Japan considers 6-day school week; teachers not enthusiastic

TOKYO —

In a review of the current five-day school week currently being used in public schools across Japan, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology said it is considering Saturday classes and a re-introduction of the six-day school week that was phased out between 1992 and 2002.

New curriculum guidelines mandating increased classroom hours resulting from a re-examination of the Ministry’s Yutori Kyoiku, (pressure-free education) program were introduced to elementary schools last year, and fully implemented in junior high schools this year. In seeking the use of Saturdays, the Ministry hopes to improve the academic ability of the nation’s youth by securing more teaching hours. It also hopes to dispel concerns of a widening “education gap” between public schools and private schools, many of which continue to implement Saturday classes.

Though a ministerial ordinance designates Saturday as a “holiday,” regulations also provide an out, stating that classes can be held on Saturday provided “there is a special need.” Taking advantage of this regulation, Tokyo and some other districts have held Saturday classes since 2010. In 2012, 565 elementary schools (43%), and 292 junior high schools (47%) in these districts held classes on at least one Saturday a month. Nationwide, 1,100 elementary (5.7%) and 590 junior high schools (6.4%) are conducting classes on Saturdays, most 10 or less times a year. Elementary and junior high schools holding 11 or more classes a year on Saturdays amounted to less than one percent of the total.

In addition to relieving the weekday burden by also using Saturdays to teach subjects such as math and Japanese language, the Ministry also hopes to increase the total number of standard instructional hours per year currently set at between 850 (first year elementary) and 1,015 (third year junior high).

Voices within the Ministry say its Central Council for Education, an advisory organ, will need to consider the proposal, and it is expected that details concerning the timing and method of introduction of Saturday classes will be determined there. By law, teachers work a forty-hour week, meaning new teachers would have to be hired in order to start Saturday classes. This, and other problems must first be solved before the plan can be implemented.

In a survey conducted by the Tokyo Elementary School PTA Council, 86% of parents and 38% of teachers were in favor of Saturday classes while 7% and 52% respectively were opposed. Education Minister Hakubun Shimomura said, “I would like to determinedly introduce Saturday classes, and, within the Ministry, solve issues such as gaining national understanding.”

Source: Mainichi Shimbun

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  • 36

    iceshoecream

    By law, teachers work a forty-hour week

    Everyone know that they work 7 days a week.

  • 7

    tmarie

    86% of parents happy to get their kids out from under their feet - be it club or class. Pathetic parenting when you do even want to spend time with your children.

  • 11

    Meguroman

    If they stuck to the actual schedules instead of all the dumb half-days, etc there would be more quality classroom time. Going back to Saturday classes is not the answer.

  • -8

    whiskeysour

    My recommendations

    Elementary school grades 1 & 2 does not need a Saturday class. Kids can't concentrate during that age. But IF they have to go would introduce a 2-3 hour class of MORE FUN ENGLISH classes ( as an introduction to foreign languages ) counsel them to understand it's fun to learn a new language, ART, MUSIC, athletics, basic, math and fun science classes. ( change it up every week )

    3rd,4th,5th & 6th grade classes Foreign language classes are highly needed on saturdays doesn't necessarily mean English. Chinese is good and/or Spanish/ Portuguese class.

    South America/ China / Korea economy is rising and will continue to rise for the next 30 years.

    JHS Student has a choice to pick 3 selective courses Creative writing English/Foreign languages class ( 1 field trip a yr. to any foreign country 1 week ) Advanced Science/ Computer Engineering classes are recommended Advanced Math Business Admin. classes

    SHS Advanced Biology, Bio-technology and/or Computer Engineering More technical classes Business Admin. classes Advanced Science Foreign language classes ( plus 2 field trips a year to Britain, USA, NZ, China, S.Korea, Australia,France and etc. )

    The education system has to change with times ! ! ! ! !

    Change NOW or be lost forever !!!!

    Give the children OPTIONS

    Especially counsel & encourage the kids WHY they have to study. WHY they have to do this and that.

    I'm highly motivated but when you have unhighly motivated staff members and teachers..... Things become a hinderance of boredom.

    Only motivated teachers should teach saturday. If they have the accolades of high energy and motivation use them. The boring teachers give them a day off.

    I don't mind working Saturdays but the curriculum has to change and the people who stand in the way need to go away and have a day off. Creative teachers should be welcomed, the boring and the useless should get a day off Saturday.... hehehehehe !!! This is from experience !!!

    Teachers who set the bar high for creativity should be rewarded..... I'm always on the move, always improving , always fighting for that extra inch to help these kids... It's time teachers to get rewarded and those who take the credit sit in the back and listen more to the creative teachers... Those who lead - Lead Those who get in the way of progress - Take A Day Off On Saturdays...

    from Mr. Sensei Unknown

  • -3

    tmarie

    And if folks think 40 hours is all that teachers work here they need to get a clue. One of the reasons why the system is taking is because very few want to go the job anymore and who could blame them?! What end up with are incompetent teachers who go into teaching because they can't do anything else. Overworked and underpaid. Pathetic. Try elt pathetic in a country of SAHMs.

  • 16

    Yubaru

    Teachers pay has been cut, working hours already increased, funding for school's dropping at alarming rates, students causing more and more problems because of the "yutori kyoiku" and the solution that the brain dead MEXTer's have is to just increase the school week?

    Brilliant.....(fail)....(again)

  • 8

    sakurala

    OR how about revising the laws so that troublemaking students and others who distract the class can be removed from the classroom? Then also have rules in place for proper discipline for students who act unruley, miss school or are regularly late. Maybe this way the class hours wouldn't need to be increased because the students would have the ability to become more productive in their classes. Then, after a year or 2, see what the results are and if needed add the Saturday classes if there hasn't been an improvement.

  • 28

    ChibaChick

    I will absolutely unequivocably REFUSE to send my children to school 6 days a week. If they cant get through what they need to get through in a 5 day week like the rest of the world, there is something wrong with the curriculum and the way the teachers are being forced to teach it, not the students.

