Thursday, September 09, 2004

One of These Is Not Like the Others

Now you could go for the obvious fact that one of these individuals is an adult gaijin while the others are Japanese six-year-olds. Then again, you could take it to another level and point out that one of these kids doesn’t seem to realize that we’re on a “peace break.” Get with the Spidogram, kiddo! Yes, this is Hebiura Elementary School’s grade one in its entirety. With a plummeting population comes the sorrow of school amalgamations, and it won’t be long before Kazamaura’s three elementary schools are scrambled into one. On another note, while I am learning to love the company and high spirits of the little people, my elementary school visits are exhausting me. Today I had to run non-stop for forty minutes during the after-lunch break because I was the unofficially designated target of choice in an all-school game of tag. I think that the relatively low average age of ALTs (Assistant Language Teachers of foreign origin) has encouraged a culture of benign exploitation in which Japanese educators think of their rent-a-gaijin as nothing better than an inexhaustible source of juvenile entertainment. It’s a difficult transition to make from graduate school. Even my Japanese teaching partner used to apologize to me every time she skipped the warm up activities at the beginning of class until I finally explained to her that game time was not my favourite time, and that it didn’t disappoint me in the least to skip it.