So yesterday evening I went to the excruciatingly long meeting to discuss the problems with the fourth grade class. I arrived at 6:30PM, and didn’t leave until after 9PM, and no, there wasn’t a bathroom break.
The teacher started out by saying “wasuremono ga oi” (ha ha) and then talked about how the students were unable to concentrate. As an example, he talked about how some students dropped their pencils and books during class (that would be my son). I looked at the desk. It’s rather small and flat -topped. There’s no groove for a pencil, not a lot of space for the many items they need for studying. I don’t think my son drops his pencil because of ADD or whatever. Anyhow, it went on like that. The dropping of pencils is noisy and distracting, according to the teacher, and is something that needs to be dealt with.
Around the two-hour mark, the parents began expressing their concerns. Although there was some praise for the emphasis on academics (one mother mentioned how the students are expected to correct their homework during recesses as if it were a good thing), several mothers complained that there was not enough homework. I realized then that there was no point in expressing my petty concern, which is that there is no recess. Maybe it’s just me, but I think that if the kids got a break once in a while they might be better able to concentrate.
Of course I also did not object to the teacher having told my son that Americans are “teki to ni” (i.e. careless and not detail-oriented) and that my son should be more like the Japanese who are so very precise and detail-oriented. I believe his exact words were “Nihonjin wo kichiro o suru.”