    When do we get to do anything as a family? Sunday? Great. one day a week, when they already barely see their Dad because he has to work such ridiculous hours.

  • 1

    Ms. Alexander

    I also think it should be quality over quantity. If the education system doesn't change as a whole, bringing back Sat classes aren't going to help at all. It's just going to stress the kids and teachers (and parents).

    My suggestion: Just make everyday (Mon - Fri) a 6-class schedule like shiritsu schools for all grades in elementary. That will eliminate the need of Sat classes. If they do this, then they should be up to par and no need for an extra day from junior high.

  • 8

    KariHaruka

    You don't need a 6 day school week to get productive education results! Look at the Finnish Education system which has been rated the best in the world once again. Children don't start school till the age of 7, they spend less time in the classroom compared to other countries and rarely do homework or take exams till they are in their teens. I know it might be difficult for the Japanese education board to swallow their pride but they should look at the Finnish model of education that goes against the model that most other developed countries use.

  • 3

    BertieWooster

    Actually I am very grateful to the Japanese Ministry of Education.

    Sitting up in its ivory tower, shut off from the real world, the Japanese Ministry of Education has ruined a perfectly good school environment that was getting results. Japanese education pre-war was actually very good. It's not uncommon to find people in their 80s and 90s who can read English to a very high level with only school education.

    The "open classroom" bright idea (sarcasm) has made elementary schools into a kind of bedlam. And teachers are burdened with having to write detailed reports and lesson plans that just get thrown into filing cabinets. Most teachers these days are working a ten hour day, 6,7 hour week. And still they can't keep up with all the bureaucracy.

    English lessons do not give children the skills necessary to do anything with English apart from take multiple choice examinations in it. The AET system is pathetically useless.

    Students, as they progress through elementary school, JHS and HS get deader and deader. A high school English lesson is often 40 or so kids snoozing or staring blankly in front of them and a "teacher" droning on and on in a monotone, occasionally taking time to write the exact sentence on the board that he has just spoken and that is printed in their text books.

    So, yes, Japanese Ministry of Education. I am very grateful to you.

    Thanks to your inability to teach Japanese children to actually speak English, I have had a very good life as an English teacher and owner of several English schools.

  • -2

    Yubaru

    My suggestion: Just make everyday (Mon - Fri) a 6-class schedule like shiritsu schools for all grades in elementary. That will eliminate the need of Sat classes. If they do this, then they should be up to par and no need for an extra day from junior high

    Sorry but in ES this would be tantamount to murder of the HR teacher. There would have to be changes made in who teaches the classes and in ES the HRT for 90% of the classes teaches the kids and making them teach in effect 30 hours per week would leave no time for class prep during regular work hours and would cause teachers to come into work on weekends anyway to prepare.

    The problem is not the number of classroom hours the problem is student reponsiblity and passing through students who do nothing in class. You want to fix the problems, make students study or hold them back. Plain and simple.

  • 0

    Ms. Alexander

    @ Bertie - Why so much emphasis on teaching English?

  • 6

    The passage

    I think the issue is more with a policy that is like "no child gets ahead" - the opposite of "no child left behind". In trynig to make a fair education system the kids with a higher IQ don't get the focus they need, and the kids with lower IQ don't get the focus that they need. It's all dumbed down to a median, resulting in many kids needing to go to juku to make up for the stuff they aren't learning at school i order to pass juken exams for university or private schooling. There must abe a better way, but more of the same won't solve the issue.

  • 3

    Ms. Alexander

    @ Yubaru - I agree. As I stated in my earlier post, I believe in quality over quantity and that the education system as a whole needs to change. But if they're gonna add classes, as a parent, I prefer they add more classes during the week instead of Saturdays. I like spending both Sat and Sun with my kids.

  • 8

    marcelito

    Yeah , heaven forbid Japanese kids get used to the idea of going to school 5 days a week - they might even start demanding 5 day working week once they start their adult life in J- Inc companies...can,t have that.

  • 3

    whiskeysour

    Saturdays from 830am - 12noon is okay. But a full day of class is to long ???? Hahaha !!!! Usually some kids go to Juku for the full day Saturday morning until noon time.

    What no more juku classes ? What will happen to the Juku (businesses) schools around Japan ???

    I have worked for Juku school and some kids come from JHS & SHS school study and leave 9pm - 930pm.

    ((Especially studying for college tests and etc.))

    9 - 10 hours studying each day they go to school and attend Juku class... Plus some kids study at home +2 to 3 hours.

    That's WILD ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

  • 2

    Harry_Gatto

    Perhaps one of you, who is well-versed in education, can tell me what proportion of a Japanese schoolkid's time is spent learning Kanji as opposed to say a UK or US child learning to read and write English? Does this have any bearing on the need to extend the school week?

  • 3

    Onniyama

    marcelito. I think you have hit the nail on the head there. Japan is all about quantity over quality when it comes to school and work. You have to prepare these little rugrats for their future life with no holidays. This is so sad and unnecessary. They waste so much time in Japanese schools. And this half day thing (as someone mentioned above). What an ignorant concept! Send them all day or not at all. I treasure Saturday and Sunday with my son. It is the happiest time of the week for me. Too bad the Japanese will never know this.

  • 0

    lucabrasi

    @Harry

    My kids had one Japanese class a day, every day, just like I had one English class a day. For the vast majority of kids, learning to read kanji isn't any kind of burden; they're exposed to them all the time on TV, on the net and in manga, and just soak them up with their still-malleable brains. Kanji aren't the problem.

  • 0

    ChibaChick

    Perhaps one of you, who is well-versed in education, can tell me what proportion of a Japanese schoolkid's time is spent learning Kanji as opposed to say a UK or US child learning to read and write English? Does this have any bearing on the need to extend the school week?

