Lessons in Japan
Lessons in Japan
(CBS News 2010)
First thing in the morning, Japanese children bow to their teachers. It’s a small gesture that says a
lot. Here, respect is not a song title; it’s the backbone of Japan’s school system, which for decades has
topped international rankings while spending the lowest amount on education among developed
3.3 % of Japan’s gross domestic product or GDP goes toward schooling, compared to 5 % in the US.
How do they do so much with so little? By investing in top-notch teachers.
Teachers are given a good deal of respect; they’re expected to devote their life. The whole system is set
up to emphasize the development of teachers.
Retirement comes at 60 for Japanese educators, with a salary of more than sixty-two thousand dollars
compared to fifty-three thousand in the US. But in return, teachers are tasked with transforming children
into model citizens. If a student is caught shoplifting for example, the child’s teacher’s usually alerted
before a parent.
If our students do something wrong outside the school, we tend to think we should have taught them
Inside the classroom, children learn responsibility. Changing into slippers at the school’s entrance and
cleaning the building themselves. Children take turn dishing out food to their classmates and their teacher.
And no one takes a bite until everyone is served.
Teachers also have scheduled periods to compare notes. The desks are even grouped together in one
I spend sixty percent of my time with students and forty percent with other teachers.
Classes are regularly videotaped, allowing senior teachers to mentor juniors. A technique that’s gaining
traction in the US. And ineffective teachers aren’t fired or sidelined here, they’re given extensive
retraining, explains the president of Japan’s teachers’union.
It is impossible for someone who is incompetent to get through the system.
Despite all this, those all important global test scores have slipped. Japan topped international math
ranking in 2000 but dropped to 6 in 2006. Still far ahead the US at number 25.
What hasn’t changed in Japan is the value placed on education, that’s summed up by a Japanese proverb:
Better than a thousand days of study is one day with a great teacher.
Celia Hatsen, CBS News, Tokyo.
1. bow to
2. respect is the backbone
3. has topped international rankings
6. gross domestic product
8. top-notch teachers
9. teachers are given a good deal of respect
10. they’re expected to devote…
11. set up
14. teachers are tasked
16. is caught shoplifting
17. is alerted
18. we should have taught them better
20. take turn
21. dishing out food
22. to take a bite
24. to mentor
25. that’s gaining traction
28. they’re given…
29. teachers’ union
30. to get through
32. have slipped
33. far ahead
34. that’s summed up
faire une révérence
= colonne vertébrale (métaphore)
arrivé en tête des classements internationaux
le plus bas
produit intérieur brut
de premier ordre
beaucoup de respect est donné aux professeurs
On s’attend à ce qu’ils y consacrent leur vie
mettre en évidence
les professeurs ont comme mission de
coupable de vol à l’étalage
on aurait dû mieux les éduquer
font chacun leur tour
prendre une bouchée / manger
gagner du terrain
(fig.) être mis sur la touche
on leur donne
syndicat des enseignants
passer à travers, rester dans le système
malgré, en dépit de
qui se résume par