Part 3: The Three Parables: the Silver Lining

On the bright side…

Although the interpersonal relationships are terrible at this tiny school, the education given to the children is top-notch, and the children brim with wonderful energy.

They are very well cared for— they eat very well (all local organic ingredients, often shipped from different prefectures or from abroad) and their needs are immediately met.

I’ve met a wonderful bunch of adorable little kindred spirits here, besides the odd devilish child or two. The children have been so energetic and so darling and I am really going to miss them! Since they have been exposed to English early on, they are far more likely to develop fluency late on. But right now, they say silly Janglish things like “And-uu” (instead of “and”), “Kaddii” (instead of “Kaori”), and “Me’s one” (instead of “That’s mine!”) Actually, because this is an English language immersion pre-school, they are not allowed to speak any Japanese at all, 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.

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Ayumi laughs joyously as she plays house with Yusaku.

I read somewhere that bilingual kids have it really rough in middle school and highschool, and are bullied for their English language proficiency. Which seems really backwards to me, but the Japanese school system seems pretty messed up to begin with. In normal Japanese kindergartens, the teachers are so overwhelmed that they demand for an extreme amount of rule and order: children must ask to sit down, go to the bathroom, get paper, or really do anything at all.

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Isshin pouts on the monster wheel. The school’s backyard is a veritable jungle and Isshin thinks he can play with the big boys. He often ends up in tears, and sulks on the swing or on the big tire.

Growing Up!

Growing up, I read a lot of manga, or Japanese graphic novels, which I have found informational even though they certainly skewed things for the benefit of dramatic effect. Many of my favorite manga featured the victims of bullies and how they rose above their persecutors. Other favorites highlighted the various ingenious ways students rebelled against forced uniformity in middle and highschools. Everything I read about pre-schools and kindergartens seemed lovely, mostly featuring female teachers quietly sweeping the front yard and putting hats on the kids before field trips. So I  grew up with a pretty shallow understanding of the inner workings of Japanese K-12 schools, and almost no understanding of interpersonal dynamics in pre-K schools. I guess I have now learned first-hand that bullying occurs quite frequently in pre-K levels. And it is not the kids~ bullying seems to occur most often between coworkers and administration.

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Meet Yuma, the sweet 3 year old who thinks he is the King of the Toys and understandably, has a hard time sharing with all the peasants in his kingdom. He has a really sweet disposition, although he is quite the picky eater. He also likes to run around the room chasing his nemesis, Taiga. They frequently fall flat on their faces, shed a tear or two, and then resume running around as though nothing had happened.

*sigh*

When will they ever learn?

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Taichi, the school’s baby, takes a much needed nap. He loves cookies, and sticking crayons down the holes in the wooden floor. He also LOVES to scream like a veritable banshee. It was his birthday the other day and he was the cutest little b-day boy.

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I am really really really going to miss this troop of teeny boppers.


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Working in pre-k makes me wonder about my childhood, and I think I remember I was also a terrible (-y cute) child at times. I remember I often threw tantrums on the hallway floor about being “bored, bored, bored” and wouldn’t let anyone pass to go to the bathroom until my complaints were addressed. I have certainly grown up since then, and have realised that those sorts of fits put on by children point towards greater issues. It is really important to recognise why a child might be having difficulty at school or at home, to try to pinpoint the source, and propose a variety of creative solutions to increase that child’s receptiveness and happiness. I’m glad I can reflect on my childhood, and the troublemakers here, to try to see the forest~ not the trees.

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