Saitama School district made this incredible film showing how Japanese children learn an appreciation of lunch through – well, lunch! Check it out and read more about what it’s teaching the kids below.
Packing Lunch Tools Teaches Preparation Skills
Yui, a student that attends Saitama, shows us her supplies that she brings every day to school, including a luncheon mat, a toothbrush, chopsticks- she loves Madeline, as you can tell from her cartoon pal’s image on the side.
Healthy Food Teaching Nutrition Plus Respect
Eating healthy food isn’t an issue in Japan: the meals themselves are cooked daily from scratch. Plus, they are made from fresh ingredients from a local farm as well as from a garden tended by the children themselves. The potatoes eaten in the meal were planted by the fifth graders last year. It’s a beautiful, kind thing to see: the kids learning about the cycle of life and about respect, hard work, and honoring those who came before you.
Lunch Duty Teaching Cleanliness And Serving Others
Lunch duty: this is a thing! Yui, a student in the video, puts her mask on to help others hygienically by wiping down the lunch counter. She is translated as saying “Let’s do the health check for the lunch duty people.”
Health check? A student wiping down a counter? We’re definitely not in America anymore.
The lunch duty crew then goes through a checklist to even make sure they’re ready for lunch, asking if anyone has diseases, whether they have the proper outfits to serve lunch – complete with adorable masks for all the kids – I can’t stop wanting to squeeze the cheeks of the cute boy in the middle at this part. There are a number of checks to make sure everything is healthy.
The kids are all given sterilizing gel and then set to work.
Fetching the Food in Style
The kids all get the food that has been healthily prepared. Each grade comes with their own group to pick up the lunches from the lunch ladies. Eat your heart out, Adam Sandler. This lunch lady land is incredibly neat, tidy and respectful. The grades’ students then thank the adult lunch team with a song.
Yes, in fact, this is what they sing:
We are 5th No. 2 Class / thank you for making delicious food for us!
This clearly is teaching respect as well as an appreciation for a sweet hook on a melody.
Serving Others Teaches – You Guessed It – The Value In Serving Others
Every one of the lunch helpers has a task. One little boy is in charge of milk and passes out the milk. One ladles out the soup. After all the children are served, they assess the damage: each child announces what’s left from his or her supplies (i.e. “1 piece of fish left”). Then they all eat!
During the Meal
This actually feels like the least important part of the video – the kids just enjoy, eat, be kids! They do read the history of what they’re about to eating- pears are from a local farm, etc, plus one teacher gets chided by another behind the camera for eating without using his chopsticks – but these feel like they’re more a case of doing this because of being filmed rather than the authenticity felt during the earlier part of the video.
The Kids Have Fun!
They play “rock, paper, scissors” for the extra food. They smile and go for second helpings!
Students prepare their empty milk cartons for recycling by flattening the cardboard. They then brush their teeth at the table and rinse at the sink.
They finish with another “thank you” for the meal.
The milk duty boy rinses all the milk cartons off. They will dry in the class for a day and then be brought to a recycling center.
Do they wash the dishes themselves? No, they leave that to the lunch ladies, but they do spend twenty minutes cleaning their classroom and their entire school – including the bathroom, stairs, and the gym. No wonder graffiti occurs at a lower rate in Japan. No one wants to have to wash it off!