Last night I had dinner with a fellow Head Teacher. As we sat in a local restaurant in down town Shinjuku, Japan, he told me about his life growing up in Hiroshima. We had just visited the Atomic-Dome the day before, where world’s first nuclear bomb was detonated unleashing a fireball of 1000 degrees Celsius and winds over 1000km per hour.
While Hidenori wasn’t born when the bomb that annililated 75,000 people in an instant, and killed another 75,000 in the following weeks, his mother was. Her brother was amongst the casualties. She lived some 40km from the epi-centre. After the blast she walked the 40km to try and find him and offer what little help she could to the victims. What she saw was ever etched into her memory: the vision of a young mother walking towards her, her young baby fused to her body, the burns so bad.
This extra-ordinary Head Teacher had recently retired. For the past 37 years he worked for an International School in Tokyo, leading it for the last 10. The School isn’t an International one for expats, but for Japanese, created with the vision for a global education, underpinned with the belief that a greater appreciation and value for different cultures will contribute to a world of peace.
We talked about the importance of education in a world that is constantly traumatised by man’s never-ending greed. Amidst news of yet another terrorist attack and the release of Britain’s Chilcot Report, he spoke about an education that gives students opportunities to make friends across cultures and countries, an education that promotes understanding and peace.
Wise words this retired Head Teacher shared, “We only have a hundred years, we only have one life. We should teach our students to live each day, to be grateful for what they do have, finding beauty, joy and contentment in the little things. We should never allow language, cultural differences or alternate values to be a barrier to friendships that can rest on the beauty of life itself.”
Education should not just be about a country’s economic strategy, but about our humanity. Education should primarily be focused on raising the next generation of people who will inherit the world we leave them. Will that generation repeat the mistakes of the past, or will they truly seek peace?