This is what inspiring education looks like.

We spent a single afternoon at Inagi Daini Elementary School today, but we left totally inspired. It can be hard to get a sense of a place through observation, especially with language barriers, but it was very clear that amazing things are happening in this little community on the south side of Tokyo. Here are my top 5 reasons why it was sugoi (incredible):

1) We were treated like royalty, from beginning to end.

2) The students get to walk from school to the nearby vineyard and learn how to take care of one of their community’s most valued natural resources, the rare Takao grapes.

3) Students get to share their opinions about what needs to be protected and fixed in their community, and they even use some systems thinking mapping!

4) Students learn about how rice is grown and get to help out in a real way, through both classroom work and getting out into their community to see the theories in action.

5) Students are working to preserve cultural identities as well as the environment. They learn about the traditional Japanese tea ceremony from the masters, and then get to practice the different steps.

All in all, it was a pretty special experience, and I finally feel that I saw “Education for Sustainable Development” in action in a very full way. The students at this school were truly immersed in the community engaging in real work that matters. We (the American teachers) all remarked that we can’t possibly give back enough to thank these schools for hosting us. We are sharing our talents and greetings from our schools one little bit at a time.Today, I shared some of my students’ art, gave a talk and showed a video of Innovation Academy, did some balloon twisting, and answered the questions of Japanese students. Other teachers in our program taught the Star Spangled Banner, gave a beautiful mural, and shared their other unique talents.

Tomorrow we leave for our host cities, and I’ll be heading to Kushiro, on the Northern island of Hokkaido. We are all thinking more about all the possibilities and growth that is possible with some international collaboration. It’s all going to start with the personal connection. That moment today when I walked down to the vineyard holding the hand of an adorable little 8 year old girl who was too shy to say much in English but told me that she liked cake. This wasn’t a day that any of us will forget any time soon.

Holding hands walking to the vineyard (photo courtesy of Karima)

Holding hands walking to the vineyard (photo courtesy of Karima)

Thank you to everyone at Inagi Daini Elementary School!

Our welcome assembly (funky colors added to be respectful of student privacy)

The whole school taking part in our welcome assembly (funky colors added to be respectful of student privacy)

Categories: Japan

7 replies »

  1. I noticed that Inagi Daini Elementary School is helping each other out and working together as a community. The things they do, how does it help and affect the community?

  2. Great questions, Erin. They actually work on the farms, learning how to care for the grapes and rice, for example. So, it is real work that helps the plants grow and makes money for the community! But more importantly, they are learning how to do these things and why it matters, so that when they grow up they can keep fighting for sustainable farming practices and caring for their land. Watching the 3rd graders, I could see how carefully they touch the plants — they were very gentle and respectful — much more than American kids would be, I think. They are learning how to care for their environment. Not just in theory, but in practice!

  3. I’m impressed with how students are immersing themselves into everything they learn! They participate in so many hands-on activities! Do you have any ideas for IACS, Ms. Krakauer?
    I also learned about the tea ceremony in 8th grade. Based on what you’ve seen the students do, has/do you think the Japanese tea ceremony has changed throughout the years? Why/why not?
    Can’t wait to hear about Kushiro!
    ~ Anna

  4. It’s neat how these kids learn how to grow food and be a part of their community. I would love to learn how to grow food too!

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