Oh, what a waste.
November 2, 2009
Since around July we have been preparing for
Monday, November 9th. It’s a public open house where a few
hundred teachers come from all over Japan to watch our classes. I have
been planning a special class with the elementary 2nd
graders for several weeks. Well, I’ve been planning it since July and
working with them for several weeks. We have been practicing certain
things and playing some games and doing other things so that the open
house will go smoothly. I might play a game with them and then the
next week explain the game in English and they remember how to play
and figure out what I am saying is to play the same game as last week.
That way when I have them play the game at the open house I can
explain it in English and they will do it and it appears they
understood my English. It’s all about appearance here.
So that’s going
to happen on Monday, but it was just canceled. ARGH. I mean I don’t
have to do it so that’s a relief, but argh since I have been working
on it for so long and it was going to be a really nice class. The
weird thing is I still have to do the class in case one or two people
show up, but some teachers are saying no one will show up. Eh, who
cares. I’ll do the class which will be fun for the kids either way.
Why do the windshield wipers
smear something on the driver’s side, but not the passenger side?
There is a nice
lady who does the lunch stuff at one of my schools. For some reason
she cannot understand that I speak Japanese. When it’s time for me to
pay for my school lunches she invariably gives the bill to the English
teacher who then gives it to me and explains, in Japanese, “you owe
2,000 yen for these two months”. To which I reply, in Japanese, “ok I
will pay next week” and he then turns to her and repeats what I said
in Japanese to her. That’s usually how it goes, but recently there was
a slight problem. I tried to explain it to her, but since I “don’t
speak Japanese” she ran over to the English teacher and had me explain
it to him, in Japanese. He repeated exactly what I said verbatim to
her and she replied in Japanese. He repeated that to me in Japanese.
It’s just silly, but there are some people who are just set on the
fact that foreigners cannot speak Japanese.
I called in sick
on Friday and the odd thing was I really didn’t want to stay home.
When I was a Fukushima JET years ago I lived for the weekends and
hated going to the schools where I sat and did nothing. Now I hate
being away from the kids and being at home doing nothing. Over the
weekend I was a little sick with a sore throat, but sadly felt fine
otherwise. I really didn’t want to be home all weekend and hated
missing the epic Halloween party, but I knew if I went I would feel
worse Sunday. I still somewhat have the sniffles and a clogged nose.
Though technically the nose is only clogged on one side even though
the side alternates.
The thing that gets me about flu season in Japan is a cultural thing.
It's the Japanese way to always be at work. Unless you are deathly
sick or diagnosed with the actual flu, you are expected to be at work.
If you are a student that means being at school. Taking time off for
any reason is considered a vacation. So when students come to school
sick, in the winter, they then sit in this closed classroom for
several hours a day with their germs swirling around. If it's cold
then the heater will be on and the windows closed so there is no
circulation. In the summer, apart from not being flu season, all the
doors and windows are open so things get moved around and pushed out.
In the winter, classrooms are worse than hospitals. If they had
central heating and air there might be more circulation in the winter
and less sickness. Starting Thursday to next week all JHS 7th grade
classes are canceled since there are so many students absent.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
I went to Ohse today and had 3 classes, but
managed to stay busy in the afternoon. The classes were two with the
seniors where they wrote "______ is the person who _____" about their
classmates. One thing I learned is always be specific with directions
because the clever kid will change "write things about people in your
class" so that the last word has no C & L. Then I taught the 7th
graders along since the main teacher was out getting an award for
being a teacher for 30 years. I showed a short video I made that ended
up being too fast for them. It was a Seinfeld style talk using
After lunch there were two more periods, but many teachers were gone
for various reasons. There were only about 6 teachers there at some
point and for a while they had their own things to do in other areas
so I was alone in the teacher's room. A salesman came in and I was
like "poor timing dude". Then the phone rang 48 times and I didn't
answer it. Seriously, why do people let it ring 48 times before
hanging up. Seriously. I wanted to pick it up and say "obviously no
one is going to answer so hang up", but that would defeat the point. I
don't answer it since the people ALWAYS speak full on and I miss
something and have to pass it along anyway. Plus answering the phone
requires über-polite Japanese.
