Campaign Stories #3:
Kaoru Kinoshita, PhD
Coach, Nagoya International School Parent
How should they [students] be equipped to live in a dynamic world? NIS’s education is an answer to that question.
Why did you decide that NIS was the right place for your children and for your family?
NIS is the right place because it serves our family’s expectations on education: inquiry-based learning, independent learning, and preparation for higher learning.
Our early years as parents and our own education had the similar themes of inquiry-based education and independent learning. We started to raise our children in the United States while my husband and I attended graduate school at the University of Minnesota. Kohei, our older child, attended a public Montessori school in St. Paul for Kindergarten, a gifted and talented elementary school for grade 1, and a private Montessori school in Decatur, Georgia for grades 2 and 3. He then attended Sasashima Elementary School in Nagoya starting grade 4, after we returned.
As early as Kindergarten, Kohei started telling me how much he loved to learn independently. He had found a love for multiplication using a checkerboard. However, with the best intentions, we took our son out of the Montessori system in favor of a familiar, traditional school setting. While we tried to honor his wish for independent learning and maintain the environment that fosters it, we found that the traditional schools were not the best fit for Kohei. He no longer found enthusiasm and passion for his projects and writing.
In searching for alternative school options that allow independent learning in Nagoya, we found NIS to be the best possible school for Kohei. NIS bases its education theory on inquiry-based learning, and there are the added benefits of learning with friends and teachers from all over the world.
In the last few years, NIS has served another educational expectation: preparation for higher learning. The Primary Years Programme (PYP) is a comprehensive curriculum that fosters Kohei’s independent thinking, work, and production based on his own interests and abilities. The philosophy carries through to the Middle Years Programme (MYP) and the Diploma Programme (DP), all a part of the International Baccalaureate program offered at NIS. This education not only prepares students for university admission, it also helps them apply their unique abilities and perspectives to their preparation for college-level learning. My husband and I often wish we could have had the same training before attending graduate school in the U.S.
We center our family’s values around how to give our children a quality education from many perspectives - social, emotional, and academic - and NIS helps us achieve these. There are some sacrifices, however. Financial priorities require that we live separately from Dad who is working in Tokyo, and there is a limited budget for family vacations. Some might think the sacrifice is great, but I enjoy the benefits of this multilingual and multicultural parenting community.
While living in Minnesota, we learned about the importance of investing in K-12 education for greater returns in later life. My husband and I gained excellent academic training and experience at the University of Minnesota, and now that our children are school age, we think that it is our responsibility to offer them educational opportunities that align with ours.
Why do you think this project is important for local families who are considering educational options for their children?
I think this project is important for local families who wish their children to become well-rounded, capable people who can contribute to international and intercultural communities. To speak frankly, our children will have to compete with people from all over the world, not just with other Japanese. Also, they are likely to work for multiple companies and have different jobs throughout their lives. How should they be equipped to live in a dynamic world? NIS’s education is an answer to that question.
In addition, the project will help the school look more attractive to prospective families. Schools that have preschool through 12th grade are not common in this area. NIS will be better able to promote both its curriculum and facilities as a cutting-edge education hub. That way, the school will draw many families and remain an essential presence for years to come.
What will this project do to help NIS maintain its high academic standards?
The project will create more space. More space and more facilities will allow students more flexibility as they work in groups. Collaborative learning is a key driver of inquiry-based learning, and therefore, an indicator of high academic standards.
NIS has increasingly offered various options for extra-curricular activities, such as service-learning and after-school activities. For example, my son is involved in the Global Issues Network (GIN), which promotes awareness to preserve Toyooka, Hyogo Prefecture, and its storks. He is also a member of a tutoring organization called PLAN. These non-academic activities eventually feed thinking and writing in academic subjects and therefore, are essential parts of the MYP and DP. My daughter, Sawaka, participates in the Home Language Club and drama class as after-school activities. These are great opportunities for her to deepen her interests in musical performance and also strengthen her reading skills. With these experiences, I am sure that she will find her own talents as she gets older. The building project will offer space and facilities for students to explore a wide variety of activities such as these.
The building project will offer space and facilities for students to explore a wide variety of activities.