10 October, 2013

School without Walls

This week CAJ's high school holds their annual SWOW (School Without Walls). Each grade does a different version/level of this, the hardest being the Grade 11s (or "Juniors") who go on a Wilderness trek, sleeping in the open, carrying their own sleeping bags, food etc. The Grade 12s are up in Sendai, helping out with disaster recovery work. The Grade 10s are basically having what I would have called a "school camp" down near Mt Fuji, doing similar activities to the Grade 9s (at least that is what I've heard).

Our son, in Grade 9 has an easier time of it than the older high schoolers. His class stayed at school and is doing various leadership-development, team-building type activities. He has the luck of doing it with his dad, who is one of the teachers in charge of the Grade 9s' SWOW week.

The one that caught our family's attention yesterday was their description of lunch. All week they've been working in the same groups. Yesterday the group's hands were tied together, boy-girl-boy-girl, in a circle and told to go and have lunch in the cafeteria. Some in the group had to buy their lunch, others, like our son, had brought theirs.

Our son had his standard Wednesday lunch of pre-cooked two minute noodles. (What do other nations call this? Instant ramen?) It doesn't taste great cold, so he (and his brothers) heat it up using the microwave provided for this purpose. He had to speak up and drag the whole group over just so as he could warm up his lunch! And he did it too! I'd love to see the videos the teachers made, just imaging how tricky it would have been to go through the cafeteria line, and to sit at a table tickles my imagination.

I asked my husband how it looked to him, and he said there were funny moments, but mostly it was just great watching how well they worked together and figured it out. I feel the same way when I see kids at sport or music doing their best and succeeding at, for example, just finishing a cross-country course, or improving their wrestling, or running their hardest for their team in a 4x400m. It makes me teary, actually. Especially when it is my own kids. Or when it is a child for whom I know that sport isn't their "best thing".

I had a rather rotund young man come up to me as I recorded places in a recent cross-country meet. He'd finished so far behind the rest of the runners in his race that he'd finished after runners in the next race. Still, when I congratulated him for finishing, he beamed and said, "I got my best time." I love the attitude!

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