The teacher really built it up (for the parents and the kids) as a chance to show how much they'd achieved this year.
K and I got caught up in the excitement and both took the afternoon off work to go and see.
The kids had chosen what they wanted to show everyone. One group chose reading and put on a puppet show while reading one of the stories from the textbook:
One group chose skipping and did 20 skips of their chosen skipping- scissor skipping, running skipping, double jumps or crossover skipping.
Meg's group chose kanji- Chinese characters- and put on a kanji quiz for the class. They had kept their posters secret so noone knew what they were going to be quizzed on:
"what do you get if you put these two characters together?"
choosing someone to answer
The last group chose to play a song (from memory) on their pianicas:
(the teacher of course didn't pass up a chance to join in on the guitar!)
Then they each read out their goals for grade two. I was really surprised how many kids chose 'I want to be able to eat all my school lunch' as their goal. Maybe it's because my kid food issue is limiting their intake but I had no idea how many kids struggle to eat school lunch. The other goals kids had were not forgetting things, getting top marks in a test, being able to do some trick with a skipping rope/ monkey bars/ unicycle, and Meg's was to be able to play a song on the pianica. My favourite though was the little boy whose goal was 'I want to be able to get up by myself the second time my mum wakes me up in the morning' High and lofty goal there, huh? And I was feeling bad that Meg has stopped jumping out of bed when her alarm goes off!
The finale was a rousing number with the whole class singing a song the teacher had doctored so it became a song about their year in grade 1.
It was a really fast paced, action packed observation day and it ran so smoothly. Obviously they had rehearsed it before the main event but even so I was impressed by the minimal input from the teacher. He basically stood at is desk manning the cd player (the non talking acts had background music) accompanying on guitar and occasionally reminding the kids to speak up. Even the unscripted bits of the day (when kids fumbled their skipping and one kid tripped and took out a row of pianicas) there was a rousing chorus of 'donmai!' which is a horrible bastardisation of 'don't mind' intended to express 'never mind' but, bad English aside, the sentiment is great huh? As you can see in the pictures, the classroom is covered in posters with motivational mesages (the teachers second love after music is drawing) and one of them is 'failure is the stepping stone to success- never mind!' And the teacher has really done a lot to create a very supportive and encouraging learning environment. Less than a year ago these kids were a mish mash of graduates from something like nine or ten different kinders and day cares. There was an overwhelming majority form the two village kinders (104 out of 139 kids) and there was very much an us and them attitude when it came to alliances. On the very first day of school- when they were all still in their entrance ceremony best- they were told quite strongly that they were not 'Azusagawa West kinder' or 'Matsumoto Catholic kinder' anymore- they were now "Azusagawa Primary School Grade 1 class 2" and they were all in it together. All naming of kinders was banned outright. At the time I thought this was a bit serious and scolding for a first day welcome speech but looking at it now I see it was sowing the seeds of the cohesive group they are now.
I was quite nervous handing Meg over to the Japanese education system- not that we have a choice- no international school anywhere near here and the only alternative to the local public school is over an hour by car away so not really attractive even if it didn't run classes 6 days a week and have a highly competitive educational philosophy I don't agree with but anyway, the more I see of the local school in action the more I think it's not such a bad option after all. Now if they would just get onboard with a few more school holidays...