Our Global Friends

We have global links in Canada, Uganda, Japan and France!

 

Japan

We have a Japanese club run by Mrs Miyoshi-Hankinson. In the club and in our lessons children have learnt some Japanese, learnt about Japanese culture and Art. Mrs Hoarle was invited to take part in a Head Teacher's tour of Japan. After this visit we have planned to include the project in our Mantle of the Expert curriculum and we have also set up a link with a school in Japan. Here are some of the photos from Mrs Hoarle's visit to Tokyo and Kyoto.

All of the children in school were really interested in finding out about Japanese schools. Here are their questions and the answers that Mrs Hoarle found when she visited the schools in Tokyo and Kyoto.

   
 

What lessons are on the school timetable?

Subjects on the timetable include Japanese, Maths, Science, Art and crafts, P.E., Home economics, Japanese arts of Shodo (calligraphy), Music and English.  Shodo involves dipping a brush in ink and using it to write Kanji.

I observed and took part in English lessons where the children learnt chants and learnt through role play. The role play was similar to Mantle of the Expert. The lessons were really fun and the children learnt American English.  When they got the question correct the teacher said "Good Job!".

I also watched the children playing Taiko drums - they were really impressive and I would love to hire some drummers to teach our children. Surprisingly I did not observe any IT in classes and the children used official text books in Maths.

     
 

What was the school uniform like?

One of the biggest differences was that the schools I visited did not have a uniform but I did see other children in uniforms. The also did not wear outdoor shoes in school. When the children came into school they changed into school slippers and when they went to the bathroom they changed into bathroom slippers. Wearing slippers indoors is part of the Japanese culture.
     
 

Do the children have responsibilities?

Yes and this was the most striking aspect as the children worked so brilliantly in teams for the good of their class. The children worked so efficiently and effectively wasting no time completing tasks for the good of the group.The schools I saw did not have cleaners and lunchtime supervisors. In Japanese elementary schools classes are divided into small teams for many activities. For example, as part of their education, every day the children clean the classrooms, halls and playground in these teams. The children eat  lunch together in their classrooms enjoying meals prepared at the school. Small teams of children take turns to serve lunch to their classmates. In the school I visited the children were really keen to have seconds and this was decided by a lightning game of rock, paper, scissors. I am not surprised as the food was delicious!  The teachers ate lunch with the children too.
     
 

What time do the children start and finish school?

In the schools where I visited the day started at 8.30am and finished at 3.30pm. However the vast majority of children then went on to tuition classes which lasted for another 2 hours. The principal of the school said that they do have clubs but these were limited because parents wanted the children to attend tuition classes.

     
 

How long are the holidays?

The teachers told me that the school have shorter holidays than in the UK although this varies. One teacher said that the children in her school have 6 weeks holiday altogether in a year. Some private schools have longer holidays.

     
  Do Japanese children have homework?

Yes Japanese children generally have homework on most days although this varies from school to school. Children learn over a 1000 kanji in elementary school. 

     
 

Do they have assemblies?

Yes the children had school assemblies so that they could have performance, rewards and announcements. However the main religion is Buddhism and Shinto so the assemblies would be very different to our school.

     
  Do the children have a playground?

Both schools I saw were more urban than ours but they both had a playground with climbing frames. The children had playtimes like in our school.

     
 

How big are the classes?

In both of the schools the classes were quite large between 35 - 40 children in each. The classes had a teacher and an assistant. The schools also had a language assistant who were American or English students.

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