East Asian Languages and Cultures | Society and Education in Japan
E354 | 26238 | Rubinger


We will consider the role that education, broadly defined, has
played in Japanese society both as part of traditional culture and
as a force for change in contemporary Japan.  In the first half of
the course, we will survey educational influences in traditional
culture from earliest times to the end of World War II.  In the
second, we will focus in some depth on educational debates and
controversies of the present.  Among the contemporary issues to be
treated will be: the pervasive influence of youth culture on
Japanese society and education, the goals of mass education,
individual values versus conformity to the group, schools and social
mobility, the pros and cons of tracking by ability, status versus
merit criteria for selection, memorization versus self expression as
learning strategies, the physical landscaping of schools,
privatization of universities, and the culture of pre-schools.

Films, videos, and personal accounts by visitors will supplement
readings from newspapers, magazines, and scholarly books and
papers.  Grades are based on a midterm exam, final exam, one written
project, and short reaction papers in which students will compare
their own experiences in school with what they are learning about
Japan.