    Hmmm. I would say no, it doesnt have any bearing really. In a nutshell, kids learn kanji systematically through school, starting from term 2 of year 1 (term 1 they cover hiragana and katakana although most and read and mostly write it by that time.) They learn about 800-1000 kanji in elementary school depending on the school, about 80 the first year, about 120 the second year, and so on increasing incrementally year on year. In year 1 and 2, I would say about 30% of their time is spent on kokugo (Japanese), about 30% on math, and the rest of the time on art, music, and sports. From year 3 they introduce social studies and science, and the day length increases to accomodate these, while the proportion of time on each also changes. And so it continues as they go through school.

    If you compare this to a UK elementary school (I dont have experience of US schools) I think we approach learning language in a different way, but the amount of time spent is not vastly different. As an example, in the UK school I worked in, we did a lot of project-based work, so for example, we studied American Indians - in music we learned their music, in PE we did native American dancing, art we made things like dreamcatchers, English we read and wrote all about them, social studies we learned about their lifestyles, geography where they lived etc etc. Interspersed into all these classes were opportunities to learn English reading, writing, spelling, language arts etc. So we take a more "holistic" approach to language learning, in addition to English classes where language arts are taught, whereas here it is much more "drilling" for the first two years and then gradually they apply their knowledge in subjects like social studies from year 3. I have a daughter finishing year 3 now and she has never to my knowledge yet had a Japanese grammar lesson. It has all been kanji-based so far, and they pick up their grammar from reading and the "ondoku" (reading aloud) they are supposed to do at home every evening.

    Thats a VERY rough idea of the differences based on just my experiences - other people may have different perspectives - but to answer your question, in my opinion, I dont think they necessarily spend MORE time learning to read and write here than we do in the UK. The approach is just different. Certainly not to the point that they need a whole extra day of school. They already spend more days in school here than they do in the west (I believe the stats are something like US: 180, UK: about 195, Japan: 225 days per year). Though quite honestly, given the level of spelling and grammar coming out of the UK these days, maybe we should be spending more time on the basics!

  • 1

    ChibaChick

    Harry - that wasnt really "in a nutshell" at all, was it??! :( !

  • 11

    smithinjapan

    Glorified baby-sitting is all it would be. The six-day work week didn't work before, and it won't work again just because a lot of students suffer from apathy. In fact, it's the constant schooling that LEADS to said apathy in many cases; club, school, club, a rushed dinner, juku, homework. Club on Saturdays, club on Sundays, club over the holidays.

    Watch the suicides sky-rocket and the government wonder why.

  • 1

    kibousha

    Pressure free, lol. How can you implement that with teachers who were brought up, taught and trained to follow a rigid curriculum, that they themselves don't need to thing creatively about teaching ?

    Imho, get rid of exams, entrance examination, juku, tune down homeworks, etc. These methods are at best lazy mass education, they are not tuned to individual child's needs, and they were and never will be good benchmarks for successful education.

    Imagine the time saved by teachers and students to prepare, conduct, and check on exams or homeworks. Instead those time are spent more on teachers/students interaction, we would probably have better education, better social connection, less bully problems, etc.

    I can only dream.

  • 0

    Harry_Gatto

    lucabrasi & Chiba Chick, many thanks for the explanation.

  • 1

    tmarie

    Kibo, the won't get rid of entrance exams - they're money makers for the schools!

    And yes, quality over quantity but when has that thought ever been recognized? Through more time and money at the problem but never both to look at what the root of the problem is.

    What I want to know is why do so many parents support this? Is it a case of "this is how I did it" or do they really just not want to deal with their kids. Most to to club now as it is so aren't home. This means instead of a half day, a full day. Lessons in the morning, club after. Jukus are going to be screaming now that their cash cow Saturdays are going to be taken from them. Perhw

  • -1

    tmarie

    Perhaps juku on Sundays now? Just pathetic.

  • 7

    crustpunker

    smithinjapan sums it up.

    **it's the constant schooling that LEADS to said apathy in many cases; club, school, club, a rushed dinner, juku, homework. Club on Saturdays, club on Sundays, club over the holidays. **

    Passive/rote learning, students largely repeating what their teachers tell them, gives them a head full of facts that are perhaps memorized but does that mean they are understood? Knowledge is not just a drawer in yer noggin' that you pull index cards out with answers written on them. Adding another day of school would not do anything other than make everyone tired.

    I can tell you that as a full time teacher that regularly works on Saturdays, on those days (even though it is a half day) kids are exhausted, many are sleeping or distracted, their eyes rolling so far back in their heads that they need to visit hospital to get their retinas reattached. Also, many of the other teachers I work with sort of just go through the motions to get through the day..

    Forcing more hours on kids who already have way too much on their plate won't add any sudden new level of performance. It will just add to their burden and largely be demotivational for all involved.

    oh and a 40 hour work week. HA! 8:30-6:00 (though most leave around 7 or 8) Mon. thru Fri then 8:30 to 1:00 on Sat. Of course after that is club and if there are games or something on the weekend then we have to go to those too.

  • 8

    crustpunker

    rote teaching=rote learning=rote teaching=rote society=rote living.

  • 2

    Yubaru

    I prefer they add more classes during the week instead of Saturdays. I like spending both Sat and Sun with my kids.

    Me too, but unfortunately for the Japanese kids many of the Japanese kids parents dont. They want and many expect the school to be their childrens surrogate parents.

    Personally speaking if that's what the parents truly want then I think Japan should go the way of China and take all the kids away from their parents when they enter ES and raise them for them, letting them come home a couple times a year for holidays.

    Heck schools are already doing everything for the parents and kids already, might as well make it official.

  • 8

    sidesmile

    That so many parents would support this is shameful. Getting rid of club would be a start if they want to improve the kids learning capacity. Remarkable what an alert and well rested child will absorb or concentrate on.

