Group conformity is highly regarded. Japanese society embraces cultural homogeneity and training for uniformity forms the heart of Japanese education. Children are trained through group life at school to master the competency to conform to the group norm which is strictly required as a member of Japanese society. Students are encouraged to develop strong loyalties to their social groups and their class.
Children in preschool learn to maintain cooperative relationships with their peers and on their first year in elementary school, to value punctuality. Classroom management emphasizes student responsibility through emphasis on daily chores such as cleaning of desks and scrubbing of classroom floors.
The teaching culture in Japan differs greatly from that of schools in the West. Teachers are particularly concerned about developing the holistic child and focus on matters such as personal hygiene, nutrition, sleep which are not ordinarily thought of as part of the teacher's duties in the west. Students are taught proper manners, how to speak politely and how to address adults as well as how to relate to their peers in the appropriate manner. They also learn public speaking skills through class meetings as well as many school events during the school year.
Adults view children that have problems with group behavior and interpersonal relationships as the deviant ones. Adults value social cooperativeness in children because they hold this trait to be more important than individual interests. The "bad" children are those who reject the life of the group in favor of individualism. Little emphasis is placed on teaching children to think of themselves as individuals within society. Japanese children that are extremely group oriented may have acquired those values of obedience and conformity at the price of autonomy and social understanding.
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