Saturday, August 19th, we attended Josie’s Undokai. Undokai is a P.E. Festival. All the students from all the classes participate. The entire school, 7th, 8th and 9th graders are divided into three groups. Each group will have 2-3 classes from each grade so they are evenly mixed. Then each group is assigned a color. The colors this year were white, red and blue. Josie was in the red group. The groups compete in various activities like relay races, tug rope, sprints, jump rope, and games. They earn points for each event and then the points are totalled at the end to see which group is the winner. In addition, they also compete as individual classes against the other classes in their grade. For example, in Josie’s 8th grade, there are 7 different classes, each with about 40-50 students.
In Junior High in Japan, students have a “home room” and a “home room” teacher. They have all their classes in their “homeroom” with all the same students. Unlike the American Junior High system, the teachers go to the students. So, for one hour, the English teacher may come and teach English. Then the next hour, the Science teacher may come, or the Math teacher, or the Japanese teacher. As a result, students spend a lot of time with the same group of 40-50 classmates and get to get to know them well.
In Japan, it is all about “working together”. In Junior High, this “working together” is foundational in their teaching and the Undokai was a good example of this. In each color group, there were slow and fast participants, athletic and not athletic. But, all ran in races and as teams all earned points; all were equals. All the races were about working together, either by passing a baton, moving in sync, or supporting one another. Players cheered on their teamates, but also players in other groups. It was all about doing your best for your team and doing your best with your team. At the end of the day, all the points were totalled and the red team won. Yes, Josie’s team! They were awarded a trophy but even as they were given it, the teacher reminded them it was not about the red team winning but the school as a whole participating together. What an amazing experience for our first Undokai! And we all had fun.
These Junior High School students created a beautiful image of cooperation, unity and teamwork without individual competitiveness.
We are the body. Imagine what He can do through us when we work together.