Posted by debito on September 20th, 2007
Good. I opposed this because these sorts of things, such as teaching (and grading) “patriotism”, would leave Japan’s children of international roots in a bind–how can they “love” Japan “properly”, in a way quantifiably gradable? Officially-sanctioned identity education is a very difficult subject to broach indeed (and it is by no means limited to Japan). But forcing young students to “love” Japan (and having their future possibly affected by bad grades for it) says more about the political elite and their families who would support this sort of policy, believing love and morality can be thusly commanded.
Anyway, the article on this follows, courtesy of guregu at the Life in Japan list. Arudou Debito
Plan to upgrade moral education to official subject shelved
The Yomiuri Shimbun Sep. 20, 2007
The Central Council for Education, an advisory panel to the education, science and technology minister, has decided to shelve a plan to upgrade moral education to an official subject in a revision of the official school curriculum guidelines scheduled for this fiscal year, according to sources.
The council concluded that “morals are related to the heart and mind and cannot be knocked into children via a textbook.”
The upgrading of moral education to an official subject was proposed by the Education Rebuilding Council, a Cabinet organ charged with education reform, in its second report released June.
Currently, the official school curriculum guidelines state that moral education should be taught for about one hour a week at primary and middle schools–using supplementary reading materials distributed by the ministry or books and videos edited by private educational material makers– with the aim of teaching values such as “compassion” and a “respect for life.”
However, unlike the five-grade system, pupil assessment is not required, as moral education is not a subject.
The Education Rebuilding Council’s proposal came amid rising public demand for moral and ethical teaching at schools in light of falling standards in society.
However, mandatory conditions that were to be attached to the upgrading, such as assessing students, the use of authorized textbooks and the creation of a new teachers license for the subject at middle and high schools, have been a source of debate. Opponents believed such conditions were not conducive to moral education. Some members of the Central Council for Education also have expressed skepticism, especially with regard to the authorized textbooks, saying, “It is unfeasible to screen textbooks for moral education, since they deal with issues in people’s minds.”
The Central Council for Education decided not to recommend the upgrading, while stressing the importance of moral education. The policy will be taken into consideration when the ministry revises the official school curriculum guidelines.
Prospects for education reform unclear
“The cultivation of normal consciousness” and improvements in academic ability were important pillars of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s education reforms. Shelving the moral education upgrade symbolized the uncertain outlook for education reforms.
From the outset, caution prevailed among the council members when discussing the upgrading of moral education to a full official subject. Some specialists have also pointed out that Abe’s sudden resignation announcement weakened the authority of the Education Rebuilding Council, as the body was established as a private advisory panel for the prime minister.
Meanwhile, the time allotted for moral education is being switched to other subjects in some schools.
(Sep. 20, 2007)