Today there was a sankanbi at my son’s school. The first grade parents were invited to watch a music class conducted in English by a Canadian teacher. They started out with some rhythmic clapping, and then did some singing and dancing along with CDs. One of the songs was by the Wiggles, from a video that Jio and Lilia watched as toddlers. Out of all the boys, my son seemed to be enjoying the class the most.

Afterward, there was a meeting in the classroom. The teacher talked and laughed and cried (when she was telling us that Miss L. the Taiwanese-born American teacher would be leaving at the end of February, and again when she was telling us how moved she was by seeing the first graders speaking English as they rehearsed “Snow White”) and all of the parents were totally stoic. No one ever nods in agreement or chuckles at an anecdote or even cracks a smile. Mostly, the parents look down at the desks, or at the teacher without any expression whatsoever. Except for me. I wonder if it’s considered more polite to show no reaction.

The teacher said that she has told the students to do 20 sit-ups a day at home. My son never does sit-ups, so this is the first I’ve heard of this. The exercise is supposed to strengthen them so they can speak from the diaphragm. Interesting.


2 thoughts on “Sankanbi

  1. I’m sure that your nods and smiles and laughter warmed the heart of both the visiting teacher and your son’s teacher. I understand that part of being Japanese involves being stoic, but it’s also hard to bear at times.

  2. I’ve been in that same sankanbi classroom, and also at the front of it (for fifteen years). I didn’t realize how much the lack of reaction to my dialogue/wisecracks/etc. was making the job profoundly unfulfilling until I had an American exchange student one year. Having him laugh/make eye contact/interact was like the proverbial rain falling on a parched land. I stopped teaching two years ago after my daughter was born; if I had been teaching in Canada, I think the ‘buzz’ I could get from my students would have made me happily (?) continue until retirement-age. (No regrets about stopping teaching though!)

    Was also interested to read about the sit-up thing. I did gymnastics when I was a kid and hence sit-ups five days a week all through elementary school. Yet I’ve got one of the squeakiest, highest voices around. So I’m skeptical, but it’s definitely interesting!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s