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Topic: INFORMATION RE: JAPAN
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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 13,406
Registered: 12/3/04
INFORMATION RE: JAPAN
Posted: Jul 27, 1998 12:40 PM
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Colleagues:

Some time ago I sent a note regarding changes being proposed in the Japanese
school mathematics curriculum. The curriculum is being re-thought due to a
change
from having school 6 days each week (half day on Saturday) to 5 days each
week,
beginning in the year 2002. My note was a translation to English of an
article that
appeared in the Asahi newspaper May 24, 1998.

I recently received the following information from a colleague in Japan.
The report
that is described below will be submitted to the Ministry of Education on
July 29, 1998.
It will likely be translated into English by the Ministry, but no date is
available yet for
when the English version will be available.

This is for your information.

Jerry Becker

***************************************************************

On June 22, 1998, the "Curriculum Council" submitted a report to the Minister
of Education about the revision of the mathematics curriculum in Japan -
this new
curriculum would be implemented in the year 2002. With some modifications
of the
report, the Council will submit the final report in the near future.

The report is 108 pages and contains basic principles and specific changes
proposed
for kindergarten, elementary and secondary schools, and for special education
schools.

Below is a translation to English of the principles and changes in mathematics.

Actually, this report is the one on which the Asahi newspaper based its
article about the
major changes being proposed for the mathematics curriculum on May 24, 1998.
---------------------------------

Elementary Mathematics, and Mathematics

A. Basic principles of change

(a) Throughout their study in elementary (1-6), lower secondary (7-9)and upper
secondary schools (10-12), students are helped to acquire fundamental and
basic
knowledge and skills regarding numbers, quantities, and geometrical
figures to thereby form a basis of creativity such as looking at
things from different points of view, thinking logically, appreciating
ways of analyzing phenomena mathematically, and further developing their
willingness to make use of them.

(b) In order to do so, the content of the mathematics curriculum is being
changed
so that students can proceed in their studies enjoyably and confidently by
recognizing
connections between mathematics and everyday life and solving problems
spontaneously.

B. Specific matters of change

(Elementary school - Elementary mathematics)

By reducing educational content, children are helped to be able to
engage in mathematical activities such as hands-on activity or insightful
experiences with respect to numbers, quantities, and geometrical figures,
to understand meanings of numbers, quantities, and geometrical figures,
to enhance their ability to think, and to make use of them. Especially, since
elementary school education serves as the base for their subsequent study,
students are helped to consolidate fundamental and basic knowledge and skills
by studying them repeatedly.

The content areas consist of "numbers and calculations," "quantities and
measurements," "geometrical figures," and "quantitative relations." The
content of
"numbers and calculations" needs to be taught with greater emphasis since it
constitutes the core of elementary mathematics. With regard to the
arrangement of
content in different grade-levels, "numbers and calculations" area needs to
have special
emphasis in the lower grades, and the areas "quantities and measurements,"
"geometrical figures," and "quantitative relations" should have increasing
content
as the grade level becomes higher.

(a) In "numbers and calculations," to help children to understand the
meanings of numbers and calculations, to enrich their feelings about
number size, and to have insight into the results of calculations, these need
to be emphasized in teaching. In doing so, for example, the range and level of
calculations, e.g., calculations of natural numbers and decimals having
many digits, will have reduced emphasis, the introduction to decimals and
fractions will be moved to the upper elementary grades, and content such as
expressions using inequality symbols will be dropped.

(b) In "quantities and measurements," to help children to understand
meanings of units of quantities, to enrich their feelings about quantity
size, and to find areas and volumes of basic geometrical figures, these will be
emphasized in teaching. In doing so, for example, content such as the surface
area of cylinder and cone will be integrated into the the lower secondary
school
syllabus, and content such as the area of a trapezoid and polygon or change of
units, which has been taught with emphasis, will be dropped.

(c) In "geometrical figures," to help children to grasp characteristics
of figures and classify them, and to engage in geometric constructions
and making figures, these will be emphasized in teaching. In doing so,
content such as congruence and symmetry in plane figures, reduced and enlarged
figures, or solid figure, e.g., cone, will be integrated into the lower
secondary school syllabus, and content such as regular polygons will be
dropped.

(d) In "quantitative relations," to help children to classify and arrange
data according to different purposes, to analyze quantitative relations
by expressing them with tables and graphs, these will be emphasized in
teaching.
In doing so, content such as expressions using letters, expressions of
proportion and inverse proportion, and ways of investigating cases will be
integrated into the lower secondary school syllabus, and content such
as frequency distribution or value of ratio, which has been emphasized, will
be dropped.

