Friday, September 14, 2007

Wait, No, There's a New Contender!

Evidently, Fukuda Yasuo has overtaken Aso Taro in the race to replace departing PM Abe Shinzo here. Despite of, or because of, its history in the last century, Japan is a peace-loving country so maybe Abe's more hard line hawkish stance- along with the many scandals in his administration- alienated the public. Aso is supposedly like Abe in that regard, while Fukuda is a softer option.

Hey, I don't know. Generally, politics makes me weary and sick.

I almost had our largest class ever last night- seven students. But we had a no-show, so history was not made. I don't often teach six. Usually, larger classes (to a point) are more desirable from a teacher's standpoint. I don't work any harder teaching 6 than I do 2. And I work a lot less than when I teach only 1. Other than leading the students through the vocabulary and reading the dialogue, I hardly had to speak at all in that class. Just offer a correction or a better word choice here or there and watch 'em go.

And go they did. The lesson was on the relatively non-controversial topic of video game addiction. The dialogue between a mother and her game-crazed son hit especially close to home for one student, who has heard her own mom and brother go at it practically every day.

I think the lessons are most effective when the students can relate to the situations.

This particular student, a pleasant, hard-working (and frequently exhausted) high school girl was very lucky to be there last night. Over her summer vacation, she was hit by a car. On her way to school.

That's right. Summer vacation for high school students means going to school. So, being a very diligent and proper young woman, off she went on her bicycle... only to wake up later that evening in a hospital bed, her ocular bone and shoulder broken. It was only during her telling of this story that I finally noticed that now, a few weeks later, she's wearing eyeglasses and a fairly discreet shoulder brace, moving her left arm only slightly and only when necessary. She's a very lucky girl. While she can no longer wear contact lenses, facial surgery has left no scarring. There seems to be a slight puffiness, but unless you knew what to look for, you'd never be aware of it.

She can't participate in her school's Sports Festival (all the local high schools are gearing up for Sports Day next week), but she still has to sit out in the hot sun for 3 hours a day during dance practice.

When the older students asked her about it, she laughed and said, "I'm their director!" and showed how she was cheering her classmates on.

Well, I'm glad she's on the mend. When I think about the many times she's fallen asleep in our lobby before classes before coming into the room a bit bleary-eyed and with clothing wrinkle imprinted on her face, or a red mark on her forehead from one of the tables, I can't imagine any sort of harm befalling her.

Which reminds me- I got some good news from another student. An elderly woman who I taught on Fridays a year ago is out of the hospital at last. She had to use a crutch to get around, and once fell in the hallway of our school, frightening everyone half to death. A travelling soul (last year she was in Bunol, Spain, for the annual tomato battle) despite her ambulatory difficulties, she proved the axiom that most accidents happen in the home when she fell there and broke her hip. I think her English classes were her only social outlet here in Hamamatsu, so I often think about her.

Hearing that she was finally back home (now using a wheelchair) was a relief. I hope she comes back for more lessons. I'd like to see her again and try to brighten her week.


Audiovore said...

Hey hey, I was in Buñol/Valencia for La Tomatina last year too. Small world after all eh?

Well I know you hate kid classes, but have you ever taught a ~20 kid/adult class at nova?

Joel Bryan said...

Cool... I'd love to see La Tomatina. Looks like messy fun! The biggest adult class I taught at Nova was 4, the maximum. But I did teach a 6 kid class at a shopping mall branch one time that was a disaster.

"Lord of the Flies" is sedate compared to what I experience in there. I consider myself good with kids, but when one of the boys spit in my face, I said something very nasty and walked out. 10 minutes left, too. And dared Nova to do anything about it.

And actually, my boss was understanding.

Audiovore said...

Hmm, well do you imagine teaching a class of say ~15 community college level students would be any harder/easier?

I ask because I am heavily considering TEFL, as it is the easiest, and sometimes only, way to be employed overseas. I do plan to take a full month long How to TEFL course in Spain next summer hopefully. If it works out then I'll head to Latin America and eventually Africa. I looked at a couple different placement agencies and there was one for CC level, and then mostly kids, especially in Africa. But I have a feeling that those kids will be considerably different from our 1st world born and bred ones, at least I hope.

Joel Bryan said...

Audiovore- That sounds pretty exciting! Just based on my experience, I'd say go for it. I think the level of difficulty depends on the students' level of commitment to learning more than the class size.

In some cases, large classes can be a boon.

Unless of course, it's a problem class where no one wants to be there. I doubt that'll be a problem at the community college level. Which I did in the U.S. many years ago.

The hardest part about that gig was having so much responsibility. These were adult learners who needed to pass remedial classes in order to get AA degrees eventually. And if I didn't set a good tempo for them, there would be this chance they might drop out and not better their education.

Too intense for me!