Friday, October 9, 2015

Working, Taking Care of Oldies and Having Fun with Babies

Himeji Castle, The White Castle
I have work today but no class. All classes from first year to third year have some "social awareness" activities. They do these things every year around this time.

So what do they do exactly?

The first year students are spending time with old people. They'll be talking with them and conducting interviews. Maybe they'll ask how's life as an old person. They'll also be playing cards and other board games. Then, they'll be presenting a traditional dance. It's like spending a day in a nursing home and making sure the oldies have fun.

The second years are having career experience in different places. Some students are working as food servers. Some are helping in kindergartens. Some are doing sales and clerical work. One of the students is in the school acting as the school cleaner.

The senior's activity is my favorite. They'll be taking care of babies for an hour or two. This is my favorite because the babies are sooooo cute! It's also a fun activity because even though the students will act as nannies, the parents will still be there. So really, it's just playing with babies. I think the purpose of this activity is to expose students to parenting.

We never had this kind of activities in the Philippines. Not in junior high school, at least. I remember we had tree planting, community and school clean-up and raising funds for calamities. But we never interacted with old people or with babies. We didn't get to have career experience until college for on-the-job-training. I also asked friends from other countries if they have these activities. Most of them said, they don't have these social awareness activities, too.

So, why are they doing these in Japan?

I have an assumption or a theory that these activities are reflections of what the Japanese society expects from the younger generation. Using a harsher term, maybe these activities are sort of propaganda by MEXT. In the future, the younger generation are expected to take care of their old parents and even the parents-in-law. Hence, the interaction with old people. Personally, I think this is a good preparation for how Japan will be like 20 or 30 years from now. There:ll be more old people by then.

The Japanese society also expects people to work, work and work. So this early, students need to learn how to work. Who will support the old people in the future?

Lastly, because of Japan's aged population, the students are encouraged to have babies in the future. The senior's activity is meant to promote that parenthood is fun!

Now, these are just personal opinions. Maybe the Board of Education just wants these activities. Whether there's a hidden reason or not, I believe these activities are actually effective ways to make students "socially aware."

How about you, what social awareness activities did you do in school? 

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