180 Degree Turnaround ...

Are many of the readers of this column school students? Are you enjoying your school life, and are you studying anything interesting? I've recently been wondering about what Japanese students study in school, because when I think back to my own school days, I've noticed something very strange.

I was basically an average student, getting neither very high, nor very low marks in any of my subjects. But I did have trouble with three subjects: physical education, art, and second language (for me this was French). I hated them, hated them absolutely. So of course, I avoided studying them, and thus always had barely passing marks.

But look at me now! Here I am, swimming a kilometer at my local pool three days a week, and cycling many kilometers every day ... Here I am, making a living as a woodblock printmaker ... Here I am, living in a new country, spending most of my time speaking a second language ... It's those same three subjects - physical education, art, and second language!

Does this mean that I must have been a very stupid person back in those school days? If I had studied those subjects properly, wouldn't my life be better now? Well, I don't think so. I think this simply shows us that the point of going to school is not to learn the details of any particular subject, but rather to learn ... how to learn! And also of course, how to interact with our fellows, how to work, live and play together. It doesn't really matter what you actually study.

The real learning doesn't finish when you graduate. That's when it begins!