WHY DOES JAPAN NEED STS ・・・;
A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF SECONDARY SCIENCE EDUCATION BETWEEN
JAPAN AND THE U.S. FOCUSSING ON STS APPROACH
YOSHISUKE KUMANO Ph.D., Shizuoka University
In 1872 the Japanese school system was established by the Ministry of Education. This was done by people who studied abroad immediately following the Meiji Restoration. Science methodologies and practices were imported from Germany, England, France, and the U.S. and many foreign scholars were invited to work in Japan. These experiences led many to believe that everything brought in from foreign countries was valuable. Nobody recognized that Japan was becoming a world leader in science. The Japanese people continued to study and work to gain prominence-often sacrificing their leisure time.
The Fundamental Law of Education and School Law of 1947 were promulgated under the influence of the U.S. and the 6-3-3-4 organizational system for school was started. Again, Japanese society had to start from the beginning. As during the Meiji era, by a conglomeration of factors necessary to overcome the devastation of war, people did their best for the good of a greater society. These unusual efforts as a nation make the miracle of the current Japanese economic development possible. This is because citizens believe that they developed, and continue to develop, a sophisticated centralized education system. However, times change; Japanese society is being projected into an area where people feel they have little experience to guide them.
Japanese society has many environmental problems which citizens believe are the result of the development of science and technology. In Japan, the National Course of Study is reformed every 8-10 years. The last reform was in 1981 for elementary school and in 1982 for upper secondary schools. Educators and citizens not associated with science believed that too much emphasis had been placed on science education. As a result the Ministry of Education felt pressured to amend the National Course of Study and in April 1989 a new National Course of study was agreed upon that deemphasized science and placed more emphasis on social issues focussing on individualization, internationalization, and information literacy. Mr. Nakayama(1988) says that this reform is a type of science-technology-society theme in a Japanese context.
Although this reformation has started, Japanese education does not change easily because of intensive competition on the National Entrance Examination for colleges and universities. These examinations are forcing teachers to cover the entire contents of the textbook to help students understand the basic concepts of science. The science teachers continue to follow the 1960s curriculum of the U.S. because the pre-service education at our colleges and universities has not changed significantly over the past 25 years. Furthermore, all our curricula (not only science but other subjects as well) focus on a specific `Scope and Sequence’ where curricula are developed in a spiral structure. This means that the same concepts are presented in several different grades. It appears that Japanese science education is ignoring a new philosophy of science and learning psychology and a new sociology of science. Reflecting all of the problems in science education in the Japanese society, I predict that `A Crisis of Science Education in Japan’ will happen within the next ten years. To prepare for the days ahead, a new research program focusing on the current form of the U.S.’s STS approach must be established. As Dr. Grayson(1984c) stated: ^ For the first time, Japan is in the position of having to advance the state of knowledge, do advanced research, and create its own technologies. Japan must develop a creative, more knowledge intensive industrial structure.”
Though many outstanding papers have been published by American educational researchers, none has been more influential than those of the United States-Japan Conference on Cultural and Educational Exchange(CULCON). This project was initiated by President Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone in Tokyo in 1983. The director of this project was Dr. Lawrence P. Grayson and the team members were Dr. Daniel Antonoplos, Dr. Nobuo K. Shimahara, Nevzer G. Stacey and Tetsuo Okada(McCurdy & Strassenburg,1986). Since 1983, three CULCON conferences have been held in the U.S. and Japan. The U.S. Secretary of Education William J. Bennett created a summary paper titled,”Japanese Education Today: A Report from the U.S. Study of Education in Japan” prepared by a Special Task Force of the OERI Japan Study Team(1987). With the influence from CULCON to Japanese education, it is important to note that the latest reforms of the Japanese National Course of Study were developed with science-technology-society as the major theme(Nakayama,1988, Jacobson, Takemura et. al.,1987).
There are many problems in Japan concerning science education. The major problems are those which come from the interrelationships among science, technology, and society. People are being inundated with too much information in too short a time. People are getting more individualized and materialistic, and time and space among the people are getting smaller and smaller. Physical changes in the environment produced by modern human beings cannot be predicted. The development of science, technology, and society requires an attitude change of teachers and students. Most of the teachers say that students are becoming more individualistic and desire an easy life. Communication between teachers and students is changing; respect for teachers is decreasing and students look at teachers as teaching machines. Younger teachers tend to change and be happy with the easy life, too. These Japanese problems have been found in the U.S. and reform of education in the U.S. is taking place in all levels. A brief review of the recent changes in science education in the U.S. is needed.
