The Price of Distraction / 電子機器の利用

One of the main functions of school is to help children develop their thinking skills. One of the challenges that face us now is the rise of the distracting device. We are now in a time when we have a whole generation of children who crave distraction and are having difficulty spending moments without the shallow escape that devices provide. For most of human history, people have spent a great deal of time alone with their thoughts. Many would argue that these undistracted moments when thoughts are free to wander are hugely productive times and, potentially, very creative for us. One of the things you have probably noticed when people are idle now, whether they are sitting on a bus or in a cafe, a device of some type will be in their hand and their complete attention is on the mysterious screen. Sadly, this can often also be the case when they are with someone. I guess we have all noticed this and it is interesting to think about the effects that it has on the ongoing development of our brains, particularly when we think of children. As we have seen with the adults and their devices, it is never too late to form a bad habit, yet more importantly, we can’t help but wonder about the long term effects of constant distraction on a child’s developing brain.

With a cell phone within easy reach, with reliable networks so easily accessible wherever you are and extended battery lives, there is really no reason why nowadays anyone would be forced to sit down and merely think. We have a distraction at our fingertips. It is not that there are no uses that require higher-order thinking or great deals of creativity but the reality of social media and scrolling interactions is that we are being distracted by a very shallow and narrow set of thought patterns. One of the effects of this is that children are less and less able to deal with undistracted time alone with their own thoughts. They experience this as boredom and have not been given the opportunities necessary to develop the ability to entertain themselves.

No one is really certain what this looks like in terms of cognitive development, but we do know that the brain is operating in a different way, different than at any time in human history. What we do know is that we have less time to let our minds wander and process the thoughts that are constantly flowing through our minds. The distraction that the electronic device offers us allows us to escape these thoughts and it is the excessive nature of this escape that should be a worry to any parent, not the device itself. We do know in terms of general health that balance is always important. For those of you with young children, the accessibility of devices is very different than it was ten years ago and if you think of the next 10 years of your child’s life, how different again will it become? I would say that one of the greatest challenges for you as a parent is the fight to maintain balance in your child’s life as every moment on the device has a price. If you are sitting down at the table and hand your child an iPad, the price you pay for those few minutes of peace is a conversation with your child that you will never ever be able to have again. Likewise, if you are riding in the Shinkansen and you hand your child a phone, the price you pay for those minutes of quiet is a world of wonder not seen by your child through the window and the conversations that you could have had about that amazing world passing you by.

All electronic devices offer great opportunities for us to communicate and access a world of knowledge, which is great. However, I would offer I word of caution to parents: Think of balance. Be careful of missed opportunities. Remember that the ability to just sit and think is a wondrous thing that needs practice.






Action and Learning / 行動と学習 (Part 1)

When we initially send our children to school, we do so because that is what society expects us to do. It is one of our responsibilities as parents. We all agree that education is important, however, we may not give much thought to the actual purpose of this process of formal education that our children will be subjected to for between ten and nineteen years. We should. 

There can be a tendency to think of university entrance and a vague idea of ‘good’ jobs at the end of this process as a justification of the system rather than looking critically at our intent. The purpose of education has historically been to select students with a very specific skill set. This skill set involves remembering facts from a textbook, regurgitating them for a test and then moving on to the next step, often forgetting the previous content. If selecting students for university entrance who have this very specific skill set is the real purpose of formal education, then all indications suggest that our education systems have been working extremely well. 

Yet, increasingly we have been asking ourselves as societies, all over the world, is this what we really want for our children? Is this what our societies really need, now and in the future? Is this what I want for my own child? Could a compulsory system that I am compelled by law to deliver my child into be done differently? Better?

As a principal, I talk to many families who are looking at educational options for their children. The common theme that emerges from hundreds of conversations is that parents want their children to feel safe, secure and valued. They also want success in some form, but safety, security and a sense of being valued are always at the forefront of a parent’s hopes for their child. Unfortunately, our historically beloved systems of short-term teacher-directed content regurgitation are never going to provide this for our children. 