  • 0

    lucabrasi

    Japan should go the way of China and take all the kids away from their parents when they enter ES and raise them for them, letting them come home a couple times a year for holidays.

    Where the heck did you come up with that bit of fantasy from? Chinese kids go to school and come home every day, just like kids anywhere else in the world.

  • -1

    Yubaru

    Where the heck did you come up with that bit of fantasy from? Chinese kids go to school and come home every day, just like kids anywhere else in the world.

    Then I guess the program I saw on BS TV sometime last year was fake? Could be just the interior of the country or outlaying areas.....don't recall exactly.

    But thank you for informing me otherwise.

  • 3

    blendover

    You could increase the hours of tuition by cutitng back on testing by about 70 percent. There is little evidence to suggest that massive testing of the kind that is currently used in Japan and is now being adopted in the US also leads to significant improvements in long term learning.

  • 4

    tkoind2

    I guess the only upside here is that the poor kids of Japan will get used to being wage slaves while in school. Japan is all about work, work, work or study, study, study. No wonder there is such poor social fabric here. The nation is creating a population of passive workers who have no real lives outside their responsibilities.

    Now a real education system would improve methods rather than just extending time and exposure to methods that obviously don't work. But hey, why fix a problem when you can make it worst?

  • 0

    tmarie

    Tk, what responsibility?! Folks here work in groups so no one has to be solely responsible for anything. Poor dictation system? Blame the teachers or the government. Never the kids nor the parents. Poor work skills? Blame the company or the university but never the individual.

  • 7

    Farmboy

    Let's let the schools and teachers alone, and have the administrators and politicians who are suggesting all this nonsense work an extra day or two... at teacher's wages.

  • 5

    Serrano

    I'll bet the students aren't enthusiastic about this either.

  • 6

    shanabelle

    Just back on the excess fluff-time....for example the months of practicing for terribly lame sports days, concerts and blah blah...and let families have decent weekends!!!!

  • 2

    Ewan Huzarmy

    If only Japanese schools taught 'how to learn' over 'what to learn'. Six days of the same old same old...... nah !

  • 0

    BertieWooster

    Ms Alexander,

    Bertie - Why so much emphasis on teaching English?

    Good question.

    Two answers:

    1) The student's ability to use English gives some kind of index of the effectiveness of the teaching methodology used. Can the student hear and understand, express him/herself, read or write a simple sentence in English?

    Since many high school graduates handle the above very poorly, they go to commercial English Conversation Schools.

    2) It's the area of Japanese education I'm the most familiar with.

  • 0

    BertieWooster

    Ewan-san,

    You write:

    If only Japanese schools taught 'how to learn' over 'what to learn'.

    But they do, dear fellow, it's a very simple lesson:

    MEMORIZE!

    Good luck with the army, by the way :)

  • 2

    tmarie

    Perhaps the parents in favour could teach the classes on Saturday??

  • 5

    UsagitoSaru

    yes let's over work the teachers and the students and deny these children time with their families and time to relax. Insane!

  • 1

    Ms. Alexander

    @ Bertie - teaching English isn't going to narrow the > “education gap” between public schools and private schools.

    The education system as a whole needs an overhaul. How do you expect them to manage a foreign language when they're obviously struggling with their own language?

  • 0

    tmarie

    Usa, it actually seems to be the parents that want to "forgo" family time, not the students nor the teachers...

  • 0

    tmarie

    Most Japanese I know never use English, have no interest in it, will never need to use it....I think it's ridiculous to make it compulsory. Free up the timetable for other lessons.

    I somewhat agree with you on that. Perhaps they could learn Chinese instead?

  • 6

    Thunderbird2

    My ex's son is already knackered... 5 days a week at his school (going to high school in April so exam after exam), plus Saturdays at private classes, as well as one day during the week. Can you imagine telling Western kids that they have to go to school 6 days a week? You'd have a revolution on your hands.

  • 0

    Tessa

    it actually seems to be the parents that want to "forgo" family time, not the students nor the teachers...

    I agree. I've asked around, and most of the SAHMs I know are positively rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of being able to unload their kids for another day a week. They don't even pretend it's for educational reasons, they just want them out of the house, and out of their hair! Dads don't seem to feel the same way, though.

  • 2

    Open Minded

    Sounds like progress. The school in front of my house is busy 7/7... Including during vacations.

  • 3

    Cortes Elijah

    I agree with the people that stated why 6 days a week is not the way to go. They summed it up for me.

  • 2

    dracpoo2

    They think the birthrate s low now!! Just wait until this 6 day week goes into being. In a way, the teachers are to blame...why? Well, they are at school every Saturday anyway. They do clubs and practices and NEVER take vacations. I guess that's where the government got the idea from. This will be sad sad sad if it goes through.

  • 1

    tmarie

    Drac, they're there for club because... The parents won't do it. Indeed, I think many teachers need to lay the line down with parents and crap but they were raised by the same system.

    Tessa, no surprises there eh? My husband and I just talke about and he's 100% against it. Stated the moms must be looking forward to it. Why do tense folks have kids if they don't want to spend time with them?! Oh right, the golden ticket t staying home... Poor kids. Then again, they'll turn around and do the same to their kids and the cycle continues... Happy days!

  • 3

    malfupete

    all they are doing is preparing kids at a younger age to get with the program of being a salary man in "modern" Japan. i.e spending all day at the office, apparently doing nothing and never seeing your family because you have to spend all day at the office doing nothing. Its a vicious cycle

  • 0

    realist

    So, the LDP have just got back into power and already they want to force schoolchildren to go to school 6 days a week. Thats just plain criminal. It is all about mind control. Keep them in school, indoctrinate them with Right Wing Fascist views of history, and dont give them any free time to think for themselves. History will then repeat itself, and then Abe, Aso and company will be happy. If they go back for 6 days, it really means 7, because that is the only day left to take part in the insane Club Activities. I really feel sorry for Japanese kids. No wonder so many Japanese people want to leave Japan and live abroad.

