Shukudai ha arimasen.
Year of Requirement Part 9
In my high school in Suburbia, we always got quite a bit of homework. If we did a science lab, we had to write a lab report. In Speech class, we had to write speeches (which were the equivalent of writing essays, really) regularly. We also had Algebra homework and reading assignments and reports for Social Studies.
In my junior high school in Japan, we rarely had homework. If we couldn’t finish a sewing project, we’d take it home, and if we were going to be tested on a recorder piece, we’d take our recorders home to practice, but other than that, there was very little required work outside school. Most of the students were in clubs, or “bukatsu” that had afternoon practices almost every day, and that meant we got home at around six in the evening. Quite a few of the other kids went to “juku” after that. Juku are frequently called “cram schools” but they don’t cram as much as meticulously review material or go over advanced material to give you an academic edge. Or so I’ve heard. (One of the great ironies of my childhood/ youth is that while I’ve never attended juku, I’ve taught in one.) I guess the teachers figured that the kids that would do the homework were already up to their armpits in academics with juku, and the kids that wouldn’t do the homework anyway wouldn’t, so they may as well make things easier for everyone.
(My kids get a reasonable amount of homework from their public elementary school here in Pumpkin City, so I guess this is a junior high school phenomenon.)
I’d say about a third of my classmates went to juku. I was interested, but I figured my parents couldn’t afford it, so I didn’t even ask. I asked my mom for money and I went to the bookstore and look through the junior high school level study guides and picked the ones that looked right, and went through them on my own. I realized I didn’t understand electrical currents very well, so I talked to my science teacher and he offered to give me a special one-on-one crash course tutoring session complete with homework. Once I figured out Virgins Are Rare (volts = amps x resistance) and that the rest was nothing more than a glorified rendition of 8th grade math, it was pretty easy. Everything up to high school physics is just hyperactive algebra. University physics is hard. University physics was when I realized I was stupid. But since university was well before high school entrance exams, I was still convinced that I only had to make the high school see that I was as smart as I (thought I) was.