We feel a sense of value as a human being when we make a contribution to our communities, local or global, and our traditional system of content regurgitation will never do this for our children. It will never allow them to feel valued. Education is done to them. They are not an intricate, valuable part of it. 

Content knowledge will always be important because all understanding stems from knowledge, however, in an education system knowledge needs to be a starting point, not a destination. Many educational systems are using the idea of inquiry to involve students in their learning. Many models of inquiry have been suggested and all revolve around the idea that we take our learning (developing knowledge, skills, understandings and attitudes) and take some action using this learning while reflecting on the process we are involved in. In this sense, action is a vital part of the learning process and can be defined simply as taking the learning further, including service-learning that involves making a contribution to the community. 

Inquiry, Action, Reflection: These are key components of the International Baccalaureate (IB) programs. The central purpose of including an action component is that a learner develops a sense that the knowledge, skills, understandings and attitudes that we are developing enables us to take action; it empowers us. This means that it is the type of knowledge that we develop which will eventually enable us to take specific types of action. The implication for us as learners is that we come to seek certain types of knowledge because it will empower us in some specific way. For example, learning about the chemical composition of plastics enables us to make informed recycling decisions as individuals and as groups.

Our learning enables us to engage in service-oriented action, contributing to our communities. Learning becomes a tool of empowerment for an individual. As a learner, we matter. We have value. We are valued. This is what we want for our children. Action, as part of the learning process, can support learners to develop in this way; independent and empowered. This is what will make our children feel valued in the educational systems we set up in our schools. In Part Two, next edition, we will look at some examples of potential action in schools.








Exploring different perceptions / さまざまな見解の模索

If a child is to become an independent learner, they need to be given the opportunity to confront and solve their own problems and this presents a challenge for parents who want to protect their child. In some ways, we need to override our deeply embedded protective instincts to allow them the freedom to make mistakes and solve their own problems, allowing them to grow.

However, thankfully, life is not all about problems and there are other ways to grow as an independent learner. When moving through life, we become aware of our ability to craft perceptions of events, which will differ from person to person. No two people see the same event exactly the same. In this sense, we construct our own realities.

These perceptions can take on many forms and it can be useful to look at the dichotomy of positive and negative. When your child is crafting their perceptions, which do they generally favour – the positive or the negative? If it is raining, do they see it as what prevents them from playing outside, or do they consider the beauty of the sound it makes splashing against the window?

When developing their views of the world, I think it is very important to help your child become accustomed to seeking and evaluating a range of points of view. In an International Baccalaureate program, this aspect of a child’s education relates to the Learner Profile attribute, ‘open-minded’. We often consider open-mindedness being related to the consideration of other people’s perspectives and points of view. However for a child to grow as an open-minded learner, they need to become accustomed to coming up with their own conflicting perceptions. As a parent, you can help them do this and using a positive/negative or plus/minus conversation is a good way to approach this.

To take the rain example, if your child is staring at the rain, wanting to go outside, ask them what they think of the rain. Whatever they say, ask them a question that conflicts with their answer. If they say, ‘I don’t like it. I can’t play,’ you can ask them why it’s stopping them. They may tell you that they’ll get wet. Ask them if anyone has ever invented something to keep the rain off? Search for activities that are better in the rain, or not affected by it? Search for possibilities opened up by the rain? Explore scenarios where the rain didn’t fall, the dust and drought? It is a whole conversation that you can have about the rain that allows your child to explore possibilities.

If your car breaks down, ask them what they think of that. If they complain that they need to take the train to school now, ask them how people went to school before cars. Ask them what options are available. Explore the health benefits of each mode of transport. Look for options. What are the positive points of travelling by car? The negatives? In a perfect world, how would everyone get to school? It doesn’t matter in what direction the conversation goes, as long as different perspectives have been explored.

