I'd Rather Have Nothing

Monday, December 17, 2007

There is a Japanese trait that I both admire and hate. It is the concept of "what I need".

I remember reading about this sort of thing in one of my language books. A Japanese person and a gaijin walk up to a vending machine. There are two bottles of coke, one normal sized and one extra large. The extra large one is exactly the same price as the normal sized one. So the gaijin (probably from America) goes for the bigger one and the Japanese guy chooses the normal sized one. The gaijin says "Why did you choose that one? You get way more with the bigger one and the price is the same! It's a great deal!" and the Japanese guy replies, "Yeah but I don't need that much coke."

The American mentality is that regardless of if we need it or not, it's a better value and that's what's important to many of us. For the Japanese, in an exaggerated case, they would almost pay more for the smaller one because really, that's all they need and "もったいない" (don't be wasteful)

At first, I thought this was great. I thought it was a good way to live. It makes you a better person for not being wasteful because lord knows I can't drink a normal amount of coke and I'd probably have bought the bigger one too!

And that's all well and good until you get a bunch of (irritating) high school seniors and you try to give them FREE stuff.

I've talked about it before. At Oodochi high school I have a special Nina Dollar reward system. If the students do something right, they get various amounts of Nina Dollars as payment. I then collect them and put them into their Nina Bank Accounts (seriously). And at the end of the term, I hold an auction where they can buy things with their Nina Dollars.

Let me remind you of the obvious: These dollars have been accumulating for months and they're completely useless outside of my classes.


Today is the last day I'll see my Seniors forever. I like the third years. Just not the ones that I teach. I happen to teach the lower of the two levels (why, I'll never know) and this means that not only are they way below average but they're lazy on top of it. They have to try to get scores that low.

(Seriously guys, I'm not making this up. The school is closing because there aren't enough students to fill it. You have to be THAT SPECIAL to get in)

The last time I did an auction, I brought in some pretty junky stuff but still more than I had originally planned. I originally was just going to give them candy. But the Largo exchange group had given me all their extra gifts so I had plenty to auction off.

This time around, I had TONs of really cool things that I brought back from my August trip to the states! I had stickers and bags and candy and toys ! It was such a pain in the ass to get it here too! And it wasn't cheap either!!! And let me give you a hint, the school didn't pay for my excursion to America, they didn't pay for the stuff I'm giving away to my kids and they didn't pay the extra baggage charge when it was overweight.

and my students paid with Nina Dollars. Meaning that really, it was free for them.

Well. Do you know what their response was to me?

*unimpressed glares* ".....seriously? You want $15 Nina Dollars for that? Pshh.. I don't need it"

It wasn't even an "I don't need it, but thanks." It was just a flat out, "I don't want your junk Nina. Leave me alone, I'd like to put my head down until class is over."

At least in America the students would have grabbed for it just because it was free.

There are these bags that I'm trying to get rid of from the Largo group. They're the plastic "back packs" that have a draw string as both the opening to the bag and then they come down to make the straps for your arms. No one actually wants them regardless of if they're American, Japanese or from anywhere else, but I've seen many a time that people have grabbed for them just because they were being given away for free as a promotional item.

But still, my students turned their nose at them.

I could understand it when I did the auction the first time. I did actually have some junk. But I put a lot of effort and thought into this one.

I even gave one veeeeery special student an extra $5 just because he had $0 and I didn't want him to go empty handed. It wasn't hard to get these bucks either. They just needed to participate. And the students that fought me tooth and nail about that STILL got more than $5!!! But regardless, I'm pretty sure this kid walked away with nothing. He didn't even want the super cheap $5 candy that I had priced just for him.

*bitter rant begin*
You know, sometimes I just really hate those students for being such ungrateful brats. They have no idea that the only reason why the government pays for me to be here is to teach their sorry asses. What a waste of money. What a waste of my time.

Honestly, I applaud anyone who enjoys being a teacher and I give a standing ovation to anyone who's good at it. There are plenty of people who love teaching and are good at their job. I work with a number of them!

But I am not one of them. And I hope to all that is holy that I don't end up doing this for the rest of my life.

But hey it could be worse. I could be teaching middle school! HAHAHAHAHHAHAHA...hmmmm

4 shared their love:

Heather said...

I'm an american, and the older I get, the more I see, that I don't need it, don't want it. The difference though, is if I see someone has put time into something (your nina bucks) I would enthusiastically would jump on it. I was a teacher of 8th graders who were pretty poor. They were so thankful over any of my little games, incentives etc. I loved them. I had taught middle class white kids who always wanted to know how i could entertain them each day. Ick. I like the unspoiled kids. So... how do you reach the bored ones? My husb has many of those since he is a teacher. I am now becoming a nurse so I don't have to deal with this anymore, yay. Good luck to you!

Nina said...

I've noticed that all my students have their good and bad points. Some more than others. Oodochi students aren't the brightest but they're easy to get along and have fun with. The Yamada kids are a little more hard working but that leaves less time for having fun and they're less likely to be friendly with me since they see me only as a teacher.

I like both schools but sometimes, man, I could just slap my kids. If it weren't for my JTE I'd probably do something totally against the rules like make a kid purposely sit out because I said so or god forbid send one out of the class!

Deborah said...

These things are something we all face. When I started out I did not want to believe it, but I have had to face the fact that there are some students we can't reach no matter how hard we try. The trick is for that realization to not make you quit. And to remember that no matter what field you work in there are good days and bad. After 10 years in business/accounting and 9 years in teaching I will say that I still find I get FAR more job satisfaction out of teaching than I ever did in an office job. But there are some days that I have to remind myself of that fact.

chierichan said...

This is Kathy...been awhile since I blogged or read yours but here I am again. I read this and really felt I could understand what you're going through...maybe worse sometimes cause it's middle school!! I love some of my students but some are just so rude and ungrateful. It is really frustrating. And I am with you on the not feeling like a good teacher here. I am going to stay one more year but after that, I am out of JET. I am pretty sure I can't take more than two years here- though not just cause of students. I get very frustrated with the work culture here too. But that is a story for a different time.

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