PE teachers visit Japan in cross-cultural exercise

Issue: Volume 97, Number 13

Posted: 25 July 2018
Reference #: 1H9ji5

Physical education teachers from around New Zealand spent a week in Tokyo to take part in the Japan Sports Forum.

Ten physical education teachers recently had the opportunity to visit schools in Japan and learn how their Japanese colleagues approach the subject.

The trip included a visit to the worldwide headquarters of judo, the Kodokan Judo Institute; a lecture on Japanese health and physical education at the Nippon Sports Science University, and a discussion with Sports Travel and Hospitality Japan, the organiser of global sporting events, including the Rugby World Cup.

South Otago High School PE teacher Leesa Bathgate

Leesa was keen to experience Japanese culture to find similarities and differences, especially with regard to teaching and learning styles, with New Zealand. She observed that Japanese PE classes were focused on perfecting the basics, while New Zealand focused more on concepts like strategic play.

“In Japan they would dribble the ball up and down the court for a very long time, getting the dribbling right. They would shoot for a long time until they got that technique right, they didn’t just move on,” she says.

“So I said to my kids, ‘How would you feel if we just did one hour of dribbling up and down the court?’ and they said ‘Oh that’d be so boring, Ms Bathgate!’ They weren’t wanting it at all. Then I said, ‘But imagine how good you’d be at dribbling after that,’ and they were like ‘Yeah, I guess you improve’. It was just kind of interesting the chat we had about it.”

Leesa has also been inspired to work on a unit looking at judo and traditional New Zealand sports, such as taiaha, and how both culturally significant practices are more than just a sport.

“They’ve got all their martial arts that are really traditional in Japan, but we’ve also got that in  traditional New Zealand sport or Māori tradition as well,” she says.

“There may not necessarily be that many similarities apart from the discipline of it and learning the skill. Martial arts is very disciplined and it’s not just getting out there and having a fight, it is learning the correct techniques and protocol.”

Cambridge High School PE teacher Joel Baker

Joel was interested in Japan due to the major upcoming sporting events to be held there, such as the Rugby World Cup and the Olympics. He was impressed by the respect people had for one another and for the environments they lived, worked and learned in.

“We went to stadiums where after the game they were picking up rubbish and looking after the stadiums themselves; you go to the high school and the students clean the high school on a daily basis. Just the respect and how everyone functions in a society with a huge amount of people.”

He is now working on incorporating budo (a Japanese martial art combining sumo, kendo and judo) into his PE programme in New Zealand.

“We saw a lot of budo in their physical education programme so I’m keen to introduce those into our programme of learning here at Cambridge High School and expose students to those different cultural experiences. Maybe a sort of international games type unit where we can incorporate those, so we’re creating a broader understanding of sports that are out there in the world and what they mean for different cultures.”

The Japan Sports Forum

The opportunity for Kiwi teachers to travel to Tokyo and take part in the Japan Sports Forum was made possible by the Asia New Zealand Foundation.

The aim of the trip was to foster connections and share knowledge between Japan and New Zealand.

The Foundation’s Education Adviser Yasheeka Bertram says the aim of the programme is to foster deeper connections, awareness and knowledge between Asia and New Zealand.

“The Japan Sports Forum is designed to help physical education teachers grow their awareness and knowledge of the culture, traditions and society in Japan, so they are better equipped to teach their students about the country,” she says.

“We hope teachers incorporate the insights gained from the Tokyo trip into their lesson plans in relation to upcoming sports events, which will give students a deeper understanding of the sporting culture in Japan.”

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 1:07 am, 25 July 2018

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