Beyond classroom education
Novelty is an important idea in education.  I’ve seen it here and there, but basically it means that learning should be fun and new.  We should challenge our students with novel ideas in novel ways.
Against that background, my colleague brought up a depressing story in the paper today.  In the largest Japanese-language paper here, they reported that, in comparison to 1998, thirteen years ago, even fewer kids were doing “kid” things—going camping or swimming in a lake or ocean.
In fact, they say that 40% had never been camping, 15% never swam in an ocean or lake.  Kids are spending too much time inside, in cram schools, studying.
So? What’s the big deal?  Is this front page news?
I ‘m not sure about the front page part, but a variety of experiences is  important.  From Edutopia’s six brain tips for education, “When we encounter new information, the brain quickly goes into pattern-recognition mode. If it reminds us of something we’ve encountered before, we know how to respond.”  Thus, more experiences gives us more to respond with.

A variety of experiences broadens the vision of any child, or adult for that matter.  Take camping.  Camping in Japan is almost alwaysdone in a tent, usually with family.  A child that has had that experience not only has a fond memory of staying outdoors with his or her folks, but they can also draw upon that experience later.  He or she will have some idea of what the outdoors is like.  He would know it is more than just the park down the street that has a few patches of green grass and a sandbox.
He or she will probably appreciate having a home.  If we are lucky, he may value the natural environment more and even sympathize with the hundreds of people who may have lost their homes in a disaster. For me, most importantly, it is a sign that some people here are realizing that book learning is not everything.
Spending hours upon hours in a classroom does not mean that you are educated.  It may even mean the opposite.