The Untold Story

I tried avoiding writing such content during my time as a teacher because I didn’t think it was appropriate to reveal the on-goings at the schools I teach. Not having written any such content doesn’t mean there weren’t things I thought was wrong either.

Like I’ve written before, the very basis of the Japanese education system is problematic to begin with. Compulsory education (6 years of elementary and 3 years of junior high) in Japan means that students can skip school for 9 full years and still graduate with peers of their age despite not having learnt anything. And if you’ve watched Japanese dramas such as GTO and Gokusen, you would see that schools try to leave such students alone because they will graduate from the school either way, so why create trouble for themselves? Once graduation is over, the students will be someone else’s problem.

Unlike schools in Singapore, students in Japan go into the teachers’ office on a daily basis. Cleaning the office is part of their routine every morning. Also, as they have club activities every day, they have to retrieve the keys from the office. Each time a student needs to enter the office, they have to open the door, greet loudly with 失礼します (loosely, “sorry for the interruption”), followed by their class, full name, and reason for entering the office. A teacher would then give the go-ahead when they are done reciting.

At all the schools I’ve taught, disobedient students who couldn’t care less about the rules stride into the teachers’ office as if it is their own room and the teachers do nothing about it. That is not the problem. The problem is, when obedient students follow the rules, some teachers say their voices are too soft and make them repeat again and again, louder and louder, until they are shouting at the top of their voices. This is bullying. And frankly, the kind of education derived from this is, pick on the weak, and breaking the rules gives you privilege, which gives students less incentive to abide by the rules.

Together with the kind of bullying dressed as comedy on TV, it is little wonder why this nation has serious cases of bullying at school.


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