Full Text
Home > Policy > White Paper, Notice, Announcement > White Paper > Japanese Government Policies in Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology 2001 >Chapter3 Section2.2

   Educational Reform for the 21st Century
Section 2:   Promotion of School Education Based on New Courses of Study
2   Outline of the New Courses of Study

(1) Stringent Selection of Educational Content

The new Courses of Study carefully selects educational content to ensure the acquisition of fundamentals and basics. It especially considers: {1} transferring relatively advanced content to higher grades or educational stages to make the school curriculum more systematic, understandable and consistent; and {2} removing content that overlaps between schools, grades or subjects.

Examples of the Stringent Selection of Educational Content

{1} Excessively advanced or relatively incomprehensible content for children at each educational stage

- Possibilities of cases and calculation of petrosal volume/surface area in elementary arithmetic → Integrated into lower secondary education
- Water vapor change in the air (how clouds are formed) and star movements in the sky in elementary science → Integrated into lower secondary education

{2} Content which is likely to end up being just knowledge transmission or memorization

- Exhaustive learning on each region of Japan in lower secondary geography and social studies → Reorganized with the introduction of regional research to teach students research methods
- Quadratic formula and calculation of spheral volume/surface area in lower secondary mathematics → Integrated into upper secondary education

{3} Content which is overlapping between one or more schools or grades

- Reading of characters' feeling in elementary Japanese language → Mainly taught in fifth and sixth grades
- Literal expression, congruency of graphic forms and inverse proportion in elementary arithmetic → Integrated into lower secondary education

{4} Content which is overlapping between subjects

- Physical features of males and females in elementary science → Integrated into elementary physical education
- Desirable personal relationships in a family in lower secondary civics → Integrated into lower secondary home education

  With such a stringent selection of educational content, both teachers and students can be liberated from time constraints and mental pressure, and:

{1} teachers can offer tailored education according to each student's understanding and proficiency through instruction, such as individual instruction, repeated instruction and so on; while
{2} students can experience experiential problem-solving learning through observation and experimentation, survey and research, and presentation and discussion. These will make school lessons easier to understand, and allow children to fully acquire the fundamentals and basics with a sense of fulfillment. Furthermore, children, building upon the foundation of this knowledge, will develop a "zest for living," such as an ability to learn and think on their own.

(2) Establishment of the Period of Integrated Study

The newly established Period of Integrated Study aims, in accordance with situations of each region, school and child, to: {1} foster children's ability and quality to find a theme, think, judge and solve a problem on their own; and {2} enable children to think about their own life, urging them to explore subjects with creativity and subjectivity and to solve problems through their own ways of learning and thinking. To this end, the Period of Integrated Study actively introduces experiential learning such as experience in nature, social life experience, observation, experiments, field study and investigation as well as problem-solving learning to learn about cross-sectional, comprehensive subjects like the environment, international understanding, information, health and welfare as well as subjects that interest students.

  Although the quality and ability described above can be nurtured through each individual subject, decreasing opportunities to apply learned knowledge to real life situations necessitate that such opportunities be set up deliberately in school life. The Period of Integrated Study tries to improve children's ability to apply knowledge to a real life situation by having them integrate and experience the knowledge they learned in each subject through experiential problem-solving activities.

  At the same time, it is important to utilize the abilities acquired through the Period of Integrated Study in studying each subject. The Period of Integrated Study should be conducted in close coordination with each subject.

(3) Expansion of the Range of Elective Courses

The new Courses of Study expands the range of elective courses in lower and upper secondary schools to further develop students' ability in line with their interest and desired career. In lower secondary school, the number of lessons for elective subjects is increased, so that teachers can actively pursue supplementary or more advanced education according to the degree of student's understanding. In upper secondary school, the minimum number of required credits in compulsory subjects is reduced (38 credits → 31 credits), allowing each school to establish subjects and courses (School Designated Subjects and Courses). The new Courses of Study also allows achievement at university to be certified as a credit in upper secondary school.

(4) Enhancement of Individually Targeted Teaching

One of the general provisions of the Courses of Study states, "The content of subjects, moral education and special activities provided hereinafter shall be taught in every school unless specified otherwise. Content that is not specified (in the Courses of Study) may be taught if a school thinks that there is a special need for it."

  As has been the case previously, the content specified in the Courses of Study is thus the minimum standard in that it has to be taught to every student.

  The new Courses of Study carefully selects standardized educational content while expanding the range of elective courses. This enables further enhancement of students' ability based on their interests. In this sense, the minimum standard character of the new Courses of Study is even clearer than that of the past ones.

  Under the new Courses of Study, children who do not have a sufficient understanding of the specified content can repeat the learning until they fully acquire the fundamentals and basics, while children who have adequate understanding can be given assignments by a teacher that are tailored to their interests and qualifications.

(C)COPYRIGHT Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology

Back To Top   MEXT HOME