Further Life of Economist Article

Some of the arguments in the article “Japan’s cramming schools – A controversial institution has some surprising merits” in The Economist are being picked up elsewhere.

Liz Dwyer, education editor for GOOD, in her post asks, “Could ‘Cram Schools’ Be on Their Way to America?” and refers directly back to the article in The Economist.

I posted a reply:

Yes, juku-style “cram schools” are appearing in the U.S. Never mind SAT prep outfits like Kaplan, etc., but NCLB provides funding for tutoring services for students in schools that consistently underperform. It’s too early to tell whether these tutoring services will emerge as large juku corporations (local and state-specific registration seems to prevent this).

Note that supplementary education is not just booming in places where it is long-established (like Japan, but also Brazil, Egypt, Greece, Turkey for non-Asian examples), but in settings like France and Germany where it may be less associated with “cramming”. For now, this boom is focused on remedial tutoring, rather than accelerated instruction.

Note also that reliance on supplementary education is migrating with families.

[Note that I’ve added small parts of my reply that I had to cut to comply with the <1,000 chars req on their website]

I would add that I’ve previously posted about the curious fascination with juku-like institutions in Manhattan and elsewhere in the U.S.

Another place that the article is being commented on is by Roger Soder (apparently) on the “Education and Community” blog. This post takes the original article to task for its – supposedly – too rosy outlook on aspects of juku. While I would generally share the view that The Economist takes too positive a view of for-profit initiatives and the market (no surprise at this assessment and my agreement, I presume), in this case, I believe that this rosiness is due to the brevity of the article not necessarily an editorial stance.

I do always like to stress that juku should not be rejected as mere “cram schools”, but that there are many aspects of teaching in juku that are very attractive (some of the charismatic educators that run some of the smaller juku, for example), while other aspects are much less attractive.

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