Education

Opening the Doors

September 25, 2002 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print
As part of ‘moral’ education, educators are placing more emphasis on interpersonal skills and stronger relationships between the generations.

The elderly gentleman cradles the sharp knife and the bamboo shard in nimble hands. He is deep in thought under a worn fishing hat, as if the glint of the blade and the smooth curve of wood have transported him to the overgrown banks of a river on a lazy afternoon.

His concentration is not broken by the excitement he’s created at Ogawa Elementary School in this small town, located three hours outside Kobe. The boisterous youngsters hover over the master as he whittles the twig into a whirligig, a popular traditional toy. The 5th graders in the afternoon-club activity soon get to work with knives of their own, turning often to their mentor for help.

Down the hall, a handful of 4th grade girls hunch over steaming bowls of noodles, stirring as directed by a grandmotherly woman who worked as a lunch lady here before retiring several years back. Still other children are learning traditional Japanese sword fighting, called kendo; making Temari balls lined with intricate, colorful threads; or mastering the art of the tea ceremony.

The school’s approximately 85 students can choose from 17 clubs in all, all taught by elders from this bucolic region. Until recently, the Japanese schoolhouse, a revered symbol in this education-oriented society, was generally closed to the public. But now, many schools have begun to invite, even coax, community members in.

As part of “moral” education, educators are placing more emphasis on interpersonal skills and stronger relationships between the generations. In a society where one-child families are the norm and studious children often have few outlets for interacting with peers, some observers say, many young people lack basic- communication skills and a sense of purpose. Amid growing worries about an aging population—of the nation’s 125 million residents, children younger than 15 represent fewer than 15 percent; those 65 or older account for 17 percent—educators are hoping to foster students’ understanding and empathy.

“Kindness and tolerance—these things are more important than just getting a good score on tests,” Principal Yuko Ogino says. “We can say, ‘Be kind to older people’ ... but now, we have to give them an opportunity to experience what that means.”

Events

Special Education Webinar Reading, Dyslexia, and Equity: Best Practices for Addressing a Threefold Challenge
Learn about proven strategies for instruction and intervention that support students with dyslexia.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
The Key to Better Learning: Indoor Air Quality
Learn about the importance of improved indoor air quality in schools, and how to pick the right solutions for educators, students, and staff.
Content provided by Delos
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Leading Systemic Redesign: Strategies from the Field
Learn how your school community can work together to redesign the school system, reengineer instruction, & co-author personalized learning.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: November 23, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: November 2, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: October 19, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: October 12, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read