Jan 23, 2012

ARTICLE: Japanese Schools

School Life in Japan: School Day, School Year, Lunches, Pinworm Checks, Swimming, Cell Phones, Class Size and Rules
Facts & Details

After reading that article on Chicago's school day, I went looking for information on Japan. A couple of things caught my eye.

"The Japanese school year extends for 210 or so days—compared to 180 in the United States, 251 in China, 220 in South Korea, and 214 in Israel. The Japanese academic year extends from mid-April to the end of March and is divided into three terms: 1) April to July, 2) September to December, and 3) January to March. There is a six week vacation in the summer, two weeks in winter and two weeks in spring."  

I would try this. I would. In a short time, two or three years, I think we'd see a big difference. In retention. In achievement. 

"Souji ('honorable cleaning') is a period of about 15 minutes each day when all activities come to a stop, mops and buckets appears and everyone pitches in cleaning up."  

Now, that's what I'm talking about. Work ethic. Respect. Pride. 

"Often the teachers and principals get on their hands and knees and join students."  

Wait, what?

"Japanese schools don't have any janitors because the students and staff do all the cleaning. Students in elementary school, middle school, and high school sweep the hall floors after lunch and before they go home at the end of the day. They also clean the windows, scrub the toilets and empty the trash cans under the supervision of student leaders. During lunchtime, sometimes donning hairnets, students help serve the meals and clear away dishes."  

Think about our recycle team. They get into that--it's a source of pride; plus, it's beneficial to our school and community. 

"Typical Japanese school lunch meals include beef with potatoes and vegetables; cold noodles with mixed nuts and melon; curry and rice with salad and pickles; fried squid with fried potatoes and soup; and eel sushi with soup and fruit in jelly. A typical school lunch is comprised of miso soup, spinach and Chinese cabbage in almond paste, natto (“fermented soy beans”), rice and milk and has 621 calories and cost $1.68."  

I would buy lunch in the cafeteria. That sounds delicious. Well, I question the eel sushi, but the rest of it sounds like a good meal.

"Pinworms are tiny parasites that cause..."  

I'll just let you finish reading that on the site.

"The number of students in each classroom is generally larger than in the United States. The teacher to student ratio is listed at 21 to 1 for Japan but a typical primary school class has around 31 to 35 students..."

When I started teaching, my first classroom was a temporary with 31 students. Yep. It's brutal. If we hit 24, we complain, and talk about a loss of learning. The Japanese seem to accept it and teach.

The article has more to say, and it's fair, mentioning the stress and long hours.

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