Education is the foundation of a strong and productive individual as well as being the foundation for a strong and productive country. Any country that keeps its' people uneducated or does not help to educate them cannot hold them entirely responsible for their actions that result from their lack of education. The United States and Japan both feel very strongly about education and that they need to have well educated people. Both of these countries have educational systems that are similar in some ways and yet very different in other ways. Both the similarities and the differences of these two systems give light to how each of these countries go about educating its' people and how much each of these countries value education.
The educational system in Japan has not always been the way it is today. In fact it went through the very drastic changes in the end of the eighteen hundreds and then again in middle of the nineteen hundreds; right after World War II. The Meiji government was the first imperial government and it came into power in 1868. This government had a relatively nonrestrictive textbook policy. Then in 1872 it passed the School System Law, but it still did not include a Textbook Compilation Bureau. In the 1880's, there was a surging of nationalistic sentiment among Confucian scholars and this group was led by Motoda (1818-91). Due to this feeling sweeping the country, Mori Arinori (1847-89) became Education Minister and under his leadership state control on what was taught and what was in textbooks tightened. Then there was the Imperial Rescript on Education of 1890. This document had three themes: that the foundation of the nation is Confucian Values, that the role of education is perfecting moral powers', and that the duty of the subjects is to respect the national polity headed by the emperor. In 1903 the government instated the national textbook system which compiled all pre-collegiate textbooks. The history books made during this period were super nationalistic and described the imperial family as direct descendants of God.
During the pre-war education period, the curriculums showed how nationalistic one country's schools could become. In addition, the fact that during the pre-war period elementary school (grades 1-6) was the only compulsory and free schooling in Japan. This shows that at the time school was not there for the purpose of enlightenment, but for creating machines. The curriculum for elementary school consisted of citizenship (morals, Japanese language, Japanese history and geography), science (science and arithmetic), physical training (physical education and the martial sports of Judo and Kendo) and the arts (drawing, calligraphy and handicrafts). During the higher levels of elementary school, domestic science was added for girls.
After a child goes through this level of education, it was very difficult to move on in school, especially for girls because they were rarely let into male middle schools. Another thing that hindered children making it further in school was that it was no longer free at the middle school level. In fact, only about ten percent of the males that graduated elementary school made it into middle school (grades 7-11) and only eight percent of girls went on. Most of those that did not pass the exam to get into middle school were sent to technical school. The curriculum at the male middle schools furthered the mind bending and machine making. The curriculum extended all things that were studied in elementary school and added Chinese Classics, practical work (woodworking, gardening, etc.) and above all; military training. This military training included drills, target practice, how to handle grenades, and machine gun usage. The military training received in school is similar to a washed down version of American boot camp. The female middle school was there for the purpose of "necessary and cultural education for girls, with special emphasis on national morality."-A,...
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