A few days ago I wrote a post in which I commented that we had taken out my kids from Spanish schools in Spain because the Spaniards are unnecessarily tough on children. As an example I mentioned that in many Spanish cools kids don´t have a choice of food and they are forced to eat whatever food there is. I also commented that the “colleja” an unusual Spanish spanking that involves hitting a kid on the back of his head is still considered acceptable by most Spanish parents as a way to “teach kids a lesson”. But at the same time in my post I recognized that Spaniards, as adults are by far the most organized and ethical people in the Latin world. This includes not only all Latam but also Portugal, Italy and France. I am not saying that Spaniards are a global model but they are more likely to treat you well, less likely to rip you off, than other Latins. They may not be the brightest, something that I attribute to an education that focuses more on memorization than on reasoning, but they are the best behaved and ethical. So the question here is: does being tough with kids pays off in terms of ending up with better behaved adults? My hope is that the answer is no because I don´t endorse some of the practices of the Spaniards vis a vis children. I would like to believe that a system like the American, that relies more in self discipline and rewards, is better.

Now enter Japan in this equation. I include Japan for a personal reason, this is where I landed a few hours ago and where I frequently come for work. And Japan is the most educated society in the world. People here are incredibly polite, incredibly efficient, incredibly professional, almost devoted to doing the right thing. So the question is: How do the Japanese do it? Or in other words, how do they turn their children into adults who are patient, polite, hard working, honest, highly ethical and even quite creative. Are they tough on their kids? Are they extremely demanding? Do they use physical punishment? Do they force kids to eat the food they don´t like as the Spaniards do? If European education is more about treating kids as little grown ups gone astray and American education more about self discipline and rewards, where do the Japanese stand?

Frankly I don´t know the answers but here at the Ritz Carlton, as we have breakfast with Nina, I have been observing young children and they seem to be as well educated as their parents…already. So whatever they do must this great education must start at a very young age.

Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars

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