Japanese Lessons: A Year in a Japanese School Through the Eyes of An American Anthropologist and Her Children

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9780814713341: Japanese Lessons: A Year in a Japanese School Through the Eyes of An American Anthropologist and Her Children

Gail R. Benjamin reaches beyond predictable images of authoritarian Japanese educators and automaton schoolchildren to show the advantages and disadvantages of a system remarkably different from the American one... --The New York Times Book Review

Americans regard the Japanese educational system and the lives of Japanese children with a mixture of awe and indignance. We respect a system that produces higher literacy rates and superior math skills, but we reject the excesses of a system that leaves children with little free time and few outlets for creativity and self-expression.

In Japanese Lessons, Gail R. Benjamin recounts her experiences as a American parent with two children in a Japanese elementary school. An anthropologist, Benjamin successfully weds the roles of observer and parent, illuminating the strengths of the Japanese system and suggesting ways in which Americans might learn from it.

With an anthropologist's keen eye, Benjamin takes us through a full year in a Japanese public elementary school, bringing us into the classroom with its comforting structure, lively participation, varied teaching styles, and non-authoritarian teachers. We follow the children on class trips and Sports Days and through the rigors of summer vacation homework. We share the experiences of her young son and daughter as they react to Japanese schools, friends, and teachers. Through Benjamin we learn what it means to be a mother in Japan--how minute details, such as the way mothers prepare lunches for children, reflect cultural understandings of family and education.

Table of Contents
Acknowledgments
1. Getting Started
2. Why Study Japanese Education?
3. Day-to-Day Routines
4. Together at School, Together in Life
5. A Working Vacation and Special Events
6. The Three R's, Japanese Style
7. The Rest of the Day
8. Nagging, Preaching, and Discussions
9. Enlisting Mothers' Efforts
10. Education in Japanese Society
11. Themes and Suggestions
12. Sayonara
Appendix. Reading and Writing in Japanese
References
Index

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Review:

Reading, writing, and arithmetic may be a part of growing up for most people, but the methods for such training are far from universal. While in Japan as visiting scholars in 1989, Gail Benjamin and her husband enrolled their two children in a public elementary school, though neither of the kids spoke Japanese. The experience resulted in an education for both parents and children, and Japanese Lessons is a look at the differences between two cultures' educational systems. What gives the book much of its life is Benjamin's approach to the subject; an anthropologist, she is as interested in the reasons behind the differences as in the differences themselves. The methods and priorities exhibited in the classrooms reflect the cultures behind the educational systems, and her children helped her make some interesting and telling observations. For instance, collectivism is encouraged by breaking the typically large classes into smaller subgroups for discussion and problem-solving, effectively rewarding combined effort and teamwork. In this way, the Japanese learn as young children to value consensus and to emphasize the good of the whole over the good of the one, a direct contrast to the emphatic individualism so treasured in the United States. Benjamin recognizes that many of the Japanese teaching practices would not work well in the U.S., but by presenting alternatives to America's current system of public education, she has offered points to consider while granting a peek into Japanese culture.

From the Back Cover:

In Japanese Lessons Gail R. Benjamin recounts her experiences as an American parent with two children in a Japanese elementary school. An anthropologist, Benjamin successfully weds the roles of observer and parent, illuminating the strengths of the Japanese system and suggesting ways in which Americans might learn from it.

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Book Description New York University Press, United States, 1998. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Revised ed.. Language: English . Brand New Book. Gail R. Benjamin reaches beyond predictable images of authoritarian Japanese educators and automaton schoolchildren to show the advantages and disadvantages of a system remarkably different from the American one.--The New York Times Book Review Americans regard the Japanese educational system and the lives of Japanese children with a mixture of awe and indignance. We respect a system that produces higher literacy rates and superior math skills, but we reject the excesses of a system that leaves children with little free time and few outlets for creativity and self-expression. In Japanese Lessons, Gail R. Benjamin recounts her experiences as a American parent with two children in a Japanese elementary school. An anthropologist, Benjamin successfully weds the roles of observer and parent, illuminating the strengths of the Japanese system and suggesting ways in which Americans might learn from it. With an anthropologist s keen eye, Benjamin takes us through a full year in a Japanese public elementary school, bringing us into the classroom with its comforting structure, lively participation, varied teaching styles, and non-authoritarian teachers. We follow the children on class trips and Sports Days and through the rigors of summer vacation homework. We share the experiences of her young son and daughter as they react to Japanese schools, friends, and teachers. Through Benjamin we learn what it means to be a mother in Japan--how minute details, such as the way mothers prepare lunches for children, reflect cultural understandings of family and education. Table of Contents Acknowledgments 1. Getting Started 2. Why Study Japanese Education? 3. Day-to-Day Routines 4. Together at School, Together in Life 5. A Working Vacation and Special Events 6. The Three R s, Japanese Style 7. The Rest of the Day 8. Nagging, Preaching, and Discussions 9. Enlisting Mothers Efforts 10. Education in Japanese Society 11. Themes and Suggestions 12. Sayonara Appendix. Reading and Writing in Japanese References Index. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9780814713341

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Book Description New York University Press, United States, 1998. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Revised ed.. Language: English . Brand New Book. Gail R. Benjamin reaches beyond predictable images of authoritarian Japanese educators and automaton schoolchildren to show the advantages and disadvantages of a system remarkably different from the American one.--The New York Times Book Review Americans regard the Japanese educational system and the lives of Japanese children with a mixture of awe and indignance. We respect a system that produces higher literacy rates and superior math skills, but we reject the excesses of a system that leaves children with little free time and few outlets for creativity and self-expression. In Japanese Lessons, Gail R. Benjamin recounts her experiences as a American parent with two children in a Japanese elementary school. An anthropologist, Benjamin successfully weds the roles of observer and parent, illuminating the strengths of the Japanese system and suggesting ways in which Americans might learn from it. With an anthropologist s keen eye, Benjamin takes us through a full year in a Japanese public elementary school, bringing us into the classroom with its comforting structure, lively participation, varied teaching styles, and non-authoritarian teachers. We follow the children on class trips and Sports Days and through the rigors of summer vacation homework. We share the experiences of her young son and daughter as they react to Japanese schools, friends, and teachers. Through Benjamin we learn what it means to be a mother in Japan--how minute details, such as the way mothers prepare lunches for children, reflect cultural understandings of family and education. Table of Contents Acknowledgments 1. Getting Started 2. Why Study Japanese Education? 3. Day-to-Day Routines 4. Together at School, Together in Life 5. A Working Vacation and Special Events 6. The Three R s, Japanese Style 7. The Rest of the Day 8. Nagging, Preaching, and Discussions 9. Enlisting Mothers Efforts 10. Education in Japanese Society 11. Themes and Suggestions 12. Sayonara Appendix. Reading and Writing in Japanese References Index. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9780814713341

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