Monday, May 07, 2007


7th period of the day...and all day I've been hearing the kids marching in their PE classes out on the field here at Kanko. "Ich'ni! Ich'ni!" ("One, Two...") I've got to say, when I first saw them doing it at the Sports Festival last year, it freaked me out a little. Very "militaristic" - but it didn't fill me with the same pride that seeing our American ROTC students marching does.
However, as with most things here, I wait. I'm patient. I bite my tongue, because most of the time there is a perfectly good explanation for things, and I just have to get a better look at the big picture before making judgements. One of the things I've marveled at here is the distinct lack of discipline issues. Sure I've gone from one extreme to the other (some might even give the apples and oranges excuse), but are kids really THAT different? Of course they have to test into this school, but teens are One thing I think might make part of this well disciplined behavior possible is the intense training that is done in the ichinensei "boot camp" that is then reinforced in PE classes and assemblies afterwards. As I mentioned before, the first year students and their teachers ALL go to a 3 day "boot camp" (I originally thought it was "camping" - with campfires and marshmellows...imagine my disappointment!). We stayed in dorms, and basically the kids marched, hiked, and sang the school song. One night we had a class jump rope competition - 38 students jumping rope (the same rope) at once! I'll put those shots up next.
Frankly it was a little tedious for me to sit and watch the marching and the singing, so as often as I could, I joined in when it wasn't too much of a distraction. The amazing thing I noticed, though, was I NEVER saw a behaviour problem (maybe it's the language barrier?), and all the students, despite the long hours of hiking and marching in the sun, keep a sunny disposition themselves. And the team spirit - was amazing. I guess a result of doing repetitive things together over and over again (and finally being judged on the group's performance) is falling in together as a team. And acting as a disciplined team (who even knows the school song!) isn't such a terrible thing. (It's sad that even after 12 years at Ely, I could probably sing the Kanko song - in Japanese - better than Ely's)
So - the whole marching bit still freaks me out a little, but when I look at the big picture, it seems to work in this system. Sure, they might want to be playing games rather then marching around in the hot sun, but it certainly doesn't seem to bother them much, and already I can hear them chanting and laughing outside at all their sports club activities now.


Jon Frashier said...

I guess you are lucky to be at one of the good schools, one of the top academic schools. I worked at one of those M-TH then on Friday I went to a low level academic school, they are two totally different beast. At my Friday school none of the kids cared, none of them listened to me talk when I was trying to teach, they would use their phones, throw stuff, get up and kick people, start fights, bully, gangs you name it. I even had one student write me letters telling me to die, but hey it was English right?


Jon Frashier said...

no response..u busy bee...don't forget about me! :P Jon

Tracey Petruff said...


How could I forget about you? I think I actually "responded" to you in an actual post, though...I know I at least talked about you.
Not quite sure what to say, but your Friday school sounds like tons of fun. Reminds me of another school I visited in Florida (for 12 years). I don't think any students actually wrote me a letter telling me to die, though. However, repression can be a wonderful thing. I wonder which Nag ALT has that your old job - do you know?
Well, I've got to get ready - apparently we have "osoji" here at the apt. today. But at least I get to bond with a bunch of young teachers (all guys - weird - did you have mostly male teachers at your school?) who live here. Of course their English is extensive as "Bless you" "Sorry" and "Thank you" - so I guess today will also be a good Nihongo lesson for me :)

Bt the way, is your Florida school any better than your Friday school last year?


Jon Frashier said...

Thanks for the reply, and maybe you did answer me in a post, I could have just missed it or something....well my school now is in Florida is worse than the Friday school but in a different way...the kids are so rude, mean, and just awful...middle school is hell on earth...but in 3 weeks i'm done and then off to grad school. I'm finally done with teaching and I'm so happy, its just not for me. Only reason I tried it was cause I got tired of being an assistant in Japan and wanted to be a real teacher. Its late here, but I hope all is well over there. Have you decided what you are doing next year? Jon