Apart from helping your child, and yourself, explore possibilities, it is a great way to engage your child in a conversation that allows you to build on each other’s ideas. As you establish the arbitrary nature of the reality we construct when we form these perceptions, you reinforce with your child that their ideas have value. You let them know that their view of the world is not just an imperfect version of the adult view, but that it has worth in and of itself. This should be happening at school every day, and it can also be happening at home with the right conversations that explore differing points of view.








Problem Solving and Independence (Part 2)/問題解決能力と自立(パート2)

If we accept the idea that, as parents, we need to help our children develop problem-solving skills by allowing them to confront and solve their own problems by taking a step back, we then have to ask ourselves just how far back should we step.  From the parental perspective, we can use the example of physical danger to test our boundaries and later apply this learning to the idea of emotional danger. Interestingly, it does seem that our brains do not distinguish between physical and emotional dangers when we face them, so our bodies reactions are the same regardless. It makes sense that our reactions to a child’s potential danger would also be the same.

How far would you be willing to allow your child to be exposed to potential physical danger? This is an important point as the child’s world revolves around play and it is often dangerous. It is a constant cost/benefit analysis that we are involved in. For example, there have been many broken wrists, legs, arms and necks from tree-climbing accidents. Young children see trees as a challenge. They are curious to see what is ‘up there’. They imagine new worlds, perhaps their own kingdom within the leaves. They are drawn to it. Yet, do you allow your child to climb, and if so, how far and with what support? How valuable do you see the tree climbing experience as and at what point is this value outweighed by the physical danger?

There are no right or wrong answers to these difficult questions, although over the past couple of decades societal attitudes in many countries have drifted more towards fearing risk than valuing experience. It’s like a shifting scale with experience on one side and safety on the other, both being clearly important, but we must lean towards one or the other. Where do we rest? The changing nature of playground equipment is an example of this shift. In Australia, for example, you will not find swings in many primary schools now. Twenty years ago, it would have been hard to find a primary school without a set. Not surprisingly, schools have experienced accidents on swings. They presented a risk. That degree of risk used to be acceptable, but now it is not. Now monkey bars are disappearing. It is like the slow extinction of a type of animal that is no longer suited to changing environmental conditions.

I remember a few years ago sending my younger daughter who was 14 at the time by herself to Australia to stay with my older daughter who was 19 in her university dormitory. There was, of course, no end to the disasters that I could imagine befalling my younger daughter. I had to decide which way I needed to lean, towards experience or towards safety. Thinking back on my own experiences didn’t help.

When I was 15, I travelled on a cargo ship in Papua New Guinea for a three-day journey to visit a friend in a town, Rabaul, that was a few years later completely destroyed in a volcanic eruption. When I arrived in Rabaul, I wandered from the port and was quite lost. There were no Google Maps in 1984. A group of young men all carrying machetes, which was not such an uncommon sight, approached me and offered to give me a lift in their car. I was not keen, refused and attempted to walk away. They became very insistent and surrounded me, blocking any retreat. Just as I was about to drop my bag, break free and flee for my life, a very old man approached with the help of a walking stick. My saviour. The young men stopped, looking nervous. He said something softly to them. I don’t know who he was or what he said, but the young men moved away, cautious. He asked me where I wanted to go and motioned for me to follow. I stayed close and no one bothered me. It seemed that I had accidentally wandered into a place that I probably should have avoided. When parting, he patted my shoulder and shook his head.

The point of that story is that we can imagine all types of potential disasters happening to our children and the problem is that most of them are quite possible. I think that the important part of the decision making process is to ensure we consciously recognise which way we are leaning – towards the experience or towards safety. Make sure we realize that each side has a cost. I want my children to be perfectly safe, yet I have always struggled with the sadness of opportunity lost. Unfortunately, life was not designed to be easy for parents. Deep down I have always been grateful that my parents allowed me to board that cargo ship. I never told them about the men with the machetes. Not everything needs to be shared.






