Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

With All Due Respect

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

With All Due Respect

Article excerpt

As a newcomer to the international school system, every lesson is as much of a learning curve for me as it is for my students. I teach a mix of Japanese and Korean English speakers, as well as a few children of Western expats, at a school in Japan. To the best of my knowledge, none of my charges has had an Australian teacher before, just as I have never taught Japanese or Korean students before.

Although it's true that teenagers are teenagers wherever you go, there seems to be a much deeper level of respect for teachers in Japan. I'm reminded of this whenever I hand out worksheets. Many of my Japanese students will receive it with two hands as if to say "I humbly accept your gift of knowledge". At least that's how I interpret it.

Teachers can get frustrated when students do not look them in the eye. Although it's actually a sign of respect here, it could be an issue in an international setting, particularly if the student hopes to attend a Western university one day.

I'm still learning to read the right prompts from my Japanese and Korean students. One such cue is what I call the "ooh factor". I refer to the heartfelt "ooooh" that students emit in reaction to some weighty piece of new information. This could be some advice about an upcoming assignment or simply a timetable change. At first I thought they were joking; I realise now it's their way of saying "I understand".

Of course, there are frustrations. Those who have spent time in Japan's education system tell me it's unheard of for a student to voice an opinion in class. Thinking for themselves can therefore be a challenge for Japanese students entering the international arena. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.