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Catching a Glimpse of the Education Community in America

Kanji Akahori, Ph.D., CRET Board of Directors


I had an opportunity to participate in two conventions held by the U.S. academic societies of the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) in March and June 2012. The ASCD and ISTE are academic societies that are aimed more at teaching staff in schools than researchers. In this sense, they were extremely helpful in understanding the reality of the education community in America. I was struck by the three impressions that I have outlined below.


Firstly, it appears that the impact of the curriculum principle has become stronger in the education community in America. Specifically, in nearly every state, education is conducted in accordance with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). It seems that this is limited to mathematics, languages and similar rather than every subject, but this is a significant change. In America, states have a high degree of independence, so there is no national curriculum equivalent to the curriculum guidelines in Japan. However, the CCSS which is common in almost all states can safely be called the American version of the Japanese curriculum guidelines. Having students retain the content of subjects and think on their own, as well as assessing what they have achieved, are points that are the same as with education in Japan.


Secondly, on the other hand, traditional empiricism is still at the core of education in America, such as thinking critically, presenting one’s own opinions, creative thinking, encouraging metacognitive thinking and emphasizing the experience of children. In the Japanese curriculum guidelines, it is said that fundamental and basic knowledge and skills, as well as problem-solving learning utilizing the ability to think, discernment and power of expression, are like two halves of the whole, but America is also looking toward a similar direction.


Finally, if we talk about the utilization of digital learning materials, I feel that the situation in Japan is different to that in America where these are used normally with no sense of unease among teaching staff. For example, various software programs and learning materials are commercially available, including databases of the content of questions for each teaching unit, clock displays that control the time in which activities are set for children, teaching materials that motivate children to learn about arithmetic and evaluation problems for each teaching unit. It appears these have been widely accepted by teachers in schools.


Overall, it seems that Japan, America and other countries are conducting almost identical education activities. I think teachers and leaders in Japan could have more confidence in themselves.


(September 25, 2012)

Kanji Akahori

President of JAPET / President of ICT CONNECT 21

Professor Emeritus of Tokyo Institute of Technology

Up to the present day, he has worked as a senior high school teacher in Shizuoka, a lecturer and associate professor of Tokyo Gakugei University, and then an assistant professor and professor of Tokyo Institute of Technology. During his career, he has also served as a guest professor at The Open University of Japan and the UN University Institute of Advanced Studies, etc.

◆ Publications:
Invitation to Educational Technology, JustSystems, 2002
Instructional Designs as the Basics of Classes, Japan Audio-Visual Education Association, 2004
The Methods and Actualities of Class Designs, Koryosha, 2009
Classes for Information Morals that Nurture Communication Skills, JustSystems, 2010, and others

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