Saturday, February 14, 2009

大谷Oya さいたまSaitama and a Rant!

Wednesday was a National holiday here so I took advantage of it. Adrian, Carrie, and I went to Oya (大谷 ) a place that’s about 20 minutes by bus or so north of Utsunomiya. It was an interesting place.

I took some of the info from a pamphlet they handed out, I asked for the English version because I still suck at Japanese. Here’s some of the info:

Oya temple is the 19th of 33 sacred places in the Kanto district. Carved on the rock walls here are 10 Buddha images. An excavation of the cave (with the 10 Buddha images) discovered relics from the Jomon and Yayoi eras (Between 2,000 and 10,000 years ago)
The oldest earthenware in Japan was dug out of the ground here.

The temple itself is about 5 miles northwest of Utsunomiya station. I was said to be founded in 810. At the entrance is a Heiwa Kannon carving which is about 88 feet tall and was carved shortly after WWII, and dedicated to those who died and for world peace.

Fun trip all in all, but we didn’t get to go underground and see all that the place offered. Here are some pictures though of what we did see. Here are some pics: Click to make them bigger.

Here's a link to all of them Facebook

Also on Saturday I went to Saitama to watch Utsunomiya play in a Frisbee Tournament. I took some videos then edited them together to make this:

It was a lot of fun, but it just made me want to play really bad. I miss Buzz (my old team from college).

Ok with that out of the way now I can start my RANT! Since I can’t remember the last time I ranted about something I need to and get this off my chest. It’s kind of long, that’s why I put the important stuff above this, also reading it is optional…..

Today I taught at Ueno Elementary. It was somewhat depressing. I taught 6th grade, and it was pretty awful. It’s rare that I have a bad day as a teacher here but today was one of them. First of all the lesson plan was pretty boring to begin with. Second, the students weren’t energetic at all, and some even slept or basically refused to participate. I’ve had shy kids before, but never have the students outright slept in class.

Some of the 6th Grade teachers at Ueno, I can tell, really could care less about English, which in my opinion is totally fine so long as they are nice about it. I agree it’s really unfair that the kids are forced to learn English and don’t have a choice. This is Japan and you shouldn’t have to speak English.

I think some of the students, once they reach 6th grade realize since they aren’t tested on it, so they don’t worry about remembering anything. I’m glad at least the teachers show courtesy and are nice, but it’s really really difficult to teach when they teacher and students in the class could care less. I think that because they are forced to do it they are less attracted to it. I think it should be an elective, and they should get to choose from a few languages not just English.

Today was the first time I ended a class early on purpose. I ended one class 10 minutes early because it was just that bad. The students didn’t care, the teacher didn’t care, so I didn’t want to care either. I know you can’t force excitement but at least you could show some respect and pretend to be a little interested. Today was one of those days I wish I was fluent in Japanese because I would give a quick speech about life and education.

Something else that bothers me is that the 6th grade teachers and students repeatedly called the wrong name, they accidentally call me Adrian (the previous ALT) and it gets annoying. I know we’re a similar height haha and we’re both nice guys but come on. Is it that hard to remember my name, I’ve been teaching here for 5 months. It’s pretty insulting and makes me question, why come here if they can’t even remember my name.

It’s really unfortunate that a few always ruin it for the majority. That’s the way it is in society and even my small world. My Maru Batsu toy (O/X indicating correct or incorrect response which students love) that was a gift from a friend was broken by a group of 5th graders because they wanted to play with it and after I said no they tried to take it from me.

The 6th grade at Ueno makes me dislike teaching here, but every other grade really has no problems. I love teaching 1st and 2nd grade so much. The kids are eager to learn, and all the teachers are super nice.

Something happens to the kids after 3rd/4th grade here. It seems like in a few short years they lose interest in learning English, they become socially awkward, and so shy that to try anything seems impossible. Instead of being themselves they think it’s so important to just do nothing and save face. I admit I had the same problem for a short time but I got over it quickly. I hope they do too. I just wish I could tell them to be themselves, try, and if you make a mistake don’t worry about it… and then actually they take my advice.

Anyways that ends my rant I hope you enjoyed it and have a lovely comment for me hahaha.


eromant said...

Don't let it get you down Nickel! HUGs :)

Anonymous said...

I can definitely appreciate where you are coming from! I am sure all of us ALT's have had to endure such classes! They are tough and even more so when you realise you are still yet to do it 3 more times that day! Out of interest - what lesson were you teaching?

Hero-mi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hero-mi said...

I wish I could have had better circumstances when I was learning English...We had no English class when I was only Elementary school student,Also I only had ALT once in a while when I was at Junior high school.. But I remember I used to talk to the ALT after school or during the class, after the class to learn English and was willing to talk with her, wanted to be friends even I was only 14 or so.. But something reminds me .. some of the students used to just skip the classes , there are times they just object to anything.. I think teaching is very hard job especially at school if the kids attend the class just because they have to. But there must be some they actually enjoy your class even if they are kind of quiet. I still remember my first ALT I had and the time I visited her place after school, I baked the Chocolate cake for her ^^ I got a dictionary from her with her comments on it and I was so glad, It was great memory, I used the dictionary until around 4 years ago at work even! I want you to know that some students are just nuts but some really should be enjoying your class because I can tell you are doing your best to make the class fun to learn, and you are pretty much patient most of the time, nice and appreciative. Cheer up and you can rant too ! Whenever if you are stressed out, you can rant ! we always here to listen.