Thursday, April 10, 2008

Back to School

After the two week Spring break school is back in session. It's great to see all the students again, especially the new ones who are still trying to wrap their head around "Junior High School."

Japan functions on a different timetable than the U. S.. The Japanese year begins in April with blooming of Spring cherry blossoms. When the flowers open so do the schools and companies, from kindergarten to Parliament. Everyone everywhere starts afresh during nature's most transformational time.

Students entering junior high make one of the biggest leaps of their life. As the grade level rises so does the stress, and Japanese junior high students face more stress than I ever did at their age. For me junior high school was about skateboarding, comics, and Nirvana; for my students it's about anime, video games, sports, and the steady encroachment of the apocalyptic high school entrance exam. Fuck up on this test and there goes your life. Because Japan only requires education through 9th grade, high school is no gimme. In my student's minds I imagine the equation looks like this: bad test=bad high school=college?=shitty life.

Welcome to junior high school kids! Its novelty fades faster than the cherry blossoms! I'm glad I finished my formal education before coming to Japan.

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