As a result of the “Sputnik-shock” in 1957, the U.S. passed a public law called the National Defense Education Act(NDEA). Under this law, psychologists and top scientists (not philosophers of science) got together and developed many curricular materials and textbooks(Yager & Penick,1987). The period between 1955-1974 can be called the “golden age of science”(Kyle, 1985). Then came the “Oil Shock” and the emergence of environmental problems. This crisis resulted in a call for a ^return to the basics”(Kyle,1985). There were many attempts at reformation of secondary education which resulted in a decrease in science and an emphasis on the 3Rs’. On October 30, 1970, Public Law 91-516, the ^Environmental Education Act” was passed. Under this law and the ESEA(Elementary and Secondary Education Act), many projects and programs were developed concerning Environmental Education.
With NSF funds Project Synthesis developed four main goals for science education and included an analysis of future needs( Harms & Yager, 1981). These were personal needs, societal issues, career education/awareness, and academic preparation. These goals are quite suited to a complex society. It is also noteworthy to recognize the EESA( Education for Economic Security Act of 1984) because at this moment the U.S., was experiencing an ^Economic Shock”. Under this law(which in 1989 was later amended to be called the Eisenhower Law) and with NSF funds, many programs and projects were developed to resolve science education problems in the U.S. Almost every state has initiated reform of science education in a various of ways.
The 1980’s reform of education, which focussed on science, mathematics, and computer science is different from the 1960’s and 1970’s. Much has been written in support of this latest reform in the U.S. First, philosophers of science are criticizing science education and urging changes in the curriculum and methodology now used in teaching science(Hodson,1988, Finley,1983, Wallace,1989). Second, learning psychologists have conducted research on student misconseptions which indicate student thinking methods and how they are affected in typical science classes(Osborne & Wittrock,1985). Third, from the sociology of science, there are moves to change science education(Richards,1988). Fourth, we can find a change of attitude of science teachers toward science education goals(Yager & Penick, 1988). Fifth, we note a large change in student attitudes toward science and teachers. Students want to learn more about societal issues and they are tending not to respect science teachers(Yager & Penick,1986, Yager, Simmons & Penick,1989a). In order to overcome these problems in science education, one of the greatest efforts can be seen in Science-Technology-Society(S/T/S) as defined by the NSTA position statement(Yager et.al.,1990).
- RATIONALES FOR SUPPORTING STS APPROACH
According to The NSTA Position Statement on Science/Technology/Society(STS) (Yager, et.al.,1989), STS defined as:
It includes a rationale that supports instruction that could be described as the definition of STS. Why do we in Japan need to reform our science education toward an STS Approach? There are basically five areas which support STS:
(1) Rapid development of science and technology causes a great changes in society;
(2) Changes in ways of living, thinking, values and attitudes of human beings;
(3) Advancement of science changes the philosophy of science (constructivism), viewpoints of sociology of science and the definition of scientific literacy with reference to the history of science;
(4) New view points of Learning Theory, and Learning Psychology; and,
(5) The results of the Iowa Chautauqua Program.
The first area is so obvious that we need not discuss it further. The National Council on Educational Reform explains the situation in Japan as follows(PCER,1985,NCER,1986):
“Today, on the eve of the 21st century, Japan is facing a turning point transition in becoming an internationalized society, an information-centered civilization, and developing an “80-year-career” lifestyle. The sophistication of modern science and technology, particularly progress in the field of information technology, will create a demand for people who are highly productive and creative in handling knowledge and sensitive in their manipulation of it.”
For the second area, enormous changes were found in both the U.S. and Japan. For example, students want to study science with reference to real world situations but in general, students tend to dislike science courses(Yager & Penick,1986, Yager, Simmons & Penick,1989). Other changes or problems were found in Japanese society. Children develop rivalries and egotism, lose friendships and become uncooperative. They become passive and not creative(Ryu,1988). Japanese students receive little individual attention(Ziegler,1986). `Aimless frustration’ is expanding among the students which is in direct proportion to economic development(Ohta,1986). Japanese high school students rarely question their teachers’ viewpoints and are judged on standardized tests by their memorization of facts and concepts. Japanese high school students do not use the school library creatively to weave together sources of information and formulate their own interpretations(Kirst,1981). As science teachers and science education scholars in the U.S. tend to change toward the STS-oriented goals of science education(Yager & Penick,1988, Mcintosh & Zeidler,1988), Japanese science teachers and scholars in the same field need to change in parallel direction.
