So today is my final day at Nakamura Chu for this month. Tomorrow, a Saturday, I will go to Chibimaru Chu to attend their sports day. A while back ago, I said Chibimaru chu was my favorite, but I am rarely there anymore. Unfortunately, that means I have less of a connection with the kids there. Unlike the previous week, this week was stone cold easy. I had only taught the 3rd year Junior high kids and the 6th year kids at an Elementary school with a highly skilled, and energetic group of kids. A combo I call the ego-booster, because when you are done teaching that group, you feel like you can do anything.
Anyways, sports day, which is conducted the same day at all schools, is really altering the weekly schedule. Because it’s on a Saturday, the company has to give me a comp day on Wednesday. Monday is a public holiday and Tuesday is the kids version of a comp day. I wanted to do the exact same thing, but the board of education wants me to go to an Elementary school instead. So I will teach at Chibimaru chu on Thursday and Friday only, and only the first and second year kids. After he summer holidays, it will be more and more uncommon for me to teach third year at all because of their upcoming high school entrance exams. Those poor kids are going to get their first taste of buckling down hard to pass a test.
Today is a sit on my ass all day kind of event where I will watch the kids practice for sports day tomorrow. The schools have had a series of half days and more than a few full days of practice for this over the last few weeks, which makes no sense academically. I think the longest I had to practice for anything when I was a student was a half day to practice high school graduation and a half day for a full blown earthquake simulation. I remember back then thinking that they were both an enormous waste of time, but what the hell, it got me out of class. But I am looking at this through a western academic perspective, and not an eastern socialization one. Academically it a giant waste of time that teaches nothing. In the eastern perspective it’s a cultural corner stone. Everyone works together to accomplish a goal in activities that stress group over individual achievement. It is what the school system here is based upon and what it is all about; Not for scholarship, but for being Japanese. In that aspect it succeeds gloriously.
The kids have a blast with this, and it is fun as hell to watch. The things they do would spell the doom of the school written in law suits if it was a US school, but here? It’s par per course. Before the day officially arrives, a bunch of kids are out because of injuries.
My opinions aside, the kids are really happy… Pumped… And they want to be there. They aren’t there because they have to or because it’s expected of them. It’s as or more important to them as any school graduation. This begs the classical question: which is better: To well educated and miserable? Or ignorant and full of joy? Another caveat is there are many more school days in Japan, so they have much more flexibility to fuck off when compared to its US counterpart.
As for just me? I’m still drawing a salary, and I get to spend time just hanging out with kids whom I love dearly. So it’s a win win for me.