Listen to this, I’ve got an opinion


The proceedings were like previous parent-teacher meetings at the school. Then we got to hearing about the school slogan or mantra. The principal started by saying that the core slogan, while not being modified, was needing some further explanation or context and the school board had come up with a solution. I was excited to see the result they presented. In addition to the slogan, it is now preceded by or underpinned with やってみよう (let’s try).

When we got to the homeroom the changes weren’t done. At the front of the class are three sayings or slogans that the kids are to abide by. The teacher explained that two of them remain unchanged from last year and one was being replaced. Instead of “listen to others”, it was now 自分の考えこと持つ子 (have your own thought).

I was surprised to see this shift in the school and will be excited to see how it plays out for my children in the years to come. For a nation that is very good at maintaining the social fabric of society that grooms experts of people able to read between the lines and watch out for each other, this feels like a departure to a more western way of thinking. Can a nation that is rapidly aging and needs innovation to survive in an ever-globalizing world lean on this way of thinking to grow?

“Fail fast”, be adaptive, “the only constant is change”, etc etc. This idea is growing in importance, or so we believe. I hope that it is the right path for my children as well as Japan. I’d hate to lose some of the things that Japan does so well when they resist change like Kyoto, martial arts, tea ceremonies, rickety playgrounds, and so much more. While, on the other hand, I would welcome change to gender equality, reduction of paperwork in so many aspects of Japanese life, and greater acceptance of what it means to be Japanese.

I applaud the school for listening to the feedback from the community of wanting to grow children who want to challenge themselves and grow. This update to the slogan is a great first step. Let’s see where we can take it from here.