[Snuggling Up to Our Differences] Episode 5: Is It Necessary to Be on Time? - Projects



TOP > Projects > Inclusive Education > [Snuggling Up to Our Differences] Episode 5: Is It Necessary to Be on Time?


[Snuggling Up to Our Differences] Episode 5: Is It Necessary to Be on Time?


Be on time!

This may possibly be the command that parents and teachers most often make to children. The importance of being punctual is recognized as a requirement in daily life. It is also understood by adults and society to be common sense.
There is even the sense that if punctuality is not observed, the person loses the right to attend or participate and does not have the right to object.

Among both children, and of course, adults, there are those who find it hard to be punctual. They are usually judged as lacking seriousness or motivation, but in the case of children, that is usually not the reason. There are simply many children who find it hard to be punctual.

When I was still a young, inexperienced teacher, there was a student who would come late every day. At school, it seemed late arrival without notifying the school was definitely taboo. I also adopted this apparent rule and instructed the students to be on time. If late, I made them write an apology and explanation. I hoped that they would keep this in mind and avoid being late. Every day was an experiment to achieve this.

Nevertheless, that student continued to arrive late despite these efforts. The student was very considerate of others and made cheerful and positive comments in class. We had a very good relationship. Regarding his late arrival, he properly responded with an apology and complied with a written reflection each time.

Even so, the late arrivals continued. That was what I found shocking.

I recently had the opportunity to see him again after he had become an adult. I asked him about what he had felt at the time and apologized for not being understanding then.
He then answered, "I remember. I knew that it was bad to be late, but for some reason, I don't know why, I always took my time getting ready at home and did little until the very last minute. I still wonder why, but I now realize that I was really bad and wrong, and even today, I am grateful to you for telling me what I needed to know. Please don't apologize."
Incidentally, I hear that he is now working for a company and arrives on time. He has become an outstanding young man.

This experience is still with me even now, and it makes me think. Is being on time just something that we are expected to absolutely observe? This may be one thing that we should reconsider.

At school, arriving late is strictly not allowed. Why not?

One reason might be "Being late increases the possibility of being approached or targeted by someone suspicious." However, that most likely applies when the student goes to school extremely late, that is, at a time when others are not on their way.

Another reason is surely "because the student is not able to participate from the beginning of the class." Nevertheless, isn't it the case that students who are absent or late due to illness or family conditions do not receive adequate follow-up? Why is it that only late arrival without prior notification receives particular concern?

As for "making sure they won't be late for work and become a problem when they grow up," repeated late arrivals are certainly not favorable. As a matter of fact, high school students who are working part-time are never late. Being late for work will result in a decrease in pay. Since it is a problem that directly affects them, students may be more careful when they start working, regardless of the school's concern.

"It becomes necessary to take the time and make the effort to contact the student and confirm that the student is safe." "If everyone follows and arrives late, it will be a problem." These comments seem to express the true feelings involved. But aren't they expressing the viewpoint of the adults involved?

Even at home, doesn't wanting children to observe a schedule derive mainly from what is convenient for adults who wish to work according to schedule? So wouldn't it then be possible to consider what is convenient for children at that point? That is how I feel.

At HILLOCK Primary School where I work, although the time that classes start is fixed, we do not particularly scold students for being late. There are children who arrive a bit late every day as well as others who arrive at 10:30 am.

Of course, we do have to ensure the safety of students, so when the student has not arrived and we have not received a notice from the student, we notify the parents by sending a direct message to confirm the situation. It may require some time and effort, but certainly nothing like making a phone call.

Children who are late usually enter the room with "good morning" and a smile. Adults and other friends respond with "Oh, good morning." All of them attend school because it is fun for them, so there is no concept that being late is a way of being shrewd or calculating.

The first hours of the morning are reserved for self-paced learning so that students can participate even after the class begins. During this time, each student chooses and studies a topic of individual interest, so a situation where you are "unable to participate from the middle of something" will never occur.
Moreover, some students actually study at home or in the train to school.

There are children who don't function well in the morning and those who, for some reason, are always late. But based on that, there is no reason to view a person in a negative way or to deny a person's right to study for that alone.
The environment should be made into one where it is possible to be late. This is an area where schools should try to make a concession.

On the other hand, arriving late can be a nuisance for everyone. Group activities require time for transportation and activity start-up, so children who prepare early will be required to wait.

In such cases, I attempt to communicate what is happening to the children who tend to be late. "A-chan is waiting for you now." "I don't like it when the students who are on time are faced with a disadvantage and the students who benefit are those who don't follow the rules and come late." I sometimes make comments like this. Those who tend to be late are not always aware that they are causing students who arrived early to wait because they can't see the waiting students. The fair way to proceed is to provide the students with information on the current situation and what is happening.

I also add the following comment "If you want your friends to wait deliberately or there's something you want to do even if you make them wait, you may not necessarily need to follow the schedule."

Students who prepared early will wait. This result is expected, and they will have to decide what to do next. The result of this judgment they have made is something that they will also have to accept.

They will make the decision after considering the result of the action they have chosen. For example, on the way to school, a child sees an elderly woman lying on the roadside. You would not want to raise a child who would think "I was going to be late for school, so I pretended that I didn't see her and arrived on time." Children like their friends very much so when they consider a friend's feelings, more than adults, they start to look at their watch and then take action.
Furthermore, those waiting for a late friend are forgiving.

It seems to me that adults offer excessive instruction. As a result, problems are left unresolved and students are viewed in a negative manner by friends in their circle.

I do not mean that it is not necessary or important to be on time and follow a schedule. My message is "It is not absolutely necessary to make them follow the schedule, is it?" and I would like to propose that we all consider an environment that will encourage and sustain generosity in this respect.

Shogo Minote

Principal, HILLOCK Primary School
Elementary school teacher at public schools for 14 years. Attended graduate school while teaching and received a Master's degree in Human Development. In charge of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and research at Maebara Elementary School, nationally known for its Programming Education. In April 2022, opened the primary school department of HILLOCK Bilingual Kinder School. Publications include Children Will Learn on Their Own and How to Use ICT to Realize the Best Education for Each Individual, both published by Gakuyo Shobo, and Understanding Before & After! Research Update, published by Meiji Shuppan Corporation.