the nikku

reflecting on ESL/EFL and its relation to faith

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Season of Change

One of my Japanese friends says she hates spring because it means change
is coming and her friends are leaving. When I was in the states this
really confused me, but now I understand.

Today we had the "end of the year" assembly. Near the end retiring
teachers were recognized. My friend O-sensei is retiring this year.
Seeing her up on stage and walking back into the crowd with a bouquet of
flowers made me realize: This is really happening; things are changing
all the time.

When I first met O-sensei, I was on the religion dept board with her.
She seemed like a gruff old gym teacher who kept to herself. I couldn't
understand a thing she said in her deep, mumbly voice - I still have
trouble with it. But she's the one who's driven me out to see places in
Aomori. She's the one who really talks to me about school politics.
She's the one who introduced me to her cronies. She's the one who delt
with her devil of a homeroom for three years and still gave me time. I'm
gonna miss her. I know her other teacher friends at school and I'll try
and stay in touch.

You'd think I would have noticed that things are changing. Graduation
here was about three weeks ago.



There have also been going away parties
for college graduates at church.



All kinds of teachers are leaving or
changing jobs. Teachers here are getting ready for the "beginning of the
school year" shift. A is leaving. I still haven't quite grasped that
yet. You know, originally I had planned to leave this August, but I had
a change of heart. Sometimes I can't believe I'm staying.

Next year I want to try and be like O-sensei - do well while sticking it
out.

But that's all another story. More on that and gradation later, I hope.
When you don't have time to blog, I guess that means you're busy living.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

A Tale of Two Schools

I try to be good about anonymity on this blog, so for today's purposes,
we're talking about H high school and O high school. As best I know it,
this is the story of H high school and O high school in my town:

Long ago there was a church, in this church there was a missionary and
his Japanese-Christian friend. The friend had been a samurai. Among many
things, the two men tried to reopen a former samurai school (now banned
under the Meiji Government). Also, some women missionaries came to the
church and started teaching Bible and English classes at church. The
program eventually became so big, they were forced to move out of the
church and find their own building.

These two schools became the only Christian high schools in the area.
However, since O was a boys' school, and H a girls' school, they
complimented each other well. They had dances, retreats, and even music
concerts together. H school spawned a college in the 1970's. Both
schools moved to the suburbs and more modern buildings in the 1960's and
70's.

Because of hard times after the economic bubble burst and a sharp
decline in the birthrate O school started accepting female applicants.
Two years later, H school was also forced to start accepting male
applicants. Now, the schools are rivals for enrollment and income.

H school has always prided its high standards in both education and
discipline. Although the frequency and quality of students is declining,
H school is keeping its high standards, especially on the entrance test.
However, this year H school only had 600 applicants, but O school had
over 1200 applicants. H school is cutting salaries to make ends meet.

The rumor among students is that O school has an easier entrance test
than H school.

What do you do with your standards in times of trouble?