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Teaching English in Japan with Ato: The PTA

Last updated on September 2, 2009

Part 3: Due to all of this drama, I’ve been (quietly) asking around and I think the PTA may be at fault!

You see, I had a class of about 40 this morning and there were at least three conversations going on in which the students’ backs were turned to me and I had to shout to be heard above them; one was sleeping on the desk; many just didn’t make eye contact and completely ignore me when I asked them questions; one girl didn’t even have her books out – she just spent the entire class examining her hair for split ends in her mirror. I tried to engage her, but she ignored me. I asked the Japanese teacher to make her participate, but she told him “No!”

Arrrgh! It’s frustrating because ultimately I’m not responsible for discipline. The Japanese teacher just looked at me, shook his head and shrugged. It’s very frustrating because I give 110% trying to make every lesson interesting.

Right now there’s a parent/teacher (PTA) meeting. I asked the teacher if someone will talk to the girl’s parents about her behavior. I was informed that all the teachers and the principal already know about her (and every other student’s) behavior, that will be informed and that he hopes her attitude changes.

It just seems like the students are given too much freedom. The students try to talk to me outside of class as if they didn’t just disrespect me in the classroom. No sense of consequence. They all behave as if their actions are totally acceptable.I can’t help but see a parallel between this type of behavior in school kids when watching adults here obsessed with consumption and image, again with no sense of consequence for the environment or their spiruatal development. Japan comes across as very childish, souless and shallow to me despite all the culture. But then again, maybe I’m making connections where there’re none to be made; I can tend to be overly analytical.

Kamen Hanya says: I’ve been teaching in the Japanese school system for years. The first shock (of many) that I got was a 14 year old kid kicking the living $hit out of the assistant principal AND ALLOWED TO RETURN TO SCHOOL WITHOUT EXPULSION OR CRIMINAL COMPLAINT FILED.

At this same school, 2nd year students (aka “8th Graders” in the USA) would dismiss themselves from class at ANY GIVEN TIME to go outside on the balcony terrace to smoke cigarettes. Now I know that some of us weren’t angels and we did the “Cooley High” thing with “better” stuff to smoke back in the day…but dag! WE did it on the LOW if you know what I mean and these kids did it IN YO’ face type of way.

But before I go to far, lemme just say this as a friendly admonishing to ALL the Black people who teach in Japan at PS’…BEWARE of the “Liaison” Teacher than greets you speaking English that has been to AUSTRALIA. More on that later!

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