There are several differences in education systems between the United States and Japan. For instance, the period of mandatory education, kind of schools and various problems that the education system faces now a days and different customs and cultures. Gathering materials, hearings from my acquaintance as well as my own experience as a native Japanese who were born and brown up in Japan, I have summarized the following information for better understandings of the general high school in japan.
- 1)High school education in Japan
- 2) Things to expect before studying Japanese high school
1)High school education in Japan
Japanese education system
Japanese education system is generally separated into 4 stages: elementary school(小学校syōgakkō, 6 years）, junior high school (中学校 chūgakkō,3 years), senior high school(高等学校 kōtōgakkō, abbreviated to 高校 kōkō, 3 years) and University(大学 daigaku 4 years).
Among them, junior high school in Japan covers the seventh through ninth grade, and senior high school in Japan mostly covers grades ten through twelve.
Ages between 12 and 15 studies at junior high schools, with increased focus on academic studies and 15 to 18 years old teenagers go to senior high schools. Even though senior high school education is not compulsory in Japan, as of 2010 98.8% of all junior high school graduates entered high schools. Among those who graduate from high schools, 83.5% go to universities, junior colleges and technical schools. (Source: MEXT)
To enter, students typically take an entrance examination in Japanese, mathematics, science, social studies, and English, whether it is standardized for all public high schools in the prefecture or a test created by a private high school for that school alone.
According to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science of Technology-Japan, most junior high schools in 2010 were public schools; 7% were private schools. There are secondary schools that one school provides 6 years’ coherent education combining junior and senior high school educations. 33.3% of them are private schools.
This type of secondary schools have unique curriculum. The school I went was one of this kind (Christian girls school established by a British priest) with special curriculum such us bible study, English conversation class taught by American teaches and violin classes. As they are keen on English, there were overseas exchange programs. Luckily I could join them and studied at one of a New Zealand Christian schools for one year, which helped me with improving my English and giving advantage in securing job with attractive salary. At ¥552,592 ($3,989 USD) per pupil, private schools had a per-student cost that was four times as high as public schools, at ¥130,828 ($934 USD).
For my case, I can say it paid well thanks to my parents!
In general, the senior and junior high school in Japan has limited autonomy in developing their curriculum or choosing their textbooks. Instead, although the latter are written and produced in the private sector, the Ministry of Education has the final say over any and all content and materials. It often raises controversy among our neighboring countries such as China and Korea from the perspective of our histories back to the 20th century around the First and the Second World War.
Typically students take three years each of mathematics,social students,Japanese,science, and English, with additional courses including physical education,music,art, and moral studies. In particular social studies in Japan is broken down into civics, geography, Japanese history, world history,sociology, and politics/economics.There are the large number of mandatory courses, and a few number of electives.
Japanese education system problems
Problems that the current Japanese education system itself hold are often heard as follows:
– The lack of competition among educational suppliers
Limited diversity of school books and materials prevent students from new education materials and methods that cater to their different characters. Educational theories are fixed and not diverse.
– Free time lost by examination wars
Junior and senior high school students faces anxiety related to the entrance examinations to high schools and university respectively. More than half of them go to cram schools that finish late at night. Back home after 10 o’clock at night is quite common.
– Lack of developing unconventionality/Creativity
To be competitive to other Asian countries that have been raising and growing in economy, Japanese industries must increasingly depend on creativity and being unconventional. However, Japanese education still sticks to examination wars focusing on obtaining conventional knowledge.
It is fortunate that all teaches at private high school that I went more than 20 years ago had unique characteristics and their own world views on various issues and underscored the diversity, allowing students to do the same. One of the excellent lessons that they taught me was to study abroad at earliest time of your life so as to broaden your horizon, excavate your unexpected talents and develop them.
2) Things to expect before studying Japanese high school
Did you get excited in the idea of studying abroad?
Meanwhile, you might want to grasp how the school life is like in japan before you consider a specific study plan such us how much it will cost, in which city and school you want to study and how to obtain student visa and so forth. The following information on cultural differences could assist your imagination.
Daily Life in Japanese high school
– Junior (and senior) high school uniform Japan
In Japan, school uniforms are far more common for high schools and mandatory. The uniforms differ school to school, but generally there is a requirement to adhere to the uniform. Uniforms also tend to be required in physical education as well.
In addition, the rules regarding person grooming habits used to be far stricter than schools in the United States. Girls are not allowed to shorten their uniform skirts while boys are prohibited to arrange their trousers. Each school has rule books.
It is interesting that the popular design of socks depends on trend in certain generation and changes time to time. Therefore, the length and the kind of socks are strictly regulated by school rules!
At school, students must change their street shoes and wear inner shoes. Those with red color for girls and blue for boys (my girls school only have light blue ones).
Tweeze their eyebrows, wear makeup, dye their hair are also prohibited and not to mention, getting tattoos are out of the question!
School uniforms sound negative and treated as if a symbol of monotonous, tedious outfit often referred to as a lack of individuality. However, they are economical and convenient, avoiding time to choose so that students can focus on more important matters, which is usually study, just like Steve Jobs.
Also, some students whose schools have history and tradition take their uniforms proudly. At the time I graduated from the high school, our uniforms had high values and could be sold with high price among manias(I didn’t, though)
– How to get to school?
Japanese high school students do not drive cars. Many of them either walk or ride bicycles, others with certain distance must take public buses and trains. It is not uncommon for students to spend two or more hours each day on public transportation.
I used bicycles daily and public buses and trains for rainy days.
– Daily activities
In the morning, most schools have a weekly school-wide assembly. Students assemble in their homeroom classes for the day’s studies. The school day starts with classroom management tasks, such as taking attendance and making announcements.
At the end of the academic day, all students participate in the cleaning of the school. They sweep the classrooms and the hallways, empty trash cans, clean restrooms, clean chalkboards and chalk erasers, and pick up trash from the school grounds.
– Japanese club activities
Club activities take place after school every day. Teachers are assigned as sponsors, but often the students themselves determine the club’s daily activities. Students can join only one club, and they rarely change clubs from year to year. In most schools, clubs can be divided into two types: sports clubs (baseball, soccer, judo, kendo, track, tennis, swimming, softball, volleyball, rugby) and culture clubs (English, broadcasting, calligraphy, science, mathematics, and yearbook). Club activities provide one of the primary opportunities for peer group socialization.
Sports clubs are stricter than culture clubs. I joint in volleyball club and the training was incredibly hard. At almost all weekends and even the national holidays, we are obliged to go to school and join the training. It was extremely difficult to quit. I sometimes have nightmare where I still belong to the club and am not allowed to quit!
To reduce the burden on students as well as teachers regarding the club activities, the government formulated a guideline in 2018 to limit the activity days and hours: more than two days rest for a week, less than 2 hours in weekdays, around 3 hours in weekdays (the guideline is not an obligation and no punishment even if not followed.)
-Japanese education system is generally separated into 4 stages: elementary school, junior/senior high school and University.
Most high school in japan (junior high school and senior high school) is public schools.
-In general, the senior and junior high school in Japan has limited autonomy in developing their curriculum or choosing their textbooks.
-Japanese education system problems such as the lack of competition among educational suppliers, Free time lost by examination wars and lack of developing unconventionality/Creativity.
-There are several cultures among high school in japan differ from the US. For instance, Junior high school uniform Japan, strict school rules and Japanese club activities.