During the afternoon periods I filmed a video upstairs of me
interviewing myself for the national standardized English test second
part interview. At Ohse 3 people passed the level 3 part which has a
follow up interview. Hopefully I can finish that soon and get it to
the students. After that I ended up snorting mucus all afternoon since
something made my nose go crazy. I wanted to take medicine called
:Snot Begone" or "Mucus....S'not there anymore". I hate mucus. I wish
there was a medicine that instantly eliminated all the mucus in the
body except that which is needed in the intestines and what not.
Near the end I went to the computer lab to work on some stuff using my
flash drive. I couldn't get anything done because the computer was the
world's slowest. I physically hate slow computers. When you click
something and it highlights 10 seconds later. Then you double click it
and literally like 1 minute later the program starts to open. I was
going insane and had to figure out why, which I did.....
248 Megs of RAM is so
pathetic it's actually amazing. It's like they stole relics from a
museum and brought them here. XP alone requires 128,
hypothetically, but most likely took up nearly everything. It was
seriously the slowest thing I have ever seen and I thought it had
locked up a few times.
Tomorrow I am going 2 hours north by bullet train to see my student
perform her English recitation speech in the National Finals / Semi
Finals. It's the end of the line which would be the finals, but it's
only the northern part of the country that is participating. We don't
expect to actually win, but merely going is a huge honor for the city
as well as the school. We are a small country school out in the
sticks, why should we have someone to represent the whole prefecture?
I'd love to take some credit, but she has actually done all the work
Friday, November 06, 2009
Teaching Elementary school in Japan, and to some degree everywhere, is
like a sit-com sometimes. I was teaching the 1st graders
alone since the teacher had to go home for some reason. We did Animals
and then I gave them some coloring sheets to do for Halloween. Yes, I
know it was last week, but I had to miss that class due to an illness
so I did it today. I told them they could copy the colors in their
eBook or they could color their own colors. Someone then waved me over
and asked if they had to copy or if they could use any color. I said
any color was ok. Then someone else waved me over and asked the same
thing. I repeated it and told everyone the same thing again. As soon
as I stopped talking someone asked “can we use our own colors?” GOD
YES. WHAT DID I JUST SAY? Seriously, ONE second ago. You can use any
color you want. Then some kids kept getting up and showing me every
little thing they colored. It was actually amusingly painful.
Today I had a great class load with 3 classes. I prefer 4
per day, but three is fine. I think my idea schedule would be 2nd,
3rd, 4th periods, then 6th period.
That gives me 4 classes with 1st being a prep period and 5th
being down time after lunch. I had three at Ohse yesterday, but stayed
busy by filming the interview stuff and preparing some ideas for
today. I couldn’t do too much on the computer listed in the Guinness
Book of World Records as the slowest and most painful to use. I listed
that in Facebook and some people wrote comments about it. My sister
wrote “you could just be happy with what you have”. Ahhh, that’s sweet
and totally unrealistic. I dare anyone to use a computer with 248 Megs
of RAM for an hour. Honestly it took about 10-20 seconds to simply
click on a window. Then another 10-20 to double click open a file.
It seems the big public viewing classes planned for
Monday, that was recently canceled and yet we have to do it anyway,
was moved to the next week. Come on man, just let us get it over with,
this flip flopping is ruining the schedule. Now I think I have no
classes on Monday and I don’t even come here on Friday since we have
some other International Day somewhere. This is the one where we teach
the kids their regular subjects like math and science IN Japanese.
Seems not very internationalizing, but whatever.
It’s been a while.
Monday, November 06, 2009
It’s been a long time since my last confessional. I have been making
notes of things to write about, but just haven’t had the time. I
usually make updates while at Konan, but recently I have been swamped
there. Tomorrow is no exception and it will be the first time I have
been to the 6th grade English class this year. The usual
English teacher will be gone tomorrow so he asked me to cover his 4
classes plus my 1 with the demon class. To be fair it’s only a handful
of kids with one main (penis showing) kid, but the culture and the
not-too-strict teacher make the class chaos.
For the other classes I will do a classic “3-hint-game” in
two of them. That’s a game where they get a card and have to make
three hints. One vague like “animal”, then a bit more revealing like
“brown”, then nearly give it away like “likes bananas”. It’s a good
review and forces the kids to come up with and use things they have
learned. For the 2 remaining classes, one will be the ever popular
Typhoon Game review and the last one will be a preposition review.
