Comparing Math Curriculum Between the United States and Japan

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C & I 501 Fundamentals of Curriculum Development
Assignment 3 - Comparing Math Curriculum between the United States and Japan

Crawford states “The National Defense Education Act of 1958, passed in response to Sputnik, was the first effort at the national level to strengthen mathematics, science, and foreign-language instruction” (pg 106). Unfortunately we all know that the money spent was modest and continue to be small; it looks like that is not enough funds for Education and especially for Math. For years, I have been listening that the United States is behind in Mathematics. Then, I decided to do an analysis in Math curriculum from Japan. I will analyze an elementary Math curriculum to find out which grade we start to get behind from Japan. The TIMSS (The Trends International Mathematics and Science Study) results suggest to American citizens that "compared to our goal of excellence among nations, we are not where we aim to be." The TIMSS scores show that American 4th-graders do well in Science, but that otherwise there is plenty of room for improvement in both mathematics and science. By contrast, Japan remains constantly at the top internationally in both math and science. The Japanese education system may suggest some lessons for improving teaching and learning in the United States. Some background, Japan has a national curriculum for public education, the Course of Study or “COS,” that is revised regularly, and includes the material required for all students through the end of elementary school to learn. Content and performance objectives for students are contained in the nation’s curriculum, which is developed by the Ministry of Education (MEXT). By doing my project on this topic, I hope to gain a greater understanding on why these achievement gaps exist. In this assignment, I will choice and discuss three aspects of curriculum analysis from Posner. I will discuss the achievement gap in more details in my major project assignment. VIII. How should the curriculum be implemented?

2. What are the probable costs and benefits associated with the curriculum change?

In 2002, the curriculum in Japan had a big change. A benefit will be that this new curriculum aims to provide the students with the skills and knowledge that are necessary in today’s society, but a cost will be some important content were took from the curriculum and since teachers there follow the curriculum closely, some educators are worried that the students will lack of important content in the future. Also, it was claimed that the content of conventional subjects was being cut by 30% (Fujii, 2007), partly to make way for these new study areas, and partly because of the implementation of a five-day school week and the end of Saturday lessons - part of government attempts to cut Japanese working hours.

Another important change that I would like to explain is that Japan had a major reform movement in teaching and learning mathematics during the 1970s and 1980s (Takahashi, 2000). One of the major aspects of this reform movement was to shift from a traditional classroom that focuses on teachers’ instruction to a student-centered classroom that focuses on students’ engagement in mathematical activities. Now, teacher is seeing as a facilitator instead of teacher-centric lecture. During this reform movement, Japanese mathematics educators and teachers worked collaboratively to find ways to implement the ideas of reform mathematics teaching and learning like the Nebraska Story (Gallagher, 2007). A basic assumption of the reforms is that students can learn by constructing their own conceptions of mathematics. In other words, students are viewed as active constructors of knowledge, rather than passive recipients of it (Brown, 1994).

X. What is your judgment about the curriculum?

1. What are its strengths and weaknesses?

The perception of the country's students as robots that had grown in the 1980s was the major cause for a series of curricular...
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