Japan’s Ministry of Education has concluded the solution to “falling academic achievement” is extending the number of hours students are in classrooms. In its first revision of curriculum guidelines concerning school hours in almost thirty years, the Ministry announced students will devote an additional 10% of time to studying in class. The new guidelines propose reinforcing moral education, but fall short of accepting the recommendation of the Education Rebuilding Council which proposed making ethics a formal school subject. The Council was established by the Japanese Cabinet which believes its people lack some aspect of moral values.
Anyone who has ever taught a day in school knows the philosophy of “more is better” simply lacks any evidence that it works. An additional hour of boring teaching will not result in anything more than bored students. Perhaps, if the Ministry devoted time to exploring exciting new ways of teaching math and science that utilized technology the results might be different in learning those subjects. Of course, continued reliance on international testing results only strengthens the movement toward “teaching for the test.”
The Ministry’s recommendation about making “ethics” more important in the curriculum has nothing to do with education so much as it has to do with right wing complaints about Japanese youth morals. For some reason, Japan’s youth are not enthusiastic supporters of militarism and oppression of other people. The morals and ethics of the Japanese people are OK, it is the moral and ethics of critics that leaves much to be desired.