  • -1

    frank07

    a lot of the teachers work on saturdays anyway, so no big change there

  • 2

    UsagitoSaru

    I disagree with bilderberg_2015. In my experience here I have met allot of Japanese who speak English, want to learn English, travel to English speaking countries and learn more and my school has over 50 students whose parents want them to learn English as well as learn a little themselves. I have many young and old private students as well. My husband and I met because he wanted to learn English and even got a job that requires his English speaking skills. English is very useful in the business world as many companies around the world have English speakers and translators. My husband and a few of my friends as well travel outside of Japan and take care of foreign clients inside of Japan as well and they all speak English even though many of them aren't native to English speaking countries. That is just my experience though living around Nagoya which is a business capital in Japan.

  • 5

    BurakuminDes

    Lets be honest here - the Japanese education system is failing. If they need an extra day a week - plus Juku's - to get students to the required standard - something is seriously wrong.

  • 0

    Fadamor

    the Ministry also hopes to increase the total number of standard instructional hours per year currently set at between 850 (first year elementary) and 1,015 (third year junior high).

    In contrast, the elementary schools I work in have an 8-hour day for ALL grades with a half hour for lunch. There are 179 instructional days in the school year, bringing the total number to 1342.5 hours per year (179 days * 7.5 hours) of instruction for kindergarten through 4th grade. This elementary school kids are not taught foreign languages, but those hours include things like recess, music, art, and PE. It sounds like Japan's kids are getting shortchanged.

  • 0

    Fadamor

    *These

  • 0

    Fadamor

    (grumble) It's a good thing I fix computers instead of teaching math at those public schools. The elementary students show up at 8:30 a.m. and go home at 3:30 p.m. - for a SEVEN-hour day. This means 1163.5 hours of instruction every year. That's still more than Japan's Junior High students get but not as bad as I first stated.

  • 0

    Yubaru

    a lot of the teachers work on saturdays anyway, so no big change there

    But now you are going to make them work Sundays too to prepare for the rest of the weeks classes. And BTW many teachers who work Saturdays have problems with time management.

  • 0

    Fadamor

    And BTW many teachers who work Saturdays have problems with time management.

    Seriously? How log would it take YOU to read and grade 30 2-page reports on a particular subject? And that's just ONE assignment for ONE class. There's still planning for the upcoming week's lessons, verification of the avaialability of any online resources to be used, communication with parents, and FINALLY taking care of your own family's needs. I don't know a single teacher here who doesn't spend at least SOME of their Saturday doing "school-stuff" - time they do NOT get compensated for.

  • 0

    Fadamor

    Sheesh. *long, *availability. An edit function here sure would be nice, even one like this other forum I use has where you can edit for five minutes, but it's locked after that.

  • 1

    tmarie

    **How log would it take YOU to read and grade 30 2-page reports on a particular subject? And that's just ONE assignment for ONE class. **

    Is that a joke? Very few teachers give two page paper reports. Which is why most Japanese students haven't a clue about academic writing - be it Japanese or English.

    Many teachers waste time on dealing with monster parents, attending useless top down meetings and preparing for whatever useless festival that is demanded of them by the parents and society. Very little time is actually spent planning and teaching. Compared to teachers in Western countries, Japanese teachers teach way fewer classes and subjects. If you were to compare teaching hours per teacher, Japan lags behind. It is all the uselss crap that eats up their time.

    That and many are poor at time management, don't want to go home and seem to think the school can't survive without them. Many sit around all day drink coffee and shuffle papers and only get to work when the students are gone.

  • 1

    Yubaru

    Many teachers waste time on dealing with monster parents, attending useless top down meetings and preparing for whatever useless festival that is demanded of them by the parents and society

    This part I agree with, and I do believe Fadamor is talking about some other place because there is no way a Japanese ES teacher is going to be reading and correcting, not 30, but more like 40 two page reports.

    .

    Very little time is actually spent planning and teaching. Compared to teachers in Western countries, Japanese teachers teach way fewer classes and subjects. If you were to compare teaching hours per teacher, Japan lags behind. It is all the uselss crap that eats up their time.

    This I disagree with big time, the "average" JHS Home room teacher has roughly 22 to 24 hours per week teaching classes which is 4 to 6 hours a day in class actually teaching. Then they have to deal with the parents, all other teaching associated problems, and then club activities as well. JHS teachers typically teach their own subject field. (THere are exceptions to that, but typically speaking that's all they teach)

    ES school teachers teach just as many subjects as their western counterparts I do believe, as the only class typically that Japanese ES teachers do not teach themselves is music only.

  • -1

    Yubaru

    How log would it take YOU to read and grade 30 2-page reports on a particular subject? And that's just ONE assignment for ONE class.

    Taking your statement at face value here and for discussion purpose only;

    In ES, not that long because there would be only ONE class they would be checking.

    In JHS not that long either because the way they check here is by for the most part just perusing the material and seeing that it was done. Just done. I've seen too many teachers just circle workbooks or notebooks without actually checking the material, just checking to see the blanks were filled in or there was writing on the lines, nothing more nothing less.

  • 1

    tmarie

    Yubaru, most secondary teachers here teach no more than 20 classes a week. That pales in comparison to the number of Canadian and British numbers. They are also usually only teaching one grade level and one subject. That isn't the case in other countries. Two teachables, various grades and way more prep. With you for ele teachers but ele doesn't have club issues like jhs/shs does.

    And checking home here? Most don't check it. Watching teachers "check" summer and winter homework angered. Just busy work and not actually checked. I've also never seen a two page assignment given and actually checked.

  • 1

    Scrote

    All that studying just to get a job in a company where you are encouraged to work yourself to death. Reading this, I'm glad my son is at school overseas and not subject to this nonsense.

  • 4

    crustpunker

    Many of the comments here seem to bring up an important point which is the marked inefficency of the education system WITH longer school hours PLUS juku etc.

