Ok, so this may not be as glorious or exciting as my other e-mail updates, but I know everyone has been curious to know what job I would take up while here in Japan. First, let me apologize to those of you who I told I would talk about food next. I’ve been so busy with getting this job that I had to put it on hold. The mysteries of Japanese cuisine will be next. I promise.
So I have signed a contract and taken up a job as a preschool teacher for “intellectually advanced” children. I work at what is known here as an “International School.” Japan recognized a long time ago that English is important to be successful in many carriers, so it was taught to all children in school, but only to a degree (and mostly only written English). The school I work at brings in bright children as young as 1 year old and starts to teach them in English. We don’t just teach them the language, but we teach them all subjects. The trick here is that they will never hear Japanese while at school, so the little ones begin to learn English just as they learn Japanese, by repetition. But by the time they are 3 they can read and write in English as well as memorize text. They are taught to memorize difficult things, like the pathways of the heart or about the 5 Great Lakes in the Midwest. At 4 and 5 they have the ability to form complete sentences on their own that are grammatically correct and they can dissect the things they have learned as opposed to just memorizing. At 6 they graduate and go off to Japanese preschool. Some continue private lessons at the school in the afternoons. The Japanese private school system runs off of very difficult tests and the goal of the school I work at is to get these children in a top preschool so that they stand a better chance of staying in top schools all their lives.
Now I know I spent all that time getting a degree in theatre and some of you may be scratching your heads as to how I found myself at a preschool. Well, there are only 5 teachers right now and they each have a different specialty – Match, Biology, etc. I’m going to be in charge of the arts and English. And yes, that will include Shakespeare. 🙂 I will have my own class in April (when the semester starts here) of 4-8 children and probably at the younger level. But from time to time the teachers rotate and teach their specialty to all the classes for an hour. Also, teachers create lesson plans and pick out the books for the entire school based on their subject area. So Julie, who is the Biology major, will select the Biology text book for each level and get it approved by the school. The school has also started making recordings for the children to take home to hear the pronunciation of the words but while still being in the areas they are studying. So I would be making the recordings for the fine arts. But that’s all later down the line for me. For now, I just need to worry about being given my own class in April. I’ve taught a class by myself all week to get used to it, and it is a lot of work to keep those tiny attention spans focused. Next week I start some private lessons with an adorable 2 year old who is having trouble focusing but is very bright and an excellent parrot. She repeats everything I say.
And now for the pictures…
Here is a side gate hidden behind a mall that is open on weekdays that I go through.
I have to walk past the water with the cold wind blowing on me, so sorry about the glove in the bottom of the picture. Anyway, this is for those of you who think Japan is perfect. I walk by all this trash everyday.
But after the trash I get to walk through Verny park which is filled with roses. I can’t wait for the summer, this walk will be beautiful.
Its a long walk. I have to walk way over there to get underneath that bridge (about where the tallest tower is) to take the train. If they’d just build a bridge from the other side of the base to the station I’d be much happier.
In Japan always make sure you use the restroom before you leave the house because this is what they look like! And they have no toilet paper and no paper towels or dryers. Everyone here carries their own paper and a towel to dry their hands.
Finally, the train station! I’m just catching the end of the morning rush hour. A train just arrived and in a moment I’m going to be hit by a tidal wave of people rushing to work and school, you can see the first few running out.
At the platform is the train!
Now, the train is always fairly crowded in the morning, but I can usually squeak into a seat at the next stop. But so that I’m not being rude, I didn’t take any pictures of the inside just yet.
40 mintes later, here’s the school!
I have to take my shoes off and wear slippers all day. It still seems so odd to me, but it’s quite comfortable.
An empty room before school.
And an empty train on the way home.
The reason the train is empty is because they’re switching the line at the Zushi station. It’s a pain in the butt, but I always seem to be on that train every time. 2 stations from home everyone gets off the train, and if everyone gets off, I get off because they’re going to either change directions or take it to the garage for repairs. One of these days I’ll get lucky and not have to switch trains.
That is it for now!