Where Is The Middle?

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Tests are often found on our schedule at the junior high school. Mid-terms and finals are particularly chaotic times in the office. Students have all manner of responsibilities that require them to visit the office: documenting schedule changes; updating the absentee list; filing reports on daily cleaning activities; and so on. On a normal day groups of two or three students will come in, loudly announcing,”Excuse us for interrupting”, and going about their assigned task. However, at test times there is a placard in the middle of the entryway which clearly reads, “Mid-terms (or finals) in progress: entering the office prohibited.” (中間テスト中、入室禁止) This creates a knot of children about the sign, at every break, eager to perform their responsiblities.

Getting in and out of the office becomes similar to getting to the stage at a Van Halen concert in the 80s. Each student must, in addition to their normal apology for entering our sacred domain, request the attention of a teacher to aid them. Our office is quite large, which necessitates repeated, loud requests for attention. One might understand why I like to work at the Board of Education office when I have a chance: thirty staff and fifty kids shouting across a room creates a bit of a stir.

For my regular readers, this is an issue I have presented before, but today I am speculating on a related occurrance. Yesterday and Today the 9th graders were scheduled for mid-terms; however, the 7th and 8th graders will take their test next month. So, where is the middle of the term?

Normally third term is the shortest, starting the second week of January and ending mid-March, and has more interruptions to the learning process. Here I make a distinction between the education process and the learning process, since what I labelled as interruptions are, indeed, proper parts of the Japanese system; however, they are not traditional classes.

My theory about the mid-term timing reflects the fact that 9th graders have more interruptions at the end – and the middle – making their term shorter. Come to think of it, they also have more interruptions at the beginning, in the form of tests for high school evaluation. We are in the third week of classes and they are on their third test. Anyhow, my idea is that two periods starting at the same point and differing in duration, will have different midpoints. I have no idea if that really has bearing on the timing of the test or not.

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