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Origami helps kids focus

Last updated 05:00 25/03/2014
Haruko Uesato
Katasha McCullough
PAPER ART: Teacher Haruko Uesato uses origami to help Kiwi kids improve their maths.

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The digital age is threatening Kiwi kids' education, a visiting Japanese teacher says.

Haruko Uesato from Tokyo has been teaching origami here to improve maths and motor skills.

She says Japan is home to major electronics companies like Sony and Panasonic but technology is kept out of the classroom.

Ms Uesato says she does not like New Zealand's ‘bring your own device' movement.

"After college or high school that's fine, then you can bring your own device. But at primary school they need motor skills, not computer skills."

She says pupils in an average-sized Japanese classroom of 40 can concentrate and wait patiently.

But a class of just 25 New Zealand students cannot focus on the teacher's instructions.

"Kiwi kids are very busy. They can't sit still," Ms Uesato says.

"Teachers use 10 resources for a 45-minute lesson."

Ms Uesato teaches language in Japan.

She spent 10 months at Murrays Bay School as part of an international internship programme.

She taught the children origami, which she says is one good tool to help them focus and about geometry and fractions.

Student Anna Fisk, 6, says origami really helped with her maths.

"I now have a kit at home and do origami myself.

"It has also helped my counting because I always count and add the folds I make."

Ms Uesato says Kiwi kids love origami and are amazed at how a small, flat square can be transformed.

"Especially the boys open their eyes and go ‘wow'. It's a lovely moment."

She says Japanese mothers will keep squares of origami paper in their handbags to entertain children while they are out, whereas in New Zealand kids are given an iPhone to play on.

Her time in New Zealand has inspired Ms Uesato to come up with a new method of teaching combining origami and maths.

She hopes to develop it further and integrate the programme into schools.

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- North Shore Times

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