Interactions Between Girls and Boys at a Japanese Elementary School

Do you remember being in elementary school? In like the 1st through the third grade? I do All girls had “cooties” when I was in school. If you’re not familiar with cooties. Is a fictitious disease that the kids make up when the can’t explain why the feel socially awkward around kids of the opposite sex. At least I think cooties are fictitious anyway.

I don’t know for sure, but I think cooties are an airborne pathogen. It’s important to note that cooties can be spread by word of mouth, games of tag, and mean-spirited child cliques. I found the whole cooties phenomenon to be quite common in early elementary school children in the U.S.. During those years, though, I was living in Germany. Oddly enough, I remember all my homeroom teachers’ names: 1st grade was Ms. Smith, 2nd grade Mrs. Alquist, and 3rd grade Mr. Walker. In Germany, in this transplanted American society, cooties weren’t so common (I guess there was no human host to carry this “disease” into Germany back in 1986-1989. I hate to say it, but my love life back then was probably better than it is now. I ALWAYS had a girlfriend. I even remember back in the 1st grade (or was it 2nd grade) when Nicole Person kissed me…I was so embarrassed that I just ran away. Sorry…flashback…

But what I notice here among elementary school kids in Japan is that boys and girls (by and large) have no problem talking to each other whatsoever. When they change into their outdoor uniforms, some of the younger kids had no problem changing in front of each other. I would have been terrified to change in front of girls at that age. They sit together, eat together, and it’s perfectly okay. In early elementary school in the U.S. boys would always sit in their little groups and girls in theirs. Once junior high school rolled around, though, that changed.

As I’ve probably mentioned before, my Japanese is a still a work in progress, so I am extremely interested in picking up what they’re saying. I’m interested in picking up on the kinds of conversations that are happening between kids.

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  • I would find this fairly curious too! I really hope my seminar/interview goes well on the 4th and I get hired. I am a complete spazz at this point.

    I remember the entire cooties thing as a kid. I’m 28 now and boys still have cooties some days!

  • Donald Ash

    You’re gonna do great, Nanami! I’m not worried.

    Ahhh…cooties. I think adult cooties go by a different name though :o

  • Elena-chan

    Man. I guess it skipped a generation…
    When I was little, we didn’t avoid boys because of “cooties”, it was just because they were boys, and as we all know, boys are icky. I’ve always wondered why we never used that term. Then again, I am mature for my age…

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