Before Koichi Morinaga retired from IBM Japan nine years ago he was an IT architect and an instructor at the education center for 10 years. His professional skills have served him well since then in his volunteer service and helped hundreds of elementary school students.
The first step for Koichi started a few months before his retirement in 2002. Every two weeks he took a half day of vacation to teach IT skills to 10 to 12 year old students in an after-school program at a local elementary school in Osaka. He soon realized that to be more effective, a curriculum and textbook for PC study were needed.
Koichi explained the problem he found, “In the last 10-15 years, the government of Japan has tried to expand IT education in elementary schools. Almost all schools in Japan are equipped with the hardware for personal computers and local area networks, but detailed curricula and textbooks were not provided. As a result, much of the equipment sits idle in schools. Japanese teachers understand the importance of IT education and know how to use their own personal computers, but they do not know how they should teach it.”
Koichi Morinaga developed an IT curriculum for elementary schools.
So, with his professional background in IT and education instruction, Koichi, after many times of trial and error over nine years in three schools, completed a curriculum and presentation slides, which became the alternative for a textbook.
The second school where Koichi taught PC classes was the Minoh-Minami elementary school in Osaka, the school he had graduated from sixty years earlier. He continued to develop the curriculum and supporting materials for students in every grade level from 1st grade (7 years old) to 6th grade (12 years old).
To enjoy his love of mountain climbing and the country life, Koichi spent the next four years in Suwa City in Nagano prefecture. Koichi, who explained that “IT education is my life work,” wanted to continue to volunteer in a school in his new home. It took six months of perseverance and involvement in a local NPO (nonprofit organization) to make himself known in the community and welcomed into the Suwa-Takashima elementary school as a volunteer. During this time he logged 400 hours in class time and put the first version of his curriculum and “textbook” to the test. He was also able to secure an IBM Community Grant for the school.
When his wife became ill in 2008, he returned to Osaka. “I visited the education department of my city as soon as I returned to Osaka,” said Koichi. “The difficulties in Nagano made me wise.” With an official introduction to the Minoh elementary school, he started teaching again, and as of November 2011, has put in about 400 hours. “In this school I brought my curriculum and textbook to completion,” said Koichi. “I now have about 50 class menus and their teaching textbooks, but they need to be continually updated to stay current. I hope some other Japanese IBMers will take over for me and experience what I learned. Volunteering makes our life rich. You will always find satisfaction in the smile on a student’s face.”