Imperfect Harmony: Despite literacy rates of almost 100 percent and a reputation for academic achievement, the Japanese education system is missing something, according to state politicians—specifically, national pride. To that end, the Associated Press reports, some schools have begun grading students’ patriotism, and a year ago, Tokyo’s metropolitan government ordered teachers and students to sing the national anthem at graduation ceremonies. But it hasn’t been all salutes and joyful voices: Almost 200 educators were punished for defying the singing edict. Emperor Akihito himself seemed to disagree with the government’s firm stance. He told a school board member who wanted to make raising the flag and singing the anthem mandatory, “It is desirable that it not be compulsory.”
Esprit de Corpus: Here’s an additional classroom duty that Ontario educators can add to their list: student self-esteem monitoring. A “body-image project” launched in mid-2004 revealed that one-third of girls between the ages of 10 and 14 were dieting, according to the Daily Miner & News; child psychologists want schools to help combat the unhealthy trend. This past fall, two-day seminars in Toronto and four other cities trained teachers to work with students and parents on changing kids’ perceptions of themselves and their peers. “We can’t be protecting [students] from everything, but we need to be talking to them about their self-esteem and self-image,” one session leader said.
Hard Sell: You could say the candidates for student government in Zhejiang province—the ones caught bribing fellow students for votes—were just following in their elders’ footsteps. According to the China Daily, students running for their junior high school’s legislature were caught buying ballots with free lunches and other gifts. The scandal coincides with a national investigation into charges of bribery and embezzlement, for which thousands of Communist Party and government officials have been punished, and it has prompted Haiyan County school administrators to offer their 50,000 pupils instruction in “honest government.”
Hey! Teachers! “We don’t need no education,” British schoolchildren chorus on Pink Floyd’s hit single Another Brick in the Wall. What they do need, royalties agent Peter Rowan told the Associated Press, are the thousands of dollars in unpaid residuals from the song: More than 23 million copies of the 1979 album have been sold, making it the third-best-selling record in the world. Rowan is representing about two dozen former students of London’s Islington Green School, whom a music teacher smuggled into a recording studio without the headmistress’s approval. “It’s a legal right,” Rowan said, “and the money is building up.”
Vol. 16, Issue 05, Page 15Published in Print: March 1, 2005, as Dispatches