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What do you know about "Hans"?

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What do you know about the "Hans"?
A lot - it was part of my induction and I use them
 11%  [ 1 ]
A lot - I noticed then probed and asked questions and sometimes use them
 11%  [ 1 ]
A little - saw the Japanese teachers use them but I haven't used them
 11%  [ 1 ]
Nothing - never heard of them. Isn't he a dude from Star Wars?
 66%  [ 6 ]
Total Votes : 9

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Joined: 17 May 2012
Posts: 35

PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 4:17 am    Post subject: What do you know about "Hans"? Reply with quote

I recently did a research paper on the "Han System" in Japanese schools.

It was quite challenging but very rewarding. I wasn't able to find much on the topic in English but there were Japanese language papers.

My readings and experience did reveal that the "Hans" are somewhat for Japanese teachers only and that not too many foreign language teachers even know about them and that Japanese schools prefer it that way for a variety of complex reasons.

I think it is really something that we are not introduced and informed about this student group system . I have had Japanese teachers tell me that they would not know how to teach without them. Their whole Japanese teacher education training is very much rooted in the Han system.

For me, Classroom Management and the Hans were the biggest area of interest.

Just curious what others know about the Hans.
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Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 1520
Location: Tokyo, Japan

PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 6:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You've got to know your classroom arrangement.

Also, identify who is the han-cho (the leader of the han). In my own classrooms I used hans did routine seki-gae (seat change), carefully arranging the students in mixed-ability groups so that the stronger ones pulled up the weaker.

Also, your classroom has nichoku duty - someone who is responsible for the greeting, errands, etc for the day. Recruit that person to check absentees, manage handouts, etc.
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Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 463

PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Japanology, does reading your paper explain a lot of the more obvious questions, and if so can you make it available online?
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Joined: 17 May 2012
Posts: 35

PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 8:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, Tokyo Liz. You know the the way of the Hans very well. I could tell when I read your blog. Excellent stuff.

Did you know that the han-cho or the "kakari" is bound by duty to report all non-compliant students to the homeroom teacher at the end-of-day-home room-meeting and this is why Japanese students have the highest on-task % classroom behavior in the world? This role is rotated weekly and none of the students resent this position. Funny, in a western school the kid would get punched out at the end of the day for being a "rat". No such concept exists in the Japanese Han system though.

The Japanese conditioned this system into them beginning at 5 yrs old. It's "fixed" as my Japanese colleague put it. That is, until a Non-Japanese teacher walks in the room. My position is that the students experience a huge release from the psychological restraints of the Han system when they see a Non-Japanese teacher and they let off a huge metaphorical "fart" that expresses freedom and permissable off-task bahavior in my EFL class.

In Japanese teacher classes, non-comformity is associated with being non-Japanese when a student does get out of line and needs to be dealt with. All a sensei has to say is, "are you not Japanese"?! to create student self reflection on their off-task behavior and to also justify compliant classroom behavior.They use "othering" and the insuated view of the rest of the group to shame the student. The other students are perfectly down with this too.

This is just conjecture, but by my being non-Japanese, does this mean that I am the to be avoided "other" that the Japanese system teaches the students to have a form of negative connotation towards. Could this have something to do with questionable and inappropriate school status that I feel I am often given? Hmm? Nonetheless, it's all very interesting.

I do know this though, at my school and probably many other MEXT schools in Japan, both the kakari ( Han-Cho) and the homeroom teachers bypass dealing with the Foreign language teacher's off-task behavior students during the end-of-the-day-meeting. The main consequence that students face since 5 years of age is non-existent. Does this make our jobs more challenging? I think so.

One thing is for sure though, IMO, Japan has the most unique classroom management system in the world.
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Joined: 11 Mar 2009
Posts: 661
Location: Kyuuuuuushuuuuuuu

PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There's an article on it here.

I can't say I'd heard of it before - I've never taught in the public school system here - but it does provide some insight into classroom management in other contexts. Perhaps it explains why small groups with clear responsibilities divided among the members works well, in my experience at university-level, at getting and keeping the kids on-task.
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Joined: 17 May 2012
Posts: 35

PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That was a great article link Mr.Monkey.

I especially found this part interesting:

And they do it by putting students in charge. Teachers are not the bosses in Japanese classrooms, at least not in the way they are in the United States. When students make mistakes, the teachers do not correct the error; they leave that to other students. The teachers do not punish students who misbehave; rather they manipulate other students to scold the culprit into feeling guilty. It is this manipulation that is a key to primary and preschool education in Japan, and the teachers are the most masterful manipulators imaginable.

From my Western perspective, using a group to induce "shame" is a little concerning. This fear of a possible pending future shame must make the students feel awful. No wonder they're scared to death to speak in my class. Publically attempting a foreign language for them must be akin to jumping out of a plane without a parachute with this system like this. I would not want my peers keeping me in check and I wouldn't want my son or daughter kept in check like this as well. But, this perhaps makes the teacher job load much easier though. It also keeps J.Teachers in a highly honorable and samurai like sensei position. This honorific gap between this J. teacher identity and the Western ALT is huge in the minds of young Japanese students and I find it concerning at the international level - but that's a different post Idea

This is why I am of the opinion that Japanese Teachers are pastorial education administrators. They are literally swamped with adminstrative and pastorial work. Often seems they have very little time for sujects and skills. Also, there is a hidden secret that everyone knows, that is, subject knowledge and the skills are often left for the private evening and weekend schools.

This part is often left out when the international community praises the Japanese system. I've seen many times a class assignment being cut short by the bell with very little work done and the teacher putting that big brown labelled envelope on the homework wall in back to collect later. And sure enough, we go back the next day and the envelope is full with everyones homework finished and complete with answers and completion done at a skill level that they weren't even close to when the bell rang last class. How did they make such a quality improvement since last class? Private tutors and private evening schools, that's how. MEXT schools and teachers get the credit for this though.

The quote above, In the same sense, I find very interesting in how Japanese teachers have chosen to work with Foreign Language Teachers. With colleagial efforts, I've often noticed funny little manipulation decisions were chosen as opposed to simple and doable communication courtesies, even when the language barrier was minimal.

It is hard to explain, but to try, it's almost as if my work participation has been uncomfortably "fixed" in an infantile way rather than drawn upon through my own professionalism. It's a strange feeling but the quote above about J.Teachers being masterful manipulators really highlights this for me.

If anyone wants to learn more about the "Hans", do a GOOGLE book search on " Classroom Management in Post War Japan". You will get a link to a huge partial Google Book called " Handbook in Classroom Management" . It's a $500 book made up of 100's of articles covering international classroom management. The last chapter is titled above and is written by a Japanese author: Nishioka M. It's a partial chapter, but there are 2 free google books online that give you much of the article if you use the two.


and here:

If you want the Hans to work for you, you first need to inform the HRT that you want in! Smile
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Joined: 10 Sep 2003
Posts: 3198
Location: Beijing

PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 4:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah yes, developing the ole kokoro.

Warm regards,
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Joined: 04 Oct 2010
Posts: 249

PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 6:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shame really is the main stick used for classroom discipline in Japan. Unfortunately, it's also the only one, now that the stick is no longer literally ...a stick.... Once the kids have no shame, they run wild. We've got plenty of kids at the junior high schools I work at who do whatever they want whenever they want to do it. The teachers scold, plead, lecture, try to be their buddy, "manipulate", everything but give the little jerk detention and make him write, "I will not climb out the 3rd floor classroom window." 500 times.
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