Japanese visit school BALITMORE COUNTY

November 19, 1992|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,Staff Writer

At Sparrows Point High School, 600 students fill the halls every 50 minutes as they make their way to 44 teachers in classrooms around the school.

It's a typical high school routine here, but it puzzled a group of Japanese educators visiting the eastern Baltimore County school yesterday.

In Japan, the 600 students would stay put in their homerooms and the 44 teachers would move around.

"That's a big difference," they said through an interpreter.

The 24 Japanese teachers and administrators, spending two days in Baltimore County as part of a two-week American tour, were also struck by the freedom American students enjoy.

Japanese high school students wear uniforms. They carry lunch from home and usually eat in a classroom rather than a cafeteria. They don't drive cars to school, either.

"Students are free to do anything here," said Machiko Saito, a visiting English teacher, adding, "Oh, I know there are rules."

Ms. Saito and her colleagues began their study tour in Dallas and Washington and will conclude with visits to New York and Seattle. The Japanese government chose the participants, many of whom are in this country for the first time. Only a few speak English.

They visited schools in Baytown, Texas, last week, but said they have a lot more time to see American schools in action here.

They wandered the halls of Sparrows Point Middle and High schools, housed in the same building, stopping at art, English and algebra classes and inspecting even empty home economics labs.

Through their interpreter, the visitors asked high school Principal Keith Harmeyer plenty of questions about high school: How long are the classes? How big? How many credits does a student need to graduate? How many hours make up a credit? They also wanted to know about special classes for high achievers and about technical education.

"The Japanese government sent us to learn about the American educational system -- to help us give better teaching in Japan," Hiroshi Asakawa, the group leader, said through an interpreter. "At the same time . . . we would like to learn much more about American culture and people."

Today they move to the other side of the county, visiting Catonsville elementary and high schools and Western School of Technology.

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