One of my students is an elementary school teacher, and she loves talking about her job. Saturday was Dreamwork Day at her school so she was a bit tired by the time she came to class. “Dreamwork Day? Sounds fun!” I said, but then she explained that all the teachers had to clean the school to give the students a dream… erm… yeah, a clean school should encourage children to do their best to fulfill their dreams. I think that’s the point, anyway. Still, cleaning sounds more like ‘nightmare’ work to me.
She then told me that one of the teachers had stuck tape down the center of the corridors to make ‘lanes’ so the kids wouldn’t crash into each other, and we launched into a debate about whether they should walk on the left or the right. She said that in Japan people walk on the right, facing the oncoming traffic. I argued that you should walk with your back to the traffic so that drivers can see you and have more time to react, just like when we see and pass a cyclist. Anyway, the argument was going nowhere so I asked why the kids bump into each other so often in the corridors.
“Oh, it’s because they run all the time” she said.
“Are you allowed to run?” I replied.
She then told me how the teachers tell the kids not to run, and if they do it repeatedly, then their homeroom teacher is informed. So, I asked what the homeroom teacher does about it. She said the kid will just get warned again, and again.
So I’m sitting there wondering if the bad kids ever get punished. Sure they get warned, but never punished? I asked if they are ever sent to the principal, or if they ever get detention, and she said “no, never”.
Hmm… It may be petty. They are just kids after all. However, when you have to start sticking tape on the floor so the kids that run are less likely to crash into each other, well, that just seems silly to me.
Should we turn up the radio so we’re less likely to hear the kids swear? Should we turn back the clocks so we won’t notice if the kids are late? No wonder crime is on the rise in Japan, and the foreigners usually get the blame for it. Go figure!
On a side note, it was my birthday yesterday. Happy birthday to me! Had some drinks, ate a cake and watched a movie about a horse…. oh it’s fun to be thirty-one.If you like, you can find me on Twitter at @nick_ramsay. I'd love to hear from you!