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Glendale schools set the example for visitors

Gary Moskowitz

In contrast to the common practice of American students moving

from classroom to classroom during the school day, public school

teachers in the Higashi-Osaka area of Japan are given a common area


for planning and move from room to room to accommodate students.

Differences in education and teaching methods were the main point

of conversation Friday, when three Japanese teachers from Higashi and

Osaka spent the day observing classroom activities at Keppel


Elementary and Toll Middle schools.

The group is on a 20-day trip to the United States. The teachers

are taking a two-week English class at Cal State L.A., spending three

days in Glendale and will visit San Francisco before heading home.

The teachers are Naoko Hasegawa, Maskaki Hattori and Noriko Omori.

Omori, a junior high teacher and school board member in Osaka,

said she and her colleagues want to improve the way English is taught

in Japanese public schools.


They also plan to start English classes in the first grade instead

of sixth grade, Omori said.

“This is a good chance to connect with Americans and learn. We

want to know how you do budgeting here and how you pay for computers

and new books,” Omori said. “Computer literacy is so much higher

here, and we want to improve this in Japanese schools.”

Junior high teacher Maskaki Hattori described Toll students as

well-behaved and quiet.


Students in Japan have a tendency to be much noisier, Hattori


“Students here are so diverse. They all look so different, but in

Japan everyone looks the same,” Hattori said. “And our students all

wear uniforms.”

Both Hattori and Omori said Japanese teachers are expected to do

more things, like discipline, security and athletic coaching, but

aren’t necessarily paid more. Their beginning teachers earn about

180,000 yen in one month, which is about $1,500 a month.

Omori said their district is in the midst of a change in

educational philosophy.

The latest shift is toward alignment of teaching methods but also

increased creativity in the classroom.