School Lunch: The Lessons Within (Part 2)

In Part 1 of “School Lunch – The Lessons Within”, we dove into the makunouchi (behind the curtains) and examined three important life skills that Elementary and Jr. High school teachers incorporate into the school’s lunch time. The lunch period is much more than just having a meal. Important lessons are embedded to train students since elementary school.
Check out the first article if you haven’t yet, and this time, we will continue with three more important training from school’s lunch time:

1.Students learn to be responsible:

Since first grade elementary school, the kyushoku touban (students in-charge of lunch preparation) are responsible for serving the food (and fairly). If someone drops their bowl, the student would wash the bowl, others help clean up the mess, and the class as a whole figures out where they can get the replacement serving from.
Afterwards, students have to bring everything back to the school’s kitchen as well. Just as how the kids have other classroom tasks assigned, this is part of educating them to take on responsibilities.
The teachers do occasionally direct the students and help out, but since the responsibilities are passed onto the students already, the lunch preparations should be able to run smoothly without the teacher’s presence at all.

monthly lunch menu

“The monthly menu even indicates where each item goes, and the students have to place the food accordingly. Rice on the left, milk on the far right……”

2.Students learn eating manners:

In elementary schools, the teachers still directly point out things to students such as:
eat while holding the bowl, use your chopsticks instead of your fingers (yep, definitely happens), and put the rice on the left side and soup on the right. Besides the obvious, students are also improving on the subconscious level of how to interact with others while eating.
Table and elbow space, not talking with a mouthful of food, or at least covering your mouth up as you talk. Practicing how to initiate and carry a conversation is especially crucial for Jr. High School students. Personally, someone need to teach me to stop playing pranks on the students I am eating with.


“Students are taught that they shouldn’t play with the foo…… oh that’s adorable!!!”

3.Students get to know their classmates better:

Eating in a social environment is not just about food, but also the people you are eating with. When students have just been formed into a new class or seating arrangements changed, lunch time is the best time to find out more about the new groupmates. What are their likes and dislikes? What hobbies do they have in common? How do they feel about the science teacher? Who else plays Yokai-Watch on their 3DS? Who is free afterschool to go play in the park together? The topics are endless. You never know, this could be the magical moment that sparks a best-friendship that will last a life time.

student drow pig's face with jam

“For example, I learned that everyone in this group likes kiwi when no one was willing to offer theirs up.”

There is so much you can learn while getting full. The students look forward to lunch time everyday, and little do they know that they are absorbing so much more than nutrition.

For me, lunch time an essential part of my job as it is the best time when I can interact with my students outside of class. As I understand the atmosphere of each class, they get to know me better too. When I steal their milk and get caught (purposely), or when we talk about the latest chapter of Shingeki no Kyoujin, they know that I have a fun side too.

Next time, we will dive into the food (not literally) and introduce the most popular school lunch menus. Stay tuned!

Guest post written by Jackson Lee.


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