Tag Archives: public school

Prayer in Public School? It’s the Twenty-First Century!

I read a fairly short article on Huffington Post Alberta, which I agreed with. But that’s not the interesting thing. On Facebook, there was a rather heated argument.  And I got myself involved in it briefly.

There’s a woman who was supporting the Lord’s Prayer being recited in public schools in Saskatchewan, and a lot of people argued against her, saying that the prayer infringes on non-Christians’ right to be exempt from it. In Canada, you cannot impose your religion on another person. The woman argued that since the others were asking that the prayer not be said in class, they were infringing on her children’s right to say the prayer. But that’s not what they were saying at all. They were saying that her children could pray however they like, but the other children should not be forced to do it. She went absolutely nuts. I chimed in with my own little comment:

Your kids can pray whatever they want whenever they want. That is their right. However, that prayer should not be forced on other kids who may not be Christian. It’s a public school. Atheism is not being taught. School subjects are being taught. Religion doesn’t come into it. Religion is a personal thing and should remain private. Your kids can pray if they want, but don’t make mine pray to something they don’t believe in.

You see, she claimed that her children were being taught atheism. They weren’t, of course. I presume that she believes that the teaching of evolution, the big bang, and science in general is the teaching of atheism. It’s not. She later said that scientists believed that the Earth was flat. Actually, that didn’t happen. I added this:

Late to this conversation. Judy, it’s been know that the earth is round since the times of Ancient Greece. No one suggested it was flat after that. Anyone who captained a ship knew the world was round, because they has to take that into account when calculating their location and direction.

The belief that Columbus thought the world was flat is completely wrong. He knew the Earth was round. He was trying to find a shortcut to India across the ocean. He just ended up running into a few islands in the Caribbean. But that’s another story.

Back to the original topic. The teaching of religion in public schools should never be something forced on students. If you include one religion, you must include the others. If you have prayers in class, they should be silent, and should never be forced on students. Nor should they be shamed into it. Like I said on Facebook, religion is a personal, private thing. It should never be imposed on others. And public schools are for learning the skills needed to become a functional adult in society. Leave the teaching of religion to churches.

One other thing, she wouldn’t respond to this. Someone asked her that if she follows the Bible religiously, does she obey Matthew 6:5-6? Prayer is not to be done publicly, but in the privacy of your own home. Anyway, I’m staying out of that. I’m not going to argue scripture, because I find it a pointless activity.

What do you think? Should kids in public schools have to pray? Or should religion be kept out of public schools completely? The comments section is open for a little debate. But keep it civil, please.

Life in Japan – Schools

As you may know, I teach English in Japan. However, I don’t teach in a public school, I teach people of all ages from children to the elderly. But I had a question from stomperdad.

What are the Japanese schools like?

I’ve never been inside one, actually. However, from what my students tell me, and what other teachers who have taught in public schools tell me, there are some pretty big differences between Japanese and North American schools, which I have experience with, of course.

First of all, public and private schools are the main ways to get an education in Japan. A lot of people opt for private school, but that costs a lot of money. They tend to have better quality education, especially in terms of English education.

In public school, the focus is usually on rote memorisation and preparation for tests. There’s not much in the way of critical thinking skills. History classes are mainly remembering dates, people, and events, rather than discussing the reasons behind these events, like we did in school in Canada. In math, they memorise from 1×1 to 9×9 for multiplication tables, while in Canada, we memorised 1×1 to 12×12. As for English class, they don’t learn how to communicate very well.  They study to prepare for entrance exams for high school and university.  They study reading and listening, but they focus on grammar a lot. They do not focus on conversation. Everyone studies English a lot, but they can’t speak it.

Students have to take entrance exams if they want to get into high school, as well as university. So, they study after school in a juku (cram school). One student told me that they don’t really learn anything in public school. Cram school is where they learn everything. So, students are often in school three or four hours longer per day than North American students. And when summer vacation comes, they go to cram school for even more hours. That’s right, many kids don’t have summer vacation time. So, they are pushed hard to study, study, study.

Another aspect of school is that there is no janitorial staff, so the students clean the classrooms.  But that’s not the only extra activity they have. There are also clubs. Nearly all students join a club and participate after school or on weekends, and most likely all summer.

Not all students do all this extra stuff. Some do the bare minimum, yet still turn out fine.

Just one more thing. You know Kumon? In North American, it’s often used to help kids who are struggling with math or reading. In Japan, it’s not generally for weaker students. It’s often for students who want to get ahead. It’s just another form of cram school, though the method is very different.

So, that’s about all I know. Others would be far better suited to answer this question, I think.

Have a question about life in Japan? Go here and ask in the comments.