The Keio Experience

From the jam-packed bus that took us to the school, to sitting in a statistics class with the teacher lecturing in Japanese and students falling asleep, spending time at the Keio High School was one of my more memorable experiences during my time in Japan. I had been really looking forward to meeting and interacting with Japanese students my age and most definitely had this opportunity while at Keio.

“Does every American family have a basketball hoop in their driveway?” I was asked. Although sometimes shy, students were very welcoming and wanted to learn more about the U.S. and practice their English. I had a great time trying to give them a sense of my life back in D.C. while learning about theirs in Japan.

Besides meeting and hanging out with students my own age, I enjoyed experiencing Japanese high school. In terms of how classes are run in Japan, there are a few major differences from how they are run in the U.S. First off, each grade is separated into different groups, 6A, 6B, 6C, and so on. Each group has about 30 students and has its own classroom. Instead of the students moving from class to class, with different students in each class, like it is in the U.S., the group of 30 students remain in their classroom for the entire day, with teachers coming to this particular classroom to teach. I found this very interesting because this is typically how an American elementary school is run. Once in middle school, and especially in high school, classes are more divided by skill level, and students are given more freedom to select their courses. Because of this, different students will be in different classes and students must move from class to class, with teachers having their fixed rooms.

I also noticed that many of the classes in Japan consist of a teacher lecturing with a powerpoint. I know that in the U.S. we have really come to value hands-on projects and a more engaging classroom environment. I had never really thought much of this until experiencing class in Japan. There, the teacher stands up and lectures for the entire period, at times referring to a powerpoint, but rarely asking questions to make the experience very engaging.

I can’t really say that the American high school “style” is better, nor that the Japanese is either, but merely noticed these differences while at Keio. Because school is such a big part of our lives as students, we are very used to school being run the way it is, in my case, the American way. While experiencing Keio, it was refreshing to get to see a different high school experience, one that although different, I am sure would be fun as well.

Delmar Tarrago
School Without Walls

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