Book Review of Totto-Chan: The Little Girl at the Window

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  • Topic: Teacher, Railroad car, Head teacher
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  • Published : April 21, 2013
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Book Review
Totto-Chan: The Little Girl at the Window

Totto Chan: The Little Girl At The Window is a book which has engaging series of childhood recollections tell about an ideal school, Tomoe that combined learning with fun, freedom, and love and adventure. The school was in the railroad cars for classrooms and run by a good head teacher who was a firm believer in freedom of expression and activity. This book depicts the childhood activities of Tetsuko Kuroyanagi, the author of this book, whose childhood nickname is Totto Chan and translated by Dorothy Britton. Expelled from first grade:

The story starts with by telling of Totto-Chan’s expelling from the previous school when she was in grade one. The little girl ‘Totto-Chan’ was waiting all the morning for street bands to walk by the school and call them over to play their music which was considered as highly disruptive behaviour and aggravated, her teacher decided that the girl would be no more in the school. Finally, her mother found a school after searching and took her to the school- Tomoe Gakuen, where the little girl Totto-Chan impressed the head-master through her talking which stunned to her mother. The school has only fifty students in total and the classrooms were conducted in disused train cars. In the assembly hall, all students shared their daily lunch consisting of “something from the ocean (fish, seaweed, bonito flakes, etc.) and something from the hills (vegetables, beef, pork, pickled plum, etc.).” So, doubts scaffolding knowledge in Totto-Chan’s mind and she used to ask her mother about it when she returned to home. The headmaster meant to it was balanced food which necessary for children, but the children only concerned about to fulfilled the two requirements. This relates to the everyday knowledge which children can think on it and learn what is necessary for a good health. Mr. Kobayachi, the headmaster believed in experimental learning, even he asked the parents of the children send their kids with their worst clothes to school. Lessons at Tomoe:

In that school, Tomoe, children enjoyed lot of freedom in the sense that they were free to do anything as their wish. The head teacher had trust on students; there they were engaged in such adventurous tasks like climbing trees, play freely or stay in class to finish a science experiment during recess. Students were getting space for doing or playing as their wish in which teachers guided them and help them how to do it, so their confidence enhanced through it. Here is a description of classes at Tomoe Gakuen: “At the beginning of the first period, the teacher made a list of all the problems and questions in the subjects to be studied that day. Then she would say, "Now, start with any of these you like." This is one kind of methods of teaching by which teacher can able to observe that the children’s progress to higher grades by observing their interest in which area as well as their way of thinking. I think, it is a best way for teachers to know their students in a better way means to understand their interested field and teach accordingly (p. 12). Many activities based learnings were taught by the headmaster that really seemed impossible in practical, but it was. As you know, Children were encouraged to study whatever subjects they liked first, they were taken to ‘field kitchens’ and ‘farming lessons’ to learn the practical aspects of cooking food and farming, first hand- related to real life experience. Adventures on the school grounds

This is very surprising and interesting activity in that school. Totto Chan began her adventurous learning at Tomoe like she had a tree in the ground- which every child understood that tree is their private property, if anyone wanted to climb their tree must seek permission. So, one day she invited her friend Yasuaki-Chan to her tree because she knew that Yasuaki had had polio and could not climb. But Totto-Chan decided that Yasuaki deserved to see the world from the...
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