Tuesday, June 20, 2006

On a more positive note...

I liked the comment on the last post about how "Jaded?" would have made a fine end to An Englishman In Nyu Gun - but I can't let that happen... not just yet anyway. Of course, since my time in Japan is almost up (5 weeks to go - how time flies!) the lifespan of this blog is nearly over, but there's still loads of things I've been wanting to post but haven't had the time to write about.
One of the things I wanted to talk about was teaching my students. In my last post I talked about how I've gotten really tired of teaching, but at the same time that doesn't mean it still isn't fun. OK, so it takes an enormous effort of will to drag myself to school in the morning, and thinking up lesson plans isn't the walk in the park that it used to be, but the actual lessons themselves can be pretty good fun.
One of my favourites was one I did a few weeks ago. I'm always trying to think up of ideas for lessons that the kids can enjoy, or at least to show them something new, and one of the great things about my school is that they pretty much let me try anything. In the past I've done lessons on everything from Antonio Gaudi to The Fantastic Four to the War in Yugoslavia to Doraemon (a cartoon robot cat from the future). I even did a lesson where students filmed adverts in English using Star Wars figurines - one group had a great one where Greedo was tricked into buying expensive ramen from a disreputable noodle shop, which was followed by a sign saying "BEWARE OF FRAUD".
Anyway, I was sat in the loo, thinking about what to teach the next day (all men do their best thinking in the toilet) and my eyes came to rest on my posable Astro Boy figurine. I should point out that my toilet is full of toys - I'm at the age now where I think I shouldn't really be fascinated by toys, but I still love having them around. I'm a bit too embarrassed to keep them in plain view though, so I've shoved them all in the toilet, along with a Doctor Who poster of a Dalek wearing a Santa Claus beard (a Christmas decoration I grew too attached to to take down).
"Astro Boy!" I thought, "Brilliant!"
So the next day I did a bit of research and came up with a lesson based on the history of Astro Boy, followed by a "finish the story" exercise. I told the kids that Astro Boy was flying over Nyu High School when he heard a student in trouble. He turned round and saw a monster. It was... and the students had to write what happened. Of course, I took in my Astro Boy figurine too to help illustrate the story, which went down a treat with the kids. See? Toys are brilliant. You can never be too old for toys.
Anyway, I got some cracking work back from the class. They ranged from the righteous:
"It was... false Astro Boy. He was as strong as Astro Boy. But, he didn't have heat of justice. So, true Astro Boy won. The student said "thank you"."
To the disturbing:
"It was... very angry strange man. He loves young girl. He was nude. But he wore hi socks."
To the tragic:
"It was... A Huge Devil Man. It destroyed a school. It took students in Devil World. Atomu went to Devil World and killed a Devil Man. Everyone camed back real world. However Atomu wasn't here."
To the heart warming:
"It was... giant ant!! But it was not evil. Very kind. Everyone became friend with giant ant. Happy end."
Not every class goes perfectly, and not every lesson plan works, but when it does...  I guess what I'm trying to say is, teaching in a Japanese high school can be stressful and frustrating, but there are some days when it all just clicks... days when I think about how much I'm really going to miss my students when I leave.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been reading your blog for ages, but never commented, so just wanted to pop in before it's all over and say how much I've enjoyed reading your adventures. All the best for the future and all that ;)


3:35 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, could have been the greatest Engrish moment ever if they'd held up a sign saying "beware of freud"

6:12 am  
Blogger the englishman said...

i think i may have seen very angry strange man in my neighbourhood

5:13 pm  
Blogger Andrew Cramer said...

Whoa!! Your time is up already??? Well it looks like you have had an amazing time mate!! Maybe I'll see you in SA soon! Keep well man!

10:38 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The naked man one was little disturbing, although the detail about the socks was interesting. The giant friendly ant was my favorite! I wish I could take a class where I write about Astro Boy.

11:43 pm  

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