There are always things to learn

I used to teach in the Japanese Public School system. After about 7 or so years of it, I don't want my son to go through it. Too rigid, too focused on content, not enough differentiation, etc. I could go on. I am happy that he will experience international schools, be surrounded by other kids like him from diverse backgrounds, be exposed to a diversity of ways of being, etc.


There are great things about Japanese schools that I miss dearly. Things that we can use and adopt and modify. I don't know which of these are cultural (I live in both cultures, so it is hard to separate the two) and which would not work and which would. 

Still..... we could try these... (couldn't we?)

a) Recess Time - There are no teachers on duty. Kids are encouraged to solve their own problems without the help of adults. Play without people telling them what is dangerous or inappropriate. At the end of recess, music plays over the loud speaker and kids run inside by themselves and get themselves ready for the next lesson. No lining up. No centralized control. Kids taking responsibility for themselves and their own actions.

b) Cleaning Time - everyday the kids clean the school. They sweep the floors, clean the toilets, wash the blackboards. They know the schedule, they know what they have to do. They just do it. They take pride in their school and ownership of the facilities.

c) Teachers Room - the teachers have a desk in their classroom, but they plan and spend their prep time in the teachers room. They collaborate. They ask each other questions. They drink tea and just chat. It is a wonderful atmosphere. They are not married to the classroom. The classroom belongs to the kids. The specialist teachers go to the kids, not the other way around. The principal and assistant principal and coordinator all have desk there are well. Everyone shares the space. And, the kids have full access to it. They can enter whenever they want to (they must follow the rules of politeness, and say shitsureshimasu, which means excuse my interruption, and make a bow when they walk in), ask teachers anything, and have full access to any room in the school.

Does your school do anything like this? Is it worthwhile? How much of it is cultural? How did you transition to this approach? Is some of this cultural and just would not work in a school with a western mindset?

Just curious.


  1. I think "shitsurehimasu" is my new favourite word but then again it could just me my inner 10 year old speaking (she sees it as shit-sure-him-a-su).


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