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Is America really ensuring the “American Dream?”

Kiara Guyton, Writer

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I was only six years old when my family and I moved to Houston, Texas from Tokyo. I remember being scared, but I knew that I had no choice because my dad got a job offer. Not only that but they also believed that I would have a more successful future in the states. Currently, I am a junior writing for my high school online newspaper, asking myself, “Am I really getting the full access towards success in the states?” America claims to ensure the “American Dream,” which is the ideal that every US citizen should have an equal opportunity to achieve success and prosperity through hard work, but it is proven that the school system in other countries, such as Japan, is much better.

High schools in Japan require passing an entrance exam to attend. These schools also normally require the students to take a short commute by train. Because they are encouraged to ride the train along with other classmates, Japanese kids are forced to learn what it feels like to really be on your own, with no car or no parents by your side.

Aside from that, in American schools, cafeteria workers are the ones preparing the school lunches and then serving the students. Japan emphasizes the need to look after yourself without relying on others so the cooks cook the lunch, but the students take turns serving lunch to their classmates. There are also no janitors in Japanese schools to clean up after the kids. After school, the students stay behind to clean up every single day. Meanwhile in America, it’s normal for kids to leave their trash on tables after lunch, and they are praised if they actually throw it away.

In Japan, summer vacation is also about five weeks long, while it’s about twice as long in America. During summer vacations, the kids in Japan still have to go to school for their club or team practice and maintain homework like they normally do during the school year.

How classrooms are controlled also differ greatly. I remember my friend from Japan was surprised to hear from me that it is normal to raise your hand while the teacher is still giving instructions. In Japan, it is expected for all students to remain quiet while the teacher teaches. If anyone were to have a question, they would have to stay after class to ask.

There are many other differences such as the way tests are graded and the fact that every student is expected to stand and greet their teacher at the beginning and end of each class. While in America, grading is beginning to become inflated and teachers are disrespected on the norm. It is honestly sad how as the years go by, I see myself learning less in the classrooms. The overall goal is getting good grades and having a higher rank than the person in front of you.

There is no question on why Japanese employees of large companies and government ministries rank among the best-educated workers on earth. As young adults, they are prepped to become successful, polite beings. There is no doubt that education and school life that my friends are getting in Japan is superior to what I currently have as a high school junior in America. Do I agree with my parents’ decision while I was six years old?

Sadly not.

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Is America really ensuring the “American Dream?”