Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Classroom Curveball

So there I was at my tuition school today, a pretty average day really except I had fewer students to supervise than usual. I am relishing this formative experience of teaching children and today I had a bit of an experience which almost took me out.

So one of my students is happily working on his computer program, dutily (and vocally) sounding out his words as he was progressing through the spelling activities. He had knocked down some toughies such as 'knee' and 'cough' before coming to 'I'. He commented something like, "I? Pfft, that's too easy!" I agreed, before he reasoned, "There is 2 different I's isn't there?", referring to eye and I. Then he abruptly says, "I have cancer." In the space of maybe 2 seconds I went from curiosity, through to horror and then finally to tentative understanding as I got reacquainted with his slightly irregular right eye.

"Well, I HAD cancer." Best I could offer was "Oh no, did you?" rejecting my initial instinct to say "Oh! How horrible!" "But they cut it out and I am blind in one eye." At this point my heart was sliced in two and I was terrified at what to do next. "Well, you've had to be very brave haven't you? I sure am glad that you are here with us today having fun learning spelling!"That last bit, I think I could have done better and I continue to do a "mind-groan" everytime I replay it. However, the child, whom appeared so mature and calm about telling me the story, did not resist and jumped straight back into the spelling activity.

It was all so out of the blue and trying to read the child and work out why they would tell me this after only knowing me for 2 lessons is really difficult. Children obviously don't censor themselves like adults do and they are learning social mechanics at a much higher rate, which naturally comes with experimentation of how to act and what can, should and shouldn't be said in varying situations. One thing that stuck out in the interchange was the tone of his voice and the way he was scanning me with his one working eye. I am so sure that he threw it out there to see how an adult reacts to the situation in order for him to gauge how bad it is in an adult's mind, and from this, add it to the numerous other reactions and judgements that he has come across, to steadily construct how bad the impact of this ailment really is on his life.

I still don't understand kids very well, but what I do know is that kids are built pretty damn mature these days.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Recently has been going decently

So, I have been going a little stir crazy since finishing up at uni last year. I have been actively looking for work, but since silly old honest me has been throwing out the whole YOU-CAN-ONLY-HAVE-ME-UNTIL-JULY disclaimer at every job interview, employers are picking the "safer-bets". So yeah, this has kept me jobless for quite a few weeks and this can make one feel a little unloved and redundant, so it was with absolute glee that I finally suceeded in getting a tutor position with a local tuition business.

I have been working as a casual tutor for a few weeks now and it has been great to feel useful once more. On top of that, I am happy that I get to develop some teaching skills. The role ranges from simply supervising students as they work through literacy and numeracy computer programs through to one-on-one tutoring. I am a Biology major and have offered to tutor many subjects for one-on-one including Chem, Phys, Biol, Maths, and as a punt, Japanese.

The little punt paid off and I currently get to tutor one student in Japanese which thrills me no end because A) I need to hone my language teaching skills for my English teacher role this year; and B) I looove getting paid to talk and teach Japanese (I think this may be what I want to do later on down the track, and yes, despite the Science degree thing :P). Generally, the one-on-ones are better as the students are pretty darn willing to learn (which is good because the parents are paying a damn premium for the privelege).

So, yes, I am pretty happy that I am in this line of work at the moment as I continue to wait in agony for the results of the JET interview. The results usually come out mid-April, so it will be good to have this to distract me. I hope all the other JET hopefuls are coping with their epic waits.

Please look forward to some more interesting blogs very soon!!!

Dan xox

P.S. If you haven't already, be a good global citizen and donate money to the Tsunami appeal if you haven't already! Additionally, you can check out the partners for Japan channel at ---> . Simply watching videos on this channel will magically generate revenue for the relief effort. Good on you me hearties :D

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

The current devastation in Japan

What an incredibly sad tragedy Japan has been facing over the past few days. I would first like to send out my prayers and positive thoughts to those that are suffering as a consequence of the earthquakes and the tsunami in northern Japan. As if the strife from mother nature wasn't enough, now Japan is dealing with the consequences of the man-made problem that is the radiation coming from their various powerstations. There are somewhat conflicting reports between the domestic and international press regarding the significance and threat of the spent and impending nuclear powerplant explosions which is confusing, but sort of expected in this period of hastily gathered and interpreted information. I guess the healthiest thing to do is focus on the common denominators and to have patience as the news becomes more concrete and reliable.

In light of the massive problems Japan and her peoples are having, I would urge everyone to donate money to one or more of charaties such as The Red Cross, Hands On Tokyo, Save the Children or Global Giving (easy to pay by Paypal at If everyone does their bit and sacrifices a bit of their wages, the cruel strain on Japan can be eased somewhat.

So for anyone in Japan that stumbles across this blog, I would just like to say 苦しい時にも、一所懸命頑張ってください。毎日、日本人の皆様のことをよくになるように願っています.