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Wednesday, March 27, 2002
Teacher has students hatch projects
By ERIKO ARITA
KAMAKURA, Kanagawa Pref. -- The vice principal of Seisen Elementary here believes teachers of comprehensive studies must come up with themes that can lead pupils into other areas of learning.
As an example, Tadashi Bessho cites the time his class chose to study bantams as part of its comprehensive studies course.
Some 20 years ago, when the school began the course, Bessho suggested to his students that they raise an animal. The children chose bantams.
The pupils took observational records as they cared for the fowls. Then one day, the bantams laid eggs.
"Children touched the warm eggs one by one and were very much impressed," said Bessho, who has been a teacher for 36 years.
The bantams continued to lay eggs every day, he said, opening the door to a wide range of learning activities.
As the eggs accumulated, the kids started wondering what should be done with them. One child suggested that the eggs be given to students' grandparents, while another wanted to wait for the eggs to hatch. Finally, they hit upon an entrepreneurial scheme -- selling the eggs to other pupils at the school.
To research their new enterprise, the pupils first visited neighborhood stores to check out the eggs' market value before setting a price.
The children then realized they needed to package their product, so they designed and constructed boxes, a task they had learned in arithmetic classes.
When they took orders from students in other classes, the eggs sold out.
"A student wrote a letter of apology to customers for running out of stock," Bessho said. "Then other students read and corrected it and discussed revisions that could be made to the letter to make it better."
One of the other classes selected a turtle for its comprehensive studies course. This was not a good choice, Bessho said, because turtles do not do much and, worse, go into hibernation.
Bessho said it is important that teachers spend time with their classes before deciding on a comprehensive studies theme. Quality guidance by teachers will ensure the course bears fruit, he added.
He said the nationwide introduction of comprehensive studies will severely test teachers' abilities. Teachers should help children find pleasure in learning and work to develop their abilities by using natural resources.