Nobel laureates criticize the Japanese education system

NOBEL LAUREATE DISCUSSION / Physics laureates criticize education system

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Two of the three Japanese who shared the 2008 Nobel Prize in Physics met with government ministers Friday morning and took the opportunity to take a swipe at the state of education in the country.

Toshihide Masukawa, 68, a professor at Kyoto Sangyo University, and Makoto Kobayashi, 64, executive director of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, met Education, Science and Technology Minister Ryu Shionoya and Seiko Noda, state minister for science and technology policy.

In a conversation with Shionoya, Masukawa slammed teaching methods that are geared toward helping students pass university entrance and other exams.

Masukawa expressed dismay with the way teachers instruct students sitting for exams to only select easy questions that do not require deep thought.

“[Such methods] are polluting education and creating people who don’t think for themselves,” Masukawa said. “Parents, meanwhile, have become more keen about the results of education [namely, higher test scores and passing exams].”

Kobayashi singled out for criticism the officially screened textbooks, complaining they deprive students of the will to read.

“Authorized textbooks only contain the bare minimum required [to pass exams],” Kobayashi said. “They need to include more ‘stories.'”

The previous day, the two laureates stood together in front of the press after their award was announced–reportedly the first time they had met since spring.

Kobayashi greeted Masukawa with a robust handshake in front of TV cameras at a venue in Tokyo, and the two smiled and exchanged words of appreciation for each other’s travails.

Masukawa laughed when Kobayashi commented: “I thought you’d look more tired, but you appear to be well.”

===

Prefecture to honor Kobayashi

 

Meanwhile, Ibaraki Gov. Masaru Hashimoto revealed Thursday that he planned to present Kobayashi with a prefectural award.

“Ibaraki is very proud of you,” Hashimoto said to Kobayashi, who lives in Tsukuba, in the prefecture.

A formal decision will be made after agreement is reached in the prefectural assembly.

(Oct. 11, 2008) Daily Yomiuri

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