Aiming for the nurturing of well-rounded (Zenjinteki) students
The age when the strength of traditions alone was enough to sustain us has long since passed. It has been said the 21st century will be a global and knowledge-based century. The development of information technologies has called for new values. Developments in politics, economics and culture now take place on an international and global scale. Domestically, trends including the birth of fewer and fewer children are changing the structure of society. The trust of people in traditional educational systems is being shaken as well. This has led the government to undertake drastic deregulation in the fields of elementary and lower secondary education, and to call for changes in education in Japan. Society has increasingly high expectations for private schools such as Tamagawa Academy (K-12) that impart a distinctive education, in line with the spirit of their founders. Some public schools have begun experimenting, by integrating the lower and upper years of secondary school under a single system, as well as offering elementary and lower secondary school education as part of an integrated system. Our school is being called upon to renew its commitment to the flourishing of its holistic "Zenjin" education, and to create a new educational culture that is appropriate to the times.
Expectations concerning an integrated K-12 educational system are quite high. The goal of Tamagawa is to "impart an advanced education that will nurture accomplished "Zenjinteki" (well-rounded) young people equipped to play a role in society." The question then arises, "Just what is society expecting of its schools?" We believe that the answer goes beyond schools that can coach their students to produce high test scores. Although high levels of academic achievement are a given, we further believe that our calling is to nurture well-rounded young people with open hearts harboring no prejudices. A holistic approach to shaping the human character, involving a balance among elements such as truth, goodness, beauty, holiness, soundness and wealth is necessary. Tamagawa will remain faithful to its traditions as it proceeds to implement an advanced educational program that meets the expectations of society.
Education attuned to smooth transition between year levels
Tamagawa Academy has long emphasized cooperation among its kindergarten, elementary, lower secondary and upper secondary divisions, and has worked to implement an integrated educational system that takes advantage of the fact that all of its divisions, from kindergarten to upper secondary, are located on the same campus. Because the traditional 6-3-3 system that has characterized Japanese education (consisting of six years of elementary school, three years of junior high school, and three years of senior high school) has prevented us from fully exploiting this advantage, we have been reviewing and studying changes to our curriculum and educational framework. We thus decided that from the 2006 school year, would replace the 6-3-3 system with a K-12 integrated educational program that makes the most of our traditions and our teaching environment. Under this K-12 integrated program, all of the school years starting with kindergarten and ending in the twelfth grade (corresponding to the third year of senior high school) are treated as levels within a single school. This allows us to implement a seamless educational program with solid continuities between grade levels.
In such a system, the concept of demand-based education-whereby the curriculum for each school year takes into account the academic demands of the school year that follows, and prepares students to meet such demands-assumes a critical role. Promoting students to the following grade level while their understanding of the material they are required to learn remains shaky will only cause underachievement problems to worsen in the following school year. Our educational philosophy-attuned to the demands of each grade level-calls for each student to be taught until he or she is performing according to the standards of his or her grade, before being promoted. Moreover, our education does not stop at the K-12 level, but is attuned to the demands of higher education and society as well. Our demand-based educational philosophy further encompasses missions such as acquiring the skills to take advantage of higher education, developing study habits, building character, and nurturing people groomed to meeting the demands of society.
Our reforms in reorienting our school to a K-12 system focus considerable energy on improving the academic achievement of our students. This means that a system for accommodating guidance counseling for students and their guardians must also exist, within the context of a balanced curriculum for the twelve years of study. We are further committed to education that is consistent with the philosophy of our school, which extends beyond the learning of academic subjects, and touches upon aspects of spiritual and character formation in the arts, religion, physical education, and traditional activities. Efficient continuing education in core fields of the 21st century: environment, international relations, and information technology-will likewise be implemented. Our new integrated curriculum encompasses education that develops students' individual talents, awakens their intellectual capacities, and prepares them for participation in a wide range of communities. The program will strive to provide an integrated education that infuses students with the values and learning habits that will help them realize their aspirations to the fullest.
Nurturing globally-capable people
Rapid globalization has caused major changes to educational environments. As well as carrying out the above reforms, Tamagawa Academy will actively promote education that conforms to global standards.
The main pillar of our commitment to such global standards is the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program that commenced from the 2007 school year. In this Class, instruction is offered via the English language from grades 7 to 12 so that students can obtain the International Baccalaureate (IB) certificate, a widely recognized qualification that grants its holders entrance to many universities around the world.
The educational philosophy of the International Baccalaureate Organization (a non-profit entity based in Switzerland) overlaps with that of Tamagawa in many areas. The Baccalaureate program employs a comprehensive curriculum that is well-balanced. It emphasizes not just academic skills, but also skills related to thinking, expression, ethics, the fostering of an ability to conduct research and display understanding and tolerance of differing cultures, as well as the cultivating of unprejudiced attitudes. Successful completion of an International Baccalaureate course opens up the possibility of gaining entrance to prestigious foreign universities.
K-12 International Programs is tasked with a broad range of activities for facilitating an IB program and other types of international education.
Its mandate includes the development of learning materials and programs for K-12 related to international education; promoting a seamless program of foreign language instruction in the integrated curriculum; planning and coordinating opportunities for students to study abroad; implementing third-party CIS evaluation; overseeing activities related to Round Square; and coordinating the training, both at home and abroad, of K-12 teachers for international education activities.