I am not a real teacher.

To start, I read this on newsoftheweird the other day:
Three teenagers with paintball guns terrorized kids on a playground until they fired into the wrong group of kids, one of whom returned fire with a real gun, wounding two paintballers.
[Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 8-13-03]
So when compared to that, I guess my ghetto school isn`t so bad…!
Today, as I was whirling about in my office chair, playing with a couple of chopsticks (mondays are slow days…) I began to reflect on my first couple of days teaching. My conclusion? I am not a real teacher. I guess it`s not so much even the fact that I have no idea what I`m doing in there – nor is it the dozen blank, bored faces staring back at me (or worse, at their cell phone screens) every time I try and teach the most basic of grammar patterns. It`s not my total and complete lack of knowledge about english, nor my inability to come even remotely close to duplicating the traits that endeared some of my favoritistsistssts (see, i told you i can`t speak english…!) past teachers to me.
I think it has to do with the fact that I`m beginning to wonder if my JTE is right when he says “some of these kids are uneducable”.
I`m sure every ALT has experienced this feeling before, the sense of complete and utter helplessness in the face of the almighty, immutable, unmovable grinding behemoth that is Japanese educational system. I don`t have anything particularly profound to add to this. All I have to say, simply for the sake of saying it, is: how in the world am I supposed to teach these kids anything?
The kids I get are the worst of the underachievers – most are here only as a formality – for 90 percent of my students, all that awaits them after graduation is a lifetime of working in a convinience store or supermarket. Many are practically illiterate in the most basic of subjects – math, science, japanese – let alone english… Worst yet, they are the worst example of what decades of being hammered into submission by the japanese educational system can do to a person – limp, lifeless, unmotivated, unwilling, and ashamed of participating in class – they give them to me 1 year before they are done with high school and go “ganbatte!”. Add to this an awestriking lack of discipline and respect – they simply don`t give a damn about anyone or anything except themselves – and certainly not the teachers standing in front of the classroom – one a burned out middle aged man awaiting a transfer to a better school, and another a 23 year old kid with absolutely no idea what is going on – and you get a recipe for michael to have a nervous breakdown three days into his new job.
And I swear if shogo, or whatever the hell is his name is (he didn`t even manage to finish scrawling his name on his name plate) takes his fscking cell phone out in class one more time I WILL THROW THAT SHIT OUT THE WINDOW…!!!!!!!!!!
*simmering down now*
This weekend did not go down quite as nicely as I had anticipated, because the best friend of one of my best friends, killed herself on friday and I had to go down to Osaka for the weekend to console my friend. This was all the more unsettling because both of them work for the city government, and both hated their jobs with a passion (boring, demeaning work like cutting out newspaper articles, pouring tea, putting up with the entrenched idiocy of beauracracy) – the thought that the depths of one`s unhappiness would actually lead her to jump in front of a commuter train during rush hour suddenly made me very very worried about my friend – and now every time I hear her complain about how much she hates her job, or how much of an asshole her boss is, or how unhappy she is, I find myself listening intently, striving to dissect each word for hidden meaning, sifting to see if there is a sort of hidden … something behind those complaints, something I should worry about.
It is so easy for me to say that no job is worth taking your life for – but I wonder about the shifting, rigid paradigms that people sometimes seem to construct for themselves, and how the inflexibility of the ways of our thoughts and constructions of the world can sometimes harden into unbreakable chains until there is nothing left for us as a means of escape except…
We sorted of asked each other this weekend “what makes you happy” – and neither of us could come up with a good answer. I have been thinking about this all day today and still have come up with nothing. Sometimes when you`re so young, the world seems so vast – and it`s easy to feel like you could float around for ages, never defining yourself, never coalescing into a meaningful form. I don`t mind feeling lost for a bit – I sort of assume that sooner or later I will find something that makes me happy and a life I like, and all that mess. But, spinning around in my office chair today, thinking on my lack of success as a teacher and my current juncture in life, I have to admit that for one fleeting moment, I began to wonder if she had had a similar moment a few weeks ago – only this time concluding that maybe she will never find that thing which wants, or those things which makes her happy.
Who can know the mind of such a person?
Now listening to: “Tupac – Only God can Judge me”
5:39 am

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