74.full - Journal of Learning Disabilities...

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http://ldx.sagepub.com/ Journal of Learning Disabilities http://ldx.sagepub.com/content/37/1/74 The online version of this article can be found at: DOI: 10.1177/00222194040370010801 2004 37: 74 J Learn Disabil John Woodward and Yumiko Ono Mathematics and Academic Diversity in Japan Published by: Hammill Institute on Disabilities and http://www.sagepublications.com can be found at: Journal of Learning Disabilities Additional services and information for http://ldx.sagepub.com/cgi/alerts Email Alerts: http://ldx.sagepub.com/subscriptions Subscriptions: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsReprints.nav Reprints: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav Permissions: http://ldx.sagepub.com/content/37/1/74.refs.html Citations: at University of British Columbia Library on October 29, 2010 ldx.sagepub.com Downloaded from
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JOURNAL OF LEARNING DISABILITIES VOLUME 37, NUMBER 1, JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2004, PAGES 74–82 Mathematics and Academic Diversity in Japan John Woodward and Yumiko Ono Abstract Japanese education has been the subject of considerable research and educational commentary in the United States over the last 20 years. Since the early 1990s, there has been increased interest in Japanese methods for teaching mathematics, and the Third International Mathematics and Science Study has accelerated American interest in Japanese methods. Observational studies, teacher and student sur- veys, and analyses of classroom videotapes have provided a rich picture of how the Japanese teach the whole class. However, little has been written about how academically low-achieving math students fare in Japanese schools. This article briefly summarizes Japanese methods for teaching mathematics and describes how the educational system addresses academic diversity. It concludes with a de- scription of a method for teaching mathematics that some Japanese mathematics educators feel has promise for students with learning disabilities. A merican assessments of Japan- ese education since the 1960s have been of two minds. Edu- cators, journalists, and politicians in the United States have produced a mix of opinions that vary widely and, at times, are wholly contradictory. Single- ton’s (1967) ethnography of Japanese secondary schools, for example, pre- sented a picture of drill-oriented teach- ing and passive students. More recent accounts (e.g., Yoneyama, 1999) have offered similar, if not darker descrip- tions of the secondary education expe- rience. Bracey (1996) and Wolferen (1989) argued that this dark side of the education system is hidden from or overlooked by American researchers who are highly supportive of Japanese instructional methods. Some research- ers (Berliner & Biddle, 1995; Westbury, 1992) even questioned the superior performance of Japanese students on international comparative exams by suggesting that only the best students in the country are allowed to take these tests. They also argued that high test scores in subject areas like mathe- matics reveal little about broader abili-
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74.full - Journal of Learning Disabilities...

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