It is generally thought that essay writing is a characteristic of western education. When students are asked to analyze and to engage in critical thinking, having the students write essays is one of the preferred methods. East Asian countries, including Japan, are known for their intense competition for the entrance examination, which compels students to “study-to-the-exam.” This is the exact opposite of what critical essay writing is supposed to accomplish. There are, however, schools in Japan which have focused on essay writing as a central component of their education. This DVD introduces the program of one such school. In this DVD, essay writing Japanese style reflects the holistic nature of the Japanese curriculum. The essay writing displayed here is not the same as essay writing in the western tradition. It is not even the same as essay writing in a Japanese university. The Japanese school curriculum is holistic and contains periods for not only subjects but noncognitive activities as well. There is a symbolic period in the Japanese curriculum which is called “tokkatsu”, includes activities such as classroom discussions, cleaning, school events, student councils, and club activities, but other activities in school reflect this holistic ideology as well. They are all part of a holistic “education for life.” Thus, public education is officially responsible for the balanced development of the child, the education of “the heart” as well as academics, narrowly defined. This DVD introduces how a secondary school in Japan organize the essay writing program on the basis of holistic education.
Chapter 1: Introduction to Integrated Studies
Chapter 2: Topic-based Learning
Chapter 3: Graduation Research Project
Center for Advanced School Education and Evidence-based Research, Graduate School of Education, The University of Tokyo. (2018). “Essay Education for Life, Tokkatsu Series 3”, the Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research (KAKENHI), Kiban A, No.15H01987 (The 21st Century International Educational Models Project (Head: Ryoko Tsuneyoshi)), and the Attached Secondary School to the University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan.