American elementary schools must focus on creating good citizens

Ratnika Batra

Education starts at home, but due to the increasingly stressful parent life, schools need to take the responsibility to teach integrity to their students so as to lessen the burden on parents. Nowadays, elementary schools have a bigger responsibility that they are not taking — more than middle and high schools. That’s because children are more apt to learning good behaviors and morals at an early age.

American elementary schools need to focus more on teaching social conduct, respect for others and manners, like they do in Japanese schools, more than on grading a student’s intelligence at a tender age of five to ten. Schools are spending so much time grading a student in traditional subjects that they don’t seem to have enough time for other, arguably more important lessons.

The practice of grading a child, so early on in life, does no good to anybody. In Japan, nobody fails in an elementary school and yet, their students do well in STEM education when they get older — much better than American students. This shows that grading students in elementary schools has no relationship to them succeeding in life.

Their schools don’t have janitors because the whole class, including the teacher, clean up the school. Unlike American schools, you can’t eat or drink in the classroom when the teacher is lecturing. Children must also stand up and bow to the teachers when starting and ending the class — a tradition that is similarly followed a in many other countries including India. Such practices teach students to respect everyone — from janitors to teachers.

In American schools, a lot of children eat unhealthy lunches, or buy unhealthy food from cafeterias — a big problem that former first lady Michelle Obama has been trying to solve. Japan offers a much better alternative: All students and teachers eat the same healthy lunch made fresh at school and they must all finish everything on their plates. Students even take turns serving the food to others. In contrast, American schools have practices such as lunch shaming where if a student cannot pay for a burger and fries there plate is thrown away in the trash and children have to wash dishes as a way of punishment.

Japanese schools are not going overboard with being orthodox, this style of education pays big dividends to the society. Japan is known for its tradition of respecting living things as well as its thriving economy, and most importantly, having an incredibly low crime rate.

American elementary schools need such an educational system where the whole school is working towards making students good citizens. Parents don’t have enough time to guide their children and elementary schools must fulfill that deficit. They need to guide children on how to build a peaceful and happy society. Once, children learn to respect everyone, they can go on to learning traditional subjects. A society that respects all life is bound to have lower crime rates, more peace, and more freedom.

Batra is a computer science and rhetoric and writing junior from New Delhi, India.