I’m at work, and I’m not happy. See I am in charge of special lessons every semester. Japanese kids’ school schedules are pretty fixed. They do not have a whole lot of choice when it comes to what classes to take. They usually get one or two periods a week that they can actually decide what to take. These periods are called sentaku classes. For the past two years I have been in charge of the English sentaku classes. I have since developed a really dedicated group of students that always take my classes. This was the plan. I have been carefully working with them and I think their abilities in English reflect that. Knowing they will take my class every semester I have gradually been picking up the pace and ideas presented in the lesson. I also make it really fun. Every trimester the enrollment in my class goes up. This, it appears, is the problem.
Today I was told that I would have to explain to all the second graders my class for next semester, and I should be ready to do this in approximately ten minutes. An annoyance to begin with, but it was coupled with the bit of information that this time students would have to pick different lessons than last time. That has never been a problem in the past. I did a little digging, and covert listening to the teachers talking in Japanese, and it turns out that students can’t take the same classes twice because my classes were too good. Other teachers are not happy that I get most of the really good kids in my classes. They don’t want me to execute this brain drain again, so kids can’t sign up for my class two semesters in a row. A rule created to prevent my elites from taking my class again.
This annoys me greatly because there are really no excuses why they cannot make a good class. Unlike all other Japanese classes, no text books are required in sentaku so teachers can do what they want. My class gets the good kids because it is tailored to the GOOD KIDS! It is exciting, challenging, and I let them be creative. Any teacher could do the same, or – and I’m just thinking off the top of my head here – maybe if there was some kind of discipline system at the school dealing with the bad kids wouldn’t be such a problem. But instead of bringing up their game, they make it so I can’t continue to work with the same kids.
I don’t like that they are breaking up my group of kids because the good kids think my class is fun. I have worked with a certain core group for the past two years and I don’t like that their English ability is being stunted because other teachers can’t think of an interesting way to teach mathematics (which should be easy, I mean math is great to begin with!) I am all for liberal arts education, but they get that. I thought special lessons were supposed to be what they want to learn. I work very hard to make my class entertaining and educational. It really angers me that not only are the kids that really want to take my class but I am too being punished because I am a pretty good teacher.
Looking around the auditorium I saw all the kids that are usually in my class and it made me really sad that they were not allowed to be in it next time, but I also saw a whole bunch of bright kids that didn’t take my class last time. I hope I pull off another big brain drain and effectively switch one set of great kids for the remaining set of great kids. Though I regret not being able to continue down my Golden Path I had laid out for my elites, it may be nice to start anew with another group of bright eyed kids that want to learn.