East Asian Languages and Cultures | Society and Education in Japan
E354 | 1487 | 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.