There is a psychological theory into the steps people go through in life. One of the steps is about finding and defining an identity. It is shown through brain scans. The brain of someone at the age of 15 is much different than at the age of 17. Similarly, the same person will have a much more developed brain by the age of 20. Sometimes when I look back into the past eight years, I think about how much I have changed. Even though some of my likes have stayed constant, my rationale and spectacles on the world have been transformed.
This has become incorporated into my philosophy of teaching. I am still trying to define my own teaching method. I want each student to be able to give a clear definition of self-identity. I do not want the students to mindlessly follow others. Even though Japan is labeled as a collectivistic society, it does not mean that each person is a drone or strives to be one. I understand that there is a great deal of pressure to conform, and it is hard for someone to be a clear individual while conforming. I do not want a revolution. A lot of people think identity development is a product of rebellion. I suppose it comes from the correlation between teenage emotional development and the actual identity-forming stage. However, figuring out one’s own identity is not synonymous with revolting against the status quo.
In Mito SHS, the activities and assignments I have initiated heavily focus on writing or speaking one’s own opinions. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I do not like multiple choice questions or activities solely on repetition. I know it’s difficult for students as English is their foreign language. Aside from journals, I have been assigning papers and asking many questions. Some students focus all their efforts on using perfect English that they don’t try to communicate. I can tell that some sort of know what I’m saying or sort of know what they want to say. In these instances, the students just give up halfway, because they think that their English or interpretation is wrong. I am starting to wonder if refraining fully from speaking Japanese to students is a good way to help the students build their English. Some AETs say that speaking imperfect Japanese is a good way to show the students that we are just like them, and the effort to communicate goes a long way. However, I’m stuck in the middle. Surely for some students, it may be beneficial to show this similar position as a foreigner. However, there are some students that would rarely use English, because they know that they can use Japanese to communicate.
In my use of Japanese in daily life, I frequently agree to everything in hopes that I don’t opt to join some kind of cult. During other times, I understand a little of what the other person is saying. Usually, I pick up on maybe 40% of the content, so I respond accordingly. I have been very happy to communicate in Japanese outside of school. There have been a few times when people look at me and think that I am strange due to my lack of response when solicited, so at some point, I usually end up saying:
アメリカから来ました。日本語が少しわかります。(Amerika kara kimashita. Nihongo ga sukoshi wakarimasu. – I came from America. I understand a little bit of Japanese)
In the middle of conversations, sometimes I am told:
日本語が上手です。(Nihongo ga jouzu desu. – Your Japanese is good.)
I respond with:
いいえ、まだ下手です。でも、もっと勉強したい。(Iie, mada heta desu. Demo, motto benkyou shitai. – No, it’s still poor, but I want to study more.)
Yesterday night, I got a haircut, and I was worried that I would leave with a shaved head or something to that effect. Luckily, I was able to talk with the haircutters. We were able to talk about many things. I imagine they tried hard to use rather easy vocabulary, but sometimes they were shocked at some words that I knew. It was a very good experience. I plan to go back to them for my future haircuts. Hopefully, my Japanese will have grown exponentially by the next time.
Stay tuned next week for another update!
今週の聖書の詩: “But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.’”
- 1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV)
This verse really shows how people see others and even things. The appearance matters so much. I suppose I can understand, for we rely a lot on our sense of sight. There is even the expression, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” We trust our eyes more than our ideal of focusing on what’s inside. Why do we judge other people? How do we judge other people? Often, it is based on what we see. I don’t like cockroaches, but why do people despise cockroaches despite the fact that they are harmless? It’s mainly based on how they look. However, the LORD is amazing. He identifies us by our hearts.
今週の写真: Isn’t this rainbow beautiful? I’ve never actually seen one before, so it was delightful.