Saturday, April 25, 2009

PTA observation class

Yesterday was the first PTA afternoon for the year. It is always the same... first you go and observe the class doing their normal lessons, next you go to the gymnasium and listen to reports from the PTA committee etc. where you clap in the correct places to show your approval (no one has ever disapproved in the history of PTAs here) and then you shuffle back to your child's classroom for a meeting with the other parents and teachers about how things are going in the class. Now that I have two children in the same school the shuffling is increased between the two classes, but the information is basically the same in both. The teacher asks if anyone has any questions etc. and despite everyone having moaned about things while they should have been listening to the meeting in the gym they all smile and say "no" - well actually they don't even say no, they just look at their shoes. Then of course the "foreign" Mum asks some questions which are answered with suckings of air and tilts of the head and nothing really changes.
My son's new class was.... an absolute disaster, but I am kind of used to that with first grade classes here. It always seems to take a few months to whip the kids into action - one of the goals of the teacher was to "stop the children getting up and wandering randomly around the room during the lessons". Here's hoping she can get that one sorted pretty fast! My biggest worry is that even though the desks and chairs here are adjustable, they never bother to adjust them according to the children's height. As most of you know both my children are tall (to put it mildly) and therefore the smallest size that they start the desks at just doesn't work! I asked the teacher very nicely if she could do it as soon as possible - pointing out my husband's incredibly bent back (apparently the result of having desks that didn't suit at school... he is 190cm tall) and she promised to have the desks adjusted on Monday. I remember doing the same with my daughter in first and second grade too.... perhaps things just don't sink in here!
My daughter's class was very refreshing in some ways - at least the children could sit still for most of the lesson - even if their responses etc. were controlled so much that they could probably be replaced with robots. I guess parents are critical all around the world, but sometimes having a completely different education system to compare things too makes the grass on the other side look very green!


  1. Anonymous11:24 AM

    The classroom looks nice and bright = )

  2. hahaha, I've got ours this afternoon, in about an hour in fact! At least now I know what to expect... I'm trying to build up the nerve to mention starting a 'safer roads' campain, but will probably bottle it at the last minute.

  3. So much to look forward to.

    Ask your daughter whether they 'rehearsed' the observation class. I taught with a teacher who always rehearsed the observation class- right down to who would answer each set question. It always came out so lifeless but everyone was so pleased to see a well oiled machine at work. aggghhhhhh!

  4. Anonymous11:03 PM

    Wow! I am so interested in your observation. I am a teacher in NY and spent 5 months in NZ last year doing educational research. I also spent over 2 weeks then in Japan. The 2 systems you are immersing yourself in could not be more extreme! NZ is so ultra relaxed and Japan so very, in my eyes, strict. I loved both countries very much and learned a lot about education. I will add you to my blog roll. Please pass my site to anyone you think may want to discuss education. Cheers, mate!

  5. sfrack11:05 PM

    oops....hit anonymous. my site is:

  6. caused a stir here with a couple heading to japan on the JET scheme soon!! How will they cope!

  7. GJ: the classroom is not exactly bright, but not too bad for a Japanese one... nothing compared to the great New Zealand ones though!

    Anchan: how did your observation class go? I was brave and spoke out about the use of cycle helmets two years ago and although I was pretty much silenced at the time it was written onto the bike safety sheet that helmets make riding bikes safer and this year it was added that "helmets are highly recommended" - perhaps some things can change!

    thefukases: I know that they didn't rehearse this class - but I also know that they do virtually identical classes every day and therefore a rehearsal isn't necessary. I can't stand the rehearsed ones either... what a waste of everyone's time!

    sfrack: thanks for commenting. It is definately interesting the difference in education methods. Which one did you prefer?

    fergies.... if they can't cope with that then they are in for a big shock! Things are only worse at the junior and senior high schools!