By Robert L. Cutts
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Additional resources for An Empire of Schools: Japan's Universities and the Molding of a National Power Elite
Teachers rarely ask them for anything else. In fact, in the elite private universities, teachers seldom seem to ask for much of anything. After surviving the exam grinder for eight years or more in high, middle, and even elementary school, college education in the liberal arts core seems to be largely a holiday. Students are allowed to sign up for large numbers of credits and then drop whichever courses they dislikesome of which require only a single classroom hour a weekat their discretion, to try them again later if they like.
The national educational system, bluntly, exists to prepare the Japanese to take their roles in the institutions and the economic machinery of their state, not to prepare them to think about the world around them. All the tests, all the grades, all the hours of study are the honing of fine parts of an immense human machine. There is no real Japanese educational system, nor Japanese university, as this book will explain. There is only the Japanese system, of which educa- Page xv tion, from kindergarten to graduate school, is one closely calibrated component.
Second, Cutts suggests that Japan is not a political democracy so much as an economy masquerading as one, and that the Japanese citizen role has been reduced to an individual's contributions to the economy. Third, he shows how the educational process in Japan produces more or less identical, nationalistic leaders for the whole system, ranging from aristocratic elites to the lowliest functionaries, and how they are taught to believe that their positions are legitimated by a peculiarly Japanese form of democratic consciousness.