25 November 2004

"In English?" I asked.

Well, I got my ass handed to me today during a meeting with a couple of 3rd grade teachers. I knew things weren't going to go well when the first two things that were said were, "You will understand my Japanese when I speak slowly, right?" and "You don't have any formal training in teaching children, do you?"

Well, of course, the answer to both of those questions is no, but I was a little frustrated that the reason they were asking about my training was that I can't keep the kids quiet. Unfortunately, I don't know if anyone can keep a group of 45-50 5thgraders sitting quietly especially with the teachers sitting passively in the back looking like they'd rather be dead than in my class. I do my best, but I'm only one man.

Anyway, the new plan is to have the three of us rotate teaching responsibilities. I'm teaching in January, I guess, but I'm not supposed to teach as much as talk about a picture from my childhood. Like the clothes I'm wearing or my hat.

In English? I asked.
Yes, that's good, he said.
There was a pause here.
But the children don't understand English, I said.
He also said I could just play dodgeball with them.

I've realized that despite having been pumped up with all this idealist, progressive teaching methodology from my company, the dark, unfortunate truth is that the Japanese elementary system is neither progressive nor idealist. I'm there to give the kids two or three vocabulary words once every three months so the BOE can pat itself on the back for having internationally-minded schools. Never mind if anyone's learning anything.

A quick questions for all you ed. majors out there: Are you supposed to have the kids compete boys vs. girls or does this just get them to dislike each other even more and further engrain all that nasty gender whatnot?

In unrelated, fantastic news, I think I finally got in the groove of these listening questions for my test. They're making sense even without base 11 math or Jennifer Presley's help. Not that I don't appreciate either of those methods for answering questions, but unfortunately they won't be available to me during the actual test.

18 November 2004

Meet at 6:20 or 8:09

I haven't gotten tired of my job yet which comes as a little bit of a surprise to me as two weeks ago, when the gloss was starting to wear off, I thought I was well on my way to a routine burnout. I made it through though. I may just be happy because the school lunch was very good today and I got to teach the first year class, which I always enjoy. The teachers keep telling me what the first-years can and can't handle, but, frankly, given their zeal, I think they are much more capable then a group of slack-jawed, hormone-slowed six graders who think I'm just a clown.

The Fukuoka Sumo Tournament is on and Asashoryu hasn't lost yet.

I've got that Japanese test coming up in December and am pretty concerned about it, although I have been doing well on the grammar practice tests that I have. Japanese grammar is nice because it's so reliable. Complicated like nothing else, but reliable. Unfortunately, the one thing I excel at in the scheme of Japanese, the kanji, is only about 50 out of 400 point of the test. The rest is grammar, listening, vocabulary and reading. The listening part is the thing I am most worried about because you have this sort of conversation to listen to:
Tanaka san: What time should we meet?
Haneda san: I work until 5:45.
Tanaka san: 5:45?
Haneda san: No, wait. A half hour after that.
Tanaka san: Hm. I work until 6:40
Haneda san: 6:40?
Tanaka san: Sorry, 6:20.
Haneda san: Why don't we meet an hour after I get off work.
Tanaka san: How about an hour and twenty minutes?
Haneda san: Great!
Frankly, I still don't know when they're meeting even if they were speaking in English.

Also, the passive tense in Japanese, though incredibly tactful, makes no sense to me. Who's doing what to whom? Am I involved? Why is the subject of that sentence assumed? Because I have no idea what's going on.

Also, it's ridiculously cold here. I think the water in the toilet will freeze before winter is over.

17 November 2004


I was all excited because I finally got my flash disk to work only to realize that I hadn't saved a post on it. So this, short post now:

It's raining right now, but I think it might be sunny later.

01 November 2004


A couple of things:

The earthquakes didnt kill the dude. Im safe and sound.

Right-wing conspiracy!?

My address!?

Heights Riverside 201
3-9-11 Matsuhuama
Niigata ken, Niigata shi
950-3126 Japan