Standing out

Just before I was at my uni’s commencement ceremony, which is an event to mark the start of the school year. Well, when the grad students were giving their introductory remarks, one student commented on how wonderful it was that everyone standing with him was different in a number of ways; different nationality, different hometown, different backgrounds, but that they were all there for the same thing.

This reminded me of how elementary schools here in Japan are so adamant on students staying together throughout their studies. This isn’t a bad thing, I don’t think. It is great to have a core group to support you at your earliest stage. The problem is when things go ‘wrong’ as they inevitably do. For example, if someone comes from the outside, it’s hard for them to be accepted if there are cliques, or, and this is what gets me, when one of the students is of an advanced ability, they have to either hide that fact, or face the consequences of not being challenged, which for elementary school students could have major repercussions down the line.

The argument I heard for not having students move up or down grades was so that students learned with people in their same age group. This ignores the blatant fact that as the grad student above mentioned we are all in fact different, and some of us learn faster than others. So in a way, I feel they are ignoring reality in favour of an idealised world, which i see in other facets of Japanese society (strict hair colour rules being one of them).

What I’m proposing is that students should be able to learn at their own pace, and they shouldn’t be forced, either physically or through social constructs, to fit particular norms.

We should be celebrated for our differences, as the grad student touched on, as this also makes life more uncertain as well, and that is a good thing.



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Sakata City, Yamagata, Japan

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