この度、本学ロバート・アスピノール教授執筆の『International Education Policy in Japan in an Age of Globalisation and Risk』が刊行されました。
【The Japan Times にアスピノール教授へのインタビュー記事が掲載されました】|
(2014.1.13) 'No lack of ideas on a course of action for English education'
(2014.1.6) 'English fluency hopes rest on an education overhaul'
(2014.7.29) by Peter Cave
【ELT Journal online にReview が掲載されました】
(2014.8.23) by Ayako Suzuki
International Education Policy in Japan in an Age of Globalisation and Risk
by Robert W. Aspinall
出版社: Global Oriental (2012/11)
In this book, I analyse the ways in which Japanese government policies on English language education and the promotion of Study Abroad have been implemented in schools and universities throughout Japan. The disjuncture between the aims of policy and the realities on the ground faced by individual teachers and students is explored in detail. I argue that education policy designed to help to prepare Japan for the challenges of globalisation constantly comes up against institutional inertia, norms of teaching and learning, and concepts of national culture that obstruct the mastering of foreign languages or the acceptance of cultural, ethnic or linguistic diversity.
I make use of Ulrich Beck’s ‘Risk Society’ theory and in particular his mapping of the history of post-war advanced capitalist sates into three phases. 1. Phase One (immediate post-war reconstruction). In rebuilding following the destruction of World War II, “self-denial, subordination and living for others mutually reinforced one another.” (Beck and Beck-Gernsheim 2001: 164)
2. Phase Two (1960s – 1980s). The creation of wealth came to be something that was taken for granted. Political freedoms developed and radiated into society. The welfare state evolved.
3. Phase Three (1990s – 2000s). This phase is described by Beck as ‘global risk society.’ There is a return to uncertainty and the fear that the prosperity that had been taken for granted could now collapse. Public trust in national institutions is eroded. Both individualism and globalisation are on the increase.
This is useful for an understanding of the problem of international education policy because my research shows that Japan’s policy-makers are stuck in ‘phase two’ and unable to adapt sufficiently to ‘phase three’ of the above process. They are concerned to defend Japanese language and identity from perceived threats – both external and internal. This attitude results in serious obstacles being created for the study of foreign languages. For example, it provides self-imposed limitations on the introduction of foreign language learning at younger ages (in case children’s learning of their native language is adversely affected). It also leads to wasted opportunities with regards to Japan’s minorities, i.e. those who speak other languages in addition to Japanese.
One point I constantly come back to in this book is the difficulty of learning all four skills of the English language (reading, writing, listening, speaking) if one is a native speaker of Japanese, living in Japan. It has been estimated that at least 2,200 hours of study are required to achieve this goal. However, under the existing system, Japanese students study English only for 270 hours at junior high school level and between 470 and 650 hours at senior high school (depending on the type of school). This is far too little time to master the English language. In 1974, Diet member Hiraizumi Wataru suggested making English an elective subject after the first year of junior high school. After this age, a small group of motivated and talented students would make a special study of English and be able to advance to a high level. The remaining students would only study basic English. This proposal was rejected because it went against the egalitarian norm of the Japanese education system; the idea that all children should receive the same education at least until the age of fifteen. This kind of norm – if taken to an extreme – is damaging to Japan as it goes through the phase of ‘global risk society’ because it denies choice and flexibility to students. Forcing all students to study English for six years at school is bad for the students and denies Japan the chance to nurture a sufficiently large group of people who can negotiate on equal terms with representatives of other countries and their companies.
In the book I also address problems related to Study Abroad policy, i.e. efforts to increase both the numbers of foreign students coming into Japan and those going out of Japan to experience education in other countries. Japan had achieved some success in boosting both of these numbers in the 1990s. However, in the 2000s, numbers began to stagnate in spite of global upward trends in the volume of international student migration. There are many causes for this including the employment practices of Japanese companies (that discourage students from being out of Japan during their final two years at universities). However, I identify problems with English language as being one of the key obstacles to expansion in both directions. Foreign students cannot come to most Japanese institutions because the tuition is entirely in Japanese. Meanwhile, Japanese students have trouble meeting the high English language standards required for study in many university departments abroad. A small number of universities like Akita International University and Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University have tried to tackle these problems by introducing courses in English. More universities will need to follow their example if numbers of international students coming into and going out from Japan are to be increased significantly in the future.(by Robert Aspinall)
滋賀大学リスク研究センター TEL:0749-27-1404 FAX:0749-27-1189