On Sunday, November 20th a “YGC Global Presentation” lecture by Ms. Kayoko Tazawa was held for parents/guardians and interested students. Ms. Tazawa has been teaching for 19 years at Phillips Exeter Academy, a highly selective boarding school in the United States, and she honorably offered her insights into America’s finest educational sector. This was followed by a lively panel discussion alongside a graduate of the Academy.» See the event outline
Education for the Future in Both Japan and the United States
A student’s education in the United States is primarily focused on the development of four particular skills, often referred to as the “4C’s” (Critical Thinking, Communication, Collaboration and Creativity). At Phillips Exeter Academy, one of America’s most rigorous boarding schools, the optimum environment for this education is provided: about 12 students and 1 teacher take part in academic debates around an oval-shaped Harkness Table.
In order to engage their creativity, students are often challenged with complex problems. For example, a distinct characteristic of mathematics education is that students do not simply memorize equations, but figure out how to solve problems that have real world application. Ms. Tazawa explained with this example:
“When driving to a gasoline station, we may not have enough gas to take the long, paved flat road.
However, taking the bumpy off-road shortcut also consumes a lot of fuel. Given certain relevant information, which route is more efficient?”
Ms. Tazawa stated that the students would discuss their opinions and suggestions, then work together to derive an answer by using the “4C’s”.
On the topic of Japanese education, Ms. Tazawa pointed out that despite many positive factors, it still lacks many of the prerequisites of a “4C’s” style system, perhaps succeeding only in “Collaboration.” Furthermore, she advised that Japanese schools could benefit from increased use of technology, and allowing more independence for students. In the United States, homework that requires the usage of computers is assigned even to elementary-aged children, allowing them to easily develop the technological know-how that the modern age demands. Moreover, Ms. Tazawa talked about the importance of attending camps or studying abroad in nurturing confidence and self-reliance in older students.
Next, a panel discussion was held under the direction of SAPIX YOZEMI GROUP’s CEO, Toshiro Takamiya. Added to the group was Mr. Hiroyuki Kuwana, who is an alumnus of Phillips Exeter Academy and will be entering Brown University next September.
Mr. Kuwana detailed his experiences at the Academy, including a wide range of topics such as dorm life and class content. He explained that he learned to adapt by living in a culturally diverse environment.
To conclude the discussion, we asked Mr. Kuwana to give a message of advice to the students in Japan. “It is important to always ask yourself ‘Why?’,” he said. “Your ability to learn will improve if you are always striving to efficiently meet your end goal. For example, even if you are just memorizing something, consciously ask yourself, ‘Is this the method that will suit the situation best?’ And don’t be afraid to challenge yourself in the subjects you are interested in.”
Furthermore, Ms. Tazawa addressed the parents by saying “When you think about what you desire most for your child, I believe that the answer should not simply be for your child to go to the school of the highest prestige. It should be for your child to experience a well-rounded happiness. In order to achieve this, it is important not to become overprotective, but to let your child experience little mistakes and develop a stronger confidence to overcome problems.”
The event was entertaining as well as informative, with laughter brought on from Ms. Tazawa’s amiable humor. To listen to the words of someone who actually teaches in the United States and to hear about the experiences from an alumnus was truly a precious opportunity for the participants.
Comments by the Participants
- “I was able to really familiarize myself with the idea of studying abroad.”
- “It made me think again about how studying abroad is necessary for Japanese children to develop the skills necessary for the future.”
- “Since she included specific details about the boarding schools including those of classroom curriculum, it was easy to understand. Even as a parent, I was able to learn about how kids should think when studying mathematics.”
- “I was able to realize once again that ‘to understand another culture is to accept the individual’.”
- “The explanation from the alumnus was easily understood, so I was able to get a grasp on student life.”
- “I want my students to hear today’s lecture as well, so please plan a similar event if possible.”