    This culture of spending insane amounts of time studying = improving your knowledge base, leads to a kind of psychosis I swear. Before exams at my HS, most of the kids will stay up until 2 or 3 a.m. studying. At a certain point, that actually becomes detrimental when you then have 2 hours of sleep and have to then take an exam. Seems like a no brainer to me that sleep is more important than pulling an all nighter each time exams come up.

    I often tell my students, study a reasonable amount of time and either you know the material or you don't. Staying up and not sleeping is NOT going to help you any more than just getting a good rest and feeling refreshed to take the damn test the next day.

    I wonder, HOW exactly do kids learn study methods? Are they taught efficent ways to study at some point? Including how to take organized notes or just told to "spend as many hours as humanly possible" and "write down everything on the board"?

    I believe this also goes for the workplace in Japan. In my country, if an employee is working until after 8 p.m. when everyone else has finished their job at say 5 or whaterver, this would indicate to the boss that this employee is either not performing to task or needs further training. after 2 weeks of consistent late finishes, there would certainly be a meeting to address WHY this employee can never finish their work on time like everyone else.

    If EVERYONE at the company is going home late all the time, this would indicate that the management needs to work on prioritizing work loads or hire more people to do the job in a manner consistent with "normal" working hours.

    Though, here in Japan, I believe it isn't uncommon for many employees to pad their unfairly low salaries by purposefully staying late all the time to get more money at the end of each month. This of course creates a domino effect of everyone having to stay late because no one wants to be the first one out the door.

    What a mess.

  • 2

    sighclops

    Another case of quantity over quality...

    Give kids a break!

  • -1

    Yubaru

    Yubaru, most secondary teachers here teach no more than 20 classes a week.

    Define secondary.

    If you are talking HS then I agree, if you are talking JHS then I disagree because homeroom teachers have that alone and some more, for their primary classes. Then they also have to teach morals classes, the mandatory weekly homeroom classes, the two hours a week "sogo" classes and not including the lunchtime/school lunch time that they have to watch their classes as well. It adds up to 25 or more hours per week.

    That pales in comparison to the number of Canadian and British numbers.

    How does that "pale"? To pale means what the teacher there are teaching over 30 hours per week? It would havve to be that drastic to make it "pale" in camparison and if it's that much then they are nuts too!

  • -1

    Yubaru

    One thing I think people have missed and while this wasn't his idea in the first place, but since he instituted it first in his city's ES this year and next, MEXT seems to playing follow the dictator in the making in Osaka, and making this potentially official.

    If he hadn't started the ball rolling chances are this would have been put off for a while longer.

  • 1

    tmarie

    Define scondary?! Seriously? If I have to explain it to you I don't think you should even be commenting on the topic of education. I'm not trying to be a cow but secondary is a term used everywhere to clearly distinguish grades. I'm not going to disagree that these teachers are overworked but they're overworked in different ways than their western counterparts. Lunches and the like are not classes and need no prep. Nor do most so go classes as they are prep for more time wasting festivals. Same can be said for morality class... Overworked but much less when it comes to class prep. Club on the other hand.... Where the hell are the parents?!?

    Last year teachers in Ontario stopped extra curricular activities and the outrage by parents was amusing to say the least. I wish the Japanese teachers would do the same. All those PTA moms could actually help out instead of creating busy work for everyone!

  • 1

    ChibaChick

    Why is the Japanese answer always to spend longer doing the same thing inefficiently?

    I have noticed this too Patrick. I really dont know. Perhaps because they are only taught one way, and cant think outside the box to consider other alternative ways? Or if they can, they cant suggest it because their superiors always beat them down?

  • 0

    Scott Donald

    Oh the horse is not responding to the whip any more? Well, whip it harder.

    Students have changes as society had changed but the teaching remains the same.

    New developments in pedagogy abound the halls of colleges but rarely trickle down to the school. This is what happens when politicians make decisions rather than the academic leaders who have a mastery of the science of education.

  • 1

    highball7

    Maybe instead of stressing out on the students, the Japanese educational system can focus on the teachers.

    There is educating and regurgitating. Regurgitating is simply spitting out whatever format and sources from a set of materials toward the students. Its mechanical, numb, and frankly uninspiring. I find that to be the norm in public education in Japan and quite a few countries in the world.

    Educating is the molding of a student's mind. It can be reforming, stimulating, innovative and inspiring. Not all students will graduate and work as salaryman or get into that company with job security. Schools should provide the freedom for students to explore and find their way. You can be productive at any field of work and studies so long as you put the work in and enjoy the process.

    So instead of more hours, maybe provide more variety of topics and career paths. Create more vocational schools or specialty schools. Get the students excited and fill them with passion instead of more hours of stress and regiment.

  • 1

    tmarie

    High, while I agree with you, who is going to deal with educating the teachers and change their methods? There are some very intelligent and forward thinkers in the education system but they are the minority. Japan certainly won't allow westerns to come in and do it - and clearly the parents don't get it so wouldn't support it. The whole system is a joke. I speak to my students who are taking teaching certificates and they don't get it.

    I could rant for days on the certification process but I'll save that for another day. Japan produces, for the most part, teachers without any current education pedagogy and they all seem fine with it. They were victimized as students and now it's payback time. You get the odd uni grad with a clue but get are squished down when student teaching and revert back to how they were taught. Until universities here deal with their education courses, things won't change - some ARE addressing the issue but not enough of them and it certainly isn't filtering down into ele and secondary schools - mostly due to the old guard and kohai/sempai system.

  • -4

    Yubaru

    Define scondary?! Seriously? If I have to explain it to you I don't think you should even be commenting on the topic of education.

    You think I was kidding? Consider this, secondary education depending upon the country varies greatly and since it is a topic about education the amount of time teachers teach in classes varies GREATLY based upon it. Seconday education here in Japan is generally considered to be High School and this article and subject are regarding Elementary and Junior High School which is not considered secondary education and is in fact part of compulsory education here in Japan.

