When I wrote my post about my concerns about club activities at junior high school I knew it would get a big reaction from the foreign community living here. I knew it would get a few eyebrows raised from those in other countries and I knew that most of those commenting would probably support me in my concerns. At the same time what I also knew, but deliberately chose to leave out until now is the reaction of my daughter to these club activities. Without prompting her about why, I asked her a couple of questions regarding what she was looking forward to most about junior high school and any worries she had. This was her response:
I’m looking forward to club activities the most when I start junior high school. At the moment I want to go into volleyball or brass band. There were no club activities at primary school, so I am looking forward to doing club activities at junior high school. At club activities everybody works together. If it was brass band and we could play the music right till the end there would be a sense of achievement. If it was volleyball and we won then we would be happy. I think that the things I can learn in club I will be able to use in my study, for example for Japanese writing about our experiences. I think that I will be able to make lots of friends in the club. I really want to make friends with children in the same grade. I want to have some rivals so that I can get stronger.It doesn’t worry me about how long I have to practice. If I could just do it then I would be happy. I am worried that there will be too, too, too hard exercise!
One of my good friends is also in an interesting situation. She is German and lives in Hong Kong. Her children are part of the French school system (confused yet). She sent me an e-mail after reading my blog and said that her son had also read it and his initial reaction to Japanese club activities was “But it´s great, so I could play soccer after school every day with my friends”. Their school system requires much longer study hours and little time for sports.
I am always being asked whether I intend to keep my children in the Japanese education system. My answer is always the same - my children will always be given the opportunity to go to whatever school they see fit. My job will be to show them their different options, but it will always be their choice. There are many things that I disagree about the Japanese system, but there are other things that I don't think are perfect in the New Zealand system. I think which system suits each child is very much a personality thing. Of course if I could start my own school it would be perfect for every child, but... . My initial hunch (which could be proved completely wrong... ) is that my daughter is very much suited to the Japanese system. She loves school and can't wait to start Junior High School. She is so excited to start club activities. Because of this I try very hard to keep my opinions to myself when I am around her. I know that she is partially happy with this system because it is the only real system she has known and perhaps if she spent more time in a New Zealand school should would think differently. But, as my German friend said as long as the children are happy then there probably isn't too much to complain about. I like her attitude, she says she now tries "to accept the “bad” things and be happy with the “good” things" and she has "learned to watch the kids more than comparing the systems".
Just to clarify, I do not think that the club activities system here is the best system for me. If I thought my daughter was uncomfortable with it then I would be one of the first on the picket line trying to get it changed. But if the truth be told she is soooooooooo looking forward to it. It is all she can talk about. It may turn out to be a fantastic experience for her. She is incredibly happy about it. I'll support her to try and make it a great experience while doing my best to maintain as much communication with her as I can - even adding a bit of family time when I can. Here's hoping the happiness is remaining 3 years down the track.... Stay tuned!