While most preschool children in other countries go to school just to have fun, children in Japan have had to learn how to survive.
The Vietnamese have a saying "prevention is better than cure" to talk about the importance of prevention and preparation for bad things that can happen. The Japanese also have a similar mindset because their country has witnessed many disasters in the past. More realistically, they turn those challenges into mini-lessons that students can practice right in kindergarten.
It is not surprising to me that the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) lists Japanese children under more pressure in school than in other advanced countries. It's a big topic that their education industry has focused on in recent years. The statistics from mental health screenings of children in schools reveal a worrying reality. However, it's not as bad as one might think.
Japanese children carry a baggage with a lot of skills and knowledge to enter life
While most preschool children in other countries go to school just to have fun and enjoy a poetic "childhood journey", children in Japan have learned how to survive in dangerous situations. It is not difficult to see fire, earthquake and flood drills taking place in schools in Japan.
Just one sudden whistle (never forewarned), all students will have to quickly react according to the teacher's instructions. Newborns are carried by teachers in their arms, carried on their bodies; children aged one to two years old are placed in wheelbarrows; Children three years and older must run in line by themselves. I experience this at least once a month in a variety of different situations. Each time like that, learn something to learn and learn for the next time.
Many of them, the children had to quickly learn how to escape while playing, taking a nap or even in the toilet. The primary goal of the school is not to miss a single case in an emergency.
Recently, we were also trained in how to take refuge in the event of a disaster but still practice social distancing during the Covid-19 pandemic. A meticulous plan is sent down to the school and immediately directed to implement the internship.
As the students grow up, in addition to regularly maintaining such exercises, they practice many other skills. Students in Japan are very good at sports and artistic abilities.
Of course, the race in the journey to foster knowledge is always tough. The pressure to inherit the vast amount of knowledge left behind by the previous generation of Japan along with competing with foreign trends has exhausted many students. There have been many high school students in Japan who dropped out of school because they felt that studying was too stressful. This is also partly reflected in the statistics of the United Nations.
The Japanese are very accepting of reality and learning to rise
The statistics about the difficulties that students in Japan are suffering from have very accurate numbers thanks to their honesty. Compared with similar assessments in Vietnam, perhaps people trust the Japanese way more.
Taking myself as an example, during my two years of kindergarten, 12 years of high school and college education programs, I have never been evaluated for mental health by neurologists. Not even a single memory of the physical examination. However, the Japanese take their physical and mental health assessments very seriously.
Not to mention the fact that parents take their children to the doctor themselves and then fill out the health forms provided by the school, children in Japan receive periodic health checks right at school. Many doctors from different specialties came to see the children. Of course, the neurologist also visits every year. Because of that, many children who are going through difficulties are detected early and counseled to overcome them.
Similar to Covid-19 testing, as there is more monitoring and evaluation in schools, the "problem" of children becomes more apparent. I tried sending the results of UNICEF to Japanese people with children in school, and no one was surprised. They all agreed with that fact.
The Japanese are very eager to learn and that's why their country is what it is today. They have stood up from pain and loss many times, so the preparation for the students is very long.
When I asked about these experiences, a friend of mine said "maybe children in other places are taught to be happy first, schoolchildren in Japan must always be ready for risks so happiness will come later".