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The city of Takeo in Saga prefecture, which is the first municipality to outsource the management of city libraries to the private sector, having awarded the contract to Tsutaya, is also enthusiastic about deploying IT in education. All elementary and middle school students are given a tablet device such as an iPad, on which are installed apps for drilling and testing and an app that works in conjunction with the blackboard. The utilization of IT in education transforms and expands the types of education that can be provided in schools. We hope this initiative spreads nationwide to improve the quality of education.

1. Give Every Student a Tablet Device and Introduce “Reverse Lessons”

We hope that the deployment of IT on the frontline of education will lead to the introduction of “reverse lessons.” Normally, students take lessons in a classroom at school and then review the lessons and do their homework at home. A reverse lesson, however, flips the script. Students watch the lesson in video format at home, while in the classroom they go over parts they didn’t understand with their classmates and the teacher, do exercises to apply the knowledge they have acquired, and so on.

For reverse lessons, students take a tablet device loaded with the lesson video home with them and watch it there. Because lesson videos can feature specialists in the field, popular teachers, and so on, this method allows all students to receive lessons from famous people and specialists, which improves the quality of the lessons themselves. In addition, by helping each other with difficult points, solving applied exercises, and so on in the classroom, the traditional approach to education, in which knowledge is just crammed into students’ heads can be set aside in favor of cooperative lessons in which students engage in communication with others.

2. Provide Education That Grows Children’s Creativity and Passion

The deployment of IT will make lessons more efficient and free up more time, enabling education that couldn’t be offered before to be provided. This extra time should mainly be used to develop children’s creativity.

In elementary schools in the U.S., children, starting in the lower grades, present things they like or things that have moved them to the class almost every week. In Japan, however, students hardly ever talk about their personal hobbies at school. Yet by having children practice sharing their thoughts, dreams, likes, and passions, and gaining empathy from others from an early age, leaders with passion can be developed. In Japan, too, the focus should be on education that grows children’s creativity.

3. Strengthen Education to Equip Students With Integrity, Ambition, and Leadership Ability

As society globalizes, our morals, views of history, and identity as Japanese people is becoming increasingly important. People that can succeed globally are people that possess such values, leadership skills, and ambition. With education, it is no exaggeration to say that the most important thing is not to cram children’s heads with knowledge, but to instill in them aspirations, which will determine how they will contribute to Japan and the world in the future, develop in them the leadership and thinking skills to achieve these aspirations, and to communicate the morals and views of history that form the foundation of these other elements. From the elementary level onwards, the emphasis should be on education that teaches students about Japan’s history and traditions and equips them with thinking ability and ambition, and on local learning that puts them in contact with their communities.

4. Retain Good Elements. Make Education Nurture Teamwork and Harmony

Japanese education until now hasn’t been all bad. Compared to people from other countries, Japanese people are characteristically strong in many areas. One of these is the culture of emphasizing strong teamwork and harmony when performing a task. This strength of Japanese people owes much to the guidance provided through school education until now. Guidance during club activities and life guidance during aspects of school life such as cleaning, school meals, being put in charge of tasks such as serving meals, etc. have also played a role in this. We hope that the aspects of Japanese education that have nurtured this characteristic will be retained.

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