My son is seven and started first grade this past April. He is at school until 4PM, and every day he has at least three pages of homework. Yesterday when I went to pick him up, his teacher said that he wasn’t as quick at subtracting as the other kids (most of whom, I suspect, are doing math drills at juku), and could he stay half an hour after school so she could work with him. On the one hand, it’s nice of her to offer to tutor him. On the other hand, I find it irritating that everyone has to be at the exact same level at the exact same time. I think this is a feature of Japanese education that I will have to learn to deal with.
Jio is a bright kid. He knows how to subtract and I’m sure he’ll memorize the basics soon enough. He already spends plenty of time studying. I want him to be a well-balanced kid, y’know?
In Tuesday’s Japan Times there were some quotes from Tadanobu Tsunoda, author of the controversial book The Japanese Brain, which asserts, among other things, that native Japanese speakers listen to insects with a different part of the brain than non-Japanese native speakers. I’m inclined to take most of his findings with a grain of salt, but I’m willing to believe him when he says, “I have examined kids around exam time, and their brains were all tilting to one side, to the left. Once they stop cramming for exams, their brain balances back toward the right. But for those kids who are always at cram schools, their brains get fixed in the wrong spot and I fear that in the future they won’t be able to create anything new.” Hear, hear.