The organization of middle schools and the practices of middle school teachers in Japan and the United States differ dramatically, Gerald K. LeTendre demonstrates in this compelling comparative study. Based on his long-term observations in Japanese and American schools and on analyses of curricula and classroom practices, the author describes what teachers, administrators, and counselors in each country believe about adolescent development. He explores how these beliefs are put into practice and how they affect adolescent development.
In both nations, LeTendre observes, school personnel are extremely concerned with volition: the developing willpower of young adolescents. But while both Americans and Japanese believe that nurturing a young person’s ability to use his or her will is crucial, they take very different approaches to dealing with expressions of will. LeTendre also finds conflicting expectations and theories about adolescent development within each system, and he investigates how these can lead to confusion and contradictory rules.