'Nuva day 'nuva dollar

Yesterday was hard work returning to my apartment to find it littered with puppy raising objects yet to have no puppy to utilize them.

Today has been the first time I have ever had a senior student at a junior high break into tears during a warm up game. I was playing the criss cross game, again (chiefly because I don’t need to explain it anymore). It was one of those retardedly shy quiet girls who, through no fault of my own as I hadn’t been manipulating the game, was left as the last one standing. Now what I believe made her cry was the fact that the class was laughing at the last few people standing, regardless of who they were. I served her up an easy “Do you like Ice Cream?” question and she burst into tears and sat down.

Now initially I felt bad about this, as most people would, but as the class progressed I realized it had very little to do with me, or the game, which has worked hundreds of times before without producing this result. It was the classmates laughing at her and her own, totally intractable shyness that produced her outburst. She had picked up to her normal, quiet, eyes down and hide from the foreigner at all costs, mannerisms.

Sometimes I get tired of trying to coax the tinniest amount of English language out of the most introverted of Japanese teenagers. I discussed the matter with my Irish colleague on return to my desk and she expressed the following opinions which seem to be true and made me feel better also.

All she had to do was blurt out three, not four, not five, god forbid six or seven, but three, very basic, words of a language she had been studying for 3 years. You can’t constantly keep these kids wrapped up in the little ball of protective cotton wool that allows them to maintain a totally introverted set of behaviors. Eventually, you have to take some kind of stand and find your own voice. You have to be presented with the opportunities at some stage and take a swing otherwise some of these kids will spend their whole lives as quiet, mouse like, recluses.

It’s not like I was asking for an opinion on analyzing whether or not consideration has been provided to each party in a dispute over an issue of contract law, I just asked her if she liked ice cream. I wasn’t asking her to strip in front of the class was I?

It reminded me of an incident last year when I encountered a whole class room of fifteen year olds who were still so depressed and upset by one of their class mates moving to a different school the week before you’d have thought he’d died rather than moved house. I spent a whole period giving every once of goodness I possessed and got no response, at all, ever. So as we are leaving my team teacher explained to me about the student having left and its resulting class room apathy. The halls resounded with my cry of

‘THAT’S ABSOLUTLEY PATHETIC!” as by this stage I was quite frustrated. The teacher was shocked.

“Why do you say that?” she implored. I explained to her my opinion that these were fifteen year olds. They weren’t young kids anymore. I told her that at this stage they should be given a boot up the arse to get them moving again. They need to start to grow up now. Your friend moved away, boo hoo, life’s not fair have a cry when it happens then get the fuck over it. These kids were about to burst into tears a week later. It was ridiculous. Stop molly coddling them and present them with a few facts about the world outside school without covering it in cartoon animals and pastel backgrounds. The JTE of course did not disagree with me or offer much in the way of a counter opinion.

I also had a unique teaching experience yesterday when I went to my elementary school classes. I had a classroom of 20 or so 7 to 8 year olds in front of me. The class was one of those blessed events where the homeroom teacher blatantly refuses to help in any way, shape, or form in the running of the class. He marked some papers at the back of the classroom. He cleaned the fish tank. He left the room on occasions to go and do something else. This made it mostly impossible for me to explain any activity at all.

These days when I find myself in a situation where a classroom of children is getting rapidly out on control I just take the ‘fuck it’ approach and let the kids do what they want. It’s a lot less stressful than trying to take control of the situation and convince kids to do a game that you can’t fully explain in their own language. I mean, English in this class went out the window completely. Not just learning it, but exposing the kids to English in general as I had to pull all my Japanese out the bag just to get by. We played the punch Adam in the nuts game, the hide in the closet game, the jump on the foreigner game and the dangle children by their legs out the window game. I’m not kidding, one kid ass jabbed me hard so I whipped him up off his feet and dangled him head first out the window. He loved it.

Tomorrow there will be a general election in New Zealand. The race is looking tight. The main centre right wing party in New Zealand, National, has over the past few years cannibalized the smaller, even more right wing parties that used to support it, absorbing their popular support and rallying behind a new, stronger, more confident leadership. Don Brash, the man at the helm who is running for the title of Prime Minister, is an ex central banker with an eye for Yankees. His is strongly in favor of ditching New Zealand’s long held and nationally defining stance against nuclear powered vessels and nuclear weapons in general. A National led coalition government will possibly try and drop New Zealand’s anti-nuclear stance in favor of strengthened defensive ties and trading privileges with the United States. In short he may sell our nation out to the Neo-Conservative imperialist war machine quicker than a fox fucks a rabbit if he commands a majority coalition in Parliament.

It is direction time again in Aotearoa. Personally I don’t want my country to throw the towel in and start taking advice from a foreign administration ostensibly headed by the chimp that let 3000 of his own citizens get murdered on his watch, played the guitar while thousands more drowned and is unable to string a coherent sentence together to save his life.

If you are a New Zealand citizen and you haven’t voted yet you have until 4pm Japan time tomorrow to fax your vote in.

It’s important. People in some parts of the world, are prepared to die, have died and are dying to try and obtain the right to vote in a free and fair election. So many of those who are in possession of the ability to vote choose to ignore and neglect that most basic of civil duties that allows you for the briefest of times to make stand and clearly state which direction you think your own country should head in. New Zealand has a voting population of less than four million people; in a demographic of that size the only vote wasted is that which isn’t cast.

Fingers crossed for tomorrow.