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子供の教育は学校任せにすべきじゃない。
We should not leave the education of children to schools. (given translation)

I'm baffled by the structure of this sentence. I would have written:

子供の教育は学校に任せるべきじゃない。

The lack of anything between 学校 and 任せ seems rather disturbing, and I've not come across this verb stem + にする construct before either. What on earth is going on here?

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Well, the 連用形 of most verbs can be used as nouns (called 'deverbal nouns') and/or noun elements in compound nouns.

  • Examples of deverbal nouns:「話(し)」「考え」「思い」「歩き」「泳ぎ」 (The list goes on and on.)

  • Examples of noun elements in compounds:「思い出話」「素人考え」「親思い」「一人歩き」「背泳ぎ」(The list goes on and on.)

「任せ」 is not quite like the examples above, in that it is not normally used as a stand-alone noun (though there is「お任せ」) , but it is quite productive as a noun element in compounds, such as 「運任せ」「力任せ」「他人任せ」 and even something like 「田中さん任せ」.

So 「学校任せ」 is just a compound noun phrase, nothing disturbing.

Now you may be able to see that 「学校任せにする」 is an instance of the pattern 「NP + にする」, meaning "(to) turn something into NP" or "(to) put something into a state of NP". (I guess the literal translation of 「子供の教育を学校任せにする」 would be something like "(to) put the education of children into a state of leave-it-to-schools.)

It should also be noted that there is a slight different in meaning between 「NP任せにする」 and 「NPに任せる」. The former often implies leaving most (or all) of a given responsibility to NP when you should take more (or at least some) part of it, whereas the latter carries no such implication. Thus:

「子供の教育は学校任せにすべきじゃない」 sounds closer to "We should not leave the education of children all to schools. (Parents should be responsible too.) "

while

「子供の教育は学校に任せるべきじゃない」 sounds closer to "We should not leave the education of children to schools (because schools are not to be trusted with such a responsibility)."

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Grammatically, 学校任せ here should be understood as a noun/な-adjective. It has the same construction as 人任せ, which is listed in dictionaries as a noun/な-adjective.

子供の教育は学校任せにすべきじゃない。

has a slightly different nuance from

子供の教育は学校に任せるべきじゃない。

as 学校任せ, like 人任せ, has connotations of rather complete dependence.

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  • Oh I'm very sorry. 人任せな人 is perfectly fine. (Deleting my previous comment)
    – naruto
    May 2 at 4:28

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