational process in its schools. He then relates this process to the problems of the advanced industrial world.

    Originally published in 1980.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5371-7
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. List of Figures
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-2)
  6. Chapter One TRANSFORMING SOCIETY BY EDUCATION
    (pp. 3-15)

    How can education promote egalitarian social change? Much of the current thinking on this matter is concerned with decreasing the impact of social background on academic and socioeconomic achievement. This conventional meritocratic approach assumes a continuation of the established inequalities between the powerful and the weak, the rich and the poor, the respected and the rest. The goal is to alter the conditions that determine who assumes these unequal positions. Based on the meritocratic value premise that the most able products of the schools should be selected for the most important positions in society, this conventional approach results in reforms...

  7. Chapter Two THE BACKGROUND FOR CHANGE
    (pp. 16-39)

    Japan is a densely populated nation located on several rugged mountainous islands off the coast of the Asian mainland. This setting enabled Japan to develop somewhat independently from its Far Eastern neighbors. Japan was strongly influenced by Far Eastern culture. Yet Japan, while influenced by the Far East, also, on more than one occasion, attempted to shut out this tradition.

    From 1600 to 1868, the central Tokugawa regime enforced what was probably the most extreme isolationist policy in the history of large-scale societies. As a result, the nation enjoyed peace, but only modest development. Meanwhile, the West was rapidly industrializing...

  8. Chapter Three THE GOVERNMENT AND THE TEACHERS’ UNION
    (pp. 40-76)

    A number of studies have indicated the extent to which formal educational processes are influenced by and serve to reinforce established class alignments (Bowles and Gintis, 1976; Carnoy and Levin, 1976; Collins, 1977; Jencks, 1972; Karabel and Halsey, 1977). In this book a different point of view is presented: the schools are altering established class alignments or at least the magnitude of differences between them. However, before examining the link in Japan between education and the changing class system, it is necessary to clarify the principal characteristics of this system.

    The discussion of Japan’s class system will highlight the role...

  9. Chapter Four THE IMPORTANCE OF CLASS AND FAMILY
    (pp. 77-103)

    An impressive body of research in advanced societies indicates that the social class into which a young person is born has a significant association with his achievements in school and later in society. Similarly a number of studies indicate a relation between class of origin and value acquisition (Kerckhoff, 1972:123-124; Banks, 1971:61 ff.). Some of the available research suggests similar associations in Japan, though the strength of the relations is often weaker.¹ The mainstream interpretation of these associations states:

    1. An adult’s social class can be identified best by the type of work performed by the head of the household...

  10. Chapter Five EGALITARIAN EDUCATION
    (pp. 104-145)

    Japan has always believed that schools should develop “whole people” rather than some narrow aspect of individual potential, and since the Meiji restoration, Japanese primary schools have been assigned the most important role in this process, that of transmitting a common culture and of motivating youth for their subsequent years in the school system.¹

    Over the course of Japanese history, the primary school’s interpretation of the common culture has varied. In the early stages of modernization, much stress was placed on the hierarchical aspect of social relations. During the years leading up to World War II, nationalistic themes were promoted....

  11. Chapter Six COGNITIVE EQUALITY
    (pp. 146-176)

    How often does one hear an American inner-city school described as a zoo or a jungle. Veteran teachers expect the worst from their students and readily resort to punitive measures to maintain control over their classrooms. These teachers show surprise when a “poor” student answers correctly but are unmoved when a “good” student does the same. Racial labels also shape interaction. Silberman inCrisis in the Classrooms(1970:92) reports the following incident from a sixth-grade racially mixed classroom: “A black girl calls out the answer to a question the teacher had asked of the entire class. ‘Don’t you call out,’...

  12. Chapter Seven THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE EGALITARIAN SENTIMENT
    (pp. 177-205)

    Much of the current literature on schooling refers to those activities creating value change and other noncognitive outcomes as part of the “hidden curriculum.” The implication is that schools are or should be only concerned with cognitive development, and that noncognitive outcomes are incidental. Indeed, American schools since Sputnik have focused with unprecedented energy on cognitive outcomes at the expense of other curricular goals.¹ In Japan, at least in the early years of schooling, the emphasis is reversed. Teachers, schools, local boards, nationwide institutions such as the Ministry of Education and the teachers’ union all devote considerable attention to value...

  13. Chapter Eight THE EXAMINATION COMPETITION
    (pp. 206-234)

    Transitions across school levels in the Japanese educational system are marked by entrance exams.¹ Japanese people believe that their individual life chances hinge on success in these exams. Thus, families devote a surprising proportion of their resources toward assisting their children in exam preparation, and children devote long hours day after day to study. Over the postwar period the number of children seriously committing themselves to exam preparation has steadily increased, whereas the number of openings at the elite schools has scarcely changed. Necessarily, competition has intensified, raising several questions about the examination system:

    1.The quality of adolescent life....

  14. Chapter Nine EQUALIZING SOCIETY
    (pp. 235-263)

    The analysis up to this point has established that the schools, in conjunction with other socialization agents, are creating a “new youth.” A growing proportion of young people affirm egalitarian, individuated, and participatory values that clash with the traditional expectations of Japan’s adult institutions.

    There can be little doubt that Japan’s young people experience difficulty in adjusting to the adult world. This is illustrated in a 1973 survey (conducted by Gallup International) of representative samples of youth in eleven societies. On each relevant question (see Table 9.1 and Sorifu, 1973) Japanese youths were far more likely to express dissatisfaction than...

  15. Chapter Ten THE LESSONS OF JAPANESE EDUCATION
    (pp. 264-288)

    This book illustrates how education can transform the adult institutions of an advanced industrial society. The focus on the Japanese case has highlighted several issues that are neglected by the mainstream of contemporary writing on education. The differences in emphasis are important, and thus in the first section of this final chapter they will be made explicit. By so doing, it is hoped that a new approach to educational research will be encouraged. However, the central concern here is with the impact of education on children and society. Japanese education has exceptional potency in several areas: (1) the strong public...

  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 289-302)
  17. Index
    (pp. 303-306)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 307-307)