(Lower secondary school - Mathematics)

Students will be helped to be able to confidently understand fundamental and
basic knowledge and skills regarding numbers, quantities, geometrical
figures and
so on, and to positively progress in their study through problem solving
activities of
finding and thinking about tasks on their own.

Content areas consist of "numbers and algebraic expressions,"
"geometrical figures," and "quantitative relations" as they stand.

(a) In "numbers and algebraic expressions," emphases will be put on
developing students' basic abilities and attitudes, e.g., to deepen their
understanding of the necessity of thinking with letters, or to read
positively the meaning of algebraic expressions and to explain it in
their own words. In doing so, for example, calculations of mathematical
expressions using letters will receive reduced emphasis, and content such as
inequalities in one dimension and one variable or the formula for the
solutions of a
quadratic equation will be integrated into the upper secondary school
syllabus.

(b) In "geometrical figures," emphases will be put on developing students'
abilities to express and think logically, e.g., finding tasks
spontaneously, clarifying reasons for their solutions, or explaining their
thinking coherently, and on the content of mathematical proofs. In doing
so, for example, the content of similar figures will be moved to the upper
grades
so that students can learn proofs with sufficient time. For the same
reason, content such as some properties of circles, e.g., angles formed
by tangent and chord, which requires complicated thinking, or the center
of gravity in triangles will be integrated into the upper secondary school
syllabus, and content such as slicing a cube will be dropped.

(c) In "quantitative relations," emphases will be put on helping students to
consolidate basic knowledge and abilities such as knowing ways of
investigation regarding the change of quantities or ability to judge
correctly how frequent an uncertain phenomenon occurs. In doing so,
content such as arrangement of data, various phenomena and functions, as
well as sample survey will be integrated into the upper secondary school
syllabus, and content of expressions of numbers will be dropped.

(d) Problem situation learning needs to receive greater emphasis so that
students can deepen their mathematical views and thinking through
activities such as finding their own tasks or solving problems
spontaneously.

(Upper secondary school - Mathematics)

Considering both the sequential nature of mathematics learning and
the diversity of students' choices according to their ability,
aptitude, and curiosity and interest, the organization and content of each
subject will be changed as follows:

(a) Content areas consist of the following courses: "mathematics
fundamentals," "mathematics I,"
"mathematics II," "mathematics III," "mathematics A," "mathematics B,"
and "mathematics C."

(b) The content of "mathematics fundamentals" will be organized with the
aims at
fostering students' curiosity, interest and so on in mathematics and
recognizing and appreciating mathematical views and thinking.

Specifically, it will contain some historical topics of mathematics
that are based on the content learned by students in lower secondary
school mathematics, statistical analysis of phenomena in everyday life,
and mathematical investigations related to daily life.

(c) The content of "mathematics I," "mathematics II," "mathematics III," and
"mathematics A" is being re-examined and rearranged as follows:

In "mathematics I," as the subject of acquiring fundamental and
basic knowledge in the upper secondary school mathematics and developing
students' ability to make use of it, certain content which is moved from
the lower secondary school will be taught by considering the connections with
the lower secondary school mathematics. At the same time, part of the
content currently taught in "mathematics I" will be moved to "mathematics A,"
and thereby "mathematics I" will be organized by the basic content such as
calculations with numbers and algebraic expressions, functions, or
geometrical figures and measurements.

In "mathematics II," as the course that follows "mathematics I,"
the content will include a wide range of topics such as functions,
geometric figures, and
expressions, by considering the learning sequence towards "mathematics III"
and by providing students enough time to learn the content.

In "mathematics III," as the course that follows "mathematics II," the
content will be organized, for example, by differential and integral calculus
as its core, considering the fact that, in the main, students who want to
learn
advanced mathematics will take this course.

In "mathematics A," as the course to master basics for analyzing
concrete phenomena mathematically, the content will be organized partly by the
content moved from the lower secondary school syllabus, e.g., plane figures or
probability, and partly by the content currently taught in this subject.

(d) In "mathematics B" and "mathematics C," the students can choose part of
the content to study and it is organized as follows, according to students'
ability
and aptitudes, as well as their curiosity and interest:

"Mathematics B" is organized by content such as sequences,
vectors, and computers and mathematics.

"Mathematics C" is organized by content such as probability
distribution, statistics, and matrices.

(e) Students should take "mathematics II" after they take "mathematics
I," and they should take "mathematics III" after they take "mathematics
II."

(f) The ways of taking "mathematics A," "mathematics B," and "mathematics C"
are as follows.

"Mathematics A" should be taken either in parallel with "mathematics
fundamentals"
or "mathematics I," or following them.

"Mathematics B" should be taken following "mathematics I."

"Mathematics C" should be taken following both "mathematics I"
and "mathematics A

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





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