Today was graduation day for the Itakura Junior High third graders. It was actually a really well done ceremony. Koujou-sensei perfected the elusive triple-bow -- He bowed to the stage, then to the school flag, then to the audience. Also, apparently they play Pachobel`s Cannon EVERYWHERE for graduations. That`s gonna be stuck in my head for a bit. Strange to see a graduation 10 months after my own. Video after the jump and more on my Qikstream.Read More
It's getting to be time for the kids in Elementary School and Junior High to graduate. The ceremony for the junior high is this friday and the elementary schools will be next week. Last week, however, there was an impromptu "goodbye 6th graders" ceremony at the east elementary school.Read More
Well it’s been forever since I updated the blog – a combo of being overwhelmed with work and overwhelmed with how much there was to write about in the trip. So to get things back on track , I’ll give a synopsis of the trip.
On Thursday, Dad showed up in Japan while I was still at work and navigated his way from Narita to the hotel with the help of my Japanese “Please return to his mommy at Peninsula Marunouchi” cheat sheet.
I had to stay back at work and then wait for the internet guy to install my fiber-optic line which ended up being a more elaborate process than expected. There was a cherry-picker, installation of myriad boxes, and two installers – a guy who connected everything and a woman who stood in the street, watched, and periodically shouted “daijoubu!”Read More
I had my laptop in class to play Christmas tunes so I seized the opportunity to take some video of the class with PhotoBooth:
Well, I'm officially in a Christmas mood.
This entire month I teach about Christmas to every kid in town from kindergarten to 6th grade.
I had my first lesson today with the 3rd graders at 東小学校 (Higashi Shougakko, East Elementary School). It pretty much entailed trying to talk over a bunch of rambunctious kids who knew sadly little about Christmas. They were, however, entirely impressed by the pictures of Santa from around the world that I brought in and finally quieted down when I gave them some pictures to color and put on the Rat Pack Christmas album -- music as necessary as ham on Christmas.Read More
It's 8:20AM and the kyoutou-sensei, or vice-principal, is pointing to a stuffed bear in a neon hat, with no sense of irony. He says it represents our school winning some academic contest yesterday. And the staff-room quietly murmurs approvingly about the new stuffed animal we have acquired.
I haven't figured out the Japanese education system yet, and I don't think Japan has either. On the one hand, its based in the Confucian model of study-bees who don't question their teacher and in which competition is not good within the class. On the other hand, I've never seen so many contests -- English speech contest, "Best Song" singing competition, "best dance team" during Sports Day. Today a student said something stupid in class and the teacher pulled his head forward and flicked his forehead. It was all in a joking way and they both laughed but I somehow can't imagine that happening in the States.Read More
Being a teacher, or sensei, in Japan is a big deal. In the States, we talk a good game that teachers are angels sent down from heaven to learn our kids to read good. But secretly a lot of us, most maybe, just think teachers are people who were too dumb to get real jobs. In Japan it's different. The pay is about the same but the Japanese have a deep-seeded respect for teachers.
This respect is coded in the language. The word for teacher is sensei, which literally means "born before." That is, the word for teacher essentially means elder. Nowhere in the word for teacher is the word for teach, oshieru. Thus, teachers implicitly deserve the same respect as one's elders. In a country that reveres its elders as superiors by virtue of age, and worships its ancestors, teachers recieve the same respect as older people, regardless of their age. It's like being an honorary elder.Read More