Japanese “catholic” schooling

One of the things I love about my daughters school is their emphasis on created rounded individuals. Academic achievement is important but so is developing character and a moral foundation.

In this article about a Japanese school I saw many overlaps with how Danish schools operate.

“..His Japanese elementary school spent as much time cultivating life skills, or “seikatsuryoku,” as it did on academics. The country takes a holistic approach to educating young children, packing in the scholastics but also instilling traits to be responsible members of society. Think World Cup soccer fans who clean the stadium after cheering a game.

Here are the the non-academic things they emphasize:

1. Being part of a community. One of the key words at his school was “rentai,” or solidarity. …“Aisatsu,” or greetings, were stressed as a way to broach new relationships. Emphasis on teamwork encouraged children to accept one another and taught them to read the status quo and think of how to stay in good standing with the group. 

2. Getting around a new town. All Japanese children go to school on their own.

3. Time management/organization. Japanese children keep track of their assignments by copying into notebooks the list of homework written on the blackboard, etching a to-do list in their minds. Students must also remember what to take to school. 

4. Troubleshooting. Japanese schools have an “integrated studies” period designed to improve problem-solving skills. 

5. Cleaning. Japanese students tidy up their own classrooms.

6. Dining. Japanese students must eat everything that is served for lunch (unless they have allergies). Leaving food is regarded as wasteful and disrespectful to those who prepared the meal. 

7. Handling conflict. At the start of first grade, my son told me he ran from pillar to pillar when moving between classes, taking shelter to avoid a bigger bully boy. He had physical tussles with another boy, rolling around on the classroom floor. The teachers did not intervene unless physical injury or psychological trauma seemed imminent. The school philosophy was to let the kids sort out their own problems. 

8. Endurance.  …His school required either a one- or two-kilometer ocean swim before graduation.

9. Setbacks….He learned that his only choice was to live with his shortcomings or aim higher. He accepted that reality and alternated between the two options. 

This is a lovely list of values to impart. The handling conflict (item 7) is a perfect antidote to the poison of victimhood culture.

Some conspiracies are real

In the 90’s I used to believe any and all conspiracy theories were utter rubbish. Over the years my confidence in my hard skeptic position has diminished.

The first knock came when Echelon turned out to be true. I was told about it by a drunken colleague at British Telecom a few years before it was publicly revealed. The same person also told me about the Five Eyes intelligence agencies tapping the core internet trunks, something Snowden confirmed nearly 20 years later.

Another knock came from the realization that the 40 year war on dietary fat turned out to be misguided at best, if not criminally negligent.

The book and later film the Merchants of Doubt exposed the unbelievable scale and boldness of the industrial disinformation campaigns waged against us all.

Recently I witnessed an anti-conspiracy staple take a fatal hit. “Conspiracies cannot be real because people cannot keep secrets”. I used to believe this until I was involved in the recent Specter and Meltdown response. For months, hundreds of not thousands of security professionals across the industry worked together – conspired – in total secrecy, to patch all major operating systems against the vulnerabilities.

Now it seems like every week I am hearing about conspiracy theories that turn out to be true.

Today the “baby powder causes cancer” conspiracy theorists appear to have been right. Reuters has revealed that the company did indeed find asbestos in some of its talk products as far back as 1971. I can remember dismissing that one too.

There are two good books that address this topic.