Zachary Chapman : 室町児童館 Child Care Center

For my community involvement activity I volunteered at the muromachi jidoukan, an after-school center, where I played with children and taught English. The kids quickly took a liking to me, and everyday I would be tackled by a gaggle of them the moment I walked in.

    I noticed a lot of things while working at the jidoukan. First and foremost, was the independance displayed by the students. The kids were between the ages of 6 and 9 but displayed a far greater ability to solve problems for themselves compared to American children. For example, during snack time, Japanese students are expected to set up their own tables, get their own food, and pour drinks for each other. Teachers are essentially not involved. Also, when students had a conflict with each other, they were generally expected to be able to solve it on their own. Once, a student was fighting with another student over a toy, and the student went and asked the teacher for help. Instead of resolving the fight, the teacher asked the students about how they could resolve amongst themselves.

    Another time, a student destroyed a toilet. Us teachers had no clue who did it, so we had a student assembly, and one of the teachers talked about how the destruction of the toilet was a burden on everybody else. Here speech went along well with Japanese ideas of communal collectivism. In the end she asked the student to give him/herself up because they owed it to the jidoukan community as a whole. I thought this was quite interesting and different to how American teachers would have handled the situation.

In closing, I had a very interesting time working at the jidoukan. Working with Japanese kids enlightened me concerning a lot of facets of Japanese society.

2 thoughts on “Zachary Chapman : 室町児童館 Child Care Center

  1. Zachary,

    This sounds like a very informative experience! It’s not surprising, after living in Japan for a few months, to hear about the problem-solving and communal awareness aspects of the children’s behavior, but the teaching methods you described definitely impress upon me again the differences between American and Japanese culture.

    What sort of assistance did you offer? What was it like teaching English to a bunch of children who you seem to have alternately been playing around with and instructing? Did the other teachers or other volunteers behave similarly to you?

    Also, it sounds like you had a lot of fun!

    • Hey thanks for the comment 😀

      I taught the children weekly which was quite difficult. Students weren’t very motivated or willing to cooperate, which makes sense because my students were between 6 and 9. It was quite difficult to get them all to pay attention.

      I was the only volunteer and the other teachers didn’t really act like me at all, because I was the only foreigner at the Jidoukan.