Date of Award


Document Type




First Reader

Dr. Doug Sonheim

Second Reader

Dr. Jeanna Westmoreland

Third Reader

Dr. Jeff Pounders


While living in Japan as an exchange student, many different aspects of Japanese culture, especially the Japanese education system, fascinated me. Their system demanded so much from children and determined the paths their lives would take based upon two or three long and complicated tests. My college friends had obviously survived the rigors of the schools system and, as I eventually realized, succeeded. All of the publicity that Japanese education received in the United States as a model system made me curious to know whether the stories in magazines and on the 6 o'clock news held any truth or if the American public saw only the good side of Japanese education.

I unwittingly began research on this project when I started asking questions of my teachers and friends in Japan and comparing their answers about Japanese education with my own experiences in the U.S. public school system and at Seinan University. This paper resulted from those questions, my own experiences, and my search at Seinan and Ouachita for the answers. My own education consists of attendance in a small rural school district with a white majority and Hispanic and Indian minorities. I received a lot of personal attention during my school career and I floated through high school rather smoothly. I did not learn to study until I started college and the work became more demanding. My education was the opposite of my Japanese friends. They had studied continuously in junior high and high school and in college they completely abandoned their former study habits. My classes at Seinan presented few challenges and opportunities other than writing letters to my friends in the United States. At the outset, I didn't think that two mo;e different education systems could exist.

This thesis explores the general systems and methods of American and Japanese education while focusing on specific areas that plague or build up education in two extremely different cultures in two countries that have become inextricably economically dependent upon each other. Both nations hold up the other's school system as examples despite the problems inherent in both "models." Neither system has achieved perfection, but Japan and the United States can help each other to improve upon their existing education systems.



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