Silly Grins

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Interview: Fragments of an Exchange

Once upon an interview…

Part I

W: Now, you’ve mentioned this before, about your work-relations, the people you work with and obviously, your skill, your degree in linguistics… coming on this exchange program you’re obviously here to share information and things like that…  
How would you say you’ve been utilized by your employer?  

FT: I would say, yeah, that’s a good question actually. I think in terms of I work in an educational office and not a school, which gives me a different perspective on things from many ALTs who just work in schools, I see how the system is run by a bunch of people who are basically a combination of school inspectors and the bureaucrats who run the system in ****** City and one of the big problems in Japan at the moment is bullying, truancy, and violence in schools. It is a major problem if you watch the news and so my office has been dealing with ways of trying to or trying to deal with ways of curbing violence in schools and this kind of thing. ****** City in fact banned cutting knives in schools about a month after the incident, I forget where in Japan, I think it was in… Do you remember where it was? The teacher who was stabbed?

W: (Shrugs, looks at his beer)

FT: Anyway it is not really relevant. So I have seen that I often, and in the past three years there is the instances of what to do with bullying and what to do with difficult children, blah, blah, blah… and I have never once been asked:
What do you do in your country? How do you deal with violent students in your country? 

I had the occasional flippant comment from certain members of the office who, I think, don’t particularly respect, like things like,Oh, you have like police at schools now to check for guns, don’t you?

Presuming of course that all foreigners are American and therefore have guns in their country, which really pisses me off and I don’t really even bother replying. And I have never once been sort of asked what we do or for my suggestion looking at… 

Because for an outsider to look at Japan now, I see Japan very much like the 60’s were in the West where these kinds of things began to happen in the West in the 60’s where there began to be violence in the schools, where kids attacked teachers, where kids started stealing, robbing, committing crimes. That kind of thing happened in the 60’s in the West. 

And it is happening a few decades later in Japan. And from an outsider point of view, we’ve got the benefit of hindsight, we can see what mistakes we’ve made in the West to let it get out of control, maybe the things we should have done with hindsight, which maybe the Japanese should be asking us, you know, where we went wrong to try to find out a way of making sure they don’t go wrong when they are faced with a similar situation. 

I find it kind of disappointing that I haven’t been asked that. I know the answers I would give. I have just never really been asked. And I feel, to that extent, I haven’t bee properly utilized. Because there is so much knowledge they could pick out of my head if they wanted to. But they don’t.

To be continued...


  1. I love how kids just started being bad within the last few decades...

    1. While it may be true that not much has changed, boys will be boys and some girls can more than hold their own, there's definitely an old school, hard ass, and thick hide element that was definitely calling the shots here - figuratively speaking. There's a story or two there about the disciplinary days here, but it will have to wait till the interview is done.

      Most importantly, like one of them old, dead Greek guys was supposed to have said however many years ago, "The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority, they show disrespect to their elders.... They no longer
      rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents,chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and are tyrants over their teachers."

      Hell, at least they didn't have X-Box.