American vs Japanese Education

American vs Japanese Education

Parker Schafer, Journalist

You may have heard recent whispers about the amazingness of Finland’s schools. You may have even wished you could trade the heavy homework load, the SAT and AP prep, the college essays, the after school tutoring that all go into an all-star American education for a Finnish education. But, before you take up a particularly hard-to-pronounce language and invest in a significant winter wardrobe, you should consider the opposite end of the education spectrum by looking at your Japanese peers… and breathe a sigh of relief. Unlike Finland and the U.S., Japanese students attend school from April to March, 11 months of the year. Even during the pitiful breaks, Japanese students do extra homework and tutoring. In fact, in order to begin high school, Japanese students have to pass an entrance exam. While it’s true that Japanese students continuously rank higher than the U.S. in language and test scores, it’s also true that one-third of Japan’s students suffer from symptoms of depression due to the high stress they carry throughout the year. So, while the U.S. education system is far from perfect, and it’s certainly not Finland, be thankful for a system that is always trying hard to find a balance. And, if you’re feeling particularly stressed, feel better by remembering that there are no janitorial services in Japanese schools – the students have to clean up after themselves.