Veena's Reviews > Totto-chan: The Little Girl at the Window

Totto-chan by Tetsuko Kuroyanagi
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's review
Feb 04, 2012

it was amazing

I think the people who would most enjoy this book are those who care about schooling, and children's education. Many schools emphasise obedience, conformity, and performance in exams over learning and individual, original thought, and genuine kindness to others.
In this book, there are many stories of Totto-chan's childhood, and her time in Tomoe Gakuen, the informal school. I thought the nicest one to recount would be this one, because it reminds me how much good reassurance and encouragement from teachers can do:
It never matters whether on a particular day, Totto-chan has been mischievous or well-behaved, unruly or cooperative, selfish or considerate, messy or tidy; she can be sure that her headmaster, Mr Kobayashi, will always pat her on the head and say, "You're a really good girl, you know."
Tetsuko Kuroyanagi goes on to explain beautifully how this made her always want to be a good person, and not simply a child who did the correct things to follow adults' rules and avoid punishment. It is meaningful because too many people (even as mature adults) rely on external factors (such as judgement from some sort of God-like idea, or approval of family and society) to find the will to be a good, kind person. I don't think acts of kindness that are conscious make anyone genuinely kind. They need to come naturally, and they do when you have people like Mr Kobayashi telling children what good people they are.

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