Friday, December 3, 2010

Walk This Way

I've never actually seen one in person, so I'm not even going to begin to describe what it looks on the inside. Let's just say that on any given evening between 7PM and 10PM, it's packed full with junior high and senior high school students trying to prep themselves to get into the next level of school in the best shape possible. They are known as Yobiko - cram schools.

According to some statistics, about a full one-third of all Japanese students go on to university. It's something that is expected if a young Japanese person is looking to maximize their future earnings and hoping to get in with a good company, or is looking to use to attract a spouse.

Me? I did 14 years of high school (I like Grade 12 so much I did it twice  - and in Ontario at that time, we had Grade 13); I did five years of university goofing around doing Political Science; and two years in College doing journalism, the results of which are on display here. Sorry about that. Perhaps if I had gone to yobiko

Just as there is fierce competition for students to get into a good university, so too is there fierce competition to get into a good high school, as entrance exams taken when you are 14 or 15 years old in junior high school can determine your lot in life. 

Now maybe that's the way it is in a lot of countries, but in Canada you can be a screw up for 30 or 40 or 50 years before coming to your senses to head back to school and learn a new occupation.

For those students who fail their entrance exam, they can try again the next year. These students are called 'ronin', which actually means masterless samurai which happens if a samurai fails his master or if the samurai and the family are killed. 

The yobiko is for two types of students - those who are looking for more help to pass the entrance exams, and the ronin students. 

The cram schools are plentiful in Japan. Why, because there is a demand for them as students (that is, their parents) place a high esteem on them. 

Of course, once a junior high school student gets into a good high school and again into a university - that's when the party starts. For maybe four or five years, Japanese university students get to act like little sho-gakkusei (primary school students). It's true. Apparently Japanese universities are notoriously easy (I'd say that is just for the undergraduate programs, and not for those looking for an MBA, MA or PhD).

Friends of mine told me they quickly forgot how to study and learned instead how to imbibe copious amounts of alcohol. Of course, this may also be the first time in their life they are away from their parents, so what the heck?! Japan was my first time away from my parents, and all I did was drink and try to get laid. See - we are so much alike!    

So... anyway... back to cram school. They learn a lot of the same stuff they learn in their regular day school - plus they get to do a lot of mock tests to help them prepare for their entrance exams. They learn tricks and mnemonics and often get ahead of their day school - the result being they actually do better at day school. This promotes a better feeling about school, itself, which makes spending 14 hours of one's day - multiple days a week inside a class room seem like a small price to pay just so you can get laid in university.

Somewhere knowing that seven years of post-secondary education didn't get me laid,
Andrew Joseph  
Today's title is by Aerosmith (though I like the Run DMC version, too): HIGHSCHOOL LOSER
Okay, okay... here's the Run DMC version. They deserve it for their part in resurrecting the career of Aerosmith - plus it's a cool video: SASSY.

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