Different approaches to education and schooling

Cultural Communication

Describe the different approaches to education and schooling that are taken by three different cultures

What is considered to be a ‘quality education’ is often taken as a given, but the appropriate way of educating the young is just as much a social construct as any other facet of a culture. Education the inculcation of future citizens with a particular system of values, of what it means to be a citizen, a successful member of society, and the relationship of an individual in society (Samovar, et.al, 2006). This can be seen when comparing three national educational systems from Asia, Continental Europe, and the United Kingdom

In Japan, the individual is secondary to the community. Although the most publicized aspect of the Japanese system are the ‘cram schools’ or afterschool private tutoring that students use to get into prestigious universities, the stress upon examinations is also true of the French and German gymnasium systems that Japan based its educational system upon. What is unusual about Japan is the extreme stress upon the collective — students have responsibility for keeping the classroom clean, for example, and teachers take a personal interest in matters of student life, like personal hygiene that might be deemed private in America. Japanese lasses tend to be larger, even from the elementary schools. “School regulations often set curfews and govern dress codes, hairstyles, student employment, and even leisure activities. The school frequently is responsible for student discipline when a student ran afoul of the regulations or, occasionally, of the law” (“Primary and Secondary Education,” Country Studies: Japan, 2007).

In Japan, students eat the same foods together from an early age and attend most extracurricular activities together. Cram schools are privately run, but even they serve to enforce some sense of national cohesion as many “juku [cram schools] even have branches in the United States and other countries to help children living abroad catch up with students in Japan (“Primary and Secondary Education,” Country Studies: Japan, 2007). The high school years are the most rigorous. However upon entering a prestigious school, the work load decreases. It is far easier to graduate than to enter university. Once young people from the age of 15 to 17 have shown their commitment to the Japanese ‘system’ they are allowed a brief time of play in school, before permanently entering the workforce (“Primary and Secondary Education,” Country Studies: Japan, 2007).

France also has a similarly structured and standardized curriculum as Japan. “Although effective in many respects, French state schools tend not to provide the same level of extra-curricular activities that children from the UK and other European countries might expect. This is particularly the case with Arts, Drama, Music, and Sports. It is left up to the parents to decide in which direction they wish to spend their child’s time (and their own money) to develop such activities” (French state education – an introduction, FrenchEntree.com, 2003). Thus, although it is nationally cohesive in terms of its curriculum and educational system, France has much more emphasis on individualism, personal choice, and the family, than Japanese schools.

In defense of the standardization that it is characteristic of French academic education it is important to note: “One of the long-term benefits of the emphasis on exams and results is that almost every child will end up with the opportunity to study for a trade, diploma or degree” (French state education – an introduction, FrenchEntree.com, 2003). Fitting into the system of France is very important, and creating a good French citizen is one of the goals of the educational system. Students in France, for example, cannot wear religious clothing or other affiliations with national, non-French institutions of identity.

As in France and Japan, in the United Kingdom, education is free and compulsory until age sixteen, as an educated workforce is highly valued. There is also a great deal of respect and deference given to the role of the teacher. “Teachers in primary schools (4- to 11-year-olds) are always addressed by their surname by parents and pupils alike, always Mr., Mrs. Or Miss Smith

In secondary schools (11-16 years), teachers are always addressed as Miss or Sir” (“Introduction to School Life,” Woodlands Junior School, 2007). Students in the United Kingdom must wear a uniform, which enforces a certain sense of national and school cohesion, although individualistic expression is more encouraged within the classroom environment of teaching than in Japan or France.

Still, there is less flexibility in United Kingdom curriculum planning than in America. Compulsory national testing is routine at the ages of 7, 11, 14, in England and Scotland. Students at state schools are also tested in science and math. Like Japan and France, students must take state exams to exit from university, and there are advanced level exams one must take to attend universities (“Introduction to School Life,” Woodlands Junior School, 2007). However, while most students attend state schools, private schools are much more common in England (called ‘public schools’). Often these schools are extremely expensive and criticized as vestiges of the English class system, as only the very wealthy and connected members of British or Scottish society can attend such schools as Eton.

How to Communicate in U.S. Culture

Make eye contact with the person to whom you are speaking.

If you’re trying to make a new friend — smile! Or if you don’t feel like smiling, know that people smile more often in the United States when speaking to strangers or in public.

If someone says they’re in a hurry, don’t take it personally. People in the U.S. tend to be very impatient. They don’t take leisurely lunches at work or spend a long time talking when they have things to do.

If a child ‘talks back’ to a parent this does not necessarily mean that the child was poorly brought up — parents and children often fight, almost as equals, and the make up.

Don’t be offended if people address you by your first name very soon in America, or if they ask you questions that seem very personal.

Works Cited

French state education – an introduction.” FrenchEntree.com. 2003. 20 Oct 2007. http://www.frenchentree.com/fe-education/DisplayArticle.asp?ID=70

Introduction to School Life.” Woodlands Junior School. 20 Oct 2007. http://www.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/customs/questions/education/index.html

Primary and Secondary Education.” Country Studies: Japan. 20 Oct 2007. http://www.country-studies.com/japan/primary-and-secondary-education.html

Samovar, Larry a., Porter, Richard, E. And McDaniel, Edward R.

Communication between Cultures. 6th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, 2006a.

Samovar, Larry a., Porter, Richard, E. And McDaniel, Edward R.

Intercultural Communication: A Reader. 11th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, 2006b.

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