For the third area, Hodson(1988) insists from the position of constructivism, that present science education is out of date and teaches incorrect views of science. Methods of science are not definite ones but they are different ones depending on the individual researcher. The truth in science is not an absolute but a changeable one. Also, most experiments are theory-driven. These factors are often ignored in the present science education where there is an emphasis on finding only one right answer. Richards(1988) says the development of science is always effected by the community of scientists and its changing society which have a distinctive bias. The definition of scientific literacy is constantly being revised by two communities of scientists and science teachers(Yager et.al.,1989, Rutherford, et al.,1989)
For the fourth area, Osborne & Wittrock(1985) assert that present science education trains students with answer which teachers want without analyzing students’ preconceptions or misconceptions. The processes of children’s recognition of nature are quite different than the processes of scientists. It is important to develop necessary frameworks in order to understand certain scientific concepts.
For the fifth area, the outcomes of the Iowa Chautauqua program are supported by the NSF and the Iowa Utility Association. Classes whose teachers have participated in Chautauqua workshops show better results than ordinary classes in the areas of application, attitude, creativity, science process skills, and basic concepts of science(Yager,1988a, Yager,1990).
All of the papers and ideas mentioned above support the need of STS for both American and Japanese science education.
- RATIONALS FOR REJETING STS APPROACH
In the U.S., several papers have been written which supported position one(Kromhout & Good,1983, Good, Renner, Lawsons, & Herron,1985). The summaries of their contents follows:
(1) In this world, we have many social issues for which science can offer no direct solutions. The STS approach has a tendency to open the science classroom to dangerous manipulation by antiscientific factions and by social activists(Kromhout & Good,1983).
(2) If we use more social issues for understanding science, students will be confused as to what constitutes the basics of science. A body of scientific knowledge is only understood when it is studied in a logical and orderly framework(Kromhout & Good,1983 p649).
(3) Since the definition of science is not knowledge itself, but the quest for knowledge, the definition of science education should be ^the discipline devoted to discovering, developing, and evaluating improved methods and materials to teach science, i.e., the quest for knowledge, as well as the knowledge generated by that quest.”(Good et.al.,1985, :140)”
(4) ^A central concern of science education should be developing a better understanding of how scientists and people in general learn to quest for knowledge in order to help children learn. The major concern of science education researchers should be in identifying those factors which help people learn science; science as defined by scientists, not by sociologically and/or politically oriented observers.”(Good et.al.,1985:140)
Concerning item one, Shindo(1990) asserts that ^In Japan after the World War II, we had a strong idea that education should not be concerned with values. If we, the educators declare that we are going to educate in the area of values, then, the whole society of Japan could be thrown into great arguments just like Doutoku-Education(Ethics and Manner) arguments.” This idea can be found from not only science teachers but also most teachers. Under the Fundamental Law of Education of 1947, no teacher can force students to have certain values in the school. This is an extension of the idea that teachers should be neutral in the classroom. Because of this, science teachers are proud of their subject because they believe that science itself is neutral by nature(realism). There is a danger in holding debates in science classes which could easily become a waste of time if you don’t have a proper goals and controls. Also, there is always a fear that we may be moving in a wrong direction(Matsuo, 1990).
lt is true concerning one and two that we need to understand basic concepts of pure science first in secondary school science; then, applied science and technology will be easier to understand and develop at the university level. It is true that in Japan we don’t emphasize the study of technology except in technology-oriented high schools where most of the graduates go for jobs in industry areas. In Japan, almost all the technologists are educated at the college or university level. The number of bachelor’s degrees in engineering awarded in Japan rose from 9,613 to 73,593 between 1955 and 1982, corresponding to a 22,589 to 66,990 increase in the U.S.(Grayson, 1984a).
Concerning three, there are many science teachers who have similar ideas in Japan. A main reason for this is that most science teachers graduate as science majors which means that they never study philosophy of science or nature of science or sociology of science. Most Japanese science teachers hold a realist as opposed to a constructivist view of science. (Actually, many Japanese science teachers do not know exacatly what constructivism is.) Concerning item four, no one argues with the importance of finding out how students understand the concepts of science. We need to develop a more proper and adaptable learning theory in science education. However, there are other fields of research in science education.
