In The Ghetto

Two of the schools where I work are really nice; one was built just 7 years ago. A teacher described it to me as a “hotel” on our way there the first time. I thought it was just Engrish at work again, but it kind of does look like a hotel. Looks aside, the students are all pretty good. There are some rough and rowdy kids, but on the whole they’re not bad.

And one of my schools is in the ghetto.

Well, it’s not actually in the ghetto. It’s close though. In my town there’s an old and new part. The new part is really, really nice. There’s a science city with research and development companies and important national resources. Everything’s fast and shiny and modern. The old part is, well, old. But the real division is behind the train tracks in the old section, where things turn really run-down. Yes, this Japanese ghetto, if you can imagine such a thing, is literally on “the wrong side of the tracks.” (Amusingly, my first apartment was directly behind those tracks.) It looks it, too– old and crumbling, doors that don’t open, doors that won’t stay shut, and broken windows that have been covered up with tape and cardboard. Old. That’s the key word; everything’s just old.

The students, well… the ninensei are all adorable. They don’t act up in class, they don’t hesitate to ask any questions (no matter how embarrassing), and they are generally just a good bunch of kids. The ichinensei are mostly good. The exception is a group of boys who try to be cute by talking in class and making crude jokes. The first time I met them, before school started, they introduced themselves using dirty names. The only problem was they used Engrish, and while I understand English and a lot of Japanese, I don’t get Engrish. They all had great fun while I seriously made an effort to memorize their names: Mr. Sex, Mr. Condom, Mr. Cream, etc. Ha ha. It wasn’t until one of them used a dirty word in Japanese that I caught on. Don’t ask how I know the dirty Japanese words, I just do.
Finally, the sannensei are bastards. I know you’re thinking that’s a bit harsh, but they really are. I won’t generalize- there are a lot of good students who try hard, but the rest are bastards. They try so hard to be cool, which just isn’t going to happen because:

1. They’re 15.

2. They don’t listen in class, bother the ones who do, and thus are stupid.

3. You can leave your shirt untucked, roll up your skirt, unbutton your shirts, etc., but you’re still wearing a school uniform, which will NEVER be cool.

By far the worst are two girls. It is trendy in Japan for young people to dye their hair light brown/blonde and for girls to wear lots of makeup. Okay, fine, whatever floats your boat, but you’d figure it wouldn’t extend to the 15 year olds. Not these two. Golden hair, more makeup than any respectable clown would wear, and skirts hiked up so far I don’t know why they bother putting them on at all. I look at them and just see a waste of human parts. Yes, it’s that bad.

They come to school around 1 or 2 pm, not that they ever make it to class. They just roam the hallways taking to their friends, making passes at boys (who probably already fucked them and can’t be bothered for seconds), and being loud. Sometimes they just hang out in the teachers’ room and swear at the teachers.
In addition, Japanese Jr. High Schools have two rather silly rules.

1. The students have the right to attend class. So, no matter what they’re doing, we can’t kick them out. Also, there’s nothing like detention.

2. No matter what, a student will pass through the grades and graduate. Even if he/she does ZERO work.

Think about that for a moment. You’re 14 years old, in school. You know that you can talk, skip class, basically do whatever you want, and not only not get in trouble, but graduate anyway? Yeah. Consequently, we have a lot of bastards. I consider it a good day when they all skip, or put on their headphones, head for the back, and go to sleep.

Yes, this is a JAPANESE school. Surprising, isn’t it?

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  1. June 14, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    Yeah. I feel yeah. The lack of disciplinary procedures is frustrating.

    Step 1: Tell the student to stop.
    Step 2: Scowl at the student to make them feel guilty
    Step 3: Yell at the student in the teachers room to embarrass them

    I REALLLLLLLLY wish detention existed. There’s no reason why not. I just wish the little jerks would shut up so that the ones that actually want to learn (but for some reason are at this shitty high school) can hear me.

  2. bubbledreams
    November 29, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    I stumbled across this blog somewhat randomly, and wow…why do you even teach? It seems like you have very little respect for your students. I don’t doubt that some of them are difficult, but what did you expect? It sucks that you’re caught in a system that doesn’t allow you to give detention, but you have nothing to gain by devaluing your students’ experiences. You’ve described the rough conditions of the neighborhood; do you not have any sympathy/empathy for children trying to carve out a life in those conditions? You’re describing students who are clearly willing to do anything for attention; are you incapable of re-directing that drive toward something positive?
    Additionally, as an American who has never been Japan, even I have heard about ganguro style. Did you not expect to find cultural surprises upon entering another culture? You are in no place to be making judgments. When I was an exchange student, our mantra was “Not good, not bad, just different.” It is also appalling to hear you making comments about your young female students’ sexual lives, regardless of how you feel about their personal style. What bearing do their sexual experiences have on your relationship with them? Do you realize how offensive it is to assume women are sexually promiscuous based on how much make-up they wear?
    Again, I don’t doubt that you have difficult students, and it sounds like the system you’re in is ineffective at best. But you say:

    “Think about that for a moment. You’re 14 years old, in school. You know that you can talk, skip class, basically do whatever you want, and not only not get in trouble, but graduate anyway? Yeah.”

    Think about this for a moment. You’re a teenage student at a school in a poor neighborhood. Your fellow students don’t seem to value school. The administration does nothing to enforce your good behavior. Even your teacher is apathetic about your academic success; why should you care?

    You say:
    “Consequently, we have a lot of bastards. I consider it a good day when they all skip, or put on their headphones, head for the back, and go to sleep.”

    So basically, you’re no better than the administration who does not allow you to ban students from your classroom? When my students are not engaged, I take it as an opportunity to step up my teaching. I don’t know how somebody who talks in such a denigrating manner about his or her students can possibly be motivated to help them.
    If I were you, I’d step away from the keyboard and re-examine my goals and priorities as a teacher. This is embarrassing.

  3. Andres0082
    November 29, 2010 at 11:26 pm

    Ah, good old hate mail/post/comment, how i missed thee…

    Although i know Az-Sensei is busy with the joys of being a brand new parent, i wish he could tackle this like he used to with the last mails

  4. December 1, 2010 at 8:56 am

    I agree with bubble. This post is incredibly ridiculous.

    • December 1, 2010 at 3:38 pm

      Boy are you guys late to the party.

      And try reading everything else first.

  5. Arturius
    December 2, 2010 at 8:44 am

    What are you not offended by? He’s not a teacher anymore so your lecture is a little late but calm down! This blog isn’t that serious. Its been years but I laugh every time I reread these Az. And I for one am happy you do this. I may wait to begin my own journey until big black guys are not so rare a creature anymore but you’ve got me wanting to see for myself!

  6. LilaLilu
    October 18, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    This particular post is pretty embarrassing. “I look at them and just see a waste of human parts.” Who says that about children? I wouldn’t want you teaching my kids.

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