Friday, July 10, 2009

金曜日は日本語で- Japanese Fridays 教科書版

***Please scroll down for the English translation***

アメリカと日本の学校の一番違うところは、なんと言っても教科書の大きさです。 日本の教科書は紙表紙で薄く、生徒が持ち帰りやすいようにしてあります。 厚くてもせいぜい1cm、それより厚くなると上と下に分けてあります。 ところがアメリカの教科書はその正反対、数年は持つように分厚くて丈夫にできています。 2、3cm あるのはごく普通、それより分厚いのもよくあります。 で、おまけに表面積も日本の物の倍ぐらいあって、まるで辞書みたいなのです。


どちらの国でも新学年、皆がうきうきしている中で新しい教科書が配られますが、日本の教科書はその時点で個人の物になります。 逆にアメリカの教科書は借り物、学年末には全部返さなければいけません。 音楽の教科書など場合によってはそのクラスの時にだけ配られ、一時間後にはまた回収されるような事もあります。 

日本の子はその日教科書を全部持ち帰り、勉強机の棚に並べます。 そして時間割をチェックして毎日必要な教科書だけを学校に持って行きます。 アメリカの学校に初めて行った日、私はもちろんアメリカでもそうするものだと思っていたので、鞄に入るだけの教科書をギューギュー押し込み、ひっくり返りそうになりながら家へ帰りました。 翌日、アメリカの子は教科書を学校の机にしまって置き、宿題が出た科目のものだけ持って帰るのだ、と気付いた時は本当にびっくりしました。 でもその代わり、時間割を見間違えて別の教科書持って来ちゃった、なんて事はありません。

アメリカの教科書は分厚い分内容も多く、一年で全部勉強するのにはちょっと無理なほどです。 そのため先生方は教科書にとらわれず生徒達の力に合わせて勉強を進めて行きます。 どの生徒も全く同じように扱う日本のように、一学年の間に教科書に載っている事を全て丸のみせよ、という勉強の仕方はしません。

...なんていろいろ書いてみましたが、実際一番の違いは言語にあると思います。 この記事を見れば一目で分かりますが、全く同じ事を書いているのに英語の翻訳は必ず日本語の1.5倍ぐらいの場所を取ってしまいます。 もしかしたら、教科書の違いは教育方針の違いの象徴なんかじゃないのかも知れません。 もしかしたら、 教科書の違いが二国の教育方針を変えていったのかもしれません。


The biggest difference between the American and Japanese schools is the size of the textbooks. Japanese textbooks are paperback and thin to make it easy for the students to carry around. Even at the thickest, they are about 1cm (1/2 inch) and if they get any thicker, they're divided into 2 separate books. The American textbooks are the exact opposite, thick and durable enough to last a few years.  They are normally 2, 3cm (about 1 inch) thick and it's quite common to see even thicker ones. Plus, the surface area is double the size of the Japanese ones, making the American ones look like a dictionary in comparison.

There are good and bad points to each, but I think this difference is a symbolic representation of the different approach to education in the two countries.

In both countries, textbooks are distributed while everyone is abuzz with new-year-jitters. But in Japan, the textbooks become your personal possession at this point. On the other hand, American textbooks are loaned to students and must be returned at the end of the year. Some textbooks, such as music books, may even be distributed during class, only to be collected again at the end of the hour.

On that first day of school, Japanese children take all of their textbooks home and put them away in their study desks. And everyday, they check the lesson plan and only bring the textbooks necessary for that day. On my first day of school in America, I of course believed that that would be the case here too, so I stuffed as many textbooks as I can into my bag and staggered home, about to keel over with each step! When I found out the next day that Americans store their textbooks at school and only bring home the ones needed for homework, I was completely taken aback. One good thing about that is, you can't accidentally bring the wrong books to school because you misread the lesson plan.

With the American textbooks being so much thicker, there are definitely more content included in each book; maybe even too much to cover in just one year. Because of this, American teachers tend to teach at a pace appropriate for that particular class, without being dictated by the textbook. While in Japan, where every student is treated exactly the same, you are expected to learn everything included in the book without question.

...After all that I've said, however, I think the true difference lies in the language itself. You can clearly see just by looking at this post that, although I'm writing exactly the same thing, the English translation takes up about 1.5 times more space than the Japanese version. Maybe the difference in the textbooks aren't symbolic. Maybe that difference in the textbooks ended up altering the approach to education in each country!

1 comment:

  1. I remember those days of back trouble from carrying around a backpack that had to be about 50 pounds! I wish the Americans would use Japan's idea on the smaller books. I am sure it would be much easier for the students.