Tired and Persevering


April is always a little busy because it is the start of the new school year. This year, we have to use Ministry of Education (文部科学省) mandated textbooks for the fifth and sixth grade classes. No special training has been provided for the new system and books and software; also, copies of the books are shown to us occasionally, but rarely given to the teachers. It is crazy, I think I irritated my boss when I phoned him to tell him it was annoying.

One important job discovery has been that my boss works for the City Board of Ed. and the principals at my schools have contracts through the Prefectural Board of Ed.; and neither group wants to cover our expenses. They are constantly putting me in the middle and telling me to directly request things like purchase of textbooks. I am tempted to show up with excerpts from the labor code for them, but don’t want to rock the boat (despite evidence to the contrary).

My first classes are tomorrow and I still feel completely unprepared. Normally I would feel comfortable teaching a first lesson with little preparation, but we are being told to stick to the lesson plans published by the Ministry. If I had a copy to peruse at night, I would be pretty relaxed.

Also, I have to keep my energy level up because I personally don’t like the philosophical approach of the new mandates. Most people agree that the compulsory education in junior high is ineffective. I had the mistaken impression that the Ministry was creating the elementary education system to promote earlier learning (something, I think is proved to be successful); however, their goal is actually to prop up the junior high system, as is, by creating ‘desire’ to study through ‘fun’ classes at elementary school. First, I think they should be working on improving the junior high system. Second, while ‘fun’ classes can increase ‘desire’, they missed the boat by thinking ‘simple’ = ‘fun’. This program is designed to be unchallenging and some of my students have already learned everything that they are going to be ‘taught’ this year. Imagine spending 35 class hours studying stuff you know. My fear is that boredom will generate a distinct lack of interest in studying.

Regardless, this is the new system and we must teach it, so I need to be prepared to highlight it’s strengths for the students. If I go in with a bad attitude, the students will eat me and the system for lunch. Fortunately, most of the schools know me and will let me teach additional materials, so long as we cover the course material and I’m not ‘pushing’ the kids too hard.

Searching for that balance…


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4 Responses to “Tired and Persevering”

  1. Michael Says:

    It sounds like you ahve two distinct issues facing you. What would the result be if you simply said no to the requests for procurement? Eventually someone else will pick it up, and you will no longer be placed in what sounds like a comprimsing position.

    The second issue I read is the new curriculum. If you simply ‘persevere’, can you expect more from your students? Is it possible you can turn this into an adventure, or a new challenge? Are there side projects you can provide that are related to the material that would give bored students more to do?

    Possibly, if those are not viable option, perhaps it is time to look for new opportunities elsewhere?


  2. びっくり Says:

    Michael – most of the schools will let me add in activities to keep the pace lively. But one school has been particularly tough. Your final point is very valid. As the year progresses, I’ll be re-evaluating my situation. I’m currently in a position where the workload increases each year, but the pay never changes. Given inflation, that means pay is actually decreasing.

  3. azoptimist Says:

    Hi Bikkuri!

    I’m a Japanese-American educator in Tucson, Arizona.
    I work for an extremely incompetent principal (who wants name recognition and her school to generate high standardized test scores) but does not support her staff (the parents are always right — ugh)!

    There are many who work their way up to incompetence. The irony of all this is that we are educators — role models for the next generation!

    I feel your frustration.
    My like-minded colleagues and I stick together and do our best to help and support each other, which is the only reason why I’ve lasted at my current workplace.

    I’ll be participating in an demonstration tomorrow to protest against additional cuts to educators and supplies (we really should be firing incompetent leaders).

    Hang in there. I have lots of respect for the courageous who stand up to power to do what’s right. It’s THE ONLY WAY to make our (screwed up) societies a better place for our children and grandchildren.

    I support you wholeheartedly!
    Thanks for your thoughts!

  4. びっくり Says:

    Always nice to have a new commenter. Thanks for visiting my site. Take care of the kids.

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