Relationships between Teachers and Students in American and Japanese Kindergartens. Gakko Kyoikugaku Kenkyu [Journal of School Education], Vol. The marriage that began as an infamous student-teacher sexual relationship is reportedly on the rocks. Mary Kay Fualaau is an American former schoolteacher who pleaded guilty to two counts of felony second-degree rape of a child, her year-old student, Vili Fualaau. Mary Kay attended Seattle University and graduated in with a teaching When she was 34 in , her relationship with the year-old Fualaau.
Other Japanese teachers suggest that through such play, relationships are formed with other students. When students can assume roles during play, especially as heroes, this is perceived as raising self-esteem and also allowing them to realize the limits of their strength and learn to be considerate and attentive to others feelings.
On the other hand, American teachers found no real beneficial results of such kind of play, suggesting that children don't know the limits to their behavior and can't stop. Because many American teachers feel that fighting play has negative affects on the children's relationships skill development, problem solving through words is emphasized.
Sword play usually winds up with someone getting punched. Weapons tend to cause harm" American teacher. The safety regulations of American schools result in dramatic differences in teachers' perception. While this weapon play is not tolerated in the U. Japanese teachers' value of building self-esteem and learning the limits of their strength also appears through play with small animals. Although not an interview question, this issue emerged through the course of observations and informal conversations with teachers.
It seems that interactions with small animals are often used as a method by teachers to allow children to feel strength and confidence.
As several teachers suggested, even if children begin to be rough with animals, to the point of causing death this was witnessed at A, B, and C kindergartens involving insects, frogs, eels, turtles, and in one case, a chick these kind of actions have beneficial results in allowing children to build awareness of their strength, learn to care for other things, and build empathy.
This whole process appears to be considered a natural part of a child's development and thus, not to be denied or punished in the classroom. While teachers were occasionally observed verbally guiding children in the proper ways to handle animals, for another large percentage of the time, children's behavior and treatment towards the animals was ignored by teachers.
When physical aggression occurs, Japanese and American interpretations of motivations for such behavior differ. In the question 8 involving children who are hitting one another, several Japanese teachers suggested that rather than meaning to be aggressive, the child who was hitting was attempting to be playful.
As Lois Peak points out, it is often common for Japanese teachers to consider such acts as children hitting each other merely the child's immature way of expressing themselves. Japanese teachers do not consider hitting as a 'crime' or a demonstration of antisocial tendencies. Rather, it indicates social immaturity and frustration at an inability to verbalize one's feelings There is an unspoken assumption that learning to live in a society involves learning to live with friends who express themselves by hitting as well as with words p.
The 'cure' is not to isolate or punish children who hit but to strengthen their personal interconnectedness and foster their understanding of the social consequences of their action p. While the Japanese teacher may be able to view the positive aspects of such behavior, the typical American reaction is to focus on the negative consequences of such action. As one American teacher responded, "I will keep an eye on them and it may be the case where someone will have to go to time out or miss their next recess" American teacher.
While the American teacher sees the behavior and labels it as inappropriate, the Japanese try to see it with a long term perspective as part of the child's natural learning.
Japanese and American teachers initially tend to follow the same pattern; watching and intervening if the child appears to need or ask for assistance. With regards to the question about the child who tends to focus on the same activity every day 3teachers of both countries indicated that such behavior was not a problem. However, if and when teachers intervene, American teachers respond with greater detailed plans. Responses indicate that when the teacher chooses to encourage the child, the encouragement focuses around academic matters, such as bringing other areas of the curriculum into the child's play, or finding similar type activities that can expand the child's skill development.
These responses suggest that American teachers' "encouragement" takes a more focused approach than the Japanese counterpart. American teachers also intervene with greater intensity and authority in conflicts. In situations of quarreling between children question 4children's ability of problem solving is valued by teachers of both countries. Japanese and American teachers respond to such situations by initially observing the children's attempt to reach a solution.
If the children can not come to a solution on their own, U. Children are then encouraged to listen to each other and use words to express feelings. However, the American teachers may employ specific problem solving, or conflict resolution programs such as the entire class discussing a problem or working through role playing situations. When American teachers intervene, they also frequently bring up potential negative consequences such as losing the privilege of playing with a toy or sitting for a few minutes and missing out on play.
Relationships between Teachers and Students in American and Japanese Kindergartens
If they can't come to a conclusion, the tricycle will be put away and no one can use it" American teacher. This reflects upon the previous discussion of the American teacher's tendency to declare behavior inappropriate rather than simply natural and immature.
Because behavior becomes "inappropriate," teachers must fix the problem, thus the heavier level of intervention. If the Japanese teacher, on the other hand, sees such behavior as natural, they are more likely to feel less pressure to intervene, and rather let the child's development of these skills run their natural course. As Catherine Lewis discussed, Japanese teachers tend to employ a strategy of minimizing the impression of teacher control. Instead of leading a discussion, the Japanese teacher withdraws from the group.
Without teacher guidance, children try to go about group intervention and problem solving by themselves. During observations, Japanese teachers have been observed leaving the scene of a fight if they see that other children are mediating. Lewis, as well as Tobin, Wu, and Davidson pointed out this similar observation.
One Japanese teacher mentioned that although 3 year olds may need more intervention, " By the children's companions, they can solve it. However, the academic nature of U. Meanwhile, the social development focus of Japanese kindergartens encourages teachers to be a more careful observer of the development of peer relationships among children. These tendencies set the overall tone of teachers' position within the classroom setting.
This theme initially arose when observations at kindergarten A revealed that teachers will often engage in childlike play with children, such as playfully spanking and wrestling each other, or react to children's actions with a childlike tone, such as expressing exaggerated pain or complaining in a whining tone in order to get a child to stop. Although the level of such actions varied depending on school and teacher, the same types of actions were observed at B and C. Japanese teachers appear to be more willing to engage themselves in the same level of rough and tumble play as children than American teachers.
