During morning reflection on Monday, students were charged with responding to the role(s) and responsibility(ies) of schools to individuals and society in a rapidly changing world. We’ve had the opportunity to experience three different schools since we’ve been in Japan, and Porter’s students considered their classroom and community experience in light of our visits to all three schools.
The discussion was framed by the historic events that begin–and conclude–this week in the United States: honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and anticipating the Inauguration of our nation’s 45th President. How do schools play a role in the vision and imagination of building a peaceful, compassionate neighborhood of humankind?
Here’s Mariana Vargas Lacouture on the conversation…
“The Japanese system tries to create extremely capable women in various career fields and in athletics and other physical areas. Since the students choose to focus on a specific field of study early in their schooling, they reach a high level of understanding and capability before university. They also do not change their after-school clubs (sports and other activities) for several years. Dedicating such a long time to the same sport or activity for so long creates excellent players, meaning they could pursue intermural sports or even longer term commitments later in life.
In Japan, the percentage of women who work outside of the home is very small, particularly after starting a family. Success and high-level positions are usually occupied by men, leaving women with two options: they must be incredibly skilled in their field or they must be willing to endure criticism. Culturally, people are not expected to be outspoken, so skill and endurance are the main ways for women to gain success and respect.
Even though the education system does not give students much freedom, like choosing their classes or trying different activities, it helps to create the kind of skilled and intelligent women that will be able to achieve success in their careers. I think that this system is pretty amazing. Being able to focus and achieve high levels of mastery before university is impressive.
I do think that many other education systems, like that in the US, should learn and consider implementing some qualities of the Japanese system, like organization and dedication, because I feel that they are clear paths to success.”