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Transmission of Culture: A Cross-Cultural Comparison Between American and Japanese Preschools

Autor:   •  December 11, 2012  •  Research Paper  •  2,563 Words (11 Pages)  •  1,121 Views

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Since the beginning of the Fall Semester in Social Science Research Methods in Education, we have covered a range of topics in the lectures, from an overview of the Japanese school system and its organization, to an on-going exploration of the four functions of education: i. socialization, ii. transmission of culture, iii. social control and personal development, and iv. selection and allocation, each considered within a cross-cultural context. Although I found the focus on each of the four functions of education equally interesting in accompaniment to the different readings and lectures every week, I will focus on the transmission of culture (second function) in greater detail for the purpose of this paper. I found the transmission of culture to be one of the most interesting, in the significance that this function holds within an educational context in creating and forming a national identity that is continuously upheld and instilled from one generation to another within a national group and their societal context.

In order to consider the employment of and effect of cultural transmission within an educational context, Tobin et al.’s “Preschool in Three Cultures” (1989) will be used as a case study, particularly to investigate the difference in the transmission of culture and their resulting culturally-dependent teaching techniques and methods in an Asian vs. an American educational context. The extract of the text that will be focused on describes Tobin et al.’s research in two different cultural contexts: the contrast in educational methods and dealing with children between a Japanese pre-school and an American pre-school. These findings will then be compared and contrasted to a personal case study of my own experience in attending a local Japanese kindergarten in Kobe, Japan, and then the transition to a Canadian international school in the same local area.

The first case study describes Tobin et al.’s research and their findings between Komatsudani, a Japanese pre-school in Kyoto-prefecture, and St. Timothy’s, an American pre-school in Herndon, Virginia. Tobin et al.’s research was for the most part documented by the researchers’ own observations and recorded on video, from which all conversations and scenes used in the text were transcribed. The next case study centers on my own personal experience. Officially, there are 86 international schools in Japan (, 2011), of which only 26 are part of the Japan Council of International Schools (JCIS) (Japan Council of Internal Schools, 2012).

I attended a local Japanese pre-school in Rokko Island, Kobe for two years from 1995-1997. I then transferred to Canadian Academy, a Canadian international school also on Rokko Island. In the same year (1997), at five years of age I started the first grade at Canadian Academy, from which point on I continued attending international schools for the rest of my high school education.


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