Anderson back to teaching after traveling to Japan | SierraSun.com
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Anderson back to teaching after traveling to Japan

SHANNON DARLING, Sun News Service

Thanksgiving dinner consisted of fish head soup and sushi for Christine Anderson, a teacher at North Tahoe Middle school and winner of the Fulbright Memorial Fund Teacher Program.

As a winner of the program, Anderson, who lives in Truckee, spent three weeks in Japan, including Thanksgiving. Happy to be back to her class and family, Anderson had many stories to tell her students.

“They wanted to hear more,” said Anderson, who added her students loved to see the pictures from her trip.

Anderson was one of 200 out of 2,000 applicants who traveled to Japan this November to take park in the three-week program.

The program started in Tokyo where teachers and school administrators alike learned of the country’s government and culture.

After Tokyo, the teachers were separated into groups of 20 and sent to smaller cities to learn about their educational system. Anderson was sent to Ishinomaki, also known as “Sushi City.”

One of the pictures Anderson showed her students was of elementary school students in Ishinomaki cleaning their school.

“All the kids clean their own schools,” she said. “Their school was really clean.”

Anderson added that the elementary school students really seemed to love cleaning the school at the end of the day because it gave them some time to get up and move around.

The Fulbright Memorial Fund program is sponsored by the government of Japan and was launched to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Government Fulbright Program, which has enabled more than 6,000 Japanese citizens to study in the U.S. on Fulbright fellowships for graduate education and research.

“It is a thank you from the Japanese government for bringing Japanese to study here,” said Anderson.

Many of the Japanese citizens who participated in the program came back to Japan and became prominent citizens, said Anderson.

And because of this the Japanese were very appreciative.

One instance of appreciation was when Anderson and the other teachers were welcomed into the school by raising flower arches for them to walk under and by singing American and Japanese songs.

Another interesting thing Anderson learned when she was in Japan was their philosophy toward teaching.

“It’s the students’ responsibility to learn,” said Anderson. “If a kid starts talking in class, teachers just ignore them.”

Because many of the students are influenced by the Westernization of the world, that philosophy doesn’t work well anymore, she said.

“The students don’t fit their curriculum now,” said Anderson.

And because of this, Japanese schools are looking at adopting a more American way of teaching in the year 2002.

Currently, the Japanese school system relies heavily on testing, and often the stress of testing causes high drop-out rates, bullying and even suicide.

“These problems are new to the society,” said Anderson.

In 2002 the Japanese government, teaching programs in Japan are set by the national government, hopes to steer away from a complete lecture and test curriculum and work toward a more hands-on approach.

But the visitors learn the good as well as the bad about the Japanese teaching style.

“Once you get a teaching job in Japan, it’s a lifetime job,” said Anderson.

Teachers in Japan also have more respect and get paid more, said Anderson.

“It would be nice if the two countries could meet in the middle,” she said.


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