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Japanese society may greatly value education, but it’s not like every kid in the country is born with an innate attraction to long division or vocabulary lists. Given the choice, even Japanese kids would much rather be playing video games or watching cartoons than doing homework, and given how active the country is in producing content for those two entertainment sectors, steering your children away from such tempting distractions and back towards their studies can be a tough challenge.

So what do you do when your kid declares he’s sick of school, and asks “Why do I have to study?” One Japanese education expert has an answer that’s half kind, half harsh, and entirely wise.

V-net Education Consultants specializes in educational consulting and tutoring services, but as anyone who’s worked in education knows, trying to teach an unwilling student is like trying to make a horse drink blood you squeezed from a stone. So when a child is either precocious or obstinate enough to start questioning why he has to study in the first place, the situation has to be handled very carefully if you don’t want to completely derail his educational development.

That’s something V-net’s president Nobufumi Matsunaga is very aware of, so if and when a child asks “Why do I have to study?”, Matsunaga recommends a two-pronged answer.

First, let’s start with the positive part of Matsunaga’s plan.

“The best response will depend on the child’s nature and development…but in general, you can explain that by studying, you can improve yourself, get a job you like, and earn money in the future. You study in order to earn freedom.”

Notice that Matsunaga never says that studying will make you rich, or your life easy. He merely points out that, compared to not studying, choosing to study is going to provide your child with more options later in life, which is a conclusion that’s hard to argue with.

However, his answer is only half done, and the second part is even less rose-tinted.

“Also, the world is overflowing with lies and deception. Because of that, you’ll want to grow up to be someone who won’t get tricked. You can learn to detect lies through study, and if you don’t develop those logical thinking facilities you’ll have a lot of regrettable experiences later in life.”

In other words, Matsunaga recommends not just focusing on the benefits of intelligence, but also highlighting the drawbacks of never becoming any smarter than you are now. “Children are very sensitive to the concept of gains and losses,” he insists, “so explaining things like this makes it easy for them to get a mental picture of the situation.”

Sure sounds a lot more convincing than just snapping “Because I said so!”

Source: Yahoo! Japan News/Web R25
Top image: Rakuten