Japan and United States Education Difference

Japanand United States Education Difference

Japanand the United States education systems have some similaritiesconsidering that they are both capitalist nations. Economic successis a major goal for every citizen. School curriculums emphasize onacademic success, as it is the base for economic success. Inaddition, both countries use high grades and standardized exams todetermine academic success. On the contrary, the curriculums used inboth countries have significant differences. This paper will evaluateeducation differences between Japan and the United States.

Inan article titled “Educating the heart”, Sherry Schwartz notesthat Japanese students spend more time in classes compared toAmericans. However, Japanese curriculum emphasizes on moraleducation, thus the reason they allocate most of their time to“Kokoro-no-kyoiku” (education of the heart) (Schwarz 76). Thejunior and elementary, high schools in Japan have a nationalcompulsory moral curriculum they are required to cover. Nevertheless,the high school student acquires moral education through informalmeans such as participating in community, school club and tripsprojects. In 2006, the Japanese Prime Minister recommended acurriculum that could enhance respect to cultures and traditions ofthe country, patriotism, and respect for other countries. Thestudents also develop self-discipline, love, generosity, and respectfor one another and life. On the contrary, The United States ofAmerica’s school curriculum focuses on academics. The “No ChildLeft Behind” policy compels teachers to allocate time and energy toslow learners. The high-value teachers place on academic achievementundermine moral value. Japanese curriculum molds conscientiouscitizens because they are based on moral values (Schwarz 76).


Anothereducation difference between the Japan and the United States is basedon science teaching approach. A TIMSS study conducted in 2006indicated that countries such as Japan, Netherlands and CzechRepublic have a singled defined approach for teaching science lessons(Roth and Garnier 16). On the contrary, the U.S use a variety ofscience teaching techniques. The study discovered that othercountries with students achieving high scores in science such asJapan and Netherlands had different teaching approaches each nationhad a unique way of teaching science concepts to the students. InJapan, specifically, science lessons are based on content. On thecontrary, teachers use a variety of activities to train students withcore science concepts in the United States (Roth and Garnier 18).

Aregular science lesson in Japanese curriculum is based on inductiveinvestigation method. For instance, a teacher presents the ideasbehind a given concept using visual presentations and phenomena. Onthe contrary, American curriculum emphasizes on students conducting avariety of experiments that enhance practical skills (Roth andGarnier 22).


Accordingto a study conducted on mathematics performance between the UnitedStates and Japanese students, it emerged out that the latter performsbetter in the subject than the Americans. The researchers associatedmathematics excellence among the Japanese students to the teachingmethods educators use (House 301). For example, Japanese curriculumemphasizes on using real world examples and autonomous learningapproach. This implies that students do a bigger part concerningunderstanding of given concept. On the other hand, Americanmathematics curriculum often emphasizes on using theoretical concepts(House 305). Most of the calculations in mathematics are alsoconducted using automated gadgets such as calculators that simplifiesstudents struggle towards understanding given concepts. Using asample of 4,077 students from the TIMSS class, the researchersobserved that the Japanese curriculum provides students with severalalternative techniques for solving a given problem (House 306). In avideo recorded in a Japanese classroom, it emerged out that studentsin Japanese countries covered several complex mathematical problemscompared to the United States’ learners. Besides, Japaneseemphasizes that students should provide mathematical proofs to theproblems they do. Furthermore, the study concluded that Japanesestudents often attain high scores in mathematics because they arehighly motivated and use practical classroom examples (House 303).Recent comparison involving comparison of mathematics performancebetween Japan and the United States indicates that Japanese studentshave significantly improved while American students aredeteriorating. Since 2009, mathematics’ performance rating in theUnited States has remained stagnant (Heitin 3).


Inthe United States, teachers often pick the best students to solveacademic problems in front of classrooms. Japanese curriculumencourages self-reliance and discovery of challenging educationconcepts. This explains the reason teachers allocate weak students towork curriculum programs in from of the class. In an interview called“Struggle for Smarts? How Eastern and Western Cultures TackleLearning”, Jim Stigler narrates a story of about a Japanese studentwho was unable to draw a cube in a mathematics class. The teacherchallenged the weak student to draw a cube on the blackboard. Thechild struggle with the structure until he managed to get it right.Stigler concludes that the students gained a lot of courage after hemanaged to draw the cube as the clause applauded his victory(University of Michigan 1). The speaker notes that if the same eventoccurred in a mathematics class in the United States, the teachercould have picked the best student to demonstrate the concept on theblackboard. The choice is common because American curriculumadvocates that no students should be left behind in education. As aresult, the teachers are obliged to use the bright students inexplaining complex concepts to their colleagues.

