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Dear diary: Here's a reminder of what I must do today

Graphic by The Asahi Shimbun

Schools across Japan are getting down to business in a big way: Specifically, they are getting students to organize their lives on the basis of pocket business diaries much like those used by office workers everywhere.
The market in Japan for day-planners is estimated by industry watchers to be worth 30 billion yen ($384 million) annually.
At the prefectural-run Yamagata Chuo High School in Tsuruoka, a forward-thinking teacher came up with the idea of a B-6 size diary for students to manage their hectic schedules.

Each student is required to make daily entries.
The diary was the brainchild of Shin Kato, the head teacher for second-year students.
Kato asked diary manufacturer Planners Co. to create a diary specifically for students.
At first glance, it looks like any other business diary. But the devil is in the details.
It allows students to record the number of hours they study daily, as well as on a weekly basis. It has columns for entries on goals for the week and to record observations on what has occurred, along with comments from the teacher.
Space allotted for daytime activities is small compared with that for after-school and at-home activities.
"By recording the hours spent on study, the students ended up studying 20 more minutes at home on average each day than they did before," said Kato.
"Until I came up with the idea, I couldn't figure out a good way to provide strong student guidance even though I had been repeatedly telling them that daily life is the basis for everything," said Kato, explaining his enthusiasm for the business diaries.

The final product, the result of considerable trial and error, has proved popular among students.
“I would start preparing for an exam only one week beforehand, when my club activities had wound up," said one student. "But now I start studying three weeks ahead of the exam, knowing the exam date is near.”
Once a week or so, teachers ask the students to hand in their day-planners so they can peruse the contents.
No one regards this as an invasion of privacy.
“I regard this as a means of communication,” said one teacher, adding that "some students casually write things they cannot say directly.”
Planners Co. will start approaching schools in earnest from fiscal 2012 to beef up day-planner sales.
So far, 90 schools nationwide are experimenting with the concept in an effort to improve content.
At the municipal-run Gyokuto Junior High School in Gyokuto, Kumamoto Prefecture, students use day-planners based on full-fledged organizers used by office workers across the nation.
Two years ago, the school decided that all its second-year students should carry a diary to manage their daily schedule.
Called “Cho-Seiri Techo” (Hyper organization day planner), the diary is the brainchild of economist Yukio Noguchi. It is published by Kodansha Ltd.

The school adopted the diary because students often failed to arrive at classes with all their books. This was seen as one way of reminding students that class schedules often change.
The business diary is tall and narrow, the same size as folded A-4 size paper.
Naofumi Horio, who put the idea into practice, said: "I am not good at schedule management myself. So I thought students could learn if they start practicing now.”
Human resources development company eWoman Co. organizes lectures on time management for children, a topic that has elicited a number of inquiries from teachers in recent years.
Kaori Sasaki, president of eWoman, developed the “Action Planner” notebook which has space to jot down activities at 30-minute intervals.
Her son, a second-year high school student, and daughter, who is in sixth grade at elementary school, both use the diary.
“It is important to have some idea of reserving time, not just to study because they somehow feel like studying or to go to bed because they feel sleepy,” she said.
“It is not my intention to have children make detailed plans and have them act accordingly,” she said. “If they find joy working according to a plan they scheduled, they learn to make the best of themselves.”

By TS on Nov 30, 2011
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Author:T. SATOH