Disaster brings Japanese students closer to home

A GROUP of students and teachers from crisis-stricken Japan have spent three days this week in the Daventry area.

Seven students, aged from eight to 18, along with four adults arrived in the town on Monday, visiting William Parker School, which has a three-year relationship with their school, the Globe Academy, based in Kagoshima, Japan.

Despite their school being nearly 1,000 miles from the zone hit by the recent earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis, the Japanese party’s journey over to the UK was still affected.

Kazuyoshi Matsumura, from the Globe Academy, said: “We had to talk to parents and make sure they were happy for the children to go through Tokyo, where there are radiation worries.”

Kate Moore, one of the teachers who organised the visit, said: “We were organising this visit which involved a few children, but when the disaster happened a lot of our students instinctively wanted to know if the people at the partnership school were OK.

“It shows that this work we have done over the years has turned Japan from a ‘country on the other side of the world’ into a place where there are people the students know and have talked to over Skype online or met face-to-face.”

The purpose of this week’s visit was for the Japanese students to get a taste of what English education is like and they joined classes at William Park, Falconer’s Hill Junior and Barby Primary schools. They also went along to Daventry Country Park to take part in some conservation work.

At the same time the Japanese staff got to find out about a different style of teaching.

Mr Matsumura said: “In Japan lessons are very much about memorising things.

“I want pupils to learn how to come up with ideas, follow them through and take responsibility for the result.

“In Japan people in management often have no heart.

“I want to develop more heart in our students to make them better in the world of work – so they come up with new ideas.”

The Japanese partnership is part of a three-way programme William Parker has which includes a school in the African town of Iganga.