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Learning to Bow: An American Teacher in A Japanese School – Bruce S. Feiler

After graduating from Yale University, Bruce Feiler heads off to teach English for a year in the small Japanese town of Sano, situated about fifty miles outside of Tokyo.  On his first day of work, Feiler, “Mr. Burusu” is taken out to an outdoor ritual communal bath where he meets his co-workers in the Japanese Ministry of Education wearing nothing, but his nervous smile and armed with a tiny white towel with which to guard his dignity. 

Over the course of the year, we come to know the teachers and students in the school where Mr. Burusu is assigned to teach “living English.”  Through Feiler’s wry, yet respectful and clear-eyed observations about both the good and the bad of an educational system, that to some, is the envy of the world.  Feiler’s experiences provide the reader with some insight into the crucial role that education plays in turning a tiny island nation with few natural resources into an economic powerhouse with the third highest GDP in the world. 

Learning to Bow is an entertaining and breezy yet highly thoughtful read that should not be missed!

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