By KATHRYNE RUBRIGHT
Instead of relying on janitors, students in Japan clean their schools, including the toilets.
“They clean their classroom, and also they clean their mind and soul,” Superintendent Shuhei Moro told an audience at the University of Findlay Tuesday evening. He mostly spoke through a translator.
Moro and other education officials from Kawaguchi, in Japan’s Saitama Prefecture, are spending a week in Findlay. They are visiting to prepare for two Kawaguchi students who will study abroad in Findlay during the 2019-2020 school year.
The officials are also preparing for the Kawaguchi mayor’s visit to Findlay in October 2018, and for a Findlay City Schools “study tour” in June 2018, in which staff will visit Kawaguchi.
Students in Japan spend about 20 minutes per day cleaning “the corridor, classroom, toilet, and stairs and everywhere,” Moro said.
The youngest students through high school seniors have cleaning responsibilities. It’s “one of the most important educational activities,” Moro said.
Another difference from American schools is that Japanese students eat lunch in their classroom, not in a cafeteria. Wearing masks and aprons, students serve the food themselves.
During lunch, students learn about the ingredients in their food and the proper way to eat.
At the beginning of a class, students stand up and bow to their teacher to show respect.
Japanese students take ethics or morals classes, Moro said.
In Japan, families, schools and communities, rather than religion, help students to “cultivate their mind,” he said.
The moral studies classes help students learn how to “connect with others,” Moro said.
Moro oversees a school system of about 46,000 students, about two-thirds of whom are elementary students. As students get older, more attend private schools, or schools that serve the whole prefecture rather than the city.
The district doesn’t have school buses. Students live close enough to walk to school, and younger kids do so in organized groups.
Japanese and American education have some similarities — long hours for teachers, for example, as they go from teaching classes to leading after-school sports and clubs.
And Japanese students have about five or six classes per day, each 45 to 50 minutes.
Japan needs some new ideas for education, Moro said. Students need to think creatively and independently.
A good school has students and teachers working together, he said, rather than teachers leading completely.
Findlay demonstrates that the local community must also be involved, he said.