    In Canada secondary education is considered as High School, but in Australia secondary education is considered to start from 7th grade to 12th grade, which would mean that if it were here in Japan that would include JHS but here it doesnt.

    It matters directly to your comments about the number of hours teachers here teach. So I'll thow this back at you, if you did not know this or were unaware of the differences maybe you shouldn't be commenting about an education topic here.......

  • -3

    Yubaru

    There are some very intelligent and forward thinkers in the education system but they are the minority.

    I strongly disagree with you here, there are plenty of very intelligent and forward thinking teachers in the system BUT the problem is that they are only in a minority in the places where decision are considered and made, meaning MEXT.

  • 2

    bajhista65

    "Japan, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology said it is considering Saturday classes Ministry hopes to improve the academic ability of the nation’s youth by securing more teaching hours. It also hopes to dispel concerns of a widening “education gap” between public schools and private schools, many of which continue to implement Saturday classes. HOW ABOUT THE BULLYING ISSUES and teachers cruel method of teaching that causes suicides.

  • 0

    tmarie

    Yubaru, I think they are in the minority in the schools and most certainly in MEXT. Many teachers don't even really think about what they are doing and "This is how we've always done it" is often the answer for any sort of question with regards to some of the crazy and senseless things they do. This needs to change but I don't see it happening anytime soon - more so with a population that doesn't question it all either. Screaming that the system is broken is one thing, thinking about what is broken is another.

  • 4

    sf2k

    Seems juku is where all the work is anyway. Might as well cancel the education system and do juku 3 times a week. The rest is social or sports or their own time. Win win

  • 3

    buchailldana

    no way my kids will be wasting their time at school on a saturday....not a snowballs chance. to many life skills to learn then..climbing mountains,using wood living life which is not going to be learnt on a 6th day in a japanese thought stifling environment.

  • -2

    BertieWooster

    Ms Alexander,

    The education system as a whole needs an overhaul. How do you expect them to manage a foreign language when they're obviously struggling with their own language?

    Oh yes!

    I totally agree!

    I've heard similar comments from university professors who are frustrated because their students can't write a coherent sentence in Japanese, let alone an essay.

    The best thing would be to scrap the whole thing, work out what information and skills an adult needs to survive in today's world and work back from that right the way from Nursery School.

    Then develop teacher training programs to teach it and hire the teachers who can get the product.

    And if they did that, I'd bet students and parents would be quite happy for the kids to study on Saturdays.

    But I don't think it's likely to happen.

    Do you?

  • 1

    DP812

    Instead of looking at the root of the problem, let's just keep doing what we've been doing, except for longer hours. Because that solves everything.

    Seems to be Japan's answer to any problem.

  • 0

    tmarie

    YUbaru, secondary education doesn't mean what you think it does.

  • 2

    proxy

    @sf2k Now that IS a good idea.

  • 0

    mophead

    Ridiculous!! Is the government considering this and planning the next school year on their own Saturdays? When you RE-introduce Saturdays for the public teachers, does that mean all public servants will open offices on Saturday as well?

  • -3

    Yubaru

    YUbaru, secondary education doesn't mean what you think it does.

    And you think you know what I am thinking? Damn even my wife can't do that. You must be a witch or something.

  • -1

    tmarie

    The info you gave for Japan and Canada is wrong with regards to grades and levels. Compulsory Ed has nothing to do with it.

  • 1

    interuni321

    This is ridiculous for several reasons reasons, firstly what you cant do in 5 days, you wont be able to do in 6, if there is something wrong, then the way the teaching is done or the class sizes need to be changed. Also if students go 6 days a week they will have no time to recover and will probably have more trouble learning, not less. Some students may break have break downs or worse. Finally I think it is questionable if Japanese students need more school based learning in order to become factory robots or if they need more time doing extra-curricular activities to develop a more rounded skill set and better social skills.

  • 1

    HollisBrown

    There would be more positives in going down to a 4-day week than going up to a 6-day week in my view.

  • 5

    heretoolong

    I work at a private school and am tenured, and all full-time foreigners here are required to have school positions (校務), club coaches, and either homeroom teachers or dept chairs (主任) or assistant dept chairs (副主任) of various departments like student center, Kyomu, Nyushi etc. We also have school 6 days per week, and usually club 6 days/week, sometimes 7. The idea of having Saturday classes to me just blows my mind. Among the foreign teachers, the only thing we have come to conclude is that it is because parents WANT it, and Japanese teachers think it makes our school look more illustrious. What a farce.

    I argued until I was blue in the face in order to have those extra classes that we have on Saturday put on a day like Tues/Thurs or Tues/Fri. Do you know the biggest reason why we couldnt? It was due to the fact that we wouldn't be able to have club as long as we typically do!! FML. Club in this country dictates everything else, and is the root problem of many things in this country. Imperialistic Japan still exists through bukatsu, and while I think my school is bad about it, it is nowhere near as bad as your typical school where teachers berate students for performing badly, smack them upside their heads for a poor play, or not even acknowledge their existence when athletes come speak to their coaches. Sexual harassment comments towards jhs and hs girls by some male coaches has made me want to punch them right in their gut - beyond disgusting and things that I, myself, still disbelieve I heard.

    The entire idea of classes 6 days per week is purely window dressing. They change the clothes, but don't change the empty mannequins. Until passive education, wrote memorization (where students forget everything the next week, and they don't have true semester exams where everything covered that semester is on it), teacher-centered classes, and teaching the pages because MONBUSHO tells you to do this pace regardless of whether or not students truly understands changes, you could teach classes 10 days/week for 10 hours per day, and NOTHING will change.

    MONBUSHO, principals, teachers who were raised within the system haven't had a new idea of 70 years, and until we can escape from this style education system, it's all a big joke.