One question which tested this theory regarded the situation of a group of children who want to pretend the teacher is a giant and wrap jump ropes around their legs The Japanese responses varied slightly between schools.
Most of the teachers of kindergarten A tolerated this game completely. However, many teachers in kindergarten C felt this game should be stopped in the sense of the danger of ropes. The kindergarten B teachers responded in between the relaxed and conservative approach. While some teacher responses indicated that they would use direct authority in saying that the rope was dangerous, another group of Japanese teachers took a less authoritative approach.
These teachers chose to protest and appeal to the children that the game was too scary in order to persuade the children to save the teacher and stop. If there are children who are to save me, I will praise them as kind and welcome them" Japanese teacher. Meanwhile, on the American side, no teachers chose to allow this game to continue in the sense that rope use violated a safety issue.
When the American teachers discussed how the game would not be able to continue, all used more authoritative approaches, directly telling the children to stop.
I would tell them I am the teacher and I am here to help all the children and if I have ropes around my legs I can't do my job School goals and safety issues may account for this difference in teacher response. Because the Japanese goals encourage teachers to share and support a child's free exploration of the environment, if the teacher becomes part of that environment through the child's play, imposing rules as an authority figure distracts from the natural flow of the game.
Mary Kay Letourneau’s husband and former student Vili Fualaau files for divorce
Thus, if a teacher wants the game to stop while allowing children to continue playing creatively, the teacher must find a more natural and indirect method. By protesting as being vulnerable, the Japanese teacher turns the game from one into capture to a game of rescue, appealing to the children's emotions to be the heroic savior. In the United States, rules and safety issues encourage the teacher to involve themselves less as a playmate, but more as a supervisor of activities.
No running and no loud voices are common rules in American schools. As several Japanese teachers stated, some safety issues should be less emphasized in order for the children to have more experiences. With less pressure to maintain a long list of guidelines and rules, Japanese teachers have less pressure to use high authoritative, supervisor roles and can enjoy being more of an equal with children.
Although some American teachers may share this same desire, the rules of the school create this difference between the Japanese and American situation. Another reason for this distinction in level of teacher authority may be explained by the Japanese idea of amae.
Takeo Doiexplains the general meaning of this concept as being "to depend and presume upon another's benevolence. PeakLewisand Peach discuss how the kindergarten tries to discourage such amae relationships. However, based on interviews and observations from this research, an alternative theory of amae in the kindergarten may be proposed. It may be argued that rather than initially discourage amae, Japanese teachers will rely on the use of it in order to build trusting relationships with children.
Using amae in the sense that the teacher acts vulnerable, children are allowed to build confidence. For example, in one observed situation of 3 year olds during the first week of school, the male teacher invited and actively encouraged the children to come and punch and wrestle him. The teacher increased the excitement of the children by acting as if he were in pain and truly being conquered.
In another situation involving 3 year olds near the end of the school year, a female teacher was observed acting frightened and hurt when a child crashed a chair to the floor in their roughness.
- Relationships between Teachers and Students in American and Japanese Kindergartens
As previously discussed in this report, some teachers explain that when a child can feel more powerful than someone or something, this allows them to develop strength and confidence.
Perhaps Japanese teachers, in attempting to develop their own relationship with the child, as well as accustom the child to the school, will occasionally rely upon amae. By gradually withdrawing the amount of indulgence allowed a child, such as the teacher who gradually begins telling children it is wrong to hit them, the teacher makes a gradual transition to greater authority and the child begins to assume control of their own behavior.
Former student files for divorce from ex-teacher Mary Kay Letourneau
We see how the male teacher, working with new 3 year olds, acted more playfully frightened. However, the female, working with children who would soon enter the 4 year olds class, made her fear more realistic, thus subtly forcing the child to reckon with the effects of their actions on others. The realistic fear used by the teacher makes a more impressionable learning experience for the child. In order to eventually gain authority, the teacher acts as the weaker subject, drawing upon amae as a means to accomplish appropriate child behavior and strengthen the relationship.
This topic deserves more thorough and focused analysis in future research. The lack of a large quantity of observed and interviewed teachers may prevent generalizations concerning differences between American and Japanese teacher. However, notable difference between the responses of each country may provide some reference towards understanding early childhood education. In referring back to the beginning three points guiding this research, some answers, and some questions for further studies can be drawn.
While American teachers focus on teaching and testing the child in skills that will be necessary for further academic development, the Japanese teacher seeks to guide the child in social development and exploring and gaining confidence in the world around them. Rather than being the main focus or power holder, the Japanese teacher acts as a receptive audience while subtly guiding and shaping the child.
The couple left the university  and moved to Anchorage, Alaskawhere Steve found work as a baggage handler for Alaska Airlines. Mary Kay attended Seattle University and graduated in with a teaching degree.
Mary Kay Letourneau
The Letourneaus' marriage reportedly suffered; they had financial problems, and both participated in extramarital affairs. She gave birth to two more children. When she was 34 inher relationship with the year-old Fualaau turned from friendship to sexual in the summer of that year. She was sentenced to six months three of which were suspended in the county jail and three years of sex offender treatment.
Un seul crime, l'amour. Letourneau said she planned to have another child and return to the teaching profession and indicated that by law she was permitted to teach at private schools and community colleges. I'm not ashamed of being a father.
I'm not ashamed of being in love with Mary Kay. According to Bremner, "Nothing could have kept the two of them apart. The Mary Kay Letourneau Story. Letourneau and Vili Fualaau". Walters interviewed the couple about their relationship and their two daughters.