Since I don’t really go to these classes I don’t know their level. I
don’t go to the elementary because we have to use this stupid moronic
English Notebook that the ministry of education wrote and forced us to
use. I hate it for so many reasons listed below.
1) There’s simply not much English in it. The directions are all in
Japanese and most of the text is too. The best example is the
explanation of Japanese culture such as sumo, tea ceremony, and Kyoto
2) The CD takes the place of the ALT. Ergo, if I am in the room, my
job is to press play on the CD.
3) The CD jumps around with no explanation. We are on page 50 and I
press play and a minute later I figure out it is talking about page 90
which is an appendix. How hard would it be to say “Lesson 8, page 50”?
4) Some of the activities are blatantly too low level. In book 1 which
is 5th grade, there is a part where students do “head
shoulders knees and toes” which they previously learned in the 2nd
grade. Seriously do you want to review stuff you learned in the 2nd
grade when you are a 5th grader? They don’t want to either.
5) Along with #1 I rarely know what’s going on since the directions
are all in Japanese and they never really explain exactly what to do.
6) The voices sound like mouse elves or stupid cartoon characters and
are often hard for me to understand.
7) There are horribly painful stupid songs called “chants” in each
chapter that make me roll around in laughter. The most recent was
“what, what, what do you want to be…a doctor, a doctor, I want to be a
doctor.” You can fill in the music with whatever stupid tune you can
I did go to the 5th and 6th grade
classes for a while and ended up just standing there looking stupid. I
hate that book and have nothing good to say about it. We have another
book that some ALTs wrote years ago and the BoE published and provides
for all the students called the eBook. It’s actually all in English
and has great clip art and a website with print outs that make my
classes so much easier.
I spent last Tuesday at Kozu which is my smallest
elementary school with only 28 students total. Next year they lose 11
sixth graders and gain 5 first graders so they drop to 22. I love the
school and wouldn’t change anything, but 22 kids barely justifies
having an entire school with nearly 1 teacher/staff member for every 2
students. My other school which is about a 5 minute drive could easily
take in 22 more students. I hope they don’t since the school is like a
family, but financially they would save so much money. The saddest
thing is I saw a picture from 1900 or so and there were 400 kids at
the school, now there are 28. Same with the extension of Tadano. There
are 10 students in grades 1-4, but in 1990ish there were 30 kids.
Anyway, at Kozu I had a class in the morning teaching
numbers or something, then another class 2nd period. That
class ended 5 minutes early so we could walk over to the park and rake
leaves. That was a blast and I got to spend a few hours with my
favorite first grader Lulu. That’s her actual name and she is
adorable. She held the bag and I raked leaves into it. I helped other
kids as well, but she is so nice and fun to hang out with that I spent
a lot of time with her. She is always smiling and happy to see me.
She’s like a little puppy dog.
At that school all students leave at 2:40 which means I sit there
alone doing nothing for nearly 2
hours, well an hour an a half, but it feels like 5 hours. Last week I
decided to walk with the students part of the way home. I was only
going to go to the light, but then I was talking and walked farther. I
walked about 10 minutes out which meant I therefore had to walk 10
minutes back. So then it was a bit after 3pm. I sat down and did some
planning for the next day and looked up to find it was 3:45. WOW time
flew. The rest of the day I walked around and saw various signs in
classrooms like "Norbember" and "Octorber". I want to correct them,
but I don't want to offend the teachers.
Something I noticed about Kozu which makes my day a bit
strange is they play really trippy music while students clean. At the
other schools there is either no music or some Edelweiss type
classical song that everyone tunes out. At Kozu they play music that
you would hear during a massage. It’s really new age type, but not
upbeat like Enya, just flowing atmospheric style. It’s nice and
relaxing, but strange seeing kids cleaning while it’s playing.
On Thursday of last week I came to Ohse, where I am now typing this in
the computer room. Last week I had 4 classes in the perfect schedule.
