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Education

Teacher in Japan shares mind-blowing differences between her school and schools in the U.S.

Is there any reason American schools couldn't implement some of these things?

teacher in japan sharing things about her school

Japanese and American schools differ in a few significant ways

When you live in the same country your whole life, it's easy to think of things as "normal" simply because it's the way they're always done. One of the best ways to divest yourself of that notion is to go live in another country for a while, because very quickly, you start to see things you thought of as a given—or never thought about at all because it never dawned on you that they could be different—are actually cultural norms that don't exist everywhere.

An American teacher who lives in Japan offers a perfect example of how the norms of different countries can contrast sharply.

On her TikTok channel, @hito.bito, the teacher shared a video called "Things about my Japanese school that could send Americans into a coma," and the differences she described are mind-blowing.

She begins with, "We all have to change from outdoor to indoor shoes as soon as we enter the school. And no, I’ve never seen any love notes or confessions in the shoe cubbies.” She shows herself changing into comfy slippers after entering the school. Definitely a good way to keep the floors cleaner.

Not that cleanliness is an issue for schools in Japan, since the students—not janitors, the students—clean the whole school daily.

"You don’t know clean until you’ve been to a Japanese school because these kids clean the school from top to bottom every single day,” she shared.

People familiar with the Montessori approach to education are familiar with the idea, but it's not at all the standard practice of most public schools in the U.S. Perhaps it should be?

Another difference she pointed out was the lunch kids are served—or rather that they serve themselves. Usually, it's some kind of rice, vegetables and protein, and it all looks delicious.

Of course, not every difference is a positive.

"Now, what sends me into an absolute spiral almost daily is that they leave the windows open and there’s no heating or cooling in the hall so I have to walk around in a coat," she shared, showing herself wearing a parka indoors. This practice probably has more to do with Covid and air circulation than a cultural norm (I lived in Japan 20 years ago and don't recall this being a regular practice), but even taking proactive steps to keep the air clean is a far cry from schools here, even in the Covid era.

She also shared some hair, makeup and piercing rules that are far stricter than most schools in the U.S. (She stated in a later video that the reason for the low ponytail rule is that kids are required by law to wear helmets when biking and most Japanese kids bike to school, so the hairstyle rule allows for safe helmet use.)

Watch:

People in the comments loved certain parts of Japanese school protocol, but others not so much. The consensus is that the cleaning habits are awesome—pretty much everyone felt that American kids should be cleaning their schools as well. The shoe change was a popular idea, too. Several Canadian commenters said they do that up north as well.

The hair, make-up and piercings, however, people were not so fond of. Americans do treasure our individuality and freedom to express ourselves. That's a norm that's pretty unshakable here.

We all have things that we can learn from one another, and when we share our customs and norms, sometimes we can find ways to improve or enrich our own culture. Now it's just a matter of figuring out how to make the kids-cleaning-the-school thing happen in the US…

A young woman drinking bottled water outdoors before exercising.



The Story of Bottled Waterwww.youtube.com

Here are six facts from the video above by The Story of Stuff Project that I'll definitely remember next time I'm tempted to buy bottled water.

1. Bottled water is more expensive than tap water (and not just a little).

via The Story of Stuff Project/YouTube


A Business Insider column noted that two-thirds of the bottled water sold in the United States is in individual 16.9-ounce bottles, which comes out to roughly $7.50 per gallon. That's about 2,000 times higher than the cost of a gallon of tap water.

And in an article in 20 Something Finance, G.E. Miller investigated the cost of bottled versus tap water for himself. He found that he could fill 4,787 20-ounce bottles with tap water for only $2.10! So if he paid $1 for a bottled water, he'd be paying 2,279 times the cost of tap.

2. Bottled water could potentially be of lower quality than tap water.

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A teacher collcts "rent" from ger 3rd-grade students.

Financial literacy is one of the most essential life skills determining someone’s future success and mental and physical well-being. However, only 17% of American students must pass just one semester of a financial literacy-based class to graduate.

This development flies in the face of public opinion on the topic. A recent poll found that 88% of Americans wish they had been taught financial literacy in school. The same number said their state should require either a semester or year-long personal finance course for graduation.

A teacher in Charlotte, North Carolina, has taken that problem to heart and is giving her 3rd-grade class rigorous, hands-on lessons on the importance of personal finance.

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Joy

A 9-yr-old cheerleader’s veteran dad couldn't help with her routine, so a high schooler ran to her side

Sensing something was wrong, he sprang to action with many witnessing his kind act.

Images from YouTube video.

Addie Rodriguez does her cheer.

Addie Rodriguez was supposed to take the field with her dad during a high school football game, where he, along with other dads, would lift her onto his shoulders for a routine. But Addie's dad was halfway across the country, unable to make the event.

Her father is Abel Rodriguez, a veteran airman who, after tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, was training at Travis Air Force Base in California, 1,700 miles from his family in San Antonio at the time.