Under the old curriculum reform in Japan, the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture developed a new compulsory 10th grade science course so-called ^Rika-I” meaning science one(1982). Rika-I was a unique subject with a strong focus on the interrelation between humans and nature including basic concepts in order to understand those issues in terms of Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Earth Science. The Japanese Ministry of Education did its best to encourage each teacher to develop original ‘hands-on’ activities for the Rika-I. In reality Rika-I was the substitute for one or two subjects from among Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Earth Science. High School teachers did not trust Rika-I for the following reasons; 1) The concepts of science were too shallow; 2) A single high school science teacher could not be expected to feel comfortable teaching all of the fields of science; 3) Most colleges or universities did not recognize Rika-I as a requirement for a science and technology course of study; and, 4) It was too time consuming to have Rika-I in the professional high schools because there were so many students who wanted to follow the science or technology course of study at the university level. In Rika-I there was no coverage of the nature of science, very little mention of the history of science and no sociology of science, but it was greatly influenced by environmental education. Rika-I was dropped from the latest curriculum during the reformation of the National Course of Study in 1989. But a chapter on ‘Man and Nature’ was included in every Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Earth Science course. Here is a nice example of how difficult it is to have an issue oriented science course in secondary school science in Japan.
- TOWARDS TO THE JAPANESE STS:
Most American scholars cannot readily see the serious problems of Japanese education and they identify the Japanese educational system as one the U.S. should model. But, is that true? Antonoplos(1986) mentions that some of the research on education in Japan has been of dubious quality and that considerable risk in making or adopting generalizable statements from the literature should be recognized. Grayson(1984b) concludes that the Japanese approach may not continue as a fully successful strategy for the future, as the Japanese will be required to develop their own technologies. Continued economic growth may demand significant changes in Japan’s present strategies for technological development and, in turn, to its educational system. Grayson’s ideas are so reasonable about our science and technology education that the Japanese government needs to consider his points more fully.
With reform of Japanese National Course of Study(1989), some important points were missing. Jacobson & Takemura et.al.(1987), Nakayama(1988), and Takemura(1990) explained that the reform of National Course of Study of 1989 was done with the essence of STS, but they ignored very important areas, namely, the third, fourth and fifth mentioned above. In other words, the direction of the reform was correct, but essential analysis of the new philosophy of science, new sociology of science, and, new learning theory or psychology and appropriate instructional strategies were missing. If the latest reform focused on STS, why did they have to reduce the hours of science? We need more science, technology, and cooperation with other subjects. My analysis of the 1989-Reform for the secondary school was simply the reflection of the first and second mentioned above. This was the basic idea that 94 percent of Japanese students were going to high school and most of them were unable to understand science; they then tried to change to issue-oriented science. We need to develop a Japanese STS approach for the Japanese science education with more careful strategies. Here are my recommendations for the improvement of Japanese science education;
(1) Re-examination of the five areas;
(2) Detailed analysis of STS as defined by the NSTA position statement;
(3) Detailed analysis of other countries’ STS approaches;
(4) Development of Japanese STS models; and,
(5) Setting up a Japanese Chautauqua Program with government support.
By observing the Iowa Chautauqua Program, one of the most important points is that Chautauqua Program never provides concrete models that every teacher has to follow. The leaders believe the STS approach should be unique depending upon the situation and educational environment of each school or student. There is a clear philosophy of constructivism as STS strategies are structured. Here I can predict that Japanese science teachers will like this project because it is a more flexible approach; i.e., they do not have to be perfect from the beginning. Instead teachers and students together can develop year by year. An STS approach can be seen as using pluralism and constructivism, but not dichotomy. The background of decision-making processes of Asian culture is pluralism. There is a great possibility for STS approach to disseminate among Asian cultures.
More important factors which have to be considered are the five domains which are developed for evaluation of the Chautauqua Program(Mccomas and Yager,1989). They are the Concept Domain(Domain I), Process Domain(Domain II), Creativity Domain(Domain III), Attitudinal Domain(Domain IV), and Application and Connections Domain(Domain V). It is extremely important for Japanese science education to emphasize new evaluation strategies at this time. Then teachers and students can see for themselves the advantages and disadvantages STS provides. Especially for Japanese education, we need to develop the Creativity Domain more since it is so basic to the STS approach.