1st class, 2nd class, 3rd free, 4th
class, 5th free, and 6th class. The teacher
apologized for me having 4 classes, but I prefer that and especially
one 6th period. Having a class 6th period when
it’s the A-schedule day means we let out around 3:30 and then it’s
just 45 minutes until I can leave. Unlike today where I have 2 classes
today (although there are 5 English classes today) and one is 5th
period. When I have no afternoon classes I have nothing to do from
1:30 to 4:15 and time drags on ever so slowly. Today I wandered
around a bit and then ended up just staring at the little clock on my
desk until 4:15. I work too efficiently and prepared everything for
tomorrow too fast.
Last week on Friday I went to an International day at another school.
During the planning process I was getting frustrated since we always
have to do things the Japanese way, even when it's an international
event. There must be an opening and closing ceremony and so on. For
the most part it was great. The kids were fun and I got to plan my own
class for the "shopping" one. The teacher had planned for some
students to do it while the 4 foreigners in the room watched, but I
86'ed that and said we would be shopkeepers. I gave them money and a
menu of things to buy and they came around and bought various things
from us. They seemed to like it. Then we had lunch, which was
semi-filling this time, and then there was 5th period.
During 5th period we had to teach their regular subjects IN JAPANESE.
Luckily I got music which seemed cool, but we ended up singing
Edelweiss about 10 times. It was the first time I had seen the lyrics
in English. I'm sure I've seen The Sound of Music, but I had forgotten
that part (or blocked it out). What I didn't realize was I HATE that
song, because that's the song they use to wake us up at English camp
at 6am each morning. Then we go back to sleep until 6:59 and then get
up for breakfast. We must all get up at the same time. There can be no
one doing their own thing.
Some people taught long division which would have been a train wreck
if I were in there. I thought it would make more sense to have
something.....useful rather than teaching them regular subjects in
Japanese. How is that even remotely international? What if we flipped
it around and had the Japanese teachers teach us in only English? I
bet they couldn't/wouldn't do that, but for us it's ok. I wanted
something like an interview game where they use actual useful English.
I keep forgetting Japan is about the process not the end product.
5 to 4.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
I had 4 classes added by the English teacher to cover his load since
he wouldn’t be here for some reason. So then I already had the demon
class which would make 5, but surely that would be canceled since I
had the 4 added, so I didn’t plan anything for it. Then I get to
school and find it wasn’t canceled, but shoved in my one free period.
BAG OF POO. So I start to frantically plan something for the demon
class and then the vice principal says half the elementary school is
out with the flu.
Why are they out? BECAUSE everyone comes to school sick
and wears a little useless mask (like surgeons wear during surgery,
but not as nice) and then they are stuck in the classrooms with the
heaters swirling around the sickness and there’s no ventilation.
Central heating is a bad idea isn’t. Filtering the air, yea that’s
stupid clearly this way is better. There are 50 kids in the elementary
I just found out there’s a student changing schools. This
is her THIRD TIME changing. Seriously parents STOP IT. This is sad and
pointless and you are doing her no favors. I could not care less what
the reason is. Once was enough, then she was back and that was
strange. Now she’s going back to where she went. I bet she comes back
at some point later. I will miss her sister more. Her first grade
sister is named Lemon. It’s going to be hard for her to change schools
with that name. When she first got here and kids were giggling at her
name I made a point to say “Lemon? Lemon? Wow that is the coolest name
ever. I love that name. That is so awesome.” Then the giggling kids
started saying “oh it is cool, wow, we like you now. It’s a cool
One More Time.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
student that won first place in the Regional Speech Contest met the
chief of the board of education. To me he's not a big deal since we
see him at parties and we are rather casual with him, but this was big
and someone told me no joking around. There were two reporters, the
school principal, the English teacher, myself, and some other top
ranking BoE people. I didn't wear a suit and looked like an idiot. It
was a little wrinkled and I underestimated the importance of the
event. I had a tie and a pullover thing and didn't look too bad, just
not like everyone else in the room.
She met with him and he congratulated her and they talked a bit. Then
she gave a little speech to
him about how she studied and how the English teacher and I helped her
(a lie) and then she gave her speech to the 10 of us in the room. At
the regional contest, when she won, she said "oh last time, finally",
but then she had to give it here one more time. When she finished the
BoE chief was so impressed he suggested (which is like a command) that
she give it to the entire Board of Education which was about 100
people. She went white, but then ended up doing a fine job. She's a
natural performer and will be someone to watch one day. It was funny
seeing everyone jump from their desk and run down to watch her because
the chief snapped his fingers. There are more people to the right, but
you can't see them in the photo.
