Japanese-style toilets in the lower classes are crude, and parents are demanding that their children abstain from alcohol… The reality of “educational abuse” in the heated junior high school entrance examination boom. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Japanese-style toilets in the lower classes are crude, and parents are demanding that their children abstain from alcohol… The reality of “educational abuse” in the heated junior high school entrance examination boom.

Nonfiction writer Kota Ishii delves into the depths of Japanese society!

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Many minors take their own lives due to deepening worries caused by entrance examinations

Amid the “third boom” in junior high school entrance examinations, particularly in the Tokyo metropolitan area, a certain number of children take their own lives each year due to mental illness caused by excessive study.

Currently, the number of underage suicides is at an all-time high, and according to the Metropolitan Police Department, the number one cause is “poor academic performance” (83 students) and the number two is “worries about career paths” (60 students), both related to studying. In fact, as society’s enthusiasm for entrance examinations grows, the environment surrounding children becomes more challenging accordingly.

At a certain elementary school in Tokyo, 80% of all students take junior high school entrance exams. At this school, the number of leftovers from school lunches increases sharply in the sixth grade.

Why is this? It is because more and more students are told by their cram schools and families that they should eat only 6 or 7 portions of food because they cannot concentrate on studying for entrance examinations. Adults are calling for dietary restrictions on growing children, for whom school lunches are the most exciting part of growing up.

In this environment, some mental health clinics are beginning to offer treatment for “exam depression. In the waiting rooms of these clinics, children who have become mentally ill from studying too hard for entrance exams sit with blue faces.

Cram school teachers threaten that their lives will end if they don’t get on with it.

Children forced to study until dawn.

–Parents stick around in their children’s rooms every day and make them study until 3:00 a.m.

–Children who have been called in for a parent-teacher conference just for a single point drop in test scores and threatened with the end of their lives if they continue to study like this.

–My parents told me, “We even borrowed money to take the test. If I fail this, we will all have to die”.

Such heartbreaking voices of children can be heard from the examination rooms.

In my recent book, “Kyoiku Abuse – Kodomo wo Korasu Kyoiku Kyoiku Kyoiku” (“Educational Abuse – “Educationally Enthusiastic” Parents Who Destroy Their Children”) (Hayakawa Shinsho), I described the distortions visible in the modern examination wars from various aspects including families, preparatory schools, incidents, history, and medicine. In this article, we would like to introduce the educational fervor of cram schools and families that has gone out of control and the reality that children are facing there from this book.

Some cram schools behave in a threatening manner toward parents and children

In recent years, it has become common knowledge in the junior high school entrance examination industry that studying for entrance examinations begins in the fourth grade. It is believed that children must start attending cram schools at that age not only to get a head start on their studies, but also to acquire special knowledge of the junior high school entrance examination in order to be ready for it.

At information sessions and interviews at cram schools, they use all kinds of language to stir up a sense of urgency in parents.

If you don’t start now, it will be too late! It all depends on how much enthusiasm parents have for their children’s future! If a child does not do well in elementary school, he or she will not do well as an adult!

There has always been a boom in the popularity of entrance examinations, but in recent years, with the declining birthrate, cram schools are increasingly seeking to attract more students. They use manualized methods to amplify parents’ anxiety and put children on the “intellectual education → entrance exam” rail from the pre-school stage.

Upper class is a rich hotel.

When parents lose their minds in the examination fever, they become numb and do not know what is too much education. What may seem abnormal to outsiders is accepted as normal only by the parents and children caught in the middle.

In the interviews for this book, I would like to introduce some examples of what I considered to be obvious “excesses” on the part of the cram school.

Differentiation in restrooms and camp accommodations

In general, classes in cram schools are assigned according to test scores. However, some cram schools discriminate against students based on their test scores.

At one cram school, students are given access to different restrooms depending on their class. The higher classes have access to the newest and cleanest toilets, while the lower classes are only allowed to use the old Japanese-style toilets.

There were also differences in accommodations and meals during summer vacation and other camps. While upper class students could stay in rich hotels, lower class students were provided with poor accommodations, meals, and snacks.

