Friday, November 26, 2004

Why I Love Elementary School

It is one of life’s ironies that I would ever title a blog entry with those words. I hated elementary school as a student. If there is one word I would use to sum up my elementary school experience it would be “oppressed.” If there is one movie quote I would use to summarize it, it would be the peasants’ complaint in Monty Python and the Holy Grail: “We are repressed!” If I were Norman Rockwell and capable of painting iconic works of popular art, I would do The Four Fears (of Compulsory Education): “Fear of Homework,” “Fear of Insane and Disillusioned Teachers,” “Fear of Being Forced to Eat Seaweed Rolls” (not applicable in North American school districts), and “Fear that the End of Sixth Grade Will Never, Ever Come.” Perhaps my elementary students harbour some of these sentiments in their bosoms, but if they do they don’t really show it. Compared to the sullen and awkward bodies that populate the junior high school classrooms, these little fellas seem pretty light hearted and enthusiastic.

Here are some of the reasons I now love elementary school:
1. I can actually compete with the students in sports

. . . although as goal keeper the site of that ball coming still strikes terror in my heart.
2. There are fewer students per a class (only 4 to 17 of them).
3. They actually think English class is cool.

The Traditional Floor Wiping Race (水ぶき競争)

One of the great things about my elementary school visits is that I am able to build relationships with the older students and influence their attitude towards English before I start seeing them regularly at the junior high school over the next couple of years. I anticipate much better times for me at the junior high school two years from now, because by that time all of the students will be veterans of my elementary school visits, and the classes will be much smaller.