Image: The volcano that, sadly, ended it all for beautiful Rabaul. (Image courtesy of Taro Taylor, CC)

Pretending assessment results equate to actual learning

I was recently asked a question about standardized testing and learning, two things that often have little to do with each other. I was on a trip to New Delhi and the local traffic provided a good analogy. I can drive in Japan, I know how to drive, to do all the things I need to make the car function and I know the road rules, more or less. However, I couldn’t drive in New Delhi. From what I saw, there would be no way to test a person on-paper or in-car to see if they could drive there. The unique context would be needed – congestion, horns, pedestrians, bikes, the odd bullock cart, all moving and stopping in order to avoid a collision, but only just. Those skills and knowledge of the theoretical roads would not be much help here. This seems like common sense, yet in our schools, we do the equivalent of a paper-test for driving into a New Delhi roundabout all the time. We have to understand that all assessment is only a small picture of learning.

Assessment needs to be a part of the learning process so in this sense it is hard to treat it as ‘the’ outcome which is where standardized testing is of limited value in the way it is often treated as a measure of performance. Schools can only assess a small part of what is actually taught so choosing what to assess is very important as it is such a small cross-section. The way much assessment in many larger systems is structured (& increasingly so with more standardized testing) is based on the easiest way to get it done (a test of content) which considering the importance of assessment for learning, does not seem to be a very useful approach if student learning is what the system is about.

Fortunately, I spend my days in an independent school so we can be flexible and use a range of strategies that look at the application of understanding rather than the memory of content. Tests of content along the way have a place, but only for the purpose of feedback to help students prepare for what will eventually be needed to demonstrate their understanding. Students come to understand the world in a variety of ways so it would be reasonable to expect that they would be able to demonstrate that understanding in a variety of ways. We would never be able to see the true magic of a New Delhi driver until they got on the road.

I think that ultimately, we need to remember that we will never know what students actually learn at school outside of the small window of varying reliability that our assessment tasks provide. For this reason, we should not pretend that assessment results equate to actual learning. This doesn’t make assessment any less important, it makes that obscure little window even more important.

Problem Solving and Independence / 問題解決能力と自立

One of the only ways we develop our problem-solving skills is, not surprisingly, by solving our own problems. In many ways, parents control the problem-solving environment of their children. We don’t want to solve all of our problems and modern society has been built on the idea of reliance. For example, the problems associated with food production are taken care of by someone else. Unless we are farmers, we don’t use our time to plant crops. Someone else deals with that problem. So the question for us as adults in a modern, technologically advanced society is what type of problems do we choose to engage with and what type of problems do we choose for our children to engage with.

Problems are situations with potentially negative consequences that requires some type of action to avert. In this sense, action and consequence are closely linked. The scale of problems is also important and this is where analytical skills are needed. For instance, big problems always contain smaller problems. Understanding how the smaller ones relate to each other and to the bigger whole is part of the problem-solving skillset and the start of the process.

In this sense, we need to understand the nature of the problems as well as a commitment to who is going to take action to avoid the imagined consequence. If we want to help our children take their place in the world, we need to support them, however at what part of this problem-solving process do we direct our support? I would suggest it is with the analytical stage that the parents should get involved, leaving the action stage to their child.

This can be difficult as we tend to want to jump straight into the action stage for them, without first considering the analytical part of the process. This can be problematic as without first examining the different aspects of the problem we can get a false sense of the simplicity of problems. Furthermore, by diving into action, we can get a false sense of our responsibilities in the problem-solving process. By ‘us’ I mean parent and child. We both come to think problems are simple and we also both come to think the parents are the ones who solve them. That is not the way to prepare a child for a life on their own.

So what is your child’s world like? What does the interplay of action and consequence look like from their perspective?

