cover image Learning to Bow CL

Learning to Bow CL

Bruce Feiler. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $19.95 (321pp) ISBN 978-0-395-58521-4

Feiler's account offers an instructive, amusing inside look at a vaunted educational system. Invited by the Japanese Ministry of Education to teach English in a junior high school, Feiler arrived, shortly after graduation from Yale, in rural Sano, 50 miles north of Tokyo, where he was the first foreigner seen by many of the city's inhabitants. Among the cultural shocks he describes is his welcome with a ritual collective outdoor bath. Noting that characteristics such as group loyalty and community responsibility are fostered in a system that requires students to clean their schools and neighborhoods, Feiler lists aspects of the Japanese system that might successfully be translated to American schools, while acknowledging such negatives as the lack of free choice and individual expression. BOMC selection. (Sept.)