That was Thursday and then after that there was the annual BoE and AET
bowling tournament. It's every November and always a load of fun. I
bowled ever so poorly since I couldn't find a good ball that really
fit and was a good weight. Then we had a small party with some of the
BoE members and only 7 ALTs. I thought more people would have gone,
but it was the night before payday.
Then Friday we had a meeting from 9 to noon. These have become less
interesting over the years. At first there were so many great ideas
from people and I would leave with 10-20 new ideas and feel bad I
didn't contribute more. Now people are chatting while others are
talking and we are in the super small room where you can't hear
someone 2 feet away. I got a few good ideas, but most people didn't
bring anything tangible. As soon as the meeting was over I drove to
Fukushima to A) see Katherine Doran a solicitor who was an English
teacher near Fukushima years ago and B) to have the Indian guy who
runs the Indian restaurant and a car dealership look at my noisy
muffler. He said exactly what I predicted which was it would cost
$200. Actually it's $180, but the toll road to get up there is $10
each way. Also in December I have to pay another $400 to have the
timing belt changed. I love having a car in Japan. I LOVE IT.
Today I went to McDonald's in the morning and then Starbucks. That's a
Saturday or Sunday morning habit I have been doing for 5 years now and
it's hard to break. I like getting out of the house,
I usually have nothing outside to do. I parked in the parking deck
which is nice and convenient, but pricey. I noticed a car that was
backed in to a space, but it was stupid to have done so. I'd say
backing in makes sense about 80-90% of the time, but as a 100% rule
it's stupid. This was a stupid time to back in since he had to stop
and back in to get in the space, but the exit was a complete 180 so he
would have to again stop and adjust to make the turn. You can even see
the arrow on the pavement. After that I went to UNIQLO to get some
socks and long underwear for the winter. There were cars stopped in
the street just to pull in. I can't believe this is allowed. I took a
picture, but you can't really see the cars. There were 200
people in the store. I don't know if it was a sale or what, but they
were all lined up for something.
Don't Even Think About
Monday, November 23, 2009
I drove back up to Fukushima today to have the muffler installed and
it went as expected, but was actually $20 cheaper than he predicted.
It came with the bolts that were going to be extra. So that was good.
While I was waiting for the repair I asked about having a roof rack
installed as well as tinted windows. Both would cost about $250-300
each and I need the rack slightly more than the tinting so I
might do that soon. Also they looked at my remote engine starter since
it was beeping. While they were doing this stuff I walked around
looking at cars. This was really a bad idea because my Pajero is
really doing well and it's great for the snow. Plus buying another car
would be my 4th in 5 years and that's sad. But....they still have the
Legnum and another Subaru Legacy Wagon and they are both really cool
and long and spacious. The Legacy turns out to be slightly cooler than
the Legnum since it has a moon roof and some other nice features. It's
also white and looks similar to
this one. I really should stop thinking about it since this car is
fine and I don't want another one. Although, the Legacy would be more
spacious and I could carry 3 people with leg room and space in the
back. The other evil thought is that they buy and sell things from the
auto auction quite often and I could probably get around $2,000 for my
Last night I went to a delightful dinner party at some friends'
apartment. It was sponsored by a Japanese friend and held at the
apartment of some Danish friends. It was a lovely party with great
food as usual. We did a gift exchange and I got a thing of small
chocolate bottles with liquor in them. I can stop eating/drinking
them. It's really only a teaspoon, but they are great when mixed with
the chocolate. Each time I eat one I think "oh I don't like straight
liquor", but then the after taste makes me want to do another one. The
way we did the present exchange was interesting at first and then a
little strange in the end. We put them all on the table and two dies
were passed out. We took turns rolling the die and if you got a 3 or a
6 you could take a present. Once we all had a present a timer was set
to a secret time and we started rolling and passing the die again.
