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Japan’s Controversial School Project Leaves Students in a ‘Fishy’ Dilemma

Class of Life aims to teach children the value of their food and the environment.

Class of Life aims to teach children the value of their food and the environment.

In Japan, a controversial school project tests this attachment of students. Class of Life aims to teach children the value of their food and the environment.

If we live with an animal for even a few days, most of us develop so much attachment that it is difficult to leave the pet. Similarly, if children pet a fish for around eight months and take care of it like parents, it’s difficult to let go of it or worse kill it. In Japan, a controversial school project tests this attachment of students. Class of Life aims to teach children the value of their food and the environment.

This subject has been a part of middle school’s curriculum for over six decades. In 2019, Nippon Foundation’s Sea and Japan Project was added under which students are given information about marine life. The children are given some fish which they keep with themselves for eight months. During this period, students feed the fish and change the water at regular intervals. If any student’s fish dies, they are given another fish and they keep learning from their mistakes.

After a long gap of eight months when the fish gets mature, the students have to go through a shocking test. The teacher asks the students to decide the fate of their fish. They are given a choice to either kill the fish and eat it or leave it in the sea to become prey to a bigger marine animal.

Something similar took place in a middle school located in Hamamatsu city in western Shizuoka. In October 2020, the students were given some fish and recently when after the due period, they were asked to make a difficult decision. After much thought and arguments, 11 students voted in favour of eating the fish since they considered it better to consume their own fish rather than leave it to become an animal’s prey. But six children wanted to leave their pets in the sea.

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Subsequently, a chef was called to the school who cooked the fish for all those children who voted in favour of eating it. But the children cried as they struggled to eat bits of fish. While they generally liked the taste of fish, they could not consume the ones they raised. Getting them sliced in front of their eyes is enough torture for them.

Through educating children in this manner sounds cruel, the Japanese school says they are helping to build the decision-making ability in young children and are teaching them the importance of life.

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first published:July 27, 2021, 18:43 IST