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The Common Sense of Copying

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Author(s): Daniel M. Stamm

Journal: Nonpartisan Education Review
ISSN 2150-6477

Volume: 6;
Issue: 8;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2010;
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Keywords: education | policy | Math education | Constructivism | math | mathematics education | mathematics | education | Japan | problem solving | teaching

ABSTRACT
This essay provides a survey of two very significant phases in the history of Japanese education: 1) the founding of the modern system (1872-1890) with a focus on the pedagogical practices acquired from the United States during that period and 2) Japan’s performance on international tests of mathematics achievement. The first relies primarily on Benjamin Duke’s recently published book The History of Modern Japanese Education: Constructing the National School System, 1872-1890, and the second on a detailed comparison of ERA mathematics test scores of Japan and Singapore over a thirty year period. These two aspects provide clear evidence that, contrary to the assertions of some scholars, it is quite possible to transfer the practices in use in one culture to another, with great success. Noting the irony of the abandonment by the U.S. of the principles that have served Japan so well for almost 140 years, I suggest that we exercise the "Common Sense of Copying” ourselves.
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