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
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
The latest shift is toward alignment of teaching methods but also
increased creativity in the classroom.