Nikkei Shinbun (December 24, 2012)
*Link in Japanese
The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) reported that the number of public school teachers who took a leave from their schools due to mental health reasons in year 2011 was 5,274. While this number is down 2.4% since 2010, the number is still twice as many compared to 10 years ago. The main reason for the increasing depression is a decrease in a healthy work-life balance.To improve the working environment for teachers, the ministry proposed two plans. One is to assign experienced teachers to new teachers as mentors. The second is to implement training programs for returning teachers, who took a leave from their work, to facilitate their re-entry.
For more information:
Depression, mental illness among Japan’s public school teachers increasing
Teachers too busy to deal with struggling students
Ida Torres, The Japan Daily Press (November 12, 2012)
Mayor Toru Hashimoto
Mayor Toru Hashimoto responded to a recent assault, attempted robbery, and several other violent acts allegedly committed by six youths, with a reinstatement of a mandatory educational guideline that was abolished over ten year ago. Students are to attend Saturday classes in addition to their Monday through Friday schedule. Five elementary schools have already reinstated the Mayor’s guideline and the remainder will have the guideline take force in April 2013. Hashimoto hopes that with the additional school day will not only benefit student academic achievement, but also prevent juvenile delinquency.
For more information:
Japan’s Osaka to restart Saturday classes for schools
Difficulty in Differenciating Good Teachers from the Rest in the New Teacher Evaluation System
Fukuashiba Elementary School in Ibaragi Japan
Shinano Mainichi Shinbun (September 11, 2012)
*original article in Japanese
Nagano prefecture in Japan began adopting a merit pay system based on the result of the teacher evaluation in 2011. The recent report on the result of the 2011 evaluation indicate that the system doesn’t work effectively. The result shows that 16,767 out of 17,000 received C in the A to E scale. A former principal in Nagano commented that he had no choice but to give a C to all teachers because assigning low evaluation scores required an evidence-based account, which was not practically feasible. The Nagano Department of Education commented that the current teacher evaluation system has to be something that produces mostly average C scores. This is due to the reconciliation with the teacher union, which argued against the Nagano Department of Education about highlighting the differences among teachers in terms of their teaching effectiveness.
For more information (in Japanese):
A webpage of Fukuashiba Elementary School in Ibaragi Japan
Distributing Tablets in All Schools in Osaka
(1 June 2012)
The Osaka City School Board announced a plan to buy tablets for all elementary and middle schools in the city by 2015. The plan also involves connecting individual tablets with an interactive whiteboard in classrooms. It will cost more than $10 million to invest in the tablets and to develop the interactive classroom system.
To see an example of how one Japanese classroom utilized iPads during a lesson, see the following video:
Expanding Science Elites: Super Science High School (in Japanese)
Watanabe, A. Benesse.jp (14 May 2012)
The Ministry of Education established the Super Science High School (SSH) system to combat a decreasing interest in math, science, and technology in Japanese schools in 2002. With 73 newly appointed schools in 2012 (an increase of 33 schools from 2011), there is a total of 178 SSHs across Japan. Of those 73 new SSHs selected from the pool of 97 applications, 3 are national, 57 are public, and 13 are private schools. SSH students have the opportunities to experience university-level and world-class research while participating in international science fairs and interacting with top researchers from various universities, institutes, and corporations.