Newspaper article The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan)

Overseas Volunteers: Nurturing Future Math Teachers

Newspaper article The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan)

Overseas Volunteers: Nurturing Future Math Teachers

Article excerpt

QUETZALTENANGO, Guatemala -- "One-half plus one-third equals...? Which is the answer, one-sixth, five-sixths, one-fifth, or two-sixths?" asks Tsubasa Kawahara, 31, to student teachers in a classroom of the Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala in Quetzaltenango, having them raise their hands to show which answer they consider to be correct.

Realizing that they do not all agree, there is a slight commotion among the students. Kawahara calls on one student who chose correctly to explain why the answer is right.

Kawahara was dispatched to the Central American country through Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV), a program run by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). He has taught mathematics and methods for teaching the subject at a teacher training school in the city and at the national university. As teachers frequently give answers immediately at the country's schools, it is unusual there for a teacher to ask questions to students and illicit the answer from them in a question and answer exchange.

In Japan, Kawahara works as a primary school teacher, and has applied his work experience to the volunteer activity.

Kawahara was born in Brazil while his father was there for work, and was then raised in Japan. His great-grandfather was a Japanese emigrant to Brazil. Kawahara became interested in education when he became involved in the after-school care of children as a volunteer in a slum in Sao Paulo for a year while he was at college. …

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