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Sweet Potato Roasting Party

Our missionary friend Sue Takamoto has a section on her blog called "Only in Japan". Well, I think this would be included in that section! Can you picture 6 classes of 3-5 year old kindergarten children, all sitting in a circle (well, they're supposed to be sitting!!), just a couple of feet away from a large, smoking, open fire? Can you say "lawsuit" in the States??

Jeff and I watched in amazement as the teachers allowed each child to walk up to the fire to throw in their aluminum covered sweet potato. Then they all took turns throwing in dry leaves to make the flames go higher! I was having a heart attack, being a former kindergarten teacher, watching so many unruly boys come inches away from tripping into the fire. It didn't faze the teachers one bit.

Campfire-style sweet potatoes
Campfire-style sweet potatoes
Ellie's class enjoying sweet potatoes

Well, the kids all smelled like smoked salmon after it was all said and done, but the day went on with no injuries. As you can see, everyone enjoyed inhaling the big potato.

Ellie eating sweet potato
Sweet Ellie and her sweet potato

The funny thing is, Ellie doesn't even like this stuff, but you are witnessing the power of "group"! She will try her very best to participate in class activities, even if it means eating something that she doesn't like. After a while, I went to rescue her since she just couldn't finish, and she didn't want to get in trouble for throwing away food. I snuck it into my backpack and ate it later:)


Close-up of Ellie eating yakiimo


Watching this organized chaos made me wonder. How much do we prevent kids from having real FUN just because we're afraid of them getting hurt?? The kindergartners do this every single year, and they're always fine. They have an absolute blast. They also have curry-making parties where the kids line up to cut their own vegetables with a real knife! And they have a blast. If I ever go back to teaching in the States, perhaps I'll allow more organized, chaotic fun.

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Jeff's column offers a mix of reflections on leadership and fatherhood, as well as news from Asian Access.


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