Thursday, November 06, 2008

Image versus reality

Many people seem surprised when I talk about the behaviour of children in Japanese elementary schools in this area (I say "this area" as I know that there are some schools in Japan which definitely don't fit into the same category and I don't want to give people the wrong impression....). Before I came to Japan my image of schooling here was that the students were really well behaved - so well behaved that they were almost like robots. After about a day of being in Japanese classrooms this image was totally gone and the new one was more of chaos. Today totally confirmed this. I have been teaching at one elementary school two to three mornings a week for the last 6 months or so and one class in particular has been going from bad to worse. When I say that I am teaching I am actually more in an advisory role now and the Japanese teacher prepares the class and then I just help out and give advice at the end and therefore have no input in terms of discipline etc. Next week 4 of the classes have to do demonstration lessons in front of members of the community, the board of education and teachers from other schools in the area. For the last few weeks I have been hinting to the principal and vice principal that there is no way that one class in particular should be doing this.... they don't listen to a word the teacher says, they are physically fighting for most of the lesson and if anyone dares to ask them a question they basically tell you to "piss off".... yip this is an elementary school in Japan!
Anyway, to cut a very long story a little short, today the principal and vice principal both sat in on the lesson and both were almost in tears at the end of it thinking that this class was going to be a model for the school next week (the children have no respect for either the principal or vice principal and laugh openly in their faces if they dare to question their behaviour)..... I had had enough by the end and was so sick of being basically spat at that I sent two girls out into the corridor, who thought that was wonderful and spent the rest of the class wandering around the school being chased by the vice principal. Apparently the class is the same for every lesson (not just English) and the teacher (a man in his 40s) is not coping particularly well... big surprise! Unfortunately he didn't bother to tell anyone that he has been having so much trouble with the class until it was really too late..... I think a parents meeting is scheduled for tomorrow!
Just thought I'd let you know about the joys of teaching in Japan..... in case anyone is thinking of doing it! I have to go back again tomorrow too.... can hardly wait!

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