Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Teaching Is Not So Bad After All

When I got all settled in Tokyo I knew that I was going into the teaching field. I thought that it would be a chance to get my feet wet in the job market in Tokyo. I also needed a steady paycheck. The need to eat hits a guy real quick. Not to mention that marriage requires me to bring home and bacon. Hell, I like working as much as I can. Work makes me feel good and gives me a sense that I achieved something each day. Although, I did not see myself becoming a teacher I have grown to enjoy the job. While it is not my habit or pleasure to give much of anything to society willingly, I do feel that I am giving a part of myself to a society which expects so little of me. The question in my head is why have I grown to enjoy a profession which is against my nature and why am I good at it?

The image of a teacher in my head has always been someone who spent too much time thinking and not enough time doing. My grandmother used to have the same opinion of me but that was because I thought about what I did before I did it. The cowboy attitude never got correctly beat into my head. For me, teachers have always been the type of authority figure who could red tape and cheat me in and out of trouble rather than having the ability to shape my understanding of the world. Dishing out a long day of never ending beer bongs of information straight to the head was my image of the role of a teacher. Now, that the tables have turned and I am the provider of never ending beer bongs of information I find that I actually enjoy the role.

I think that the reason I enjoy teaching is that I get to share what I know with others. By default I possess a master knowledge of spoken English. Being able to break down how sentences are constructed and showing people how to speak `like the gaijin do` is rewarding on some basic level that I struggle to find the words to express. I get this strange connection with students during lessons which I have not felt before. There are these odd moments of unspoken `wow we understand each other` that is pure in its simplicity. There must be this desire brewing up from inside of me which not only wants to be understood when speaking but also considers it a personal challenge when people can`t understand.

The job itself has challenged me and somehow my brain has taken this as a personal challenge and insult if I cannot teach effectively. I have read all the blogs bashing English teachers in Japan. Some of them are really nasty and mean spirited. None the less, I take no pleasure in knowing there is a group of people out there who consider my profession to be a joke. What drives me nuts is the fact that while there are people trash talking I am experiencing the pure joy of two people sharing a moment of effective communication and understanding. Considering that effective communication and understand can be hard to come by these days I am surprised that people would trash talk about two humans sharing such a rare experience.

So, as my mind pukes out muses about why teaching is not so bad it would seem that my job involves me in many things everyday. I give something to society(which is not done on purpose), I share pure moments of understanding with fellow humans, I make my wife proud of me, I smash the idea that English teachers in Japan are all drunk dumb asses, and I find some personal reward (which I still cannot express effectively) all in one day. Well, that is not so bad at the end of the day.

It is still weird for me to think about where I started and where I am now. Hell, a poor punk kid from West Virginia ends up married and teaching English in Japan. Damn! Now is that some shit or what?


Anonymous said...

when the student is ready the teacher will appear...when the teacher is ready the students will learn...enjoy the experience.

billywest said...

Every profession has its naysayers. Just keep rockin' with your head up and a smile on your face. Works for me.

TheGhost said...

The teaching experience is an odd one for me. I have grown to really love the job.

Yes, I am an English teacher! Damn proud of it too.

Michael John Grist said...

Interesting post ghost- a bit soppy, a lot of talk about 'intimate moments' and what not, sounds a bit like sex or something, but yes interesting, and I'm glad you take the job seriously. There's no reason it shouldn't be a serious job. The people who knock it are the people who, if they did it, would probably be drunkard screw-as-many-students-as-you-can-for-a-year mentality people, not people interested in properly exchanging ideas and information.

I see us here, as English teachers, as agents of Globalization. You're married to a Japanese so you are doing it doubly so. We are helping the big melting-pot of genetics and ideas blur up together so that an even better broth can rise to the top.

btw- I think you meant to say 'possess' instead of 'process' towards the start though- threw me off for a moment.

TheGhost said...

Agents of globalization. I never thought of it that way before.

Thanks for the heads up on the `possess` mistake.

Benjamin L. Belcher said...

hitting the climax of sought-for communication can almost be as gratifying as SEX!

NO wait that's wrong, but it's still quite rewarding.

john turningpin said...

I studied linguistics, learned Japanese, got certified in TEFL, etc. for the purpose of being an English teacher here, only to find out a couple years later that it wasn't for me. I'm still sort of looking for what to do next...

Freedom, if you like what you do and get a sense of satisfaction from it, then I raise a glass to you. You're a lucky man, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Kwech said...

"While it is not my habit or pleasure to give much of anything to society willingly, I do feel that I am giving a part of myself to a society which expects so little of me."

I found that to be an incredibly interesting notion. Great article, Ghost.

TheGhost said...

When I teach I am offering a piece of myself to the person who I am teaching. I feel emotionally naked. I put all of myself into teaching. It is the only way I can teach. My nationality and personal character is being judged by the student.

Michael John Grist said...

Emotionally naked? I wonder what kind of lessons you are teaching. I've taught a lot of textbooks and not one of them called for that sort of thing. Exercise 1.b- Bare your inner soul.
I think though you're a person that wears his heart on his sleeve- like with this blog- so I can imagine what you mean.

TheGhost said...

You hit the nail on the head Michael. I can admit that I do tend to wear my heart on my sleeve. While I am not breaking out into tears during lessons I do try to give the students the best experience possible.

For me teaching English in Japan not only just about going though the textbook but also the overall experience. There are still many Japanese who never have direct contact with gaijin. Interaction with gaijin is still a big draw for many students. I get though the lesson and they learn a lot but at the same time I also try to give them the chance to interact with me.