Thursday, April 26, 2012

School Size in Japan

I teach at quite a few schools here in Japan. I have in total about 1100 students. Uenohara Elementary school is the largest school that I teach at with 600 students. Uenoharanishi has 500 students. Shimada is by far my smallest school with 60 students. Although each school has it’s own nuances, I will be focusing on only the aspects that are dependant on school size.

In Japan, the students clean the schools. They sweep, scrub, dust, they do everything. This has a few significant benefits. Students here learn respect for their environment at a very young age, they are the ones who will have to clean up whatever mess they make, so they are careful not to go over board. Each individual kid is a terrible cleaner, but some how the sheer number of students participating makes the whole process very effective. The schools do not hire janitors, there is no need. At Shimada, with so few students, there are less little hands to clean at the end of the day. This means Shimada is dirty. This school could really benefit from a professional. I have heard that once per trimester all the parents come in and help clean the school at Shimada. The community take on school maintenance is very new to me, I like it.

At a large group shy students can blend in and remain unnoticed, small schools they are forced to interact. It sounds like a form of tough love, but I think that It’s the best way. I was shy as a child, I got over it. I think having an environment where no part of the community can go unnoticed is the perfect environment for forcing out shyness. Shyness is actually a huge issue in Japan, I will write on it in a future post.

When it comes down to student performance, Shimada takes the cake. The students are advanced in nearly every topic. Their English skills are so far advanced from the other schools that I can’t even remotely use the lesson plans I have written for the other schools. The students truly benefit from the smaller class sizes.

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