Despite the fact Japanese youth rank highly on international standardized test comparisons, Japanese education is often scrutinized by the media. A number of issues are raised including bullying, suicide, and even teen prostitution. Academically, as well, Japanese schools are often criticized for failings such as relying too much on rote learning at the expense of critical thinking. The presenter, who has routinely observed Japan’s elementary and junior high schools classes since 2011, will explore reasons for the criticisms and explore to what extent the criticisms are deserved. In addition to discussing Japan’s educational system, the goals and vision of public schools in general will be explored and questioned.
John Spiri, Associate Professor
Gifu Shotoku Gakuen University
About the presenter:
John Spiri is associate professor in the education department at Gifu Shotoku Gakuen University. Since he first came to Japan in 1997, he has worked at several universities. His research interests include motivation, vocabulary acquisition, content-based learning and autonomy. John is also a freelance writer, contributing articles to publications such as the Japan Times, Japan’s largest English newspaper. His most recent articles explore problems with Japan’s public schools, and alternatives. John also founded Global Stories Press, a publishing company that specializes in English as a Foreign Language materials, with a special focus on content-based learning. Materials can be viewed at http://globalstoriespress.com/. The site also contains extensive opportunities for learners to study English. John resides in rural Shiga Prefecture with his wife, two sons, and three dogs.