Monday, November 26, 2012

Summer 2013 Short-Term GW Study Abroad Course in Japan!


Japanese Education and Society in a Global Era
EDUC 6630 – International Experiences
Study Dates: June 2-16, 2013 – Summer I

Information Session: November 29, 6 PM - 8 PM
Marvin Center, Room G08
Sushi and other snacks will be served!


This short-term study abroad will provide students with an intensive look at education in Japanese society at the beginning of the 21st century.  Naturally beautiful but resource-poor, Japan has developed economically through wise utilization of its people and human resources. Japan was the first non-Western nation to do so, breaking the conventional wisdom that held Westernization as a pre-condition of industrial development.  It did this by importing ideas and grafting them to local social, political and economic institutions.  The result was often a curious trans-cultural hybrid, predating the globalization of recent years.

Japan continues to break conventional wisdom, in education and other fields.  Its students perform consistently well on international assessments (though not as well as many Japanese would like), but the Japanese school system does not employ many of the policies proposed by current US reform discourse.  Scholars have argued that Japan’s educational policies, in combination with other national policies, fostered development of a broad and prosperous middle class. Family SES explains less of the variance in student performance than in most Western countries.

The class includes a Foggy Bottom-based component of pre- and post-departure classes/orientations, debriefings, and presentations and a two-week visit to Japan.  Two weeks allows for a week of cultural and educational site visits (and to Hiroshima, Kyoto, and the mountains of Nagano, and then a week in Tokyo for students to pursue individual or group research projects through individualized site visits and interviews arranged in advance.  . Advance classes will provide orientation to the program, lectures, time to schedule site visits and plan research projects, and a smattering of survival Japanese.

As a group, we will tour Tokyo and Kyoto; visit the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima; a UNESCO World Heritage site in the Inland Sea; and hopefully the mountains of central Japan. There will be optional tours of popular culture, “poor people’s Tokyo, and a hot spring (onsen). Students can organize visits to cultural, artistic, historical and social interest.  Studying education directly, we plan to visit: a university known for its education programs and international activities, a rural high school, a cram school, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Municipal Office of Education for Tokyo, and training and human resource directors of a large international corporation.  Depending on interests, students can arrange visits to other universities; primary, junior high schools and early childhood centers; policy research centers; other education offices; centers for community and lifelong learning; other corporations; sites for training in traditional arts and folk crafts; museums; development agencies; NGOs; social welfare offices; advocates for minorities (Koreans, burakumin, Ainu, women, glbtq people, the poor).

The instructor has spent almost 12 years living in Japan.  He has broad contacts in universities, government, and a good understand of Japanese culture.  Additionally, we hope to involve some local university students as authentic local cultural and educational informants. This class is appropriate for graduate students in international education and development, education policy, international exchange, comparative higher education, sociology of education, human resource development and comparative human and organizational learning, museum education, international development studies, the arts, even education in emergencies.

The class would be particularly meaningful if preceded by the Spring class taught by Iris Rotberg and Jim Williams, Comparative Solutions to Common Educational Problems.

For questions or details about either class, please contact the Jim Williams at jhw@gwu.edu.  Registration will be first-come, first served.  Please let Prof Williams know if you want to be added to the list to enroll.   

2 comments:

  1. Family SES explains less of the variance in student performance than in most Western countries.
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