by Susan Wang
The Chadwick schedule, although sometimes daunting, represents an expected and ordinary school day in the minds of common American teens. However, when compared to the schedule of a high school in Japan, students can recognize the similarities and differences in the educational systems and their values from different parts of the world.
As any typical Chadwick student knows, the school day begins with an early wake up call to get to class before 7:55 in the morning. With six classes before lunch, the academic day ends at 1:15. After lunch, a student may participate in an extracurricular activity, such as Model United Nations or community service. Students then head down to the gym for sports practice until 5:00 p.m., compelling them to arrive home as late as 6:00 p.m.
With hours of homework left to complete, students rigorously work until they can enjoy a hot shower to relax after the end of an eventful day. Then the cycle repeats.
Mayumi Hori, a student at Gifu North High School in Japan, wakes up at 6:00 in the morning to get ready for school. She puts on her school uniform, which consists of a navy blue skirt, blazer and knee-high socks, a white shirt and a red ribbon. When she is ready, she bikes to a small rice paddy near her street where she meets her friends to bike to school.
After locking her bike in front of the school, she takes four of her six classes before lunch. After lunch, she takes the remaining two classes before heading to Visual Arts Club, which is one of the many options of activities a student can participate in after school.
After Visual Arts Club, Hori bikes to a train station and takes the train to a tutoring center fifteen minutes away to receive extra help in both English and math. After hours of practicing math problems and reading English dialogues, she rides the train back to her bike and then bikes back to her house.
By the time she is home, it is 10:30 at night. Hori is exhausted, but she still needs to complete the rest of her homework and review for the next day’s classes. As a result, she usually cannot go to sleep until midnight or later. Then the cycle repeats.
Chadwick and Gifu are similar in that they both require strong study habits, but in some cases they require different features for each student to fufill.
At Chadwick, almost all of the students are involved in sports after school. Whereas, at Gifu, students can participate in either Japanese cultural activities, such as visual arts and chorus, or they can be involved in various sports. There are no sport requirements, but all students are required to be enrolled in a Physical Education class whether or not they are involved in a sport after school.
Their differences in their educational systems provide reason for Chadwick’s and Gifu’s differences.
Unlike Chadwick and other schools across the United States, there are only three years of high school in Japan. All students, from both public and private schools, are required to wear their school uniforms appropriately everyday.
At some schools, faculty members may be more strict than an average Chadwick student is used to. Japanese faculty members may stand in front of the school gate to make sure that no girls are wearing skirts that are too short, and no boys are sagging their pants too low.
In addition to the many differences in their education systems, admission to public high schools in Japan depend on the student’s score on the National High School Entrance Exam. Consequently, admission is not based on location of residence like it is in the United States.
This means that even if a student lives next to a distinguished public high school, he or she cannot attend it unless his or her score is high enough on the Entrance Exam to pass that school’s admission process.
With similar a similar drive and focus that American students use to pass the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) for college acceptance, Japanese middle school students begin these examination process techniques at a much earlier age.
Similar to American high school juniors with tutors for the SAT, many Japanese students go to private tutoring centers called “jyuku” after school in order to prepare for the entrance exam.
Although Chadwick and Gifu reside in different countries with varying cultural beliefs and traditions, high school students seem to share a common drive and focus to obtain success.