Parents are the filter through which our children see the world. We have a natural tendency to protect our children from harm. Our brains do not differentiate between physical and emotional dangers. Our body’s reactions are the same. There can be a tendency to protect our children too much and a range of commentators have described shifting trends in parenting over the past twenty years involving the increase in protective behaviours. We can see a shift in various areas of life.

One interesting example is the recent increase of parents on university campuses arguing about grades their adult children are receiving. This is related to the increasing trend of students moving back into their childhood homes after university, still dependent on their parents, not yet empowered enough to fend for themselves. This is new. Unfortunately, a long series of problem-solving based interventions by a parent in their child’s life leads to this point. It starts in the early years. Parents need to spend more time on the analytical part of the process, helping them explore the problem and provide some suggestions for action if needed and stand back. It takes some restraint, this last part, but it helps a child learn that they are able to take action, that they can be in control of their own lives. It is empowering and this is more important than the solving of any single problem.








(Published previously in Mamanpere magazine, Hiroshima)

Patterns in conversations and what they can teach a child / 会話が私たちに教えてくれること

Our brains seek patterns. It’s the way we make sense of our world and it is also the way we learn. Conversational patterns are an important part of our world, particularly as they govern the nature of our interactions. As we learn language initially from our earliest interactions, the ongoing conversations between parents and young children have a strong impact on not only our language development but of our view of the world and our place in it.

We know that children of parents who speak to them a lot develop larger vocabularies. This seems like common sense. However, as Bari Walsh from Harvard Graduate School of Education ( explains, it is not just ‘talk’ that is important. It is a conversation. In this sense, it is the quality of those words that makes the difference. This is not just about using ‘big’ words, it is about the quality of the larger conversations. Walsh explains that besides the use of a wide assortment of words, using complex words, interactive words, and words to tell stories, explain and imagine are all important. This makes sense. I loved that article.

In terms of patterns, the use of questions is very important in the interactions. To take the example of using words to wonder, if a child is in conversations on a regular basis where they are asked their thoughts on what things might be like. For example, when looking at the sky at night, ‘I wonder what it would be like to walk on the Moon?’ and are given time and space to explore these ideas, they will sense patterns across conversations. These patterns will explain things about their world. From these patterns, they will learn that;

  • they are valued as individuals, as their thoughts add meaning to conversations
  • imagination is important, for why else would time be spent on such conversations
  • perceptions differ, but these differing perceptions don’t need to be right or wrong
  • people need time to gather their thoughts and patient listeners wait
  • ideas can be explored at varying degrees of depth
  • we make meaning by building on each other’s ideas

In this sense, it is not just the words that are important, it’s the way we use them. It is the patterns that our conversations form. From the type of conversations, our children encounter they learn about their place in the world. Conversation, in this sense, can be a valuable gift to a child.

Open-mindedness / 心を開く人

(A few words after graduation.)

For many international schools in Japan, June is the time of graduations, sending our students into the world for what will be another stage of their learning journey that we hope will continue throughout their lives. My following comments are from our graduation this year; a few words about open-mindedness and how this learner attribute needs to fit within the wider context of learning.

At the end of Grade Twelve, your child’s studies aren’t over of course, yet schools all hope that whatever academic work is looming on their horizon, the years of study provided by the school will have left them well prepared for the challenges ahead.

On that post-school journey, the Learner Profile attribute of open-mindedness is extremely important. As any parent knows, we shouldn’t really have favorites, but I must admit that open-mindedness is one of mine. In many ways, other attributes that you develop will be severely limited if you don’t keep an open mind. For example, if you try to become more knowledgeable, acquiring in-depth knowledge and developing understanding, yet close your mind to the perspectives of others, ultimately, what benefit will your knowledge bring our world. If you try to become more caring, showing empathy, compassion and respect towards the needs and feelings of others, without an open mind, who would your empathy, compassion and respect be directed toward. More importantly, whom would it be withheld from. As a communicator, who would you choose to listen to? Again, more importantly, who would you choose not to listen to?

