Approximately more than 65 % of children in the USA, China and Japan are enrolled either in nursery schools, group homes or day care centers (Comparative and International Education Society 2). In these three countries, pre-schools for children, who are at infancy stage, and those ready to join formal schools provide solution to challenges associated with care, social and education needs of these children.
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In the past, children in these societies were not taken care of in preschools but by their mothers, maiden aunts, older siblings, hired country girls or grandmothers at home (Comparative and International Education Society 2). Therefore, the main purpose of this paper is to compare and contrast pre-school lives influenced by such different cultures.
In China, changes in economic philosophy and material well being in the society have had a great influence on pre-schools. Similarly, to learn being confined within the pre-school’s walls in turn impacts on Chinese society. It should be noted that desire of economic change has been a motivator to modernization in China.
This process concerns both social and economical developments, that is why while the change is distinct from capitalist societies and East Asia, the country is also able to compete favorably. On this basis, early childhood education in China focuses on individual development.
It promotes child’s rights, creativity and independence (Tobin, Hsueh and Karasawa 226). Recent approaches in regard to Chinese preschool examine children preparation to grow up adopting skills which can make them successful in current market economy characterized by stiff competition; moreover, they should acquire a social minded attitude that will distinguish them as Chinese in the world (Tobin, Hsueh and Karasawa 227).
In Japan since 1985, there has been a major emphasis on influence of demographic and economic changes (Tobin, Hsueh and Karasawa 228). Japanese economic decline seemed to have both direct and indirect negative impacts on pre-school education.
Reduced birth rates in Japan created stiff competition among pre-school related businesses which in order to attract customers, had to work more and diversify their services. It is clear that Japanese economic success is attributed to good education system (Tobin, Hsueh and Karasawa 228).
There is a notion that Japan modernized so fast at expense of its cultural values. As such, it is found that in Japan, preschools are dedicated to instilling in young children values, social skills and perspectives which are considered to be the most important and necessary in the current and hyper-modern society.
For this reason, Japanese education reforms are quite different from those of China or the US in that its pre-school education has conservative function, in order to protect children from adverse effects of post modernization. It does not compel pre-school education to focus on modernization and rationalization like in the US and China (Tobin, Hsueh & Karasawa, p229).
In the US education, a social institutions’ economic aspect and a need for rationalization are seen as the agents of change in pre-school system. Over few decades ago, there was a decreased earning power against cost of living for working class.
Consequently, this necessitated increased number of preschools as mothers who had young children began working. Because of introduction of welfare reforms, poor mothers with young children were forced to have some professional training and work away from home.
As a result, pre-schools became necessary for early childhood care. Actually, in the 1990s, the theme on education for young people was prevalent as a way of investing in future labor. It was viewed that every single dollar invested in pre-school education would result in not only substantial economic outcome but also social returns (Tobin, Hsueh and Karasawa 224).
It is found that while Chinese early education is focused on creativity and child initiation, the US pre-school program emphasizes academic outcomes (Tobin, Hsueh and Karasawa 232). The US pre-school education is relatively weaker in provison and program quality on average despite the country is on forefront in disseminating both early childhood education ideas and curricula.
On the other hand, China borrowed some education ideas from the US and European education experience (Tobin, Hsueh and Karasawa 234). Moreover, Japanese early childhood education has been very conservative in terms of global borrowing and even lending (Tobin, Hsueh and Karasawa 237).
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One of the reasons why Japanese early childhood education has not been embraced by the other countries is because of its practice to uphold the Japanese values and make children adopt them in order to preserve their culture (Tobin, Hsueh and Karasawa 240).
Although 4 years old child needs seem to be almost similar, the driver for pre-school education in Japanese, Chinese and American cultures has striking differences.
While Chinese pre-school education focuses on preparing a child to be a competitive individual to meet challenges posed by this world and ensures this young person does not lose its cultural identity, the US seems to be interested in investing in education right from early childhood to prepare future market labor.
However, Japanese early childhood education is pre-occupied with propagating its values and social skills as well as perspectives which seem to be at risk of being affected by hyper-modern society.
Comparative and International Education Society. “Moderated Discussion: Preschool in Three Cultures Revisited”. Comparative Education Review, 53.2(2009): 259-283. Web.
Tobin, Jay, Hsueh, Yeh and Mayumi Karasawa. Preschool in Three Cultures Revisited: China, Japan, and the United States. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009. Print