Manga Artist Criticizes "Manga Textbook"


topIn March 2007, several publishers were allowed to include manga in school textbooks. The move was intended to help students who are doing bad in school to learn while having fun. However, the idea of including manga in school was met with severe criticisms.

Mimei Sakamoto, a manga artist for over 20 years and writes essays and manga for several Japanese magazine, recently expressed her opinion on manga textbooks:

Several textbook publishers allowed textbooks to carry manga in order to make the textbooks "more interesting and easier to understand."

Being a mangaka, I'm pleased to see manga being recognized as an tool to educate young people. However, it makes one wonder if the manga textbook really will help students improve their skills? I have to say that the publisher's idea is frustrating: "Even bad students can read manga." It sounds as if manga is a thing for idiots.

I heard that some high school students can't get use multiplication table or write the alphabets. Such students are the result of the government's "relaxed education policy," and now the government intends to educate students with manga. Even if a class is taught using manga textbooks, how can a student who can't master the multiplication table be able to understand trigonometry? It's an impractical idea. For a student to master trigonometry, they need to first master the basics, such as multiplication, quadratic equations, and more. The students who can't understand the multiplication table should not be allowed to enter high school, they should remain in elementary school until they understand it.

A textbook is a tool to help students improve, but the students must also be at the level of the textbooks. Why must textbooks be dumbed down to suit the students? Can it still be called a "textbook"? (Mimei Sakamoto, Mangaka)

Source: Sankei Web
Translation by T. Ohara

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I agree

The knee-jerk response of some against textbooks that incorporate manga is frustrating, but Sakamoto's comments are on the mark. Textbook publishers are trying to use manga as a Band-Aid, but the Japanese education system is undergoing major organ failure.

Matt Thorn
School of Manga Production
Kyoto Seika University

i never knew

I never knew that the Japanese school system was in that bad of shape. I've always thought that the school system in japan was above most other countries, with the extra hours and the competitive schools. I would actually say that the occasional little insert, more out of entertainment than knowledge, would allow problem students to be refreshed. In American texts there are occasional comics, ones that are only funny if you understand the (math) behind it, and are successful in drawing the student in a bit more. now by no means do i mean to say the entire textbook should be filled with manga, but a bit of comic relief in life every now and then is nice. Interpret this however you like.