||Schofield Hall 218|
||Eau Claire, WI 54702-4004|
Japanese University, UW-Eau Claire
Participate in Research Project
MAILED: April 7, 2000|
Tomotaka Mori, his wife Sumiko and their 11-year-old son Hidetaka landed in snow-covered Eau Claire Feb. 1 from Japan. Not used to seeing the snow, the three felt somewhat out of their element. But now that the ground has thawed, the Moris are settling in and becoming more familiar with the area.
The Moris are here as part of a three-year research project between the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and Fukushima University of Japan. The Japanese government and its Ministry of Education is funding the research and travel costs for Japanese professors to come to Eau Claire, as well as for Eau Claire professors to travel to Japan.
Mori, a physical education teacher in Japan, hopes to learn more about American physical educational systems at the elementary school level. Upon his return to Japan, he will create a new physical education system that will combine qualities of U.S. systems with the current Japanese system.
There are national standards for physical education in America, but they do not include specifics such as the number of sit-ups a person of a certain age should be able to do. Mori said the American systems are good because they are very practical as they stress specific skills and strengths needed for proper fitness. Japan does have specific national standards for physical education but does not have a practical way of reaching those standards as America does, he said.
"The purpose and goal and how to achieve it should be matched well," Mori said through the use of an interpreter.
Twice a week, Mori travels to Sam Davey Elementary School in Eau Claire where he observes first- through fifth-grade physical education classes taught by Dave Hagen. On other days, Mori researches the American national standards of physical education.
Other research Mori is doing includes studying how teachers teach students at the university level.
"American students are more serious about their studying than they are in Japan," he said. "American students study a lot harder than Japanese students (at the university level)."
He believes a reason for this is that Japanese and American schooling systems work in opposite ways. Mori said it is very difficult to get accepted into a university in Japan. In Japan, the entire high school life is focused on getting into a university, so Japanese students work harder in high school in order to pass university acceptance tests. Then, once they have been accepted, it is easier to get a degree than it is in the United States. In comparison, it is relatively easy to get accepted into a university in the United States, so high school students tend to spend less time studying, but it is much harder to earn a college degree, he said.
Another difference between the Japanese and American education systems is that in the American system parents teach their children manners and respect, but in Japan the parents count on the schools to teach those things.
"American students are more responsible and have more goals for their lives compared to Japanese students who are more irresponsible," Mori said.
The three-year research grant is divided into three parts. When the project began last year, elementary and junior high schools were studied. This year, the focus is on high schools and special education, and, in the final year, Japanese professors will work with Eau Claire professors to find ways to provide better service training for cooperating teachers. Cooperating teachers are those who work with student teachers in their classrooms.
In October 1999, Dr. William Dunlap and Dr. Susan McIntyre, professors of curriculum and instruction at UW-Eau Claire, spent 10 days in Japan studying its student teaching program while six Japanese faculty members came to study UW-Eau Claire's student teaching program.
The two found many differences in the two programs including the amount of time students must spend student teaching. In Japan, students go through one four-week session of student teaching, whereas in Eau Claire, students spend two eight-week sessions teaching in classrooms. The placement rate after graduation also is very different between the two universities. At Fukushima University, one of 10 student teachers will be employed as a teacher after graduation. In Eau Claire, the placement rate is nine of every 10.
Dr. Todd Stephens, associate professor of special education, will join Dunlap and McIntyre on another 10-day trip to Japan in October for the second round of the research project.
"It will be very interesting to see what they do in the high school and special education setting," Dunlap said.
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: April 7, 2000