Japan Classrooms VS American Classrooms

on Saturday, October 6, 2012
Today, my wife and I had a discussion regarding the Japanese classroom. As most people know, my wife is from Japan; born and raised in the Land of the Rising Sun. She began by describing that in most middle schools and high schools, students went to one classroom and stayed there the whole day. Throughout the day, various teachers would enter that one room to teach their lessons to the students. In a nutshell, students stayed in the room, while teachers moved.

I then related my American school experience, which of course, was quite opposite---students in America move from classroom to classroom while teachers primarily stayed in the same spot.

After this, we compared Japan and America's college experience and found out that it was relatively similar (no homerooms; both students and teachers move to different classrooms). This brings us then to my blog thought: 

What advantages can be found in the Japanese classroom? If universities are the "role model", how come the middle schools and high schools are "sticking to their guns"? Why don't they change? And of course, a hundred more questions that basically fall under the umbrella of the first.

Obviously, if I knew the answers I wouldn't be blogging about this topic. So, I will do some more research and do a follow-up post in the future. For now, I believe a simple pros and cons list will help settle the mind.

  • Students are more organized
  • Less traffic in the hallways
  • Students have everything they need in one place (their desks)
  • Students get familiar with one another
  • Assigned seating and unchanging student groups
  • Less confusion on scheduling and logistics
  • Teacher is walking into the "student's territory"
  • A sense of belonging for each student
  • Lower costs (no room for each teacher) ?????
  • Students can get sick and tired of one another
  • Less diversity
  • Teacher cannot set up the room to enhance education
  • Teacher is walking into the "student's territory"
  • Assigned seating and unchanging student groups
  • If you don't like your peers, there's no other options
  • Sitting in the same seat all day
  • One bad experience may mean that you have to recall it everyday until the end of the year (when your class changes)
  • Stagnant environments
OK, sorry if the list is repetitive or subtopics or etc...it was more of a brainstorming session. And there are probably tons of other points to add on to the list. The thing to keep in mind after looking at (and perhaps adding to) this list is of course, do the pros outweigh the cons? Are these "good" reasons really good enough? And, are these pros actually working (do students really feel more comfortable, build better relationships, and have a sense of belonging)?

Please leave a comment. If you disagree with anything, by all means, comment below as well. I would like to know your thoughts.




You brought up some interesting and good points to consider! This is a subject which would be a lot easier to discuss in person because this type of discussion will lead to many others! :D

So let me just say if I was teaching college students and had to share classrooms like the professors do at the college I attend, it won't bother me so much because it doesn't bother me now as a college student, however I think in middle and high school, from my personal experiences, the way a classroom is set up is significant because it can be conducive to student learning. Plus, I think it says something about the teacher. Overall, I think having older students stay in one classroom with the same students all day wouldn't be as helpful to students as moving to other classrooms mainly because having a change in studies or subjects by going to a completely different classroom helps students mentally transition or prepare themselves for a different subject lesson! In addition, teachers can design their classrooms according to the way they desire and what class they are teaching. I'm interested to read your follow up post.

Mark Bacera said...

Thanks Charmaine. I definitely agree with you and really like your addition about how "different classrooms help students mentally transition". It is true that a customized classroom can enhance education. At the very least, if scenery changes then students are less likely to be bored. Now that I think about it, I wonder if there are any physical pros for having students move from classroom to classroom (ie. keeping students awake, etc). Definitely need more opinions from Japanese students. Thanks again!

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