Comparison of the North American and Japanese Educational Systems

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Comparison of the North American and Japanese Educational Systems


The comparison between Japanese and North American educational systems is often used. The Japanese system, along with other Asian cultures, places importance on the group and the interdependence of its members (Cole & Cole, 2001, p. 541). The North American model, in contrast, focuses on the ideals of individuality and independence (Cole & Cole, 2001, p.541). This contrast is due to a conflicting cultural/social structure and outlook of the world. Japanese look at the development of self as doubled sided: the inner self and the social or public self (Hoffman, 2000, p.307). Within the Japanese education system, the teacher's goal is to develop and cultivate both layers.
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This follows the cultural theme of interconnectedness in contrast to independence. This theme is the backbone to the Japanese educational and cultural system.

In contrast, the North American education system stresses the ideals of individualism. The aim of the North American system is to socialize the children to become independent individuals, who have relationships with whom they choose (Cole & Cole, 2001, p.541). This ideal of individualism influences the way educators approach learning. Children are encouraged to strive and pursue individual potential and needs (Hoffman, 2000, p.302). Children spend a lot of time pursuing individual activities alone during class time. The classroom is teacher centered in terms of its direction and authority. Whereas the Japanese teacher relies on the social structure and peers, North American teachers have authority to direct the class (Hoffman, 2000, p.304). This adult control is an external standard placed on the child (Hoffman, 2000, p.306). The Japanese teacher relies on the inner standards within the child and their fellow classmates to control the child (Hoffman, 2000, p.307). In situations, such as a child acting out in class, North American teachers assert authority where as Japanese teacher's look to group pressure to conform and control the child.

The child's…