Japanese Kids are a Rambunctious Bunch

My Japanese class took a trip to an elementary school, where we got to see what little out-of-control monsters Japanese first-graders can be. They were tiny, adorable, and absolutely out-of-control. The girls were fairly quiet, but the boys took a quick liking to all the males in our group, playing with, jumping on, and occasionally trying to head-butt, karate-chop, or tackle us. They're small enough that the attempts are pretty futile, and we all had a great time, but it was funny to see how little control the teacher had over them. Definitely not your usual image of docile, obedient Japanese schoolchildren.

There also seemed to be a good amount of ostracizing and bullying going on- the teacher didn't pay much mind to students crying, left out of games, or taunted by others (though she did step in once there was physical violece). No one was in danger of injury, and the emotional wounding seemed like a transient thing that tended to pass around the class, but it was still a new experience for me. As far as I know, the bullying is an institutionalized way to encourage conformity and in-groupness from an early age; students learn that being alone is painful and vulnerable, and a group offers security and affirmation. I should note that this was all among the boys; the girls tended to be very quiet and timid.

It was also surprising how young the teachers were. None of them looked much over twenty, save the Principal, and the part-time music teacher brought in to lead them in some sort of song about various sweets that wanted to eat.

No pictures, unfortunately- liability issues.