The Japanese are well-known for their impeccable manners and orderliness. Travelers love to visit the country because it’s ranked as one of the world’s safest nations with its low crime rates. One could argue they’re exemplary when it comes to displaying good behavior (especially how they line up and ride their trains).
If you’ve ever wondered how they manage to be so disciplined, this “behavior requirements” checklist that’s been making the rounds in Japan might shed some light.
A mom with the Twitter handle "Mandaring" recently shared an image of a list of expectations regarding students’ behavior on her Twitter account. According to media outlet Japan Today, the list was part of a parents’ orientation package of the school her child will attend.
The list has been liked 22,000 times and retweeted 20,000 times. It has also received 351 replies, presumably because of its “controversial” content. Mandaring posted it with the characters of kanji, “ç„¡èŒ¶,” that roughly translates to "unreasonable." Japan Today's article, which was in English, seemed to agree and reported that many of the items would be hard for adults to do, let alone children.
According to the media outlet, the list begins with, “Before your student begins classes at the school, please make sure they are capable of the following. Also, as parents and family members, please follow the same conduct yourself.”
There are 18 points divided into two categories. The first one is all about “Basic Conduct and Attitude.”
Attentively listen when someone is speaking
Greet others and respond to questions in a clear, easily audible voice.
Sit up properly in your chair.
Have a clear understanding that what belongs to others does not belong to you.
After taking off your shoes, arrange them neatly in the entryway.
Make sure your clothing is clean and unwrinkled.
Take responsibility to go to bed early and wake up early on your own.
The second category is “Relationship with Friends,” and includes:
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Do not leave anyone feeling left out.
If someone has a problem, help them.
Do not badmouth your friends.
Be able to get along with, play, and learn with anyone.
Don’t always just play by yourself, but be friendly in playing together with everyone.
Play outside, both to get plenty of exercise and also to relax in natural surroundings.
If you make a mistake, earnestly apologize.
After we read it, we thought there were some rules that younger kids might have a hard time with, like the "unwrinkled" clothes and waking up on their own. But we wouldn't term it "unreasonable" exactly. We felt we were missing something. So we enlisted the help of Kristina Dionisio, a mom of two who majored in Nihongo, to translate the tweets and put some context in Mandaring’s tweets.
According to Kristina, Mandaring tweeted that she felt the school's list was outdated. She used the term “unreasonable” perhaps because the kids who are expected to be able to do all these things are just entering first grade. Based on Kristina's translation, Mandaring was also thinking about kids with developmental disabilities. Kids with special needs might not be able to sit up properly — stay still, for that matter — or attentively listen. These kids should be exempted from the so-called requirement, with Mandaring adding it was "important to consider diversity." She hoped the school could have considered the circumstances of the children before they distributed the list.
Despite the debate, we think that the list can still be used as a sensible guide (emphasis on guide) for parents who want their children to grow up to be kind, helpful, compassionate, and good-mannered individuals. Some of the points in the list can be considered essential life skills that a child needs to learn as she grows up. We couldn't agree more with the emphasis on getting along and not isolating other schoolmates — it's an essential aspect of cultivating inclusiveness and acceptance.
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And the part where parents are expected to behave the same way? Well, we don't see this is a tall order at all. After all, parents are the kids' first role models.