I Guess It Could Be Worse? Happy Saturday.

This video was posted by a teacher friend this week. It’s Japanese (by Takuya Okada, from 2011, judging by the youtube channel), and from a bit of peripheral reading I picked up that it was inspired by conversations in Japan around the connection between inordinate pressure to succeed in school and the high suicide rate among Japanese school children. A light topic for Saturday morning. But a really interesting video statement on the subject.

As it happens, I teach an interdisciplinary class for honors students where a bit of media like this might make for a good conversation. I really had no idea how they would respond. I was happy to discover that they actually found it quite alien. As we discussed it they did draw some connection to the level of stress they sometimes feel as high performing students, but other aspects, such as the way students were depicted as being unable to speak, did not resonate with them at all. We had quite a conversation about how to interpret the end of the film. Is it positive? Not so much? Leave a comment below if you want to weigh in, and I’ll take your thoughts back to my students.

As much as we may feel our system doesn’t meet the needs of our students, this film did show me that it could be worse. The system depicted in the film is devoid of, and uninterested in, creativity and exploration.

We (at The Papergraders) are fortunate. We operate with a great degree of autonomy and encouragement to innovate. There is a lot of conversation in our building about how to teach creativity and critical thinking. I didn’t think twice about showing this film as a discussion starter in class. I know others are not so lucky. The truth is that the driving factor in our freedom is socio-economic status, but I’m grateful to have that luxury. The fact that not every school and teacher has the freedoms we do is one of the things that keeps us fired up. And keeps us writing.

So happy Saturday. Hope you enjoyed the movie.

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