Thursday, June 19, 2008

Elementary School Continued

I’m back. We’re all having trouble getting internet connections, so I’m going to write this in Office and hope I can upload from the lobby computer. As I was saying, we had an incredible time at the elementary school. After calligraphy we were able to wander in and out of classes. This is an English class for sixth graders being taught by student teachers. Teachers dress very casually here, because they are always on the move.There were parent volunteers in the classes who knew English. Then if we had questions we could ask them. I was assigned to a third grade classroom for lunch. I went to their class, but they were at PE so I waited. The students change for gym so I was a little surprised when they came back and started stripping down in the classroom. I was a bit uncomfortable, so I waited in the hall until most of them looked changed. I asked Mari-san if that was common. She said it is because there is no room for changing, but some of the students are very uncomfortable with it, and it can cause problems. The students serve each other lunch. They are places in groups called han. Everyday one of the han is in charge of the lunch. There are also two students in charge of the classroom, so they make sure everything is being taken care of. I had a wonderful PTA member in the class helping me speak with the children. They were very excited to have me there, and they played rock, paper, scissors to see which han I would sit with. Although I became very boring to some of them when I couldn’t name my favorite video game! They asked about my favorite Japanese food and my favorite American food. I’m so mad I didn’t take a picture of the lunch.

Sometimes I just get caught up in what I’m doing and I forget my camera! All of the students eat lunch from school. There was a very thick slice of soft bread, soup with carrots, corn, cabbage and broth, a pork cutlet, and milk. It was very healthy and very good! Then they lined up, cleaned their place, and went out to play. They wanted me to play, but we were asking about cleaning and they had arranged it for us. Students clean their own room. Apparently they don’t clean on Wednesday, but when we sounded disappointed, Oka-san, the wonder guide got it arranged. The students move all of the desks to one end of the room. It is swept, and then cleaned with rags. The furniture is moved to the other end of the room and the process is repeated. We observed a first grade class, so the teacher did the big sweep.
I went out to play, and was immediately grabbed by the hand to play but the chime sounded to end recess. We were so disappointed! The rest of the afternoon we just observed whatever we wanted to, and then we met with the principal and teachers of the school for question and answers. That particular school has a high parent involvement and no apparent bullying problem. There is very little moving in and out, and the population is somewhat mixed. Just as we have problems with prejudice in the states, it happens in Japan. One of the group met a mother who said her child is Japanese and Rwandan. She is happy at that school because they are very accepting. It was explained to us that unless you are Japanese and born in Japan, you are not considered Japanese. So, if you are Korean, but born in Japan, you are still considered Korean. That sometimes causes trouble.

We ended up going to Chofu by train. We had a Japanized version of French food. It was rice covered with cream sauce and shrimp. It was then baked, and was quite delicious. No, I don’t have a picture – I was hungry! I was up until about 11 trying to download pictures and blog. The wireless isn’t working in my room, so everything is so. I came down to the lobby where it works, and just found out that I lost everything I wrote today! Ahhhh!! So I’m posting this and then I’ll rewrite about the high school we visited today.


Jill said...

Don't worry about not getting photos of everything. They're fun to see, but it's better you enjoy the moment than feeling obligated to whip out your camera all of the time.

I did have to laugh at what was written on the board, behind the english teachers. When I was in Japan, people kept saying "How do you do?", which even then was a bit archaic. I was never quite sure how to answer them, since I'd only read that phrase in books! But I was amused that they now seem to be teaching the more hip "What's up?" to the kids. I guess the rap culture has infiltrated our language more than I'd realized! :)

Richard said...

Ohaiogozaimus, (Sorry, I don't remember how to spell it.)
I think it's amazing that they clean up their own classrooms! It also looked as though they ate lunch in their classroom. Is that correct?
Were those Miss Frizzle's glasses on your head? I wonder if they're familiar with the Friz?
Have a great day!