Our students enter a world where many people will be wanting them to think in specific ways. They may not be accepted you they don’t think in similar ways. Even more powerful are the algorithms that govern content distribution on social media which will feed them content that aligns with their online profiles. Content introduced to them online will not challenge them with new ideas. It will saturate them with content that they are comfortable with. This is very nice and comfortable, but it narrows their view of the world. It is not inherently negative, but it is important to maintain an awareness of the forces that shape what we are allowed to think, and also what we have an opportunity to think. We can push our thinking beyond these barriers. We need to do this actively, even though at times it may be uncomfortable to not conform, but it is an important part of the human condition.

I would always challenge students as they move onto this next stage of their lives to use their learning from our International Baccalaureate (IB) programs to guide them in the search for diversity. The diversity of perspective. Finding other points of view. Seeking to constantly challenge their own beliefs and assumptions. I have had many IB graduates remark to me that the understandings they developed in Theory of Knowledge (TOK) and the links to other subject areas just keep coming back to them. One graduate said they felt like they were being haunted by TOK which I thought was a good sign and I sincerely hope that all of our students are haunted in this way. It will help them to critically evaluate the different perspectives of people they meet, once they listen and consider the alternate thought, idea, opinion or belief.

Being open-minded is as much about opening your heart as it is about opening your mind. If our students want to use their learning from our IB programs to make a difference, to help create a more peaceful and sustainable world, an open heart, as well as an open mind, will be necessary. School systems need to remember this.

Open minded ― 心を開く人






(Originally published in Mamanpere, Hiroshima, 2018)

Critical Thinking in Translation/クリティカルシンキング – 批判的思考

Critical thinking is an interesting word when it appears in translation. It is commonly referred to as one of the key skills needed to prepare children for the 21st century, which seemed like such a long way away, but now happens to be nearly eighteen percent over. For this reason, we are no longer just preparing children for the 21st Century. We are living it and should actually be preparing for the 22nd Century.

As part of this preparation for a rapidly changing world, we send our children to school to learn, but learn what? They learn content that is divided roughly into academic disciplines, but as a parent, it is not so much what your child is learning that should interest you, as most of it can be Googled, rather you should be interested in what they can do with that content. How does it help them to come to understand their world?

Above the subject-based content, there is a set of skills that are encountered across all subject areas. One of those is critical thinking. Critical thinking skills help to ensure that you are sensitive to the intentions behind the different information that bombards you. In its English form, the term does not have a negative connotation, yet in its Japanese form, the meaning of critical thinking does not translate so smoothly. It seems that this slight problem of translation is causing mixed-feelings in the Japanese school system with moves to bring a more critical perspective into approaches to teaching and learning in Japanese classrooms. 

Critical thinking is not about finding something wrong, or inherently bad. We understand that the basis of communication is intention and interpretation. Developing critical thinking skills is about discerning oftentimes subtle intentions in messages that may not be readily apparent. The portrayal of body image in the media is an example of one of these types of messages. Communication in all its forms is intentional to a degree, but messages are interpreted in many different ways by the audience, so if our children are going to understand their world they need to be able to think critically. As a number of Japanese schools embrace the International Baccalaureate programs, teachers and school administrators may need to revise their understanding of critical thinking and shift their deeply embedded styles of teaching and learning.

Critical thinking skills allow children to discern intent and form more independent ideas. The process does, however, necessitate students challenging the content they are exposed to, questioning the texts they use and the words of their teachers. Of course, more didactic teaching methods and content-driven, memory-based approaches to teaching and learning will not foster critical thinking. The question that confronts us is how far will school systems be willing to bend and shift in order to develop these all-important critical thinking skills? Do we really want our children to be able to question the world? If so, our school systems have some work to do.

