How Teachers in Japan Help Children Make Choices

Chizuko Nishimata, a member of the “Can Do” Street production team, recently interviewed a second grade teacher in her native Japan. The purpose of the interview was to explore how Japanese teachers help their students to make good choices. Chizuko shares her findings in the following post.

In Elementary schools in Japan, there is a subject called “Dotoku”, which means “Moral” This class is usually held once a week. It teaches children very similar lessons to what “Can Do Street” offers. There are many educational TV shows and books for young children that are used as instructional materials.

During my interview with the teacher, she shared how she teaches this subject to her 2nd grade class. She said, “I always ask the children questions after I present the lesson and get their answers before I share with them what are considered to be the right choices. Many times, children are very clever and often have the right answers. They come up with the right decisions by themselves.”

One time, when the teacher was using illustrations of two children fighting over snacks, there weren’t any words with the illustrations. So, she asked the students to make up a story about what was going on in the illustrations. She then asked each child to share what the message was in his or her story. She got lots of good feedback for continuing her lesson!

As I was ending the interview, I asked what she thought parents and teachers need always to remember about teaching life lessons. She answered, “The important life lessons need to be told repeatedly.  Even though children don’t seem to be paying attention, they are listening. Also, children watch us, their parents and teachers, very closely. We adults need to show them, by our actions, how to make good choices.”


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