Jiro’s dreams in my class

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

In my “Philosophy and Film” class, one of the documentaries I show is 2011’s Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Jiro depicts the life and work of Jiro Ono, who is the proprietor of the Michelin 3 star winning sushi restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro. Kicked out of his house in first grade, he spent the subsequent seven decades mastering the art of sushi preparation. He has been relentless in pursuing excellence. The advice he gives the film’s audience provides a flavor of his work ethic:

Once you decide on your occupation… you must immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with your work. Never complain about your job. You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That’s the secret of success… and is the key to being regarded honorably.

I’ve resolved that I will require students in all of my classes to watch Jiro Dreams of Sushi before the first day of class. Then I will announce in class on the first day:

If you aren’t working “Jiro-hard” on your schoolwork, then do not report that you “worked really hard” on a project.

It strikes me as a potentially effective way to communicate expectations to students from a media-saturated, No Child Left Behind/Common Core, everyone gets an award educational culture. . . .