Japanese Classrooms: From Chaos to Complete Control (Mary DeVries)

Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

This account by an American teacher in a Japanese rural elementary school reflects what one teacher experienced. Generalizing to all Japanese schools, rural and urban, large and small, elementary and secondary is a step too far. Other teachers might write different accounts. This is hers. Mary DeVries wrote this piece in Medium on November 17, 2020.

Children raise their hands to share views as they take part in a digital program at a Coby Preschool in Yoshikawa, suburban Tokyo in 2018 with their teacher and preschool principal Akihito Minabe (AP Photo/Yuri Kageyama)

The first thing I noticed when I started working at a Japanese elementary school was how well behaved and focused the students were. The second thing I noticed was how loud, absolutely wild, and seemingly out of control they were at times. I believe these two states are connected.

I was an English teacher in rural Japan…

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