Again 3s or 6s meant you take a present, but this time it was from
This seemed fun for a while, but then the timer went off and a few
people (including myself) didn't have presents whereas a few people
had multiple ones. I thought they could chose one to keep and give the
rest out, but the rule was they won and we lost. That seemed a bit odd
and I didn't like it and it didn't seem very Christmas-like. The game
I really hate is where one person opens a present then the next person
can steal it or choose another one. That seems really un-Christmas
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Last night I had a nice birthday dinner with three friends. I was
thinking about my favorite restaurant all day and planning to go there
alone since I figured everyone else would be busy. I sent an email
anyway and they said they could make. They didn’t know it was my
birthday and I wasn’t going to say anything. When we got there and sat
down we did the “kanpai” or cheers. The owner came over and said “oh
it’s your birthday”. I was completely shocked and kept asking how did
he know that. Then he said he was just kidding, but I showed him my
license and he was surprised, as were my friends. They ended up buying
dinner for me which was very gracious.
Today I am at Ohse and had 4 classes scheduled and I
planned for them. Then when I got here I was told, oh you only have
two. ARGH then why did you tell me 4 last week knowing I would plan
something. So now I am sitting at the computer typing this. I thought
about leaving early, but it’s already 2:30 so I might as well wait it
out. The 2 classes that were canceled were because that grade has a
test tomorrow and they need to prepare by taking a near identical
pre-test. My activity actually would have been a good preparation for
the test. I’ve noticed classes get pre-tests that usually have the
same or nearly the same questions as the actual test. When tests are
graded students get a circle for correct and a triangle for “this
answers needs more attention” instead of the direct X for wrong. You
must be vague and elusive here. If students fail they can often simply
write in the correct answers for partial credit. In Japan they care
more about the process than the result which is really difficult for
me to understand and live with. It’s quite often frustrating to be
Another example is the international day we had on
Tuesday. It was at a local elementary school and the whole day was a
blast. First we played “when’s your birthday” with the 4th
graders where they asked us and tried to get bingo. Then the 5th
graders tried to guess which country we came from during the next
period. Then we ate lunch with the kids and my class sang happy
birthday to me. Finally we had the grand finale and did this big
airport thing in the gym. The kids were on the stage and first passed
through passport control. Then they got on a plane (seats in the
middle of the gym with a plane nose thing and wings and a pilot) and
flew for a minute. Then they disembarked (or embarked) and went to a
country booth to learn about that country.
The whole day was great and was planned very well. So why
did I say that was another example? When we played the birthday game
there were a few teachers who would walk around and instantly
translate anything we said. The kids would ask “when’s your birthday”
and I would say November 25 and immediately the teacher would say it
in Japanese. In class when I say something über-easy for the kids to
practice listening they watch me attentively and then immediately look
at the Japanese teacher (of English) to translate. It’s part of the
society and a big reason why Japanese students can’t reach fluency in
English as quickly as other students.
Teachers are far less concerned with grades in Japan
because they are the end result and are meaningless. Teachers care
about the process of getting there. We made a plan and we followed
that plan perfectly. Do the kids speak any English? Have they learned
the lesson points? Are they better than they were last year? None of
that matters. We made a plan and we all pitched in and took part in it
and that’s all that matters. I am so much more about the end result
and not having people worry about micro-managing me, but here that’s
all they are concerned about and care nothing about the end result.
Here the means counts more than the end.
One small issue I am having at two schools is that they are giving me
lesson plans for my classes. Quite often these are way off from the
norm and are really hard to teach. Yesterday I was teaching JHS level
English to 5th graders who didn’t have the foundation to
support it. In two weeks I teach “where are you going” and “where did
you come from” to 5th graders and that’s going to be tough.
Plus there are some things that should be taught early in the year so
we can practice them each class all year.
We had an argument recently about planning an international day and I
was suggesting WE plan it since WE have done them before whereas the
teachers most likely have not. But we were told that the teachers
would plan it and we would happily participate. The problem is when
someone has never done something and that person cares more about the
process than the end result, you might get nonsense. One example is
when I was trying to plan the Konan Snow Day this year (and 2 years
before). I thought it would be nice to do all the work so the teachers
could relax, but to them they had to be a part of the planning and
kept trying to insert nonsense activities into the mix. Honestly,
their plan was a 20 minute intro/warm up/explanation/singing the
school song and then a 10 minute activity and then 15 minute summary
and break for each 45 minute class. That 10 minute time included
finding your group, talking with your group, going down the hall and
outside while changing shoes, and walking for 5 minutes to the area.
That stuff ended up taking 30 minutes rather than 10.