"Mom missed the memo it was parent day, and the reason her mom missed the memo was her dad left Wednesday," said Alexis Perry-Rodriguez, Addie's mom. She continued, "It was really heartbreaking to see your daughter standing out there being the only one without their father, knowing why he's away. It's not just an absentee parent. He's serving our country."

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Pop Culture

Elmo did a well-being check-in with everyone and unintentionally opened the floodgates

The response was massive, and Sesame Street's follow-up was perfection.

Elmo's check-in brought out thousands of emotional responses.

Few things evoke a visceral comfort response in people of all ages like the colorful characters of Sesame Street. Millions of us grew up with Elmo, Big Bird, Bert & Ernie, Grover, Oscar the Grouch and the rest, and have nothing but warm, positive memories associated with them.

So when Elmo asked all the grownups on X to how they were doing, it triggered a deluge that spoke to people's need to share their mental and emotional struggles as well as the safe place Sesame Street has been for generations.

It all began with a simple question: "Elmo is just checking in! How is everybody doing?"

Elmo surely did not expect thousands upon thousands of people to dump their emotional loads on him like they were in a therapy session, but that's exactly what happened.

Not only did people respond that they were tired—a common refrain—but they also shared about the deaths of loved ones, their relationship struggles, jobs they'd been laid off from, their feelings of despair and depression. Clearly, some people needed a place to put their woes, and who better to receive them than a beloved childhood character who we know understands and accepts us unconditionally?

To Sesame Street's credit, they handled the trauma dump as best a fictional world filled with fictional characters possibly could. After the initial post's impact, Elmo posted, "Wow! Elmo is glad he asked! Elmo learned that it is important to ask a friend how they are doing. Elmo will check in again soon, friends! Elmo loves you." Elmo added the hashtag #EmotionalWellBeing.

And then the other Sesame Street characters started chiming in.

One by one, all perfectly in character, the Sesame Street crew showed up on their respective accounts to offer their support, all using the #EmotionalWellBeing hashtag.

"I'm here if you ever need a shoulder to lean on. I'll make us both a warm cup of tea," wrote Bert.

"If you need some cheering up, let me know! I love making others smile," wrote Ernie.

"Me here to talk it out whenever you want. Me will also supply cookies," wrote Cookie Monster.

"I, Grover, am here to be a good listener whenever you need it," wrote Grover.

Even Oscar the Grouch weighed in with some honesty and support. "I'm not great at listening to other share their big feelings, but my worm Slimey is. You should talk with him if you ever need to chat."

Yes, it's silly. But it's also not, because Sesame Street truly has been a lifeline for countless kids who found solace, support and celebration of themselves in those beloved characters, sometimes even more than they found at home.

The main Sesame Street account also shared a link to mental health resources.

But the wave of support and words of kindness and understanding didn't stay confined to Sesame Street. All kinds of big accounts, from NASA and the United Nations to Xbox and Verizon—even the President of the United States himself—weighed in with gratitude for Elmo checking in and reminders that we're all making our way through this life together.

Does it get more wholesome than NASA reminding us we're made of stardust?

The entire phenomenon was a testament to the enduring influence of Sesame Street, but also a good reminder to check in with people once in a while. You never know who might need to offload some emotional weight, and as cathartic as it might feel to drop it all on a beloved icon like Elmo, nothing compares to a real-life friend who offers a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on.

Thank you for the inspiration, Sesame Street creators. Still managing to nurture the children within us, all these years later.

Four cousins hanging out in the yard.

The birth rate in the U.S. has steadily declined since the Great Recession. Between 2007 and 2023, it has decreased by nearly 23%. In 1950, the average American woman had 3 children. Now, she has only 1.6, which is drastically lower than the replacement rate of 2.1.

The dropping birthrate has many worried that it will upend government programs because there won’t be enough young people to work and pay taxes to support older people on Social Security and Medicare.

Faith Hill from The Atlantic recently illustrated another problem with the declining birthrate in the U.S. and Europe that no one talks about: the decline of cousins.

“If everyone hypothetically went from having five kids to having four kids, that would mean one less sibling for each child,” Hill wrote, quoting demographer Sha Jiang. “But it would yield a much bigger decrease in first cousins: Instead of a child having four aunts or uncles who each have five kids—20 cousins—they would have three aunts or uncles who each have four kids, for a total of 12.”

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George Biard/Wikipedia,Paramount Pictures/Wikipedia

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With a lengthy list of credits in critically acclaimed films like “Taxi Driver” and “Silence of the Lambs,” not to mention being a highly successful director for decades, you can probably trust any movie recommendations Jodie Foster gives you.

Recently Foster was asked in Interview magazine to pick one movie she thought everyone should see at least once in their lifetime.

Pulling a pretty badass move, the legendary filmmaker gave not one, but two movies. And one of her recommendations might come as a surprise.

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