East Carolina University Researching Japan-US Educational Systems Visiting Classes at Hiroshima Junior and Senior High Schools

It was five years ago when East Carolina University (Greenville, North Carolina, USA) and Hiroshima University became sister schools, and they have been engaged in interpersonal exchanges since then.  On May 27, teachers and students, a total of six, from East Carolina University visited Hiroshima Prefectural Hiroshima Junior and Senior High Schools (Masakazu Banmoto, Principal), located in Nakashima, Takaya-cho, Higashi-Hiroshima City, and observed classes such as English and music classes (playing koto, one of Japanese traditional musical instruments).   The group visited Japan for the purpose of comparative research about Japan-US educational systems, planning to stay in Japan until June 3.

In the 7th-grade students’ English class, 19 students asked the visitors their names, where they are from, their favorite things, and so on in English, having a valuable experience of being exposed to authentic English.  “I spoke with a foreigner for the first time,” Kenta Kaneyoshi said.  He continued, “I sometimes had difficulties in catching what they said, but I want to try hard so that I can converse in English,” and spoke to the visitors actively.

Ms. Mary Corbin, who was observing the classes, said, “It is nice to see students’ willingness to learn” and praised students for their seriousness.

Their next visit was to a koto class of 10th-grade students.  The group learned how to play koto with the Japanese students and performed Sakura (a piece of Japanese music).  Britney Allen, a junior at the university majoring in higher education, commented, “Koto has a different musical scale from that in Western music, and its tone and sound is attractive,” being impressed by the musical instrument.  Caroline Ledford, an associate professor at East Carolina University, praised Japanese students for their attitude by saying, “Students in Japan keep school rules in mind, and therefore they are well-disciplined.”  She continued, “A unified lower and upper secondary school education is rare in public schools in the US.  The environment and the system which allows students at different ages to teach each other is brilliant.”  Regarding the indoor gym and its facilities, she commented, “In the US, we focus on team sports in P.E. classes.  Gymnastics are commonly treated as outside-school activities.”  Comparing the current situation of having a smaller number of P.E. classes in the US, she was amazed by well-preparedness of the facilities as well as the class contents.