In the end I got my way of not so many opening ceremonies and other
general nonsense, but a few times the plan was hijacked on the spot
and things ended up taking far longer than necessary. The teachers
were more concerned that some student might feel stressed or worried
that he/she couldn’t do an activity correctly so we had to review how
to do each thing over and over and over again. No one ever connects
the lack of fluency here with the cultural barriers to teaching a
foreign language. Sometimes we sit for 5 minutes waiting for the
student that NEVER TALKS to answer a question because everyone in the
group is equal and the teachers won’t skip that person. It doesn’t
seem to matter that he isn’t going to talk and that’s embarrassing, it
matters that he was given a fair chance like the others. Seriously,
that kid doesn’t even make noises, why would you call on him?
There’s a girl at one school who is nice and adorable, but has some
weirdness where she just walks around either doing her own thing or
hitting other students. I think she should be at a separate school for
her benefit and for everyone else’s as well, but that would separate
someone from the group and only the parents can do that. They live in
a fantasy world and ignore that and don’t care that she causes the
whole class to stop quite often. The teacher will go over and sit with
her or hold her back from violently hitting other kids. She might come
up and shuffle my papers (while smiling) or throw them on the floor.
But there’s nothing we can do.
I go to Konan and have either no classes or 4 classes. I might have
two classes in a row with the bad class. It’s funny how the classes I
HATE going to are also the ones with kids I really like. Some classes
are so-so, but the extreme ones are extreme in both ways. Some of my
favorite kids are in the same class as demon-possessed kids who wander
around or flash their penises (each boy has one). Photo: a new HUGE
aquarium they put in the elementary school. I can't for the life of me
understand why they would do this. I can easily see it getting knocked
over since the kids are always playing around and under it.
Oh slight tangent. Yesterday I taught the 2nd graders at
Tadano and they are becoming my favorite overall class. I put that
reason on the homeroom teacher who teaches them a little English
everyday and so now they are exponentially better than the other
classes. Anything I teach she reinforces later. Anyway, to seal their
favoriteness they made me Christmas cards yesterday. Well they made
them before on their own with no prompting from me, but they gave them
to me yesterday. They had my name and a message and some nice art
work. I want to do something for each kid in return, but I don’t know
what yet. Maybe something with a sticker-picture of me.
This class has no one annoying in it so it breaks my extreme theory.
That’s mainly for the classes that I HATE going to. They aren’t all
bad and some are really great. I want to start a private English
tutoring school even though I know nothing about that. I know I could
teach some things better than the way the school system does. Actually
there are two girls in that 2nd grade class that go to a
private after school thing and have great English. I knew it from
class since they were answering everything I was asking. “What’s
this?” and everyone says either “I don’t know” or “egg….”, but these
two girls would say something like “it’s an eggplant”. I’m sorry did
you just say “it’s a…..” that is JHS grammar and you are in the 2nd
But sadly this is all going to be washed away since the teachers
change schools every 3-5 years and these kids might get a crap
teacher, and yes there are some bad teachers out there. Although I
know one teacher who has been at a school for 7-8 years. I spent some
of today looking up old acquaintances in a teacher directory.
way to Ohse today I noticed this UFO like cloud formation above Konan.
I could see it
in the distance and realized I have seen this before and this explains
why the weather out there is so much different. Sometimes in the
winter when I lived there it would be a horrible blizzard and I would
drive into town and the weather would suddenly change once I passed
through a long tunnel. It was like the 70s TV show Fantasy Island when
they would open a door in a small office and there would be a huge
aircraft hangar with ninjas fighting on the other side, but outside
the office was just grass. Something is magical about it. Anyway, the
clouds were so odd I snapped some pics with my phone while driving.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Mexican place in town that is great. We had a small NT party there
last night and spent over $100 on great food and great beer. We talked
about our futures and some ideas we had. We all love teaching and have
joked / tossed around the idea of starting an after school tutor
school called a Juku here, but we really don't know anything about
starting a business or running one. This idea stems from the fact that
teaching English in Japan has to be done the Japanese way and that
usually involves several frustrations mentioned in the post above.
Something else we talked about that has a real chance of possibly
happening is starting a free English magazine and later getting
advertisers for it. Just have some free lessons and hints and stuff
like that. I think it would do well and we are at the threshold of
actually doing it, but we just have to take that step forward.