Monday, September 5, 2011

Education in Japan

I have always felt privileged to have known two systems of Education intimately; the UK and the US. While it's easy to compare using valued judgments it's far more useful to compare in terms of similarities and differences, how the systems are functions of the respective cultures and what each can learn from the other.

With this in mind I want my students to develop at least some knowledge and understanding of other Education systems so that they might better understand their own. Study Abroad is clearly the best way of doing this but getting to know students from other countries also helps.

So, last Friday, the students in my Schools and Society class got together with Pat Hoffman's class of students from the Tokyo Women's Christian University in Japan. For about an hour they talked about their respective cultures and systems of Education. We explored details such as how old are students when they first start school, how do they get to school, are students with special needs integrated into regular classrooms and what a typical school building looks like and a school day consists of.

We did this all in English, of course, since none of the St. Mike's students could speak Japanese. The students from TWCU taught us a Japanese phrase and how to write in Japanese script.

It was a wonderful experience for everyone as we all now know a little more about each other's culture and way of life. Later in the semester we'll be getting together with International students from a variety countries to help broaden our global understanding of how Education and the world in general work.

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