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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Reality Check

Yesterday, I had a reality check. I was attending an English teachers' meeting and discovered something very disappointing. Teachers lie! I had set the ethical standards for being a teacher very high. Let me be more specific. I had set the ethical and moral standards for being a JAPANESE teacher very high. I was under the impression that I was living in a country that viewed education as a priority. I had thought that education in Japan was something to be respected and the educators were the ones holding the torch and leading the way. I believe that the old saying, “Ignorance is bliss” comes into play here. I was ignorant and I was bliss when I attended these English teachers' meetings.

The meetings occur about five times a year. Only Japanese is spoken. I find that kind of ironic to have only Japanese spoken at an English teachers' meeting. Well anyway, I would sit in the meetings and thumb through the materials that were given. I didn’t have a clue as to what was being said. I nodded when everyone nodded. I smiled when everyone smiled. Most of the time my mind was a million miles away figuring out a woodworking project or something else along those lines. What made the meeting, I attended yesterday, different was that I had an interpreter.

The teachers I work with rattled on about how they did the lesson plans and led the class. That would be great if it were true. I do the lesson plans and lead the class for every school except one. These teachers were lying in front of the Board of Education and sadly, in front of me. As they continued to boast about their imaginary achievements, I smiled to myself. Here’s another saying that appropriately applies, “The proof is in the pudding”. The school district continues to see very little improvement in English education. It’s no wonder. The teachers lie to protect themselves and cheat the students out of a proper education they deserve. Those are rather strong accusations to be making against someone you can’t communicate with. Perhaps, but I witnessed it with my own eyes and ears.

When I shared this experience with Erika she said that I should have voiced out at the meeting. I’m afraid that wouldn’t have helped matters. My interpreter is Japanese and she wouldn’t have translated what I had to say. It would have been considered “inappropriate”. If I had said something, I would have created tremendous friction between the teachers and me. I’m as guilty as the Japanese teachers. We are both protecting our jobs. Of course, the ones who are suffering from the consequences of our actions are the children.

Erika reminded me that some of the teachers in America are just as corrupt. I told her that I agree and that was what troubled me the most. I left America to leave that sort of behavior behind. Sure, I understand that in business and in government, it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, corrupt behavior exists and it’s a fact of life. My reality check was to find that this kind of behavior exists in education…Japanese education.   George


  1. Unfortunately, I have had many similar experiences. It seems widely accepted that superiors will take credit for their subordinates' work, and as a foreigner I will probably always be a subordinate. Conversely, I have also observed superiors take responsibility for (and even resign over) subordinates' mistakes.

    1. I wish it were as simple as giving credit where credit is due. These teachers are not doing their jobs and not taking responsibility for the students. It's a real shame and I hope this isn't the case for the other subjects that are taught in Japan.