Saturday, June 25, 2011

Vast Differences

As mentioned before, the differences between school in the United States and those in Japan are vast.  A recent difference I have been noticing is how Japanese education deals with substitute teachers.

They don’t. 

Instead of having a network of people anxiously waiting for a phone call in the morning informing them they can work that day, they have built in substitute teachers.  These teachers do lots of organizing, scheduling and other work for the school.  Substitute teaching is simply something they do should the need arise-which it occasionally does-but not often.

Another major difference is that the teachers all share one gigantic office.  They each have their own desk.  There is always a head row of desks where the principal, vice-principal and other head teachers sit. 

One great thing about this set up is that it makes communication between the teachers very open.  And putting together meetings is a cinch. 

All the important information and scheduling is put up in the teachers room as well.  It is an extremely efficient system.  

Since I was homeschooled K-12, I am interested in comparisons and thoughts from people who fully experienced public school in the U.S. and are now teaching or have taught in Japan. 

What do you think?
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  1. Its interesting that you were homeschooled. Ive experienced public schools in the US from K-12 and I interned/student taught in an Elementary School and Junior High School. One thing Ive noticed in Japan, is the use of homeroom teachers in High Schools. Its very similar to the set up in US Elementary schools, where you have one teacher who is kinda your mentor, but then you take different classes with other teachers. An extension of the set up in US Elementary schools, where you have one homeroom teacher, who teaches you all subjects. US High Schools are similar to US colleges, in that you take different subjects with different teachers but you don't have one main teacher. I could see benefits for both systems. As far as substitute teachers, that is an interesting idea, having extra teachers already at the school in case you need a substitute. As far as one big office too, its another interesting difference. Where as each teachers room becomes his/her office etc. in America, instead in Japan, the teachers office is in the main office and each room kind of a blank slate. It almost seems to fit perfectly into the cultural differences between the two countries. In America, people tend to be more independent and do their own thing. That style fits with the American design of each teacher having their own room and office. But in Japan, where people tend to be more collectivist, the offices are put together so as to collaborate more closely etc.

  2. Interesting post. I wrote a post about this subject too...but with some different observations. And my post is from the perspective of a parent of children in the Japanese school system.

    My post is here: