Newspaper article The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan)

Developing Problem-Solving Skills on Uninhabited Islands

Newspaper article The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan)

Developing Problem-Solving Skills on Uninhabited Islands

Article excerpt

At 10:30 a.m. on May 20, 151 first-year students at Kanagawa Prefecture's Hiratsuka municipal Kanda Middle School boarded a ship in Yokosuka in the same prefecture to travel to a small island about 1.7 kilometers from the city.

The uninhabited island is called "Sarushima." Near the landing pier, there are such ruins as an abandoned fortress of the former Imperial Japanese Army covered with vegetation, showing an extraordinary world to visitors.

The students were divided into small groups and tried a problem-solving exercise. Following a written set of instructions distributed to them, the students walked around the island and looked for clues to find a treasure chest. They were prohibited from using smartphones or other kinds of electronic devices. One of the purposes of the program was to have group members exchange ideas and develop problem-solving skills.

After the program, many of the students said they had thoroughly enjoyed the experience. One student said, "I felt nervous about the new surroundings, so I talked with my friends more than usual," while another said, "We cooperated by exchanging ideas."

The program was planned by travel company JTB Corporate Sales, Inc. and others.

"By putting the students in the extraordinary world of an uninhabited island, they can actively take on challenges," an executive in charge of the program at the Tokyo-based company said. "There are things that cannot be taught through classroom lectures."

Last fiscal year, 451 middle and high school students, as well as company employees, experienced the program, the company said.

Uninhabited islands are also drawing attention as a place for corporate training programs for employees. Nisshin Foods Holdings Co., based in Tokyo, holds a three-day, two-night training session every year on an uninhabited island in the Seto Inland Sea for employees in management positions aged around 40.

Participating employees are required to hand over their mobile phones, watches and other items to employees from the personnel division who accompany them and are not allowed to use such devices except in an emergency. The participating employees are given a small number of tools, some water and only a small amount of food and must go without electricity, gas or running water.

They face challenges such as building a fire with which to cook, while making beds using wild bamboo or other materials found on the island. Unexpected problems occur one after another, and the participating employees are expected to develop crisis-control capacities and other abilities through solving those problems, according to the company. …

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