Anothersignificant difference between the US and Japanese educationcurriculum is the duration. The Japanese spend 240 days in schoolwhile the Americans allocate 180 days to active learning. Thisimplies that a typical Japanese school year is sixty days longer thanthe American year. According to Sherry, the Japanese school term islong in order to provide students with adequate extra time forlearning “Education of the heart”, which is primarily moralvalues (Sherry 73).

Theeducation structure in Japan also differs significantly with that ofthe United States. For example, the Japanese Ministry of Education isresponsible for designing the curriculum used in the whole of Japan.This implies that the government determines the books, content andteaching strategies all the schools in the country adopt. On thecontrary, the education structure in the United States is diversifiedbecause each state sets its preferred standards. This makesstandardizing education in the United States complex as each statecan design its unique curriculum. Different states in the US havevarying resources availability thereby, implementation of academicplans and quality of education varies significantly. The wealthystates boasts of high education standards while the low-end varietieshave significantly poor standards (University of Michigan 1).

Inthe United States, the high and elementary school levels educationencourages helps in defining the culture of the society. Forinstance, the American curriculum enhances individualism. Researchersasserted that the American’s students curriculum include thestudent`s freedom to choose their favorite programs, constantmonitoring of children to prevent dragging others behind, and lack ofthe close connection between home and schools. On the contrary,Japanese curriculum is highly group-oriented. This implies thatstudents help each other to understand different subjects. Theschools also ensure equity among students through ensuring that everystudent wears uniform when they are in school, as well as eat thesame type of food every day. Another major difference is the factthat Japanese curriculum emphasizes group arrangement such asstudents serving others (University of Michigan 1).

TheUS allocates higher budget to education compared to Japan. However,the country uses up to 40% of the cash to facilitate educationrelated programs such as athletics, food, and transportation. On thecontrary, Japanese schools allocate little money to programs thatfacilitate academics since many students cycle to school, and theyclean schools instead of hiring subordinate staff. Japanese schoolsalso participate in co-curricular activities, but an individual canonly choose one club. Furthermore, the students in Japanese not veryactive in sports because such activities are deemed as an obstructionto academic performance (University of Michigan 1).

Personally,I would prefer the Japanese education system because the curriculumis standardized. Besides, the system encourages moral values thatincreases education value. In the United States, some schools canhardly produce quality graduates that can compete at globaleducational standards because the local states may lack educationstandards required to achieve international recognition as each statehas autonomy for determining its unique syllabus. The difference inknowledge and skills also cause high disparity among students in theUnited States. Schools located in the urban region tend to havehigher standards than institutions located in the suburban areas(University of Michigan 1). Therefore, the Japanese education systemis desirable because it is based on a structure that standardizes thecurriculum irrespective of the location and resources available tostudents. The teaching strategy has been proven to provide higheducation retention, and at least 90% reaches high school level.


Schwartz,Sherry. Educatingthe heart. EducationalLeadership. Tokyo, Japan. 2007. Print.

Roth,Kathleen and Garnier, Helen. ScienceLearning In Japan and US.Educational Leadership. Tokyo, Japan. 2006. Print.

House,Daniel J. Elementary-School mathematics Instruction and achievementof Fourth-Grade students in Japan: Findings from the TIMSS2007assessment. NorthernIllinois University.130(2). 2008. Print. P. 300-308.

Heitin,Liana. U.S. AchievementStalls as Other Nations Make Gains.Web. December 3, 2012. &lthttp://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2013/12/03/14pisa.h33.html&gt

Montagne,Renee. Strugglefor Smarts? How Eastern and Western Cultures Tackle Learning. NPRNews,November 12, 2012. &lthttp://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2012/11/12/164793058/struggle-for-smarts-how-eastern-and-western-cultures-tackle-learning&gt

Universityof Michigan. EducationalSystems of Japan and the US.Web. N.D. &lt http://sitemaker.umich.edu/arun.356/works_cited&gt