| Jan 13, 2003

Learning from living things, often the hard way

Since I write this column at home, school holidays are always a problem. It’s impossible to get any work done with my kids hanging around. One day during the recent winter holidays, I complained about feeling pressured. The deadline for today’s column was looming, ...

Will dramatic arts take a backseat?

| Dec 16, 2002

Will dramatic arts take a backseat?

Two months ago, my 8-year-old came home from the Japanese elementary school he attends and told me about the play his grade would do at the upcoming gakugeikai (drama festival). “I can’t remember the name,” he said. “But it’s a Japanese story about a ...

| Nov 22, 2002

Are our schools ready for a big one?

Every few months, I have the same nightmare: A major earthquake strikes Tokyo when my kids are at school. The city is in ruins. There’s no electricity, the phones are out and the trains have stopped. I run through the streets, unable to find ...

Fishing for parental help on field trips

| Nov 8, 2002

Fishing for parental help on field trips

For me, a major benefit of moving to Japan was not having to chaperone school field trips anymore. I’m sure there are parents who enjoy going on field trips with their kids, but I’m not one of them. I don’t like being outnumbered, especially ...

Shared research yields ideas for schooling

| Oct 25, 2002

Shared research yields ideas for schooling

When we first enrolled our son in Japanese school, there were occasions when he came home earlier than I’d expected. The first time, I happened to be at home. “Why were you dismissed early?” I asked my son. “I don’t know,” he shrugged. “The ...

Chant away to calculation competence

| Oct 11, 2002

Chant away to calculation competence

You will never guess what I’ve been doing the past two weeks. I, an Ivy League graduate, at the ripe age of 44, have been learning my times tables. That’s right, multiplication. Now, before you write me off as a failure of American higher ...

| Sep 13, 2002

School selection comes to Japan at last

In many countries, parents have a choice of public schools. Not Japan. Here, you get just one choice: Send your child to the closest public school, or pay a lot of money for private school. But this is changing. School choice is coming to ...

| Aug 16, 2002

Better off sleeping than working out?

Here’s a fun exercise: Ask Japanese adults how they spent their childhood summers. They’ll almost always mention rajio taiso, the morning exercises they did in neighborhood groups during the school holiday. Then ask if their own children participate. Chances are their kids sleep in ...