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Yutori Kyōiku

Nov 24, 2019Accents, Articles, Canadian, Education, English

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What were your school start and finish times?


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José Cruz: The Ministry doesn’t care if you have any (Mm hmm) communicative skill. (Yeah) They will say, oh it’d be nice if you did (Well their) but really we want writing and reading.

Charlie Bell: The headline now, nowadays if you go on their, on their website or read any information you know about their- their strategy towards English teaching it’s all about active learning and you know, don’t worry about- don’t worry about grammar and just give it a go, and you know, measuring on trying. You know it’s all about, “tried to,” not, can do. But that’s complete rubbish that’s not what they’re do- You know they, they say one thing and do something completely different.

José: It’s true. I roll my eyes at stuff like that. Because you’re probably too young to remember this term, but tell me if you do. Um there was a ph- phase back in the late 90s when Japan tried out this thing under the first Abe Shinzo government (Mm hmm) called “yutori kyōiku”. Or what’s called (Yaki-) gentle education? (Yutori) Yutori kyōiku. So the idea that um…

Charlie: Oh, I’ve never heard of it.

José: Kids don’t need to go to school on Saturdays. Uh, schools (OK) should finish at 4:00 in the afternoon and and… (They should) And they should, but what ended up happening because they didn’t change the university entrance exam standards is that these kids and their parents were panicking wondering how am I going make it into university entrance (Mm hmm) and it just created an opportunity for the cram schools to actually (Yeah yeah yeah) increase hours. So the parents were paying the junior high schools what they were paying last year for less education, and were forced to pay more to the cram schools for more hours for the students to catch up. (Yeah) And nothing changed, it made things worse. It made- I got a wave for about ten years of way worse students in all levels, like their class attitude, their general rational thinking skills, of course their English skills, and their general human skills (Well they) and now it’s better because that got stopped but I…

Charlie: They don’t get time to sleep you know these kids (Yeah) they wake up at the crack of dawn. They go- Some of my (It’s sad) high school students say, you know we’ve got early class. What’s early class? They say, oh there’s a class before school starts, (Mm hmm) from 8:00 until 9:00 I was like, you know that just means that first period starts at 8:00 instead of 9:00. No no no it’s, it’s before class, it’s before school, sorry. You know it’s school. Oh, and then after school, what do you do? Oh I have to do you know, club activities, which is pretty much mandatory if (Yeah) you want to stay- you know, if you want to keep your friends. (Yes it is) And then you go to cram school and then you go home at 10:00 or you know, what? And you just, you do your homework (Mm mm) Ha ha.

José: I remember when I just came to Japan and riding the bus home after work- After you know maybe a couple of weeks in Japan, and I would see these kids. And I wouldn’t- and I couldn’t quite understand why they were all grouped around this one bus stop at 9:00 at night wearing their pitch black military uniforms waiting to go home. And I was looking really close and you know, these kids were like 15, 16 years old. What are they doing out at 9:00 at night? And eventually I came to understand those were kids just leaving their cram school (Yeah) all of them together. And you know they weren’t going home to get some sleep or they weren’t you know, doing whatever they should be doing.

Charlie: They’re doing homework at the bus stop. That’s what I see (It’s insane) everyday when I go home. They’re, they’re sat at the bus stop in the pitch black trying to do their homework. (Mm mm) And like, you know the parents- Oh, I Oh, I don’t know It’s- there’s too many-

José: They’re they’re- we can go on forever. There’s…

Charlie: We could go- we have gone on forever.


Do schools put too much pressure on students?

What are the best ideas for education?

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José Domingo Cruz image

José Domingo Cruz


Vancouver, British Columbia

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Charlie Bell


Berkshire, England


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  1. I was the center in a generation of “yutori kyōiku”. In the first place “yutori kyōiku” was begun with globalization to train a variety of sense of values.
    However, I may still wonder. I cannot speak it at all until I enter the university since an elementary school though I learned English all the time. On the other hand, Chinese that I had begun to learn from the university arrived at the business level in only several years. There is actually no problem really even if I talk with a Chinese. What are these differences?
    “yutori kyōiku” was begun, and the classes by the ALT gradually increased. However, I feel that after all there are predominantly few opportunities to talk about. I went to the cram school, but do only that I write English in the cram school. It is the study of the law of a kind of words.
    Then, at the age of the child who does not acquire the native language properly either, there is the question whether we study a foreign language, and we will really acquire.
    Most of the students who studied into the night in a cram school whom a teacher looked at are doing study for examination. I was so, too.
    I think that I have to change the entrance examination form of the university before criticizing “yutori kyōiku”. If an entrance examination changes, the education changes, too.

  2. Pressure-free education, or so-called “yutori kyoiku” was a Japanese education policy which aimed to create a relaxing learning environment for children by reducing class hours and learning content. I was the center in a generation of pressure-free education, and that was started in 2002 with globalization to train a variety of sense of values.

    However, I still wonder why I cannot speak English at all until I enter the university. Actually, I had been learning English since I was an elementary school student. On the other hand, my Chinese skill reached a business level although I had begun to learn it from the university. There is actually no problem when I talk with a Chinese. What are these differences?

    Since Pressure-free education was introduced, the classes by ALT gradually increased. However, I feel that there were quite a few opportunities to speak English in actual. When I was junior high school student, I went to the cram school, but all I did was only writing and reading English there. That was not practical.

    In addition, there is the question whether it is necessary for children who can’t acquire even their native language to study English and they actually can acquire English.

    Most of the students who studied overnight in a cram school for a examination at school. I was one of those people, but I think that Japanese government have to change the conventional form of a university entrance exam before criticizing Pressure-free education. If an entrance examination changes, the education itself changes accordingly.


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