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2008年12月11日 (木)

国際学力調査―魅力ある授業がかぎだ

2008/12/11

--The Asahi Shimbun, Dec. 10(IHT/Asahi: December 11,2008)

EDITORIAL: Educating the children

国際学力調査―魅力ある授業がかぎだ


Japan's fourth-year elementary school and second-year junior high school students placed third to fifth in the world in mathematics and science last year, according to the just-released results of the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 2007. The survey is conducted every four years by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA).

The Japanese students' rankings in both subjects were much the same as in 2003, while their average test scores were either on par with or slightly better than four years before.

 各国の小学4年と中学2年を対象に昨年実施された国際数学・理科教育動向調査の結果が公表された。 

 いずれの科目も順位は前回、03年並みの3~5位。平均得点は、どの科目でも前回と同じかやや上回った。 

The 2003 results were worse than those in preceding surveys. This alarmed many educators in Japan at the time, as a similar survey by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 2003 had also shown a decline in the academic performance of Japanese students.

 03年の調査の結果は、それ以前より落ち込んだ。同じ年の経済協力開発機構(OECD)の調査でも低落傾向がみられたことから、日本の子どもの学力が低下したと騒がれた。 

The 2007 results are being viewed by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology as an indication that the decline has been halted. True, the children did slightly better in math this time. However, according to an OECD survey that immediately preceded the TIMSS 2007 survey, Japan slid in international rankings in problem-solving abilities in both mathematics and science.

 文部科学省は今回、「学力低下に歯止めがかかった」との見方を示した。たしかに数字は前回をやや上回っている。しかし、この直前に実施されたOECD調査では、科学的、数学的な応用力でいずれも順位を下げている。

The situation certainly does not warrant premature optimism.

ほっとするのは早計だろう。 

In fact, instead of reacting to every rise and fall in numbers, we should be worrying about something much more serious--the lack of interest in studying among Japanese children today. It is most disturbing that the percentage of Japanese middle school students who said they "enjoy studying" hit a record-low level in the 2007 survey.

 それに、順位や得点の多少の上下に一喜一憂するよりも、もっと気がかりなことがある。日本の子どもたちの勉強への意欲の乏しさである。特に中学生で「勉強は楽しい」と答えた割合が最低レベルだったのは深刻だ。 

Let us recall these words of Toshihide Maskawa, a recipient of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Physics: "(Japan's) school entrance examination system, with its heavy emphasis on multiple-choice questions, is eroding the intellectual curiosity everyone is born with. I call this education pollution."

 今年のノーベル物理学賞を受賞した益川敏英氏の言葉を思い起こしたい。 

 「本来みんなが持っている好奇心が選択式テストの受験体制ですさんでいる。教育汚染だ」 

What can we do about this? The best solution by far is to change the way classes are taught. Among all the students that took the OECD test worldwide, the number of Japanese students who said their science classes were taught in a way that stimulated their curiosity was one of the smallest.

 ではどうすればいいのか。 

 何よりも授業の改善だろう。OECD調査では、理科の授業で身近な疑問に応えるような教え方をしてもらっているという割合が最低レベルだった。 

Unlike in the past, videogames, cellphones and all sorts of other distractions outside the classroom are stimulating kids' interest. Given this reality, we must make classes more appealing to children if we are to draw out and cultivate their intellectual curiosity.

 昔とは違って、テレビゲームや携帯電話など教室の外には興味をそそるものがあふれている。今の子どもの環境や生活に即して、いかに好奇心や疑問の芽を引き出して育てるか。「受けたい授業」を工夫しなければいけない。 

Unfortunately, however, teachers today are kept busy with paperwork, student guidance and other duties beyond classroom teaching. Just telling teachers to work harder is no way to solve the problem.

 だが今の先生は、事務や生活指導など授業以外のことでも忙しい。先生の尻をたたくだけでは解決しない。 

A survey of middle school science teachers, conducted this year by the National Institute for Educational Policy Research and others, revealed the teachers' dilemma: While interesting and well-planned lessons are gradually becoming more common, there are simply not enough classroom hours for observation projects and lab experiments.

 国立教育政策研究所などが中学の理科教員を対象に今年実施した実態調査から、現場の悩みが浮かび上がっている。工夫をこらした授業は徐々に広がってはいる。ただ観察や実験のための時間が足りないという。

The survey also found a strong demand from younger teachers for more information on good teaching materials and instruction methods.

優れた教材や指導法についての情報を求める声も、若い教員から強く上がっている。 

These teachers' voices must be heard. Steps should be urgently taken to enable teachers to focus more on researching ideal teaching materials and methods and to share information on desirable classes with their peers.

 そんな訴えに応えたい。教師の雑用を極力減らし、教材や指導法の研究に力を注げる体制を整える。優れた授業の情報を共有する。そうした条件整備には今すぐに取り組むべきだ。 

As pointed out by Maskawa, the country's school entrance exam system needs to be reformed. The general evaluation of Japanese students is that they know their lessons but are not good at applying their knowledge, making them poor problem-solvers when faced with an unfamiliar question.

 さらに益川さんが指摘しているように、入試制度の改革も必要だ。知識はあるが、応用力が弱い。未知の問題に向き合った時の解決能力が乏しい。
それが日本の子どもたちに対する評価である。

There is no doubt that one of the causes of their deficiency lies in the entrance exam system, which overemphasizes memorization by rote.

その主な原因の一つが暗記中心の入試制度にあることは確かだろう。 

The education ministry keeps harping on the need to cultivate ikiru chikara, which can be translated into something like "the ability to determine one's own life." There is certainly a lot to be done.
 文科省がしきりと口にする「生きる力」を育てるために、なすべきことは少なくない。

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