Smells Like Teen Spirit


Japanese school grades are divided into classes called ‘kumi’ (組). Usually they have names like A-gumi, B-gumi, C-gumi; but, sometimes have names like hoshigumi, hanagumi, etc. Each kumi has a classroom and the teachers come to them to teach. This is supposed to promote group spirit. It has been very interesting to see that each kumi really does have their own spirit which differs from the other kumi.

Monday I got to experience the 8th grade B-gumi spirit. They would not make eye contact with me and it was difficult to get them to listen to instructions. If I asked a question, like, “Does anyone understand?”, they would just stare at me with glum faces, about half of them with the arms folded across their chests. Bob had warned me that some of the classes might be like this, so I was prepared somewhat; however, I think I was a little tired and probably didn’t handle it as smoothly as I should have.

I caught one student drawing a picture of me with the ‘angry marks’ on the forehead that are used in anime and manga. Having a goatee makes it easy to identify when I am the subject of drawings. Generally in Japanese schools nobody wears any facial hair.

The fact that the student easily let me see the picture and I just gave him a little grin and moved on, will hopefully help them to quickly understand that I am not that severe. By the end of class they were playing the game and seemed to be having fun. I hope we can move forward smoothly and have as much fun and learning as the other classes.

Honestly, I am more concerned about the 9th grader with an attitude who wrote the kanji character for ‘death’ (死) on the back of his hand.


One Response to “Smells Like Teen Spirit”

  1. Keven Says:

    The Japanese are deprived. They can’t tatoo Love and Hate on their fingers! Well I suppose you can, but I don’t think they add up to 4 kanji or hirigana characters.

    Anyway, I’m really enjoying the posts! Keep up the good work!

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