クリティカルシンキング – 批判的思考





Three challenges when raising your child/子育てする上での3つの課題

A new-born child, unfortunately, is not accompanied by an instruction manual. In fact, we are lucky it doesn’t, as who would we trust with the authority to dictate such a deeply personal task as raising a child? Even if we were to find someone that we could trust with the directions, from the time the child is born to the time they leave home, much will have changed with the world and surely the child-rearing manual would be out of date. Can we use what we already know, from our experiences in our own lives to prepare our children for an uncertain future? 

In the absence of clear directions, we listen to a range of people to try and make the right choices for our children, for our families. I can recall that from the moment I discovered that I was to be a father, there seemed to be a never-ending stream of free advice being offered from well-meaning people. A small portion of it, I actually asked for. A majority of it was contradictory. Nevertheless, when it comes to raising our children, we trust our hearts, receive advice critically and do our best to face the challenges. 

Just as we are getting used to raising a baby, we need to adjust to raising a toddler, then adjust to raising a child in kindergarten, a child in primary school and so on until one day that child, thinking they are all grown up, leave the nest and go out into the world to make their own life. Then we need to adjust to being without them. This is one of the first challenges of raising a child, the first of many. Below, three challenges are described which highlight the complexity of this task:

Challenge 1: Our children keep changing. So the first problem with raising a child is that the developmental needs of your child are forever changing. You are always just getting used to one stage of your child’s growth and development and they slip into the next. Just ask anyone who has sent their child to the first day of school. I don’t know how many times I have heard parents say something akin to, ‘I can’t believe she’s starting school already. Where did the time go?’ Whether it is kindergarten, primary school, middle school, high school or university, the emotion is always the same at each new step, especially as each step makes us, as parents, feel older. There is no denying that. The changes are swift and unrelenting and you have to work hard to keep knowing your child throughout this journey. 

Challenge 2: Our worlds are not the same. The second problem of raising a child is that we occupy a different place in the world than our child, which is more complex than the often quoted and potentially misleading notion of the generation-gap. It is difficult enough to try and understand the world as it is today for ourselves, let alone how it is for our child. The world of a child is distinctly different than the world of an adult. This adds an additional layer of complexity to trying to figure out what our child’s world will be like tomorrow, next year or in twenty years, but can explore through observations and interactions with their child. 

Challenge 3: Our worlds keeps changing. This leads us to the third problem of raising a child in Japan. The world today is not the same as it was last year or the year before. We are raising our children to be safe and happy in a world, the nature of which we are all hopelessly ill-equipped to predict. We need to enable children to understand their world, to develop the skills and mind-set to inquiry independently, so they will be able to come to their own understandings. 

All three challenges are experienced by parents all over the world, across all cultures. However, each challenge is encountered by parents in unique ways and this is no different in Japan. These challenges are not problems to be solved. They are how we experience the world, ways of considering the world that can help us when making decisions about how we raise our children. 





1 子供は変わり続けます。親はあるステージの成長に慣れていきます。すると子供は気が付くと次のステージへと移っています。子供の成長は早く、容赦なくやってきます。それでも親は常に子供を知る努力をし、理解してあげることが必要です。

2 子供たちは親とは異なる世界で生きています。ジェネレーションギャップという言葉がありますが、子供は我々よりも入り組んだ世界で生きています。子供が生きている世界を親が試し、理解することは困難です。子供たちのこれから、明日はどうなっているのか、来年、20年後をわかろうとするのは、さらに難しいことです。しかし子供たちと関わり、子供を見守り続けることで、子供と一緒に未来を切り開いていくことができるのです。

3 世界情勢は去年や2年前とも異なっています。世界のどこにいても、親は子供の安全と幸せを願うものです。それは将来を予見する術がないからです。このような状況下で親が子供にできることは、世界のどこにいても、世の中の情勢を理解し、自主的に探求できる技術、やる気を備えてあげることだと思います。そうすることにより、子供は自分で理解し、考える力がつきます。


Originally published in Mamanpere magazine, Hiroshima (2017)