  • -1

  • -1

    humanrights

    Teachers already work 6 days a week, they will work 7??? Does the Gov think Japanese are under-educated? I think they are. You need quality NOT quantity. Sick really!

  • -1

    humanrights

    @heretoolong. Bravo for your comment. Couldnt put it better myself. Spot on.

  • -4

    tmarie

    Fantastic post Heretoolong! And yes with the window dressing! My old HS was offering TOEIC classes FFS! Offer things up even though they have no meaning or impact.

  • -4

    LostinNagoya

    If I were a student I would agree with Saturday classes if there would be mathematics lessons. Mathematics is the base of a good education and career, and it's one of the subjects one can't learn without the presence of a good teacher. Other subjects are important, of course. But if they do want to make students head to school, make it for a solid reason.

  • -2

    wtfjapan

    so what do these moron think is going to happen by having a 6 day school week, its magically going to make Japanese kids smarter, more creative, better skills advantage which in turn will bring Japan back to the glory days as a economic juggernaut!? oh then theyll wake up and realise it was just a fantastic dream! LOL

  • -1

    wtfjapan

    one of the first myths that was quickly dismissed when I first came to Japan was, Japanese spend long hours working, how many productive hours they actually work is debatable, same goes for Japanese schools.

  • 0

    Fadamor

    I think the problem is that there is too much vacation time. I noted that ES, JHS, and HS kids here where I work have 179 instructional day per year. That's only using Monday's through Fridays. I suppose it would be against some grand plan if Japan expanded to 180 days of instruction a year? They could still just use Mondays through Fridays, just reduce some of the vacation breaks. There's no need to satart throwing in some Saturdays as well.

  • -1

    sfjp330

    Due to the mediocre pay scales, nobody will join teaching for the money. People who desire to teach, generally, will be motivated by a natural desire to educate, or a passion for sharing their speciality subject. Hopefully this leads to a strong teaching force who are in the profession for wholesome reasons. This is all well and fine if it applies to newly graduated teachers, but experience and degrees don't even make the pay climb a great deal, unlike being a doctor or lawyer. Also, high monetary gain may not be incentive enough for people when many extra years of school are involved.

  • 1

    Simon Phillips

    Its official Saturday classes will start from April in my neck of the woods here in Osaka. It has destroyed my Saturday English school schedule, and I am clinging on to what is left of a mad excuse of my Saturday classes :(

    The shock is that I have spoken to a handful of parents and all of them seem to be happy that their kids are going back, but it is all over the place.... no one seems to know if it will be a split pattern (one Saturday in and the next off) or how long the days will be learning.

    To me this is so unorganized that I am pulling my hair to understand the scheduling but all of the parents are happy to see their kids off to school on the Saturdays.

  • 0

    gelendestrasse

    I can't imagine how the teachers are going to do a good job with a six day week. It's just not possible.

  • 0

    Mari@001

    I grew up in yutori kyoiku. When I started working at company at the first time.I felt "generation gap and something different ..." I still have tough time to get used to working together in office with "non-yutori kyoiku" people. I was glad to hear that the education system has changed from yutori kyoiku. but the school should be counted as rest on Saturday. Children are also important to have a communication with their family on weekends. (Going out with dad or mom etc.) It is not necessarily to become a good quality education it the school is 6 days a week. Children need freedom too. Need develop strategies for the five-day week in school.

  • 0

    FPSRussia

    I'd like to look at a different angle on this. There are schools that already do 6 days a week. I know for a FACT that those teachers go above and beyond the call of duty. With that said, I have no beef with the teachers. In fact, I agree with them 100% that 6 days a week is not necessary.

    In relation to this topic, I'd like the readers to consider what is being sacrificed besides a normal childhood. In these modern times where kids are often isolated by video game time and digital devices where is the family time. IMO Japan is an extremely bureaucratic society. Government runs everything. Where is the line?

    Parents are not parenting anymore. They are following society's cultural norms and almost everything is a formality. Family law is corrupt and fathers are the outcast. There is a great sacrifice here. I believe it encroaches on personal freedom. I believe the result is that you are teaching the kids that they have no personal freedom. From grade school to company, till the day they die they are trained to do what the system tells them to do.

    If they are trained in this manner how can they understand that part of their life belongs to them?

    I still feel the worst part is the loss of family time. Where is the fishing trip / camping with Dad? I'm only going to focus on the boys cause Japanese women get unlimited freedom later in life. The boys do not. From uniform to suit.

    It is a pickle though. No one dare say that education is not important. Perhaps one added Saturday a month would be fine. It is not lazy to have only a 5 day work week. It's common sense.

    As for the teachers, one day a week is impossible to balance their lives. Ward offices open on some Saturdays but teachers won't even be able to go to that. If they do the laundry, clean the house, do maintenance on the car, or wait for a delivery that they are not sure when it will come, then the day is lost. It costs a lot too. Those suits, working clothes, all that stuff cost money.

    It's a shame that I can't really give you a definitive answer on this. I raise only more questions and things to consider. However I can say I'm leaning against the idea of a 6 day work week. I'm thinking about the long term results that affect the human condition. I think it's brain-washing of the masses. I believe it ultimately leads to people feeling that they have no personal freedom and they way companies ask them to give ALL their time to the company is not to be questioned.

    Really, if you don't know what freedom is how on Earth can you know that it's been taken away from you. Thank you for reading this. I'm interested in reading more responses.

  • 0

    rydangel

    yet here in america where the population is booming, they are trying to go to a 4 day school week. not because of improved teaching methods that enable students to learn more quickly, but because of lack of money. i live in metro- atlanta and this year my county's school board actually voted to go to a 4 day week. they had to postpone the start date because parents, many who have never even been to a school board meeting showed up in protest,(it was an election year). the sad part is the parents were not upset about the kids learning time being shortened but were mad because they would have to pay for extra childcare while they were working. and american businesses wonder why they can't find qualified workers. because no one wants to pay for quality schools and teachers.

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