October 10, 2017 2:59 PM
Four students in the 11th grade visited Mid-Pacific from Hiroshima Prefectural Junior/Senior High School on October 6. Hiroshima Prefectural Junior/Senior High School is one of 11 Super Global High Schools in Japan for 2016-17, selected by Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) to foster global leaders through internationalization. High school students in the program are required to conduct fieldwork both domestically and internationally on a research project. They interviewed Vice President of External Affairs Mr. Scott Siegfried, asking questions for their research project on U.S. education.
Shunya: My research topic is on the school environment and how it affects our learning. How does the way of teaching affect student's way of thinking?
Mr. Siegfried: Each school has its own philosophy of learning or approach to teaching, and students think and respond to the type of teaching differently. At Mid-Pacific, we focus on student-centered learning because we want our students to be prepared and have these skills by the time they graduate.
Ryo: I am focusing my research on improving education in Japan. How can we make students more interested in studying?
Mr. Siegfried: We want students to take ownership of their learning instead of teachers lecturing and feeding them information. Students learn from their peers and teachers by getting feedback and presenting their own learning.
Ryo: In Japan, people tell us to always work together and stay together to create unison. How do you think independence affects student thinking?
Mr. Siegfried: Students need to be given independence to learn and grow on their own. The only way to learn is from taking risks and not being afraid to fail. Our students are each given iPads from elementary school and learn to become responsible thinkers.
Shunya: That's impressive. In Japan, we are not allowed to have iPads until high school. What is the difference between letting elementary vs. high school students use iPads?
Mr. Siegfried: The iPad is a learning tool and doesn't replace learning in the classroom. It's used to get and find information faster and allows students in different grade levels to present their learning in different ways, depending on their capabilities.
Shoko: I want to know more about the types of research projects students do in school.
Mr. Siegfried: Projects should be authentic, relevant, and meaningful for students so that they develop a deeper understanding of the work. Our teachers allow students to pursue projects of their interest on their own and connect it to learning. For example, in the Mid-Pacific eXploratory program (MPX) class, each student pursued different themes - food, travel, nature, environment - all related to the lesson of sustainability. One project focused on the question of how can we create sustainable transportation in Hawaii, and gathering opinions and feedback from those who work in the field led to them build an electronic bike.
Shoko: Wow. Do you think multimedia is important?
Mr. Siegfried: Yes, the use of multiple mediums is important to show learning in multiple ways. As a matter of fact, communicating effectively using multiple mediums is one of the skills we list in our Mid-Pacific Learner Profile (see above).
Miku: My research focuses on stress levels at school. Do the students feel stressed? If so, how do students relieve stress here? In Japan, we have a lot of stress because our parents have high hopes for us and we want to exceed their expectations.
Mr. Siegfried: I think we ask a lot of our students so it's always important to try to balance need with content in terms of how much material you teach. We look at different ways of assessment and evaluation for the students.
Miku: How do the teachers relieve their stress here?
Mr. Siegfried: Today, there are no students on campus because it is our professional development day for teachers to get training and we have an un-conference where the faculty are sharing their own research with each other.
Miku: I see, that's a great way for the teachers to learn from each other too.
All: Thank you. We learned a lot today and excited to present what we learned with our peers tonight.