Every few months they have an open period where parents are invited to come watch a class. Monday was one of those days. We don’t always go, but we decided to go to this one because it’s the last one before we leave Japan.
We didn’t understand much of what was going on beyond the methodology—it was a Japanese class where they were reading a story—which involved reading, interpretation, and explanation. There was also an activity where some of the students acted out part of the story, but I couldn’t really follow it.
In any case, my lack of understanding didn’t stop me from taking pictures.
Here’s the student entrance, where they change from their outside shoes to their slippers or other inside footwear. The shelves on the left are for the grade 1 students, and facing them is the rack of school unicycles, which as far as I can remember are taken out during recess and lunch time. Of note is the fact that students are not allowed to ride bikes to school.
Here’s the view into the school courtyard from the hallway outside of Jarrod’s classroom, which is on the third floor of one of the buildings. His classroom last year was directly opposite. I hadn’t noticed before, but the garden looks like a giant Chinese coin made out of earth, dropped into a dessicated French garden. The shiny thing in the center is some sort of sculpture. The students have a gardening project where each class plants vegetables. I think this garden area is where they plant them.
Inside the classroom, here’s a photo of Jarrod’s teacher—Arimoto-sensei—reading to the class from the textbook. The students in the foreground are following along in their own books.
And here’s Jarrod, looking a bit the heat has melted him. The windows are open but it’s been hot, muggy, and rainless despite the fact that it’s supposed to be rainy season, so the classroom gets pretty warm. Especially with the sun shining in from the south.
In this photo, Arimoto-sensei is helping one of the boys with the assignment. The kids who are looking back may be trying to catch a glimpse of Lia, who is standing out of view to the right. It’s hard to see in this picture, but Jarrod’s desk is bigger than everyone else’s. Also of note is the class size. Numbering in the low 30s, this class is considered to be on the small side. They try for 40 kids per class, but enrollment in this area of the city is lower than average. At my school, the smallest class has 37 students, and the largest has 42.
At the end of class, everyone gets their stuff ready, and stands up to bow to the teacher. I think I took this photo just after they had bowed, so students are about to rush out of the classroom. There are some samples of the students’ calligraphy on the back wall. I think Jarrod’s is one of the ones above the clock.
This final photo is Jarrod, looking a bit unimpressed that I’m taking a picture of him with his backpack. The backpack is a standard-issue leather hard case that all elementary school students are required to have. Boys have black ones, and girls have red ones, though the girls sometimes have black ones as well. It depends on the kid, and sometimes the school. They also sell them in pastels, and bright yellow. When we first got here, we didn’t buy Jarrod one because they’re really expensive. The other kids teased him about his soft cloth backpack, so after we had signed the papers agreeing to stay a second year, we got him the real thing. We shopped around, and were happy to pay only about ¥16,000—almost $200 Canadian dollars—since they’re generally priced in the ¥20,000-40,000 range.