Date: Nov 20, 1998 1:32 PM
Author: Jerry P. Becker
Subject: Trouble in the Classrooms:  U.S. and Japan

Southern Illinoisan,  November 19, 1998,  p. B2,  Editorial Page

[Excerpted from the Sacramento (Calif.) Bee (newspaper)]

Excerpt: Discipline

Higher standards, better educated teachers and more well-equipped
classrooms have topped the list of the nation's school reform agenda. But
even as progress is made toward those important goals, student learning is
being sabotaged by a more difficult problem: kids who misbehave.

Far more pervasive than the high-profile cases of students shooting people
on campus are the day-in, day-out incidents of students mouthing off at
teachers, smoking in school bathrooms, cheating on quizzes, wandering into
class late. Such relatively less serious offenses are nothing new, but a
new study by the Educational Testing Service indicates both that they are
disturbingly widespread and have a demonstrable effect on achievement.

It is clear that discipline must occupy a top spot on the reform agenda,
with expectations for civil behavior and consequences for misbehavior going
hand-in-hand with higher expectations for achievement. But as in curriculr
reforms, schools should be careful not to swing the pendulum too far

If those goals are met, officials may be able to avoid schools where metal
detectors, surveillance cameras and hall monitors bearing walkie-talkies
set a tone of tension and mistrust. The point of discipline at school
should be to create an atmosphere where learning can flourish, teaching the
benefits of self-discipline and responsibility to others.


Asahi Newspaper Homepage (Japan), November 15, 1998

[Translated by Mr. Kazuaki Uekawa.]

Source: (

A phenomenon called "Class Erosion (gakkyu hokai)" has been spreading in
elementary schools all over the country (Japan). It is the phenomenon that
classroom instruction becomes impossible to establish because of student
discipline problems.

The Ministry of Education defined the problem as "the big problem of
schooling" and decided to begin a research study to understand the state of
the problem. "Class Erosion" is now understood as one of the most important
problems, along with bullying (ijime), absenteism (hutoko), and school
violence (konai-boryoku). The Ministry of Education also discusses the
possibility of sending specialist teachers to schools to tackle these

"Class Erosion" is the phenomenon that class management becomes
impossible--because pupils walk around and chat and this has been happening
in elementary schools. The problem became salient from the mid-1990's, but
the Ministry of Education did not intervene back then because they thought
that the problem should be dealt with at the level of each school.

Yet in the past couple years, the problem began to appear in discussion of
local government officials and it became apparent as a problem all over
Japan. The Ministry of Education decided to intervene because they noticed
finally that many teachers are quitting teaching or retiring early for the
reasons that apparently are related to this.

The Ministry of Educaiton will begin a research effort on this problem by
visiting schools. Also, if schools request an increase in the number of
teachers for solving this problem, the Ministry will consider the request
with flexibility.

Additional note from a colleague in Japan: This is a translation of a
short article on the front page of the Asahi newspaper.There is additional
information on "Class Erosion" on pages 27 and 28 and another related
article on page 35. About two months ago, there was a TV program that
focused on "Class Erosion," using a video report from inside a classroom.
The program seems to have had a certain impact on many people, to help them
to become more aware of what is going on in the classroom. This problem
seems to be closely related to the changing role of parents in educating
their children and to the relationship between parents and schools.

Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610 USA
Fax: (618)453-4244
Phone: (618)453-4241 (office)