Thursday, 1 November 2007

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I'm just out an hour long meeting at work which was held to discuss the teaching of English in the Japanese elementary curriculum. Traditionally English was only introduced at junior high school but in the next few years this will be extended to all elementary schools. My town in Tano has been teaching English to the younger children for a few years now. I teach the 4th, 5th and 6th grade who range from 8-12 years old. Anyway, I had a lesson with the 4th grade today and about 10-15 people turned up to watch me. I wasn't as nervous as I thought and more than anything I felt it was a nuisance to have them stand around and expect a natural lesson. It just so happens my class was with the teacher who I find it hardest to communicate with and he had picked a hard lesson plan to make fun. This was frustrating because all the comments I just received were about things I do in other classes (such as my 5th grade last week). I was told there would be a meeting this morning to discuss my lesson but it was a lot larger and more formal than I anticipated. I basically sat for an hour and tried to look interested as about fifteen Japanese education types dissected my lesson. It just made me feel like a useless moron even though I know it was not about me but the education system in general. They said some other things that made me feel a bit crap too... maybe this teaching malarkey isn't for me? I try my best for each lesson but the lack of communication is starting to irritate me, especially when people rattle off important information to me in fast Japanese without the least bit of effort to see if I understand. It usually results in me/them needing to ask poor Noah to translate again.

It has been quite a stressful week in general so far. Through my own fault I never got enough sleep at the weekend and most days have been full of classes and preparing for the Halloween party we had last night. On Tuesday some of my classes were recorded and sent off somewhere to be torn apart. My usually energetic students stared at their desks for 50 minutes as I tried to get them to respond in some manner.
Ach aye ach aye.

The Halloween party Noah (and I..a bit) organised was held last night in the Board of Education. It turned out to be really difficult to plan... mainly because we had about 1-2 hours to clear up a conference room and decorate it. It turned out really well in the end though and there were about 50 elementary/kindergarten kids who had a good time. We even carved a pumpkin which was fun.

Man... I'm even tiring myself out with all this complaining. I couldn't be bothered doing any work or studying after the meeting so I think I'll use this opportunity to update my blog. Actually, it looks like... yep I have returned from 15 minutes of filling in insurance forms. Well, I pretty much just copied Noah who found an envelope on his desk but nobody told him about it. Ach aye bloody... work. Yeah, I'm so useless in general. Loads of ALTs don't even have a CIR who can speak Japanese so I shouldn't be complaining. If it wasn't for Noah then I'd just be walking around in circles smashing my face off a wall.

Maybe I shouldn't post my rant? What with my irritation now subsiding into a sleepy melancholy. I might get into trouble if someone reads my blog too but I couldn't figure out how to change the security settings.


The last time I updated I mentioned a Japanese girl called Marika was crashing at my place for two weeks. It was kind of uncomfortable at first but we got on really well and it was nice to talk to a Japanese person about stuff. Me, Noah and Andrew all hung out with her quite a lot and we had some good banter going on. It was actually a bit sad when she left because it's rare to find a cool, young Japanese person who wants to talk to you out in the countryside. Anyway, she left for Hiroshima a few weeks ago and we might go visit it her sometime. I had another party at my place about two weeks ago for her leaving function and we had a good crowd come around to say goodbye.

Lots of stuff happened last week too I'm sure but I've forgotten about it already. A bit of culture shock kicked in last week it wasn't so bad. Having an enjoyable weekend is essential to surviving I think. Working from 8ish-6ish during the week and then being stuck in Tano (we don't have a bar/karaoke/restaurants) for the weekday evenings means you need to get out somewhere. Last Friday, Karl from up in the mountains was meant to be having a surprise party at Rock Green Cafe but it fell apart at the last minute so we had it at mine again. His Japanese girlfriend (Norico) and another Japanese girl from Muroto (Yayoi) cooked up an excellent meal mmm mmm. We all just chilled at my place and them someone shaved a mochican into Noah's head... there's hair everywhere argh.

Saturday was the big Halloween party that I mentioned. We were in the city drinking for a good number of hours and met a lot of other people from the prefecture. I've decided that everyone from the east coast are the best out the lot as we made the party what it was... maybe... nobody can remember. I went dressed as a Scottish vampire. This means I was too lazy and bought a vampire costume and stuck my 'see you Jimmy' hat on. The following day we failed to play frisbee, find any Halloween decorations and then were attacked by the spider in the car.

That sums everything up for now I think... thank goodness. I can tell the grammar and structure are everywhere but I don't care at the moment!

I might be going to buy a video camera after work actually. I wanted to enter the film festival held in December but I couldn't work out the older camcorder I borrowed. I've wanted a video camera for a bit actually so here's my excuse to get one. I might even upload video diary stuff onto my site. Alright, I'm going to go study some Japanese.


John said...

Hi Craig, I remember the first time Noah went to Japan, his college program cautioned about the process of living there (and I assume it is true for any cross-cultural experience). Initially there may be euphoria about the newness of the experience, followed by irritation with some of the realities of living in another culture (probably mixed with a little homesickness) that eventually settles into an appreciation of the commonality of our lives and the true wisdom of another culture. I applaud all you JETs and your willingness to take on this process, to expand your realm of comfort (and all the discomfort that entails), and face these subtropical spiders etc. (And if that advice doesn’t ring true, there is always those weekends in the “city”).

Noah said...

Amen, brotha John!

Craig said...

Cheers Noah's dad

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About Me

I am a 24 year old Scotsman currently teaching English to Japanese schoolchildren. I live in a small town on the east coast of Kochi prefecture.