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.