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Not allowing DS to study Japanese at school


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#1 Scarlett O

Posted 27 February 2013 - 10:12 AM

Hi. DS is in year 1, and one of the year 5 mums mentioned recently that the year 5s and 6s are studying Japanese at the moment. DH is Korean, and has an intense dislike of Japan/all things Japanese - due to the very bad history between the two countries. I asked him what he would think/do if DS had to study Japanese at school, and he of course freaked out, and said he wouldn't allow it. The other reason is that DS will already be studying Korean at home/at weekend school, and we don't think it's necessary for him to study another language.

I'm just wondering if it's possible to opt out of a subject like that? I think I've heard of people doing it with religious studies, but I'm not sure if you can for other subjects. I believe the kids not doing religious studies stay in the library and read books/do homework or something?

This is not an immediate issue for us, but I'm just curious if anyone else has been in a position where they've not wanted their child to study a particular subject and have been able to opt out of it. I forgot to ask the mum if there was more than one language that could be studied - will ask her next time I see her.

I don't necessarily agree with DH that DS shouldn't be able to study Japanese, but I do understand how he feels and would support him if he objected. I'm not sure, but I think one of his distant relatives was murdered by the occupying forces when Japan occupied Korea 1910-1945. DH has only mentioned that in passing, he has never talked about it much.

ETA: Please don't come in here screaming "racist" at me. While it may appear somewhat racist on the surface, there is a lot more to it than that - like historical fact and cultural/family sensitivities on DH's side.

Edited by Mamma_mia, 27 February 2013 - 10:13 AM.


#2 Chocolate Addict

Posted 27 February 2013 - 10:16 AM

I have no idea but you might find by the time your child gets up to that level they have changed the language of choice.

At the school my son goes to it used to be Auslan I think but it is not Indonesian they learn. I am not sure why they changed it. It might even change again in a few years for all I know. lol

#3 PrincessPeach

Posted 27 February 2013 - 10:20 AM

Given he is speaking another language, it certainly wouldn't hurt to ask the school.

Although most usually offer 2 choices of language, so that may get around the problem completely for you guys.

#4 Guest_AllegraM_*

Posted 27 February 2013 - 10:22 AM

That is a tricky one OP. i am acutely aware of the bad feelings that can arise between Koreans and Japanese (mainly on the Korean side as the Japanese education system has whitewashed Japan's terrible actions as the occupiers of Korea and the Japanese can be quite oblivious to Korea's hurts).

However, I think your partner needs to be the bigger person. If he insists your son does not take Japanese due to historical atrocities (and I am aware Japan is yet to fully acknowledge them too) it simply perpetuates this kind of bad racial feeling for another generation. It is not necessary in Australia.

Good luck with it. I understand it is a tough one.

#5 HRH Countrymel

Posted 27 February 2013 - 10:23 AM

Like PP said don't start stressing about it now - by the time DS is in year 5 they may have changed the language (Languages taught depend on language teachers available).  You could even start being pro-active and and think about rustling up a Korean teacher who would be ready to 'jump in'!

I can understand your husband's feelings, at least you have 4 years to work out a polite way to tackle this with the school!

#6 tibs

Posted 27 February 2013 - 10:24 AM

I'd worry about it when you get there - they may have changed the language to mandarin etc by the time your son is in year 5 or scrapped it altogether.  But if not I'd still let him do it - knowing Korean already would be a huge advantage for him in the class as the languages are so similar (shared characters, the way the sounds are put together etc) - he'll ace it.  I know where your DH is coming from though as my grandmother feels the same way as her brothers were killed by the Japanese in the war sad.gif

#7 JKTMum

Posted 27 February 2013 - 10:26 AM

If he feels that strongly about it, then I would suggest you start looking for another school for your son. LOTE (Language Other Than English) is part of the curriculum, unlike religious studies which is generally an optional extra at state schools. If that is the language that the school your son goes to chooses to teach, then there is not much you can do about it and I really doubt he would be allowed to just not attend those lessons.

Start hunting around for another school that either offers a choice of language (maybe between two languages) or one that does not teach Japanese and is unlikely to change to Japanese in the foreseeable future.

My kids attend Catholic schools, they are taught Japanese, but a couple of other schools in the local area teach German, French, Indonesian and Auslan.

#8 TeaTimeTreat

Posted 27 February 2013 - 10:34 AM

I understand OP, I do not want DS learning Japanese for reasons relating to the way some of my older relatives were treated, also because I think Mandarin or one of the European languages would be more usefull, it is something we are taking into account for middle/high school.

Perhaps when the Japanese government stops editing their school books to whitewash their treatment of the Koreans, Chinese, Comfort Women and POW I might be able to get past it but as it stands now he will not be learning Japanese.

#9 tibs

Posted 27 February 2013 - 10:43 AM

QUOTE (JKTMum @ 27/02/2013, 11:26 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
If he feels that strongly about it, then I would suggest you start looking for another school for your son. LOTE (Language Other Than English) is part of the curriculum, unlike religious studies which is generally an optional extra at state schools. If that is the language that the school your son goes to chooses to teach, then there is not much you can do about it and I really doubt he would be allowed to just not attend those lessons.


