Have problem, will kill for change

The Ministry of Education in Japan has has a lot of issues as of late. Trying to pass laws to force kids to be patriotic, finding many high schools not teaching the required curriculum and forcing these students to take an extra 70 hrs of school so they can graduate, dealing with bulling in school and subsequently suicide due to bulling in school, etc... On all the unimportant issues they drag their feet and just say 'gambare' to students, parents and teachers and consider than an adequate answer.

Bulling is the issue that is most appalling to me because I've seen so much of it as of late. In the past few month, many elementary and junior high school aged children have committed suicide because they are being bullied so frequently and horrendously, with no aid from teachers, the school and many time parents that they feel death is the best alternative. In the past I've noticed kids beating playfully at each other and occasionally kids would cry, but since I don't usually teach in their classrooms, I get a much calmer class. Due to meetings being held in the room I normally teach, I've had to teach in their classroom.

A during recess one of my more rowdy 3rd grade classes, I was playing around with some of the kids and noticed some boys pulling on one little girl. Her friends drug me over to help the boys stay away. Okay, so that's kind of normal behavior for 3rd grade, but while I was breaking that up, I noticed one little boy with the crazy hyper kid in class. He hits people a lot and calls people names so I was keeping my eyes on them while the girls are asking questions about what I like to eat and why I'm not married. Mind you while this is happening, their teacher is in the teacher's room one floor down. The little boy starts crying and holding his neck. The hyperactive boy has one friggin' evil look on his face and is whispering things in the little boy's ear. I separated the two and the crying kid can't even talk cause I found out later that the other kid choked the hell outta him. I told him to try and calm down and get something to drink if he could. Some other kids went out to check on him. I told him to tell his teacher when she got back. The little girls I was playing with said that the hyperactive kid always beats up that kid. When the teacher got back all hell broke loose.

The crying kid tried to talk to the teacher between tears and labored gasps, but she just held up her hand in shut-up fashion and started yelling at some other kids. These kids apparently hurt another little girl badly. So badly she had to go to the hospital. After a tongue lashing she said, we wouldn't be having class normally, but since I was a guest and this class was rare they were going to carry on like normal. She then took the crying kid out of class and grabbed the hyperactive kid later. On the plus side, she actually disciplined them, something she never does during my class and the kids were uber good even with her not being there, but damn, everyday?

I felt bad for the crying kid and bad for the teacher. The teacher obviously had a lot on her plate and I always thought she was just a push over. The kid is one of my favorite kids cause he tries really hard in class and is super cute. And the hyperactive kid, I knew so many kids like him when I was in elementary school. He's not a bad kid, normally he's pretty good with me, just noisy. At home though, you never know. Maybe he's beat up, abused / learning disorder / discriminated in class / ADD / etc.. he's taking up all the angry inside of him and placing it on someone else to feel better. Maybe he's just a bad seed. Maybe that's just all child psych garble left from watching too many Discover specials, I dunno. I see these teachers try so hard to do so much and at this school they get lots of support. At my Junior High, the teachers are so tired of trying with kids that are even more messed up. And the parents are insane, blaming the teacher for the kids going bad and there is no one that supports the teacher because they have to pacify the parents.

Last week the during a meeting at Junior High, teachers discussed problematic kids and ass-kicking areas around school that should be monitored. Not much got said one way or the other. Parents get told, your son or daughter kicked so and so's ass or your son or daughter was beat up by so and so- we apologize on behalf of the school. That's about all. I had a Japanese friend before who said he was the problem child when he was younger and all his parents did was buy expensive okashi and gave them to the school and parents of the kids he beat up. Is that all? I'm old, when I think of back in my day things were ... different. Who should take or share the blame? Certainly the Ministry of Ed thinks it's not their problem. The principals are taking some responsibility and some are hanging themselves. Teachers begrudgingly take responsibility of this and a million other things. Parents, I'm sure some take blame or responsibility but some pass the buck straight back. Jeez, I'm gonna get in trouble for writing all this.

I was talking with a teacher today as she told me about how she never has any time to herself and how there were some recent problems at school. I asked her about the teacher's union as in, does it exist and what does it do for you? She just responded yea, it'd be nice for them to do something. How can they do something if the teachers don't complain? How are the kids supposed to learn to stand up for themselves if adults they see all just take all the crap their given? Aren't these kids that are threatening suicide saying well, I don't want to take all this crap, but I don't know what to do about it, so I guess I'll just do this. I hate that little kids are resorting to this, but a part of me absurdly admires them for forcing the adults and the nation around them to do something. I hope the kids find another way to change people and God, I hope the adults in power do something. I know I'm contradicting myself left and right, I just thought this was interesting, I don't have answers for a solution, but thought maybe some of you would have some ideas.