For pookiebear!

Mwahaha! Look in envy Stephanie – I finally ate a dinner that rivals yours!
Sorry, sorry! I know I promised an update 3 days ago but… I’ve been busy! Busy doing what?
I think we all know the answer to that one…! ;)
Anyway, in addition to single handedly raising Asahi and Kirin’s 1st quarter 2004 profits, I think I also managed to squeeze in a little actual learning as well. I do vaguely remember them going on about teaching methodology or some such nonsense at the conference – although all that flew out of my head the second the lights went out for the power point presentations.
After you go on a business trip in Japan, you usually have to fill out a form (everything requires forms in this country) stating what you did, where you did it, how much it cost you, etc. Normally I couldn’t be arsed to fill these sorts of forms out in a timely fashion, but since you have to turn it in to get a refund on your expenses (which ran over 1 man en this time around – that’s a lot of beer!) I’ve started getting on them with the quickness.
Delicious, life-sustaining Asahi beer. Too bad the cans are so small!
Now for ALTs such as myself, you usually have a choice: you can either have your supervisor fill out important parts for you in Japanese, then scribble some random musings in the “Describe the purpose of this trip/What you learned” section in English (which will then promptly be ignored by all parties concerned, so feel free to go on about chicken farming, the best egg salad sandwich you’ve ever had, etc.) or else you can elect to fill out the entire form yourself in Japanese, should you feel up to it.
As I mentioned before, normally I can be arsed to spend more than a minute on these sorts of things, but I’ve noticed that whenever I do the forms up in Japanese and put them on the kyoto sensei’s desk, he drops whatever he’s doing at the moment and instantly starts reviewing my sheet.
This picture was just waaay too adorable not to put it up!
This is quickly followed by barely-supressed snorts of laughter and amusment, which are in turn followed by murmured words enjoining the two teacher’s nearest his desk to come look at the ridiculous chicken scratch Japanese their poor ALT just slaved over for the past 45 minutes (“Hahahaha! He was trying to write “We particpated in various team-teaching drills with our Japanese counterparts” but he actually wrote “Team teaching monkey pokemon Japanese drilled the team!”) .
Nonetheless, all this attention is not without its upside, as after he patiently finishes whiting out and correcting the several dozen kanji I have no doubt miswritten, he quickly takes the form down to the office himself and submits it for processing, which means I get my money very quickly, rather than having to wait for the slow wheels of Japanese bureaucracy to turn. And as my man mistar puffy said, “it’s all about the benjamins, baby”.
This is what passes for a “business trip” on JET ;)
So where am I going with this? Well, one of the seminars I attended at this conference was aimed specifically at ALTs teaching at “low academic high schools”, of which my school is the epitome. So as I was filling out the form, I realized I didn’t know how to express “low academic school” in Japanese. So innocently, I turned to the teacher next to me (who was busy reading a magazine detailing the latest advancements in pillow embroidery, I kid you not) and ask “How do you say ‘low academic school’ in Japanese”?
Wow. One second missus teacher was calmly perusing the pros and cons of titanium needle usage for precision embroidery work, and the next second she’s launched into a veritable tirade, alternately railing against the injustices of the educational system, the incompetence of the Ministry of Education, teachers who ‘give up’ on low-ability students, and so forth. At one point, she looked rather pointedly at me and remarked something to the effect of “There is no such thing as learning disabilities, just teaching disabilities”.
Don’t let a little thing like unconsciousness stop you from having a good time!
At this point, I’m sure I had a sort of “what the….? look on my face. It was waaay too early in the morning, I still hadn’t fully recovered from my weekend, and trying to follow a meandering discourse (in an incomprehensible dialect) on the failings of the Japanese educational system while trying to figure out if I was being insulted or not wasn’t really on my “to do” list at that particular moment. Said teacher notices my face, and then, pauses and takes a breath.
“Why do you ask?” she inquires.
“Uhh…” I hesitate, not wanting to accidentally say the wrong thing and have to listen to another mouthful, “I just want to say that we learned to use different teaching methods depending on if we’re in high or low academic schools”.
Mistar shrimpy emerges from a bowl of sauce to wreak havoc on the world.
“Oh, in that case it’s blah blah” * she replies calm as can be, then, without another word, quietly turns back to her embroidery magazine. *(seito no noryoku ni atta shidou no houhou, if you’re curious, though this should be interpreted in context, as it means “teaching methods suitable for the student’s abilities”)
*sigh* What can I say? I guess it’s just gonna be one of those weeks.
The rest of this picture series can be found on the gallery linked at the top of the page, or else at this link:
Michaelpanda Photo Gallery (conference)
Now listening to: “Jay-Z and Punjabi MC – Beware”
(wow, I can’t believe this track dropped so long ago and I’m just hearing it now for the first time!)
8:35 am

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