How can LOTE be part of the curriculum when so many schools don't offer them at all?

#10 qak

Posted 27 February 2013 - 10:50 AM

QUOTE (tibs @ 27/02/2013, 11:43 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
How can LOTE be part of the curriculum when so many schools don't offer them at all?


I was just wondering that too - I don't think our Catholic (primary) school offers any languages at all.
I would have thought Japanese was no longer fashionable - maybe the OP can lobby for another language?

#11 DEVOCEAN

Posted 27 February 2013 - 10:50 AM

Should people be able to opt out because their grandfather or grandfathers were injured or killed by the Japanese, or kept as POW's?
No. DD has started Japanese this year at school and is learning faster and better than the teacher thought she would. She is learning words/sentences that they haven't started yet.
Should I stop her learning something that she is obviously good at?


#12 The Cat

Posted 27 February 2013 - 11:02 AM

I think maybe your child should especially attend these classes.  It would demonstrate the culture of the Japanese people and they way they live.... like any other human being in this whole wide world.

It could also be the perfect platform in which to teach your child the difference between the government and their people.  

I am all for remembering and learning from past mistakes. But to stamp racism out in the butt before it has a chance to fester and perpetuate, learn to hate the government and their atrocities. NOT their people.  (Stated from a person growing up in a dutch resistance family who loathed Germans so much so I made the distinction myself as a child not wanting to be told I had to hate certain friends because of their families. ETA, and who also did German at school just like all of my peers).

Edited by The Cat, 27 February 2013 - 11:04 AM.


#13 wilding

Posted 27 February 2013 - 11:02 AM

It doesn't hurt to ask.

My son's school does Japanese, but he doesn't do it, he hasn't done it since grade 6 (last year). It was the schools decision as they felt it was better he focus on other stuff instead. We had to sign a consent form stating that was alright. He uses that time with his SEP teacher instead, usually baking but he's starting a subject called Mindcraft through distance education to help his maths and stuff.

#14 HerringToMarmalade

Posted 27 February 2013 - 11:09 AM

QUOTE (AllegraM @ 27/02/2013, 11:22 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
That is a tricky one OP. i am acutely aware of the bad feelings that can arise between Koreans and Japanese (mainly on the Korean side as the Japanese education system has whitewashed Japan's terrible actions as the occupiers of Korea and the Japanese can be quite oblivious to Korea's hurts).

However, I think your partner needs to be the bigger person. If he insists your son does not take Japanese due to historical atrocities (and I am aware Japan is yet to fully acknowledge them too) it simply perpetuates this kind of bad racial feeling for another generation. It is not necessary in Australia.

Good luck with it. I understand it is a tough one.


QUOTE (fairyflossfart @ 27/02/2013, 11:50 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Should people be able to opt out because their grandfather or grandfathers were injured or killed by the Japanese, or kept as POW's?
No. DD has started Japanese this year at school and is learning faster and better than the teacher thought she would. She is learning words/sentences that they haven't started yet.
Should I stop her learning something that she is obviously good at?


I agree with this. Would PPs not allow their children to study German? Many, many countries have partaken in their share of war time atrocities. Every member of my family who fought in war came up against the Japanese, I have one surviving grandparent, a war widow, and my dad, who is very into history and knows a great deal about out direct family involvement in the war, loves to make cracks against the Japanese at every opportunity. But my best friend at school was Japanese and so I took Japanese when it was offered at school and no one in my family ever said anything against it.

I would ensure he was well educated about your family history, as everyone should be, but I think pulling him out of the class may be too much, especially since he's likely to be the only child not doing it. If there was a choice of languages I'd maybe push him to a different one, or as a PP suggested you could try to find out if the language taught at the school may change and whether you could influence their choice, but otherwise I'd just leave it.

Edited by HerringToMarmalade, 27 February 2013 - 11:15 AM.


#15 EssentialBludger

Posted 27 February 2013 - 11:18 AM

Public or private school?

At DDs Anglican school all the kids HAVE to take Italian years 1-6. They can then elect whether or not to carry on with it years 7-12.

If we "opted out" of it, I'm pretty sure they would tell us to find a new school.

#16 Mumsyto2

Posted 27 February 2013 - 11:22 AM

I just can't help but feel that rolling hatred over into a new generation is not a good thing.

Many families in Australia would have been affected by the acts of the Japanese in war however (thankfully) most do not seem to have pushed the hatred down through the generations - most likely there would have been a strong simmering in the first generation down but from then on I think it's gone pretty well.

Yes, it sucks big time re the things the Japanese government will not acknowledge, accept and the incorrect information they spew forth however I would not hold Japanese individuals accountable for this and so have respect for them (as individuals) and their culture - the government not so much.

