I thought for a long time that Japan spent too much time holding and focusing on the past and not on the future. However, I was wrong. You can see this isn't true when you look at China's progress, despite it still cherishing its past. I think the problem with Japan is that its too Japan -- too much nationalistic pride that it is detrimental to the society on whole.
I found an interesting article about Japan's English education system on the internet recently. It was an amazing article. It was like the author was reading my inner thoughts. I wanted to host the article on my website, so I contacted him. We both laughed our asses off when I found out he wrote the article over 10 years ago and I was telling him NOTHING has changed.
Japan can teach their children whatever they want but I'm a firm believer the moment they start trying to teach something not familar to them, they need outside help. The problem is their stubborness and/or racism that is keeping them to seek help from people who don't have Japanese blood.
Japan's English education system is much like that Japanese whaling boat a few years back that broke down while they were whale hunting. A Greenpeace boat was next to them and offered to help, despite how they felt about what they were doing, but the Japanese refused their help and sat dead in the water for a week instead.
Sometimes I just wanna say f@#$ it and go back to my home country holding my middle fingers high but I don't think it's fair Japan's future generation should suffer for the present generation's stubborness and stupidity.
I really think a lot of this inability to change comes from moral education being taught in school versus at home by the parents. By the time a student graduates high school, they have more or less been turned into little borgs to be properly inserted into society. Don't get me wrong; I'm not bitter. I just don't like to see my hands tied when I'm trying to help kids, especially kids that aren't even from my own ethnicity.
BTW, the problem isn't with the JTEs down in the local schools. They've seen me teach and I've gained their respect. 2 of 4 JTEs at my schools have changed their minds about the importance of Phonics and that is all we teach in the ALT classes, while in my elem schools, I've set up an English homework system and shown the HRTs that students CAN have fun while learning proper English. The problem is at the BOE level and their lack of listening to anything an ALT says. I know this problem isn't specific to Niigata but I also know, it doesn't make it any less frustrating to deal with.
To give you another taste of the frustration I've been through, I bitched for 10 months at my base school before the kocho finally said I could have a laptop to work on. He called me into the office and said, "I found you a laptop. It's a 486." 486!?!?! What the hell is that!?!? Throwing out a random number just proved to me he didn't know anything about computers but since he was the top dog, he had to make the decision. But he was too stupid to ask others about something he didn't know about.
It didn't stop there. I finally got a laptop, only to find out I needed a password to sign in but in order to get a password, I needed to fill out paperwork that takes to weeks to process. I finally signed on, to find out it didn't have Microsoft Office, another two weeks down the drain. When I finally got it back, it took 15 minutes (literally) to load up. After consulting the computer tech, a.k.a. the kyoto sensei, he told me all I had to do to speed up the computer was to unplug the network wire, at which point I wanted to punch someone in their nose for being stupid. But it didn't end there...
After explaining to the kyoto that unplugging it would give me access to the network, which I needed to gain access to the internet and printers, I did some snooping around to find out what kind of computer I was working with. Without running any programs, on a fresh boot, moving the mouse around the screen maxed out the CPU processor.
I could keep going and going, but I think you get the point.
I understand that people in charge shouldn't know everything about everything, but only in Japan won't people ask others about something they know nothing about. Kinda like the English education system here...