by Gillian Barclay

My interview with Mrs. Maria Matsuoka, founder of Maria’s Babies’ Society, was very re­juvenating. Reflecting on her experiences as a headmistress, as well as being a mother of three children and, surprisingly, still a student, she centered on the teachers most important to the Society, where the philosophy is “happy children in a happy school.”

Q: What do you consider are signs of a good teacher?

A: A good teacher sees and highly values a child’s own unique personality. She carefully observes a child’s readiness and the limit and play each child’s stages of learning from this observation. With most skillful timing, she makes a child challenge to make a breakthrough to a higher stage and draws his maxi­mum effort at the same time.

A good teacher also discovers a child’s talent and helps expand it. These are my measures of a good teacher. And, may I say, I wish that the child’s best teachers be the parents who share so much time with them.

Q: Can you offer advice for those who wish to become a good teacher or a parent?

A: Education is not only teaching ABCs to a child within a class hour. It is a lifelong process of overcom­ing continuous hurdles in a variety of areas. Teachers, especially for a young child, have a great influence on that child’s future.

Therefore, a good teacher herself must always con­tinue to work for improvement, keep an open mind, accept failures of her own and others, and have lots of available energy. If possible, having a mentor for a teacher herself is a helpful guide.

Q: What is required for your teachers to realize your philosophy of “happy children in a happy school?”

A: It is the quality in a teacher to deal with stu­dents with genuine care as if the children were her very own. If I tried not to go into much depth, I would only be able to quickly state in words here that it is the ability to teach children the basis of love; how to give, take and share.

Q: How does your background experience contrib­ute to all of your accomplishments at Maria’s Babies’ Society?

A: I can go all the way back to my childhood days and up to the present, and I still think the number one attribution comes from pure parental love. I have inexpressible respect for my parents for the loving home background they provided for me. I believe that is the concrete base of my achievements.

I was also greatly influenced by my father’s inter­national career as a diplomat and this is one of the reasons for creating a mini-cultural language institute. In order to understand the children and the students’ perspectives, it is important to experience life as a student myself.

For this reason, I have a truly respectful teacher and continue to take lessons on Budo in the Shiseikan at Meiji Shrine and take part in his inspiring lectures. Being a mother also had a big effect on my part in introducing this program to children.

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Maria’s Babies’ Society clearly reflects Mrs. Matsuoka’s liveliness and enthusiasm. Her phi­losophy of the school directly incorporates her genuine beliefs and her faith in children. With her experience and devotion to children, she and the school offer love and education in a most special way, encourage each child’s potential and skill­fully prepare each child for every stage of the learning process.

Maria’s Babies’ Society
#101, 36-20, 3-chome, Jingumae,
Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150 Tel: 3404-3468, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.