The tutoring schools may have been trying to “motivate students by differentiating them. However, this is unhealthy discrimination in the name of education. It may give a sense of superiority to children with high grades, but it instills a sense of inferiority in those who do not.

It is not simply a matter of studying hard enough to pass the exam

…Instructors thoroughly undermine the lower classes.

In class and during interviews, instructors use a variety of language to make fun of the lower classes.

They say things like, “If you fail the lower class, it will be the end of your life,” “What is the point of studying in a class of losers,” and “If you don’t study, you will be just like them (children in lower classes).

Because children hear these words from respected adults on a daily basis, they begin to look down on the lower classes. Some of them even think that they are inferior to them and will not be able to live properly in society in the future.

During our interviews, we heard many instances where these children began to bully children in lower classes. It can be said that this bullying is caused by the adults’ infiltration of the children.

Competition stirred up by cram schools causes trauma

Some students drop out due to extreme competition.

It may be inevitable for cram schools to stir up children’s competitive spirit in order to make them study.

However, as shown in this case, if it escalates, it may lead to discrimination. This should not be allowed to cause a child to suffer lifelong emotional scars or the trauma of bullying. No matter how great the cause of the examination, it is nothing more than a violation of human rights.

This kind of deviant behavior by cram schools is not only directed at children, but also at their parents. In most cases, parents hold the right to decide whether or not to continue studying for entrance exams and whether or not to pay monthly fees. In this sense, it is important to get the parents involved.

Here are some examples we encountered during our interviews.

Demanding Extreme Cooperation from Families

One cram school emphasizes more than necessary that “you cannot pass the entrance exam without the cooperation of your family,” and demands extreme support from the family, as described below.

They also require parents to submit image evidence to confirm that students are studying at home, watch TV and smartphones at home with earphones, prohibit siblings from talking privately, and check menus to prevent students from eating foods that are bad for their brains.…….

The “control” is not just management, it is domination.

Financial burden based on grades

Generally, the monthly tuition fee at a cram school is the same whether the student is in a high-grade class or a low-grade class. However, some cram schools increase monthly fees by extending class hours or requiring students to buy excessive textbooks (while students in the top class are given free tuition as special students), claiming that the lower their grades, the more they need to study.

(On the other hand, top-ranked students are given free tuition as special students.) In some cases, if a student’s grades drop even slightly, the school will immediately hold a parent-child conference and recommend that the student hire an affiliated tutor or take remedial classes for a fee. This inflates the cost of education paid by the parents.

It is unlikely to be effective in monitoring the source and diet, and differentiating monthly fees could be seen as discrimination.

Why is this being done?

According to those involved, the purpose is to put parents under mental and financial pressure to catch up mentally.

Parents find themselves thinking, “I’ve made it this far, I can’t turn back now,” or“I have to make sure my child passes the entrance exam at all costs. Once this happens, parents are manipulated to do what the cram school wants.

In this situation, parents may lose sight of themselves and force their children to study excessively. What happens when this escalates is “educational abuse.

Educational abuse is an illegal act of physical or psychological violence committed by parents in the name of education. In the bizarre atmosphere of an examination, they lose their cool and hurt their children’s bodies and minds, while claiming to be doing so for the children’s sake.

So what is the horrific reality of educational abuse? In Part 2, we will describe the horrifying behavior of parents who physically and psychologically drive their children into depression after taking the junior high school entrance exam, and will also show how parents over-educate their children in the seclusion of the study room.

Part 2: Depression from Junior High School Entrance Exams: The Horrifying Behavior of “Overzealous Parents Who Catch Up with Their Children Physically and Mentally.

  • Reporting and writing Kota Ishii

    Born in Tokyo in 1977. Nonfiction writer. He has reported and written about culture, history, and medicine in Japan and abroad. His books include "Absolute Poverty," "The Body," "The House of 'Demons'," "43 Killing Intent," "Let's Talk about Real Poverty," "Social Map of Disparity and Division," and "Reporto: Who Kills the Japanese Language?

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