check this video out: click here
I wish my grandma was alive to see this.
She was a teacher.
An amazing teacher.
When I was a kid I occasionally went with her to her Adult Literacy classes. Some of the people she taught had really hard upbringings and sad stories. Some of them were pretty rough. She treated everyone with respect and to my naive country kid eyes it seemed amazing that she wasn't scared of some of them!
Even after retiring my grandma was very on the ball with the news and sent me clippings (highlighted for my reading ease) about Japan and the Japanese education system (as well as whaling, gender (in)equality, politics, environmental degradation, fair trade and refugee issues.)
She had a pretty poor opinion of the Japanese education system. Somewhat justified in reality (cram schools and exam hell) but also influenced by often rather sensationalist tv reporting (JHS kids suicide!! PE teachers HIT KIDS!!! Kinder kids forced to play IN THEIR UNDERWEAR in the SNOWWW!!)
The schools and teachers I have known here have been brilliant. But to be fair, when I was teaching fulltime it was at a village JHS and three feeder schools- the smallest of which had 12 kids....
As a parent I am cautiously happy with school so far. Very very happy with the experience so far but we're only 3 years into 12... and I have some pretty big worries about what's to come in terms of rote learning and exam pressure.
And while I'm sure not all teachers are as fabulous as the teacher in the video I have to say I think many are. And I think, at the primary school level at least, there is a system that supports teachers in a way that allows them to be creative and flexible and encourages team building and comeraderie and compassion and empathy among the students. I saw this after the big earthquake. There was minimal damage to our area and no fear of tsunami whatsoever but despite this there was ample classtime given to discussion and journal writing about their fears and feelings. Meg talked about her grandparents house tilting out of whack and having no power or water and her daddy going up there and being out of contact and how scared that made her feel. The teacher didn't poo-pooh their fears but explained that it's natural to be scared and the best way to feel better is to tell someone how you feel and talk about it.
There were kids who suddenly started crying and getting hysterical a month later when they went on a bus-trip past a wrecker yard. The cars piled up in mangled jumbles reminded them of the tv footage of the tsunami wreckage and they were worried the tsunami had come to Matsumoto. Again, the teacher was really understanding and they had a big group hugging and back patting session over it all.
I have seen similar caring and understanding about kids experiencing divorce, hospitalisation, disability and death in the family.
So yeah, lots of conservative teacher-centric guff goes on here, Nanny, but sometimes some pretty cool stuff happens here too.