Outdoors Club Barbecue at a Japanese Elementary School

By Donnie | Articles

It’s mesmerizing to see how much responsibility is given to the elementary school students here at my school, but definitely in a good way.

On Wednesdays I usually spend an hour to an hour-and-a-half checking out some of the different clubs that are going on. I’ve gotten the opportunity to see the track club, baseball club, the soccer club, and the outdoors club. As cool as watching the sports clubs are, the most fascinating one to me has been the outdoors club.

Gonensei and Rokunensei plantings (5th & 6th graders)

My very first glimpse at the outdoors club was so interesting because students were gardening…and ENJOYING it! There were actually about an equal number of boys and girls in the club. I’d say it was between 10 and 15 students (fourth, fifth, and sixth graders). I watched them make mounds for planting sweet potatoes and plant rice. I can’t fathom even one single boy from my American sixth-grade class signing up for a gardening class without being severely ridiculed by his peers. I’ve noticed that’s a pretty big difference here. I know it happens here (and I’m sure it’s probably harshest at the middle school level) but I’ve seen very little in my short time here (it’s still very early in the year, though).

Even though many children aren’t members of the outdoors club, when I get to school, I see kids pulling weeds with smiles on there faces. Watering, pruning, helping to keep the school looking nice without hesitation (it’s similar to the post I did on brainwashing and how kids up after lunch.

Today, the Outdoors Club had a barbecue using three brick and mortar barbecue areas. The bricks acted as stands for metal plans. wood was then added in the open space beneath, and lit. The teachers helped getting the fires started safely. After that, the teachers were monitoring of course, but the kids did so much on their own. They were barbecuing sausages, onions, bell-peppers, corn, marshmallows, potatoes, carrots, sweet potates, and the like…by themselves! If I were to try this with my students back home, I would be on pins and needles. I would be so worried that a child would end up like that Austin Powers bad guy, Mustafa, who was “still alive, only…very badly burned.”

Where the BBQ magic happens

The moment I set foot on the cooking grounds, three kids rushed over.『アッシュせんせいたべてください!』 or “Ashu Sensei, tabete kudasai!” Sensei Ash, please eat! They were giving me food left and right, and I couldn’t help it…it all smelled so good that I thought I’d try some. You know, how might think, oh elementary schoolers made this, how good could it possible be. Umm…REALLY GOOD! The food was just as good as it smelled. All of the kids had a great sense of how to “work the grill.” It was just a downright tasty, good time.

After a while, one of the teachers let all students know that it was cleanup time. That’s when the teachers stepped back in to help extinguish the fires. Students brought buckets of water to douse last, smouldering pieces wood. Students used shovels to stir the the refuse (being sure to completely extinguish the fires). The refuse then was put into a wheelbarrow and carted away for disposal

This was another one of those good days where, despite suffering “Donnie Broke Ass” Syndrome, it seems to me that changing jobs was a good idea…

Sweet Potato Mounds...I think.

Yonensei (4th) grade garden.

This was pretty amazing. They actually made their own rice paddy together!! Neat, right?

See you tomorrow,

Donald Ash

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  • Anthony

    I envy those kids haha. Looking back, I thought I had all the freedom in the world as a kid and then I see this. The rice patty bit in itself is amazing, let alone given the chance to BBQ. Remember, money can/will be spent and forgotten, but knowledge and experience last forever. Have a good weekend!

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