By R. Murray Thomas
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Extra info for Schooling in East Asia
J a p a n ' s educational enterprise has also served as both a cause a n d an effect of events in other facets of national life, such as in social-class structure and poHtical governance. The continuing expansion of schoohng opportunities to all segments of society over the past century has contributed to a high degree of social mobility and a resultant leveling of the social-class system. Children b o m on one socio-economic s t r a t u m rather readily move u p or down the social scale on the basis of their talent a n d diligence, a condition far different from that found in the strictly stratified society of the mid-19th century.
Scholars and professional educators in the Orient are encouraged to visit both neighboring countries and those of the West to learn of new educational practices. All of these steps have contributed to educational change by increasing educators' knowledge of alternatives. Efficient educational change depends not only on the availability of a variety of options but also on the skill of educators in devising clear criteria for identifying which of the options are the most promising. This skill in recent decades has been enhanced by such procedures as systems analysis, educational evaluation, and educational research.
The ability of Japanese educators to marshall resources and encourage efficiency following the disorder of 1945 seems due both to the legacy of a modernized school system from prewar days and to the postwar rehabihtation aid furnished by the American occupation government. By the time war broke out in 1941, Japanese society already had a tradition of efficiency in the mode of an industrialized nation so that it was unnecessary after the war to generate attitudes of modernization on the part of educators.