Professor Hiroshi Ito’s International Volunteering course provides students with useful information which may come in handy during their activities abroad, and aims to nurture capable individuals who will apply that information while working on a global scale. During today’s class, the students learned about global education development, which is said to play a great role in international cooperation. However, before improving the education in developing countries, they need to consider the state of education in Japan first – that is why they analyzed the result of PISA test conducted by OECD.
What is PISA?
The Programme for International Student Assessment is a worldwide standardized test, conducted every 3 years since 2000 by an organization known as OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, with its headquarters in Paris, France) . Last time it was performed in 2018 on 600,000 15-year-old school pupils from 79 countries (high school freshmen in Japan).
Here starts the discussion on PISA's average score ranking
Today, the Professor used a case called “PISA Reading Comprehension Shock”, and started the class by displaying PISA average score for every country. The test measures reading, mathematics and science performance, and it turns out Japan scored particularly low in in the reading part. On the other hand, a different study provides the data stating that the abilities of Japanese kids do not fall down until the third grade of junior high school. These two pieces of information prompted a question from the Professor – “What is this great change occurring in such a short period of time between the third grade of junior high school and the first year of high school?”. The students were quick to provide many interesting answers, i.e. “The pupils lose their motivation to learn after sitting the high school entrance test”, or “That is the time when kids usually start using smartphones and social media, so their reading comprehension [of long sentences] decreases because they are using texting abbreviations and such”, or even, “The compulsory education ends in high school, so you are not forced to learn anymore”.
When student’s point of view changes after one question from his teacher
The Professor further questioned the person who voiced the last opinion, asking if both high schools and junior high school weren’t in fact compulsory, to which the student replied, “So maybe the cause lies in the fact that there are more and more people choosing education in specialized fields such as commerce”. This answer led to a complete shift in the discourse – from a look at an individual high schooler to a broader field of problems in Japanese education system – which let us witness a much deeper and more interesting discussion. It is a clear proof that classes utilizing Active Learning methods are heavily dependent on active participation of the students. Still, in case when they are unable to push the discussion further by themselves, it is a good teacher who chimes in and really makes a difference. His one question can change student’s approach to a problem, or shape his point of view... today was a day when we could really feel his presence and importance in Active Learning method.