SHOGUNS GHOST: The Dark Side of Japanese Education by Ken Schoolland

SHOGUNS GHOST: The Dark Side of Japanese Education

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An exposÉ of the brutality inherent in the Japanese school system, by an American who taught college in Japan in the mid-80's. Schoolland (who now teaches Japanese business at Schaminade Univ. of Honolulu) was appalled to learn, shortly after his arrival in Japan, that a high-school student had been ""killed over a hair dryer."" The student had broken a rule forbidding use of such appliances, and as punishment he received a beating from his teacher--the son of a Buddhist priest--so severe that he died of head injuries. Most other students, Schoolland discovered, suffered only verbal abuse in school: ""I advise you to take out a life insurance policy--an imbecile like you is better off dead,"" one teacher screamed at a child. So it was no real surprise to Schoolland when one student committed suicide after being beaten and harassed by bullies and three teachers, who capped their humiliation of the student by staging his mock funeral during class. Nor is it surprising, says Schoolland, that one fifth of all Japanese high-school students display the same symptoms as patients hospitalized with clinical anxiety neurosis. A young girl's suicide note read, ""I'm sick and tired of being hit, and I'm sick and tired of crying."" Nonetheless, Schoolland strives to be fair in his reporting. He finds that similar problems (and an even higher suicide rate) exist in some American and European schools, and that in Japan teacher brutality is often a product of ferocious pressures unwittingly exerted on faculty as well as on students by a relentlessly ambitious society. A graphic yet balanced indictment, convincingly based on firsthand observations.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1990
ISBN: 0897892186
Publisher: Bergin & Garvey