Iron Chef Baby Bird (lyrisb) wrote in your_potatoes,
Iron Chef Baby Bird

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Japanese Schools

Ok. We read the coolest book in Socialization of the child. It's heck of a text book, so it's not like I can suggest you all go to your local library (I don't think you'll find it), but I have to talk about it anyway. It's called Educating Hearts and Minds and it's about the Japanese preschool and elementary school systems. If any of you know about Japanese schools, it's way different at the beginning (which I find odd) than it is in highschool etc. Basically, teachers let the kids run the class (even as young as 5 years old) and let them play most of the day early on. They do not inforce any rules (the peers are supposed to do that) and try to focus on a "friendship" goal as opposed to the american goal of "learning". Parents have little to no involvement in what actually goes on at school but they are expected to follow whatever their child's teacher/pricipal says. For example, one school made an announcement to all the teachers that they should not put things in their kids' lunches that not all of the parents could afford. They were not to give their children watermelon in particular until it was really in season and reached a reasonable price. On a side note, produce in Japan is crazy expensive. My friend Katie is part Japanese and so goes back there etc. She says that a cantaloup costs $20 and watermelon is more expensive than that. So their ideas of affordable are... interesting to say the least. Also, parents are expected to decorate their child's lunchbox and the author, who lived in Japan for a while to do this research commented that one of her friends got a call from her child's teacher that basically said she was very disappointed because the woman had used sticky paper to cover the box, rather than actual fabric and glue like the other teachers and that it was a sign to the child that she didn't care.
The children are organized into groups of about 4 or 5 children and expected to work in these groups at least 2 months, but up to 2 years at the younger ages. They break off into groups in order to discuss not only problems that the teacher has posed (such as "how can we know which glass - the short stout one or the tall thin one has more water"), but also to reflect on the day and how the group is accompishing it's personal goals and working together. I think this system is fucking rad, personally. There's no tracking either, which I can't decide about. My instincts say that that would be good for the dumb kids but detrimental to the smart kids, but my prof Jennifer says she's not convinced (evidence doesn't show it). So who knows.
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