Intro to the Events of World Scholar’s Cup

SOIS will be hosting the Kansai Round of the World Scholar’s Cup (WSC) on May 4-5, 2019. Daniel Berdichevsky, the founder of World Scholar’s Cup recently released introductory videos to the events that take place at a WSC event.

All middle school and high school students from schools in the Kansai region of Japan are invited to participate. For more information check out the Facebook page for the event or attend the information meeting on Friday, March 8, at 5:00 PM at the Osaka International School theater.

Below are introductory videos on the four events featured at World Scholar’s Cup events.

Collaborative Writing
Scholar’s Challenge
Team Debate

Scholar’s Bowl

Teacher Role in Pastoral Care: An EARCOS Weekend Workshop

This weekend we hosted Dr. Christopher Liang, a professor of psychology and counseling from the Lehigh University College of Education. Dr. Liang led a group of more than 50 educators from around the EARCOS region for two days and then followed up with one day with our faculty. There was much to take in and I am posting my full notes from the conference below. I will try to summarize my big “take-aways” from the workshop in this blog post.

A focus this year at OIS is student well-being which includes mental, emotional, and physical health. Pastoral care or social-emotional teaching and learning are more effective within a Multiple Tier School-wide Support (MTSS) program. “Tier 1 for Everyone” is the part of the MTSS that is preventative instruction for all students and for about 80% of the students, meets their needs.

The key to a strong school culture of well-being starts with close, healthy relationships. This can be teacher-student relationships, teacher-teacher, and any combination of stakeholder groups in a community. Dr. Liang covered a lot over the three days, raising awareness of mental health and the mitigating factors schools can implement to minimize risk. Some topics included the effects of stress, Third Culture Kids, depression, mindfulness, “hikikomori”, brain education, vocational education, demonstrating care, the impact of culture & identity, and dealing with emotions, among others.

One of my main learning points is the relationship between vocational education and well-being. The stress of having a lucrative career drives families to strive for selective universities, high IB scores, etc. When students and parents have more information about career paths, this can lessen these pressures.

Some online resources noted over the weekend are as follows:

OIS History Students Featured in the EARCOS Journal

In the Winter 2018 issue of the EARCOS Triannual Journal: A link to educational excellence in East Asia, OIS Humanities teacher Tara Cheney published an article about her classes here at OIS. The grade 10 and 11 students investigated the renovated Osaka International Peace Museum. The students developed critical thinking and analytical skills to reflect on what the museum offers the public regarding World War II history and Japan’s role.

OIS Grade 10 is featured in the latest issue of EARCOS Journal

The East Asia Regional Council of Schools consists of 170 international schools serving over 140,000 students in the region. The journal has a wide circulation. Teachers share ideas and best practices. The OIS project will inspire EARCOS faculty to do similar projects in their region.

The published article fits in well with our 2 Schools Statements of Belief. “We believe that one of our goals is to demonstrate new ideas, practices, techniques, and systems to other schools around Japan and the world.”

Congratulations to Ms. Cheney and her history students!

OIS Seniors Talk IB DP

Grade 12 Dian “Andy” Guan produced this video as a Creativity, Action and Service project. His goal was to reflect upon his classmates’ experiences and opinions about the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP). You can find more information about our DP programme and offerings at our website

In listening to our students, I am always so impressed with their poise, presentation, vocabulary and creativity. I think hearing directly from them gives our community and others, a good idea of the type of school we are and are striving to be.

Andy asked his friends, the following questions:

  •  Would you agree the IB is a very rigorously challenging program?
  • What is your biggest source of stress? How do you reduce it’s impact on you?
  • Are you active in extracurricular activities?
  • What skills have you developed from the program?
  • What advice would you give to someone just entering the programme? 

I would like to thank Andy for sharing the video with us and the students who answered questions and help with the technical aspects of the video. 

Japan’s Declining Population

A declining and aging population for the future of Japan (chart courtesy of CNN)

The passing of a bill increasing blue-collar immigration by the Japanese government has been in the news recently. There is a labor shortage due to the aging population and a decrease in young people entering the workforce. CNN’s article, “Japan needs immigrants, but do immigrants need Japan” really captures the challenges of a declining population. 

In one way, I think it is great. The islands of Japan are roughly the same size as the state of California, but with 126 million people compared to the 40 million Californians, I would say it is crowded here. With great public transport, smaller housing/denser housing and a high rate of urban living, it is a pleasant place to live and you don’t feel the population density. However, growing up in rural northern Michigan, fewer people here would be a good thing in my opinion. More room for wilderness! 

If you look at the chart above, without immigration and a continued low birth rate, Japan’s population will drop to around 50 million by the end of the century. More importantly, the percentage of elderly will rise to almost half of the total population. Japanese people have some of the longest life spans of anyone on earth and with laws requiring mandatory retirement around 60-65, most people have 20 to 30 years of living on a pension. With many less workers paying into the pension system, the government will be running up a huge debt. 

Japan has one of the lowest rates of immigration in the world. Only about 2% of the population are foreign residents. Other aging countries like Germany and Singapore are actively recruiting young people to move to their countries. The lack of English and long work hours discourage people from settling here long term. 

For international schools, increased immigration, especially temporary residency, would be a good thing as perhaps there would be a need for families seeking an education in English. 

It will be interesting to see how this plays out in Japan. It is a preview of what is coming for other countries including the USA. 

Your Child In The Digital World: A parent conversation – December 6

OIS counselor Michelle Vogel, Technology Learning Coach Oscar Sala and Head of School Bill Kralovec will be leading a conversation about our students learning to manage their digital life. We feel students need support from both school and home and giving a child an iPhone, is like learning to drive. There are risks and students and parents need information, techniques and tools when using digital devices, just like driving a car.

The talk is more geared towards parents of middle school and high school students, but elementary parents will take away useful ideas from the event. There are two resources parents can read that will help them and will be discussed in the workshop.

Culture Reframed is a non-profit organization that provides education and resources to build resilience to hypersexualized media and porn. The Center for Humane Technology founded by former Google Design Ethicist Tristan Harris raises awareness of how digital tech companies have a culture, business incentive, design techniques and organizational structures that are driving technology to “hijack our minds”.