By Jessup Glenn
High school life in Japan is quite different than what we experience in the USA. Particularly coming out of the destruction of WWII, Japan has had an opportunity to redesign their educational system with the best of both eastern and western cultures.
Following the end of World War II, Japan largely became a democratic society. This is due to enormous infrastructure losses of the Japanese war effort, the American occupation and rebuilding of Japan, the growing liberal community in Japan, and the need for leadership. One initiative of the occupation of Japan was education reform.
During the war, many schools were turned into factories, and students were enlisted as workers. Bombings destroyed schools, and the occupation was left to rebuild
Before and during WWII, elementary schools and secondary schools were highly centralized. There was great emphasis on rote memorization. The occupation Americanized much of the schools, where alternative viewpoints and student participation became mere commonplace.
Japan went through further education reform in the 80s and 90s on their own. The government wanted to focus on the importance of family in high school which was always important in Japanese culture before WWII. The roles and responsibilities of family members, the concept of cooperation within the family, and the role of the family in society. Today, the family continues to be an important part of the social infrastructure in Japanese schools and high schools.
Today, uniforms are customary in public Japanese high schools. It is necessary as students often share transportation with the everyday public, and need to be identifiable. Often students are required to wear “Uwabaki” slippers—special slippers worn when “street shoes” are prohibited or ill-favored. These slippers can even be color-coded by gender.
In Japan, school years are sixty more days than at Frontier, 240. In 2002, school on Saturdays no longer became mandatory. The Ministry of Education in Japan has enforced rigorous learning material, prompting some schools to return to a six-day school week. Typically students take three years each of mathematics, social studies, Japanese, science, and English, with additional courses like physical education, music, art, and moral studies.