The Western pre-school educational paradigm focuses on preparing the young children for school. However, the Japanese way is different. Why is it better in my opinion?
I was watching a NHK program on the Japanese pre-school education and how it is much more holistic from many Western educational programs we know, including those we have here.
Over here (and in the West), the competitive spirit is switched on from the moment the baby is born (or even before). Parents are anxious to force-feed as much content into their young children, hoping to provide a head-start for their children compared to other kids. The relentless flooding of young children with enrichment programs, home school, and even extra-curricular learning into areas such as music and dance, are all aimed at hoping these young children can out-compete other children.
At the same time, parents hooked on the Western paradigm are often individualistic, and such values pass on to their children. The notion that one has to win at all costs, even if at the expense of others, is not scorned at.
However, in the Japanese scenario as shown in the NHK program, young pre-school children are educated with a concern for social interaction, community cohesiveness, communication skills to relate to one another, and even environmental awareness. The Japanese society places great value on social cohesion and consensus, which are ancient Asian values well-preserved.
In the NHK program, there was an educational program vendor which developed pre-school educational programs. For each program, the developers took up to a year to develop to market. Each of the toys are well-made, and served educational purposes to help young children understand social and community issues, and even environmental skills like saving water. The programs are kept fresh and interesting for the kids, with the programs delivered to the parents every month. Most of the studio hosts were amazed at the level of perfection the vendor took to create the curriculum and deliverables.
Kids will always learn, and will eventually learn academic content when they reach appropriate school levels. There is no good reason to force-feed academic content into kids who are not even at the appropriate school level yet. For example, why force a junior school kid to learn high school content? They will learn when they need to at high school. And if a kid has no interest in painting or in music, why force the kid to learn? Why not allow the kid to explore, discover and then develop what the kid truly loves to do? There will never be a genius from forced curriculum. You will just get kids who know how to regurgitate content on demand, during examinations and tests - nothing more.
There is no fruition in forcing a plant to grow. They will wilt and die. Give kids time and space to grow, and they will blossom.