As many scholars in education have discovered, the Japanese educational model has historic ties to U.S. education. For American scholars, the Japanese education system seems like one of the most sophisticated educational systems. But in actuality it has many problems. The development of science and technology brings new problems to present society, including `aimless frustration’, lack of humanity, lack of confidence and dignity. On the other hand, we need more and more science and technology for a better life. Under the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture in Japan the latest re-examination of education was began in 1983. In 1989 the reform of the National Course of Education was one of the results of re-examination the focus of the interrelation among science-technology-society. But the author found critical deficiencies in the Japanese approach with relation to the STS theme compared to the U.S. STS as defined by the NSTA position statement and Iowa Chautauqua Program was examined by the author. What we need for Japanese secondary science education are understanding of philosophy of science, constructivism as a learning model for the teachers, a focus on greater creativity in science and technology, improved attitude toward science and technology, and greater skill with science processes. The Iowa Chautauqua Program is suggested as one of the best models using an STS approach in the U.S. for further reform of Japanese science education.
In Japan, every grade has minimum concepts which every student must understand. If we use the STS approach, we need to make sure all concepts are related to the activities proposed. In this sense, the exact same efforts are needed in science education as the SS&C(Scope, Sequence, Coordination Project) with STS. Also, the Japanese National Course of Study and the standardized examination(National University Entrance Examination) should include the concepts and processes of science, creativity, attitude, and philosophy of science. Then automatically more science teachers will begin to teach these areas.
For nine years, for 10th grade science, Rika-I (integrated science) was compulsory general science focussing on `man and nature’ issues. Ninety-four percent of the students all over Japan studied science focussing on environmental education; but actual classes were not changed much. In order to gear up for the STS approach, there will be much opposition. But if we develop Iowa Chautauqua Programs at teachers colleges, more and more people will join because there are important changes needed for the future of Japan. The `crisis of science education in Japan’ has already started. Scholars of science education need to a plan of action for future.
APPENDIX (INTERRELATION JAPANESE SCIENCE EDUCATION VS S/T/S)-S/T/S characteristics are from Yager(1990).
S/T/S Japanese Science
CONNECTIONS AND APPLICATIONS
＊Students can relate their studies to their daily lives. ＊Few students can relate their studies to their daily lives.
＊Students become involved in resolving social issues and see science as a way of fulfilling their responsibilities as citizens. ＊Few students can see value in their studies for resolving current social problems.
＊Students seek out information an use it. ＊Student required to memorize concepts/ information studied.
＊Student are engrossed in current technological developments and, through them, see the importance and relevance of scientific concepts. ＊Few students can see the importance and relevance of scientific concepts with connection to current technological developments.
＊Students ask more questions, and these questions are ＊Students rarely ask questions; teachers
used to develop STS activities and materials. often ignore these questions for course outline.
＊Students frequently ask unique questions that excite their own interests, that of other students teacher. ＊Students rarely ask unique questions that excite their own interests, that of other students and that of the
＊Students are skilled in identifying possible causes and ＊Students and teachers are only interested in causes and effects
effects of certain observations and actions. that can be found in the texts.
＊Students continually offer ideas. ＊Students do not generate ideas but accept ones from teacher and texts.
＊Students interest increases from grade level ＊Students interest in science decreases as they get older.
and in specific courses.
＊Students become more curious about the material world. ＊Students major interests is how to get high marks on
＊Students see their teacher as a facilitator/guide. ＊Sometimes students see their teachers as teaching machines.
＊Students see science as a way of dealing with problems. ＊Students see science as one of the entrance examination subjects.
＊Students see science processes as skills they can use. ＊Students see science processes as skills they have
to follow in the lab.
＊Students see processes as skills they need to refine and ＊Students see processes as skills only needed in labs and
develop more fully for themselves. discussions but not for exams.
＊Students readily see the relation ship of science processes ＊Teachers do not focus on science processes, but use science
to their own actions. processes which must be followed without any questions.
＊Students see process as a vital part of what they do ＊Students see science processes as
in science class. steps they must follow without thinking.
S/T/S Japanese Science
＊Students see science knowledge as ＊Students see science knowledge as
personally useful. useful only for future examination.
＊Knowledge is seen as a needed commodity ＊Students have no idea how to manipu-
for dealing with problems. late science knowledge for problems.
＊Learning occurs because of activity; it is an ＊Learning science is only for examinations.
important happening but not a focus in and of itself.
＊Students who learn by experience retain ＊After examinations, most of science information
information and can often relate it to new situations. is forgotten by the students.
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