Earlier today, I responded to a post on the “Education in Japan Community Blog” that addressed motivations for choosing single-sex education. “Heritageofjapan” (no name offered) had a couple of replies to my comment:
1. “Jukus are run as small, lean, profit-oriented commercial entreprises and in localized areas where competition from other jukus is likely and the number of students they can draw upon is limited … and due to high rentals and precious space resources, (single-sex edu would require the doubling of classrooms and teachers) it simply would not be cost-effective for them to split their classrooms into single-sex rooms.”
This is akin to the argument that Mark Langager’s students at ICU offered which prompted my original post.
Essentially, the argument says that within the small geographic area that small juku draw on, there are not enough customers/students for juku to pursue a specialization strategy.
While this is certainly true for rural areas, it is also certainly not true for metropolitan areas, not just in Tokyo. Many of the small juku that I visit for research, are in fact limiting their intake of students, just not on the basis of gender. This is not a market that is shy about pursuing niches (geographical, delivery methods, etc.).
For large/chain juku the limited number of students argument doesn’t apply at all as they sub0categorize within student groups along other lines as well.
2. “Another reason is that the rationale for single-sex environment is a social/psychological one – jukus lack the socialization element that public or private schools have – the kids who come know that they come with the single-minded purpose of academic prep and competitive “warfare”, and so kids are for the most part streamed or moved along according to their paces/abilities/performance. Socialization considerations almost doesn’t figure at all”
This is a line of reasoning that I find much more persuasive. However, it is clearly subject to the caveat I wrote about earlier, namely that many Japanese parents who select single-sex schools don’t to so on pedagogical grounds.
I would continue to argue, however, that juku include a very significant socialization element and that – if anything – this element is growing in significance.
3. “Parents who do care about single-sex education (and there are many) almost invariably seek out private school education for their kids, and I personally know many parents who do choose single-sex schools for the pedagogical benefits. But single-sex are all private schools because public policy that underlines public school education is based on egalitarian and non-discriminatory grounds. And this obviously disqualifies a great many parents who do want single-sex education for their children due to financial reasons.”
When I claim that pedagogical reasons are not dominant in Japanese parents’ choices of single-sex education, I am simply reporting the answer I get on this question from juku operators. I would be delighted to see any empirical information on the choice of single-sex education as this would help me think through my puzzle some more.
The anti-egalitarian ethic is also a powerful one in Japan and I’m quite interested in “heritageofjapan”‘s argument in this regard. However, juku are increasingly advertising themselves as the place where that egalitariasism doesn’t dominate, so why no single-sex offerings?