Sunday, July 8, 2007

In Techno-Savvy Japan, No Calculators in Class

Math teacher absorbs Japanese culture
Deb Tvrdik participates in Fulbright-sponsored program
By MICHAEL NEARY, Messenger staff writer

As Deb Tvrdik observed students in Japan during a trip late last month, she noticed students who — especially at a young age — seemed to take charge of their learning.


Tvrdik — who filed her successful application for the trip in December — saw students at Fukashi High School, in Matsumoto, along with students at nearby elementary and junior high schools. As she observed teaching at various levels, she said she noticed more similarities than she’d expected.


But some differences within the classroom, which generally harbored about 40 students, emerged for Tvrdik. She noticed, for instance, that classrooms were generally devoid of technology — a conscious decision on the part of the staff, she said.

‘‘You didn’t see any calculators in the classrooms,’’ she said.

Tvrdik said teachers explained that they needed time to cover the material, and that students could learn to use technological devices at home. She said teachers also wanted young students to sharpen their computation skills without the benefit of calculators.


Tony said...

Another interesting cultural difference that affects Japanese educational excellence is that of family pride. It is common for students and parents to do homework together, to study for tests together, etc. Student failure is considered to bring shame on the whole family. So students work hard to preserve family reputation.

Pissed Off said...

I believe in technology but only in the upper levels--kids become too dependant of calculators and do not learn the basics they need. Kids today are spending $100+ on graphing calculators and don't even know how to use them properly.