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Aja Bogdanoff

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For non-US TEDizens: Can you tell us about your country's education system?

This week's special on American TV, "TED Talks Education," focuses on problems in US schools.

So here's the place for non-Americans to share: What's an issue in your country's education system that you'd like to see a TED Talk about? Who would you ask to speak? Do you have any success stories to share?

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    May 10 2013: The environment around the students in Japan is very similar to other Asian countries, like China or South Korea in that they have to win over a fierce competition of exams to get a better opportunity.
    I believe the elementary and secondary education in Japan is one of the best one around the world because the curriculum is standardized on a national scale. It is a virtue I’m proud of that we can receive a qualified education wherever we go.
    However, I have to admit that the standardization disregards the uniqueness of children and force them to be uniform individual (Note: I’m talking about the case in public school, not private school).
    Besides that, the tertiary education in Japan is on the verge of devastation, I think. There is no worry for some of top universities, but most of other universities are no longer “university”. The students there relinquish the obligation to study and the universities don’t feel any shame to give a diploma to such students. I feel really embarrassed to hear that Japanese university students study the least around the world.
    • May 11 2013: Masatake, I would agree with you is the strength of the standardized national curriculum. In speaking with teachers who are in the Japanese system, their greatest frustration though is the rigidness of the standardized curriculum. There is very little room for variation in the curriculum. They have little opportunity to explore education beyond what they are required to teach. I wonder the long-term effects of this on the students.
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        May 11 2013: >>Everett
        Thanks for your comment. What your friends in Japan told you describes the picture of the contemporary situation in Japanese public school. Strong standardization sometimes kills not only uniqueness of children but also that of capable teachers. I guess your friends seem to be competent, and to complain that they haven’t made full use of their knowledge or creativity to foster their children. In the past, this solid education system used to work properly to boost the level of civilization by having all the citizens cram a vast amount of knowledge through the uniform curriculum.
        In my opinion, what we are required in society will change as time goes by. What we are required now is work out a solution for seemingly non-proper-answer questions, not look for the given answer by authority. I know the premise is that we need enough knowledge to think by myself, but I’m just worried that the current educational system make light of the importance of “experience”.
        To study does not mean just sitting on the chair and taking notes. It is also essential that students have an opportunity to realize a connection between what they learned in school and what they can do in society.
        If you’d like to know more about “experience”, the article of David. A. Kolb might help you understand it.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_A._Kolb

        p.s. The above viewpoint is just my personal one, so you should refer to other Japanese ones if possible. They might have completely different opinions, and those should be helpful to get a well-balanced perspective (of course, I guess you must know..but)!
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          May 13 2013: I'm a Japanese too, and I agree Japan's education is too focused on winning the university enrollment race and is missing the essence of making students truly educated, underestimating what standardized exams cannot measure. Education should be something that cultivates thinking skills, not just teaches how to memorize what textbooks say.

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