If it was me I would just go with the Japanese, I don't think it ever hurts kids to learn additional languages irrespective of how many they already know.

#17 somila

Posted 27 February 2013 - 11:29 AM

Hmm - it's sensitive isn't it?  Our LOTE in primary school (compulsory) was Mandarin, but this year (FYOHS) DS#1 is studying German.  On my husband's side we have relatives who
a) fought for Germany in both World Wars
b) were interned in Australian camps for the duration of the war, dividing families and causing long-term damage to relationships
c) were persecuted horribly at Australian schools during WW2 and therefore left at an early age

On my side we have relatives who
a) fought and died for Australia in both World Wars
b) were gassed in the trenches by German forces causing lifelong disability, loss of income and damage to relationships

There is time to work this through - sounds like its very raw for your husband.  I hope you can find a solution for your family.

#18 Scarlett O

Posted 27 February 2013 - 11:36 AM

Hi. Thanks for your replies. It's a Catholic school. DS is studying Italian there at the moment. I agree that this shouldn't be carried over into future generations. I think when Korea was occupied school kids were forced to study Japanese, so i guess it reminds him of that. There is a Japanese family at DS' school. He doesn't object to DS and I mixing with them, but he gives them a wide berth. (He doesn't spend much time at the school anyway and doesn't know many of the parents).

#19 Feral_Pooks

Posted 27 February 2013 - 11:39 AM

I reckon you could either take the opportunity for personal growth, or change schools.

I understand the feeling your DH has. My family felt that way about Germany because of the occupation in WW2. There is a lot of distrust. And I understand that it's "more" than just racism.

However, I believe that you mustn't let the evil "win" and harden our hearts forever. When your son is in year 5 and 6 your husband should tell him about the history and the hurt. And tell him how glad he is that the world has changed and that there is no reason to hold on to hatred, but you can still remember the horrible things that have happened and feel sad about them.

#20 Swarley

Posted 27 February 2013 - 11:40 AM

I wouldn't worry about it yet either.... but I strongly agree with this:
QUOTE
However, I think your partner needs to be the bigger person. If he insists your son does not take Japanese due to historical atrocities (and I am aware Japan is yet to fully acknowledge them too) it simply perpetuates this kind of bad racial feeling for another generation.


#21 Lagom

Posted 27 February 2013 - 11:41 AM

As someone who has spent a lot of time in Korea and speaks fluent Korean I can totally understand your DH's point of view.

However, Japanese is a language that many young Koreans are learning now. Many (not all!) of the younger generation have put aside the long history of aggression between the two countries.  The older generation (understandably) have a very different view of things.  Very tricky, OP.

Given that your DS lives in Australia, I would be trying to get your DH to understand and put the past in the past.  Easier said than done, though, right?

If all else fails, you could look in to distance education during that study period or perhaps you would need to change schools?  

(To PPs who said they had relatives killed/harmed by the Japanese in WWII: Japan and Korea have a very long history of war, invasion and atrocities.  The occupation from 1910-1945 was a particularly awful part of history; comfort women, massacres, occupation, forced labour,  medical experiments, land confiscation, even the Korean language was banned so it is quite a different scenario and the feelings are well and truly ingrained into the Korean psyche.)

#22 QueenElsa

Posted 27 February 2013 - 11:52 AM

OP, my friend takes her DD out of Japanese class at school and she is taught French with a private tutor. A few friends join her, they pay for it and school provides a small room.  I intend to do that too.  This is at a Qld state school, FWIW.

#23 Mumsyto2

Posted 27 February 2013 - 11:57 AM

QUOTE (amabanana @ 27/02/2013, 12:41 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
(To PPs who said they had relatives killed/harmed by the Japanese in WWII: Japan and Korea have a very long history of war, invasion and atrocities.  The occupation from 1910-1945 was a particularly awful part of history; comfort women, massacres, occupation, forced labour,  medical experiments, land confiscation, even the Korean language was banned so it is quite a different scenario and the feelings are well and truly ingrained into the Korean psyche.)

Well, given this, I guess it's best just to let the hatred go on forever then.  I think acknowledging and moving forward versus blind hatred with no end and no way forward are the options then. Whilst some seem to think the latter is justified given the situation I would wish the former for my kids.

QUOTE (Mamma_mia @ 27/02/2013, 12:36 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
There is a Japanese family at DS' school. He doesn't object to DS and I mixing with them, but he gives them a wide berth.

They are individuals who no doubt are as much victims in the Japanese govnts actions and output of misinformation as other people have been victims in very different ways. I think the situation you describe is tragically sad for your DS in regards to the message it sends.

#24 QueenElsa

Posted 27 February 2013 - 12:02 PM

I learnt Japanese at school. I would rather my DDs learnt French or a European language as that is where our families are living. Mandarin would be fine too.

#25 seayork2002

Posted 27 February 2013 - 12:10 PM

What about if he gets a job working where there are a large number o Japanese people, I am serious about this, although I am sure there is a way to 'get out' of anything but is it the right decision?




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