The Japanese educational system has its strengths compared to the one in United States, concluded American high school teacher Allen Sylvester after a fellowship trip to Japan.
“I saw that Japan’s curriculum is very similar to ours in terms of encouraging critical thinking, student motivation and teacher accountability,” the teacher said.
Even if in the U.S. classrooms are “in some ways” more technologically advanced, Japan has other strong points. For example, he noticed, Japanese kids actually brush their teeth after eating lunch at school.
“The students eat a healthy diet of fish, vegetables and rice,” he said. “A student detail clears and cleans the trays and the students all march off to brush afterward. That was impressive.”
Sylvester stayed mostly in Tokyo, but visited also the northeast coast, hit by the tsunami last year, and was moved by what he saw there. “They had merged together an elementary and junior high school and made it work,” he said. “I was struck by how resilient the kids all seemed, just happy to be in school again. It was quite humbling.”
The American teacher was also impressed by how careful Japanese are with their energy consumption. “In my home stay, my hosts maintained a thermostat that registered how much energy they were using from their own solar panels and how much from the electricity provider’s grid,” he said.