|“We come to school to be happy, so let’s all be happy together!” This is the vow made by Grade Four, Class One and their teacher Kanamori. Each day, three children read letters to their classmates, talking honestly about their feelings for each other and events in their lives. The class searches together for ways to understand and cope with troubled relations, unhappiness and loss of loved ones. In the course of the year, the children’s characters develop naturally as they share their experiences, and grow to understand the value of life and of caring for each other’s feelings.|
| This is a simple story, well told, that captures the essence of education.
The program is an intimate portrait of a teacher and his classroom which
subtlety presents a path for all educators who face the challenge of preparing
students for life. Unobtrusively capturing extraordinary moments of drama
and emotion inside a single Japanese classroom, the documentary demonstrates
how individual teachers occasionally exhibit remarkable powers to shape
the future of their students.
The documentary elicits tears of laughter and sadness as students and viewers discover the value of sharing powerful emotions, giving meaning to the life and death issues that arise in the classroom. Incidents of bullying, language instruction and outdoor activities are all opportunities to educate in this “School of Life”. Never preachy nor pedantic, the documentary reduces the myriad issues in education to a simple message - learning to care.
|Mr. Noboru Kaetsu, Producer, Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK)|
| Talking about one’s own parent’s death while crying, giving
a leaving friend a parting song, standing up desperately for a friend...
I believe there are many great moments in the Kanamori class. Many people
gave us praise for this program, but one of the students said, “I
found the program interesting, but it is still light. Our year is much heavier
than that.” I could not help but agree with him as I felt sorry as
the producer of this program. There were many more great stories, but we
had to cut some scenes that I wanted to show very much. Kanamori class students,
the heroes of the program, must have more great memories in their hearts
than I could see. My own benefit was that through this coverage, I was able
to experience the rich and valued moments that only that school can provide.
As an adult who understands contemporary school problems in Japan, such as decrease in academic ability, lack of leadership ability of teachers, bullying, school refusal, after I spent one year with the children, I must say that schools still have valuable underlying power.