Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Japanese students are taught the answer; they need to be taught to figure it out

In today's world kids have more information thrown at them in twenty-four hours than their great grandparents received in a life time. The vast quantity of data means a change in learning has to come. But the debate in Japan goes round in circles about exactly how to revise the education system. The vested interests are formidable and entrenched and it's a discussion that has been around for at least a quarter century. When you're taught at school not to take risks, you're unlikely to develop the character to risk revising those very same institutions. Better keep your head down and tie straight.

In a world where kids on the school bus network their GameBoys together to play virtual soccer, you realise it's the one with the book who is missing the social opportunity. At a lunch in Tokyo once, some friends brought their eight year old daughters. Their mother lamented she couldn't persuade them to put the games down as the girls just sat there in silence, glued to their separate screens. Then my son showed them how to network together and the shouts of joy pretty much drowned out the party as they raced against each other on their virtual tracks.

The world is changing so fast in our eyes but for the student at international schools it's natural. Computer games aren't the antisocial evil they were when I was young, it's how the students interact with friends across town and often across the planet. When their eyes are glued to the screen, they're talking and engaging with those very same friends. And in this world you see how Japanese schools  still teach the kids how to line up their pencil cases in the top corner of their desks. So instead, how about letting them figure it out for themselves? Little steps, one at a time. It's a different world.

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