a merkypie in japan

Needless to say I haven’t talked much about my job. Mainly because I’m under a gag order and can’t really talk much about it unless I wanna get into some trouble with some PTA or something. The less attention I bring to myself, the better. But everyone wants to know how my teaching gig is… So, I’ll give you a run down.

I live in the city but then magically transport myself to Narnia.

I work at five schools, one school per day, until my contract ends (then idk wtf they’re doing with me). Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how you look at it, I mostly teach Elemenary schools. So for 40 hours of my life a week I sing, dance, repeat, play games, scream, yell, run up four flights a stairs, run down four flights a stairs, get stared at, be told わからん! every other minute, and convey myself in sign language to the teachers.

Teaching Elementary is surprisingly easy from a general perspective. You plop in a CD and let that thing teach the kids. The ALT, or rather in this situation we are the English teacher, can pretty much sit by the computer click on a bunch of things and pray that the kids understand whatever nonsense you’re trying to teach. But that’s doing the bare minimum. If anyone cared about their job, they wouldn’t want to be replaced by a stupid CD with annoying voice actors and equally ridiculous games. That’s why I spend half my day making worksheets and teaching these kids English. Which can either be a blessing or a nightmare, depending on the mood of your students.

Your students behavior play a big part in liking a school or not. Since I work in Elementary, I don’t have to deal with the teachers, I am just there for the students.

Me: ” Oh hay, gaiz. Yoroshiku! ”
Teachers: ” mumbleyoroshikumumble ”

Cue in awkwardly finding a random chair in teacher’s room and waiting for random kid to make a weak ass attempt at saying, ” Please come to our class “.

So, some schools I enjoy teaching at while others I wish I was freezing on top of Mt. Fuji. Because hell hath no fury like a group of bitch ass kids and a language barrier.

I like to give my school names. My monday school is my base, so it’s usually called base school. Tuesday is cold as fuck school. Wednesday is mountain school. Thursday is eighter school. Friday is ghetto school.

Cold As Fuck, Mountain, and Eighter are all feeder schools to my base so they’re all on the same level and get taught the same thing. Their English comprehension is surprisingly high for being a bunch of tiny ass schools in the middle of the mountains. Granted, by the time they actually arrive at my base school their English comprehension seems to revert back to pre-English levels. Anyway, they’re all adorable and nice and tiny and you just wanna pat them all on the head for not being little bastards.

Cold As Fuck is the smallest of the three feeders. That school is just cold. I don’t know why; maybe it’s because its literally placed in the middle of a flooded out rice field. Maybe its because its in a valley. Perhaps its because a river is behind it. Or maybe its because the school just hates using their brand spanking new centralized heat and A/C. Who knows. But its cold as fuck. Kids are adorable.

Mountain is my farthest school, a 40 minute commute deep into the mountains. This school is so far up in the mountains that during the winter they apparently take ski trips. Mountain school is larger than Cold As Fuck but that’s because Mountain has to recruit willing bodies from civilization to attend cause Mountain’s population levels are dropping like flies. Half of the village is abandoned and the other half is just old people. Mountain is awesome because Mountain knows how to use their heat.

Eighter is my favorite because my students actually like my shitty boyband, thus the name Eighter. They’re sweet and nice and want to know English. Except the 5th graders. They’re as fickle as their teacher. They’re usually a good school and surrounded by cherry blossoms and it has that whole, ‘why doesn’t senpai-kun notice me’ anime school feel. The exterior at least. Its not slammed in the middle of a rice paddy. This school’s heat is on but you never feel it… for some odd reason. Maybe they just have the A/C on. Like my base school…

… what.

Ghetto School is my bad school. This school is in the city and is just filled with bad annoying Elementary kids. While they all vary in their badness, there’s one class that’s absolutely terrible and teaching that class is like someone dragging me though a pile of hot coals. None of the kids want to learn this English that they’re gonna be stuck with learning for the next 4 – 7 years and and some of them are just complete borderline racist assholes. I dread walking into that school every week.

Then there’s base school. Base school is interesting because I rarely teach here. So I don’t know what is going on half the time. Kids at this school are the older siblings of my feeder schools, so you can get an idea of how small this place is. My first years are who I call the zombie class. They just breath air and stair blankly at the teacher while manzai duo in the back say dumb shit. Then my second years love English and enjoy learning and its generally a lot of fun. The third years are split. One group are like the second years and one group remind me of the kids at the Ghetto School (Today’s token boy in that class kept wondering if I could understand Japanese. Of course, you dipshit. But I’m not paid to speak to you in Japanese.).

Interesting enough, the way they combat the issue of bad students is simply with, ” They’re not going to High School so why bother “.

Yep. That’s right; kids in Japan have the right to go to school up till the 9th grade so they can be the most disgusting little brats ever to exist until the 8th grade. After that, they’re free to do whatever they want in the real world or make some futile attempt at going to High School. If they do go to high school, its at a lower tier school designed to only pump out adults useful in the city’s industry; secretaries, farmers, construction workers, etc. You can usually identify the kids that don’t want to do anything with their lives by the uniform. Higher tier college bound high schoolers have nicer uniforms and wear them with pride. The slackers at the lower tier schools have crappier uniforms that they barely wear (boys wear their coats open or hoodies over it, girls with makeup caked on their faces hike their skirts so far up you can practically see their asses when they bend down).

Anyway, I’ve digressed.

Today at my base school, I was teaching my ninth graders. The teacher asked me what day December 8th was and was it significant to America. I said, ” Yeah, it’s Pearl Harbor. The day America entered the wa—” And suddenly was cut off by the teacher, ” Oh, you don’t know? This is the day John Lennon died. ”

Americans can’t give two shits about John Lennon’s death. But Pearl Harbor? That’s the day that will live in infamy, yo.

Needless to say it was awkward.

Teaching in this country has many random, interesting, moments but they’re probably once a week. Every other day is simply staring outside the window and watching the sun set earlier and earlier as the days get colder and shorter.

  • xman

    “Today at my base school, I was teaching my ninth graders. The teacher asked me what day December 8th was and was it significant to America. I said, ” Yeah, it’s Pearl Harbor. The day America entered the wa—” And suddenly was cut off by the teacher, ” Oh, you don’t know? This is the day John Lennon died.””

    December 7th, 1941 was when the bombing of Pearl Harbor happened. John Lennon died December 8th, 1980.

    • Merkypie

      It happened early morning December 7th, US time but December 8th Japanese time.