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Home > Debates Last Updated: 14:31 03/09/2007
Debate: Comment (June 4, 2002)

Comment on Professor Kumon's University Reform Essay

Ronald Dore (Professor, University of London)

Dear Kumon-sensei

"It is certain that universities cannot remain institutions to select people for the sake of the state or to produce and maintain 'school factions' in society. Students interested in learning will no longer come to such institution to study." So you say.

Any sign that high school students are less keen than they were to get into Todai? If society (not the state) does not select people for jobs on the basis of their educational record, what will be the alternative criterion? What does KS mean in concrete terms by "gakubatsu" and what evidence does he have that today it is seriously dysfunctional for Japanese organisations?

Surely it's time to stop all this hype about the information revolution. What does it really amount to? What can students do today that they couldn't do 10 years ago?; (a) if they are very bright, sometimes get things not available in their library from the internet, and, sometimes get the same things as they get from the library but more quickly; (b) if they are dishonest plagiarists, copy passages from other people's writings into their essays more quickly. Does that make them more critical learners? Does it make any difference to the balance of their motives as between wanting to improve their minds on the one hand or simply wanting to pass examinations on the other?

It's still the personal impact of inspiring teachers that can do most to foster a critical spirit and supplement and reinforce students' native curiosity.

Best wishes,

Ronald Dore

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