My Best Teaching Is One-on-One

一対一が僕のベスト

Of course, I team teach and do special lessons, etc.

当然、先生方と共同レッスンも、特別レッスンの指導もします。

But my best work in the classroom is after the lesson is over --
going one-on-one,
helping individual students with their assignments.

しかし、僕の一番意味あると思っている仕事は、講義が終わってから、
一対一と
個人的にその課題の勉強を応援することです。

It's kind of like with computer programs, walking the client through hands-on.
The job isn't really done until the customer is using the program.

まあ、コンピュータプログラムにすると、得意先の方に出来上がった製品を体験させるようなことと思います。
役に立たない製品はまだ製品になっていないと同様です。

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Why Tarō Can't Communicate -- 太郎は人の話が通じないのは何だ!

(Test Question -- 試験問題)

Choose the correct answer:
正しい回答を選びなさい:

(1) What is your job?
  A: My job is an English teacher.
  B: I teach English.
You've seen this in the newspaper ads:
新聞広告で見たことがあるかもしらない:
× A: My job is an English teacher.
○ B: I teach English.
But this is wrong.
間違いです。

Here's the real answer:
正解は以下の通りです。
△ A: My job is an English teacher.
○ B: I teach English.
Here's an even better answer set:
もっと適切な回答があります:
△ A: My job is an English teacher.
○ B: I teach English.
○ C: I am an English teacher.
○ D: My job is teaching English.
△ E: My job is to work as an English teacher.
○ F: I work as an English teacher.
It is true that A is not the best phrasing for the assumed intent. 確かに A は推測の意味にしては、最適な言葉並びではありません。 It is also true that E is way too wordy. E は正に言葉が多すぎます。 But they are not without meaning. しかし、意味がないとはいえませんし、 and the assumed intent is within the range of possible interpretations. その推測の意味は可能な解釈の範囲の内に入ります。


The best interpretation of 
My job is an English teacher.
would be something like
My job is something that teaches English.
and this is not incompatible with the assumed meaning.

では、 
My job is an English teacher.
の最適な解釈は
私の仕事は英語を教える物です。
と言えば、想定の意味に反論しません。

There is a problem of semantics.
意味について議論はできます。

A job is a thing and an English teacher is a person.
仕事は物です。英語先生は人です。

So it makes a person seem to be a thing.
この文によって、人がモノにされようとします。

So it would not be the preferred expression.
推薦する表現になりません。

Not totally wrong, but not preferred.
完全に間違ってはないけど、推薦される表現ではありません。

But you can't explain this when you are focused on preparing students for the test. There's no time.
テスト中心勉強しているとこんなのを説明することはできません。そんな暇ありません。

And this is the problem.
ここでは原因が診えます。

Too much of current curriculum is focused on tests.
現在の教科過程は試験集中しすぎています。

Tests cannot test everything like this. Therefore, they cannot teach everything like this.
試験はこういうところを綺麗に探ることができません。したがって、こういうところを充分に明かすこともできません。

Students need time to read things that there will never be time to test.
生徒らは考査するための余間がどうしてもできないほどの、たっぷりな読書が必要です。読書するほどの時間が必要です。

And they need time for discussion, time to talk about the things they have learned.
そして、談話の時間が必要です。学んだことを話し会う時間を必要しています。

If there's too much test prep homework, there's no time to learn.
試験向きの宿題が多すぎると学ぶ余地がありません。

That's why Tarō can't communicate.
これが太郎くんの話し会いができないわけです。人の話が通じないわけです。

More on this subject here:
またここでこの話をとりあげています
http://reiisi.blogspot.com/2016/09/grammar-rules-in-japan.html.

Friday, April 7, 2017

The Danger of Charity

I have been seeing bits and pieces of this news about rejecting homeless shelters, and I am feeling no small shame and anger at my fellow Utahns. Community after community is rejecting the building of shelters and other facilities for those who are less fortunate than themselves.

If it were rejecting homeless shelters in order to use the money for providing more people with meaningful work where they can earn enough to pay the rent and feed their families, I could maybe see that. But I don't think that's what's happening.

Dawn Armstrong posted a gentle plea to people everywhere (and especially in Utah) to quit trying to keep the homeless people at a safe distance.

I know that's an awkward way to interpret things, but it's what you are saying when you say you don't want a homeless shelter in your neighborhood:
Keep them at safe distance!

Is homelessness a disease?

Are they somehow tainted by their association with the road?

Or is it that they must have done something terribly wrong to warrant losing their homes, and you, heaven forbid, should not have to associate with people like that?

Maybe you think of the Brian David Mitchells out there. Somebody posted such a comment on Dawn's blog. I think, maybe, I overreacted in my comment on that post. Dawn was much kinder.

Maybe I'm overreacting still, posting this in my blog.

But, statistically speaking, your family is no safer with, say, your business associates, neighbors, friends, relatives.

Most abuse is perpetrated by people who are known by the victim.

I think that's why Jesus finds no moral quandary in teaching us to be good Samaritans. Avoiding the good deed makes us no safer.

(If I had time, I'd work out a lengthy discussion of why charitable behavior ultimately makes the world safer for both your children and you, but it's two in the morning here.)

Would I be playing too rough if I questioned whether you were more concerned about your property value than with your family's safety?

They. The homeless. Dawn is not the only one for whom the "they" means "we".

If you'll stop for a moment's sober reflection, you'll remember that the only thing that stands between you and them is a little luck. If you can stand to admit your dependence on deity, there, but for the grace of God, go we.

The disease which is destroying our modern world, the source of the violence that expresses itself in terrorism and the conundrum of religious warfare is precisely the us vs. them approach to economics, and to life in general.

Them is us. They are we.

[JMR201704071335 added:]

I know it's easy to be scared. But if they are not safe, neither are we. Nor ours.

[JMR201704071335 end-added.]

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

"We Only Contact Applicants Who ...."

I don't like to sell myself. Somehow, I think the work I do is more important than who I am. That doesn't make sense, of course, because the work that I do is who I am, or, at least, is the expression of who I am.

What do Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Donald Trump have in common with Willy Loman? What does success really mean? Why should people sell success or buy it?

Anyway, teaching English in Japan is not a job for people who don't like to sell themselves. Sure, you can (contrary to my earlier understanding) get certified. But then you are stuck with a different job, one which is mostly neither teaching nor English.

(In some senses, it could be called glorified babysitting, but that's too many distractions in one rant.)

If you don't get certified, you end up having to renew your contract every year, because Japanese laws don't allow the company to keep renewing a temporary contract. After three years, they have to take you full time or tell you to move on.

That's not exactly what the law is supposed to say, but that's the effect.

My interpretation is that that law essentially attempts to protect the jobs of the people who do meet the "qualifications" and get hired as full-time, permanent employees.

And I personally think that the correct solution is to kick the illusion of security to the curb and get rid of the permanent employee status. Any company can fold, and, when it does, everyone finds out their job was just temporary.

Anyway, I spent all of last Friday working up an on-line résumé on a job search site called Gaijinpot that specializes in foreigners who want to work in Japan. This morning, I realized I had let the nicely done (if slow) interface lull me into regurgitating my work history, which is not what I wanted the companies I applied to last Friday to see. It does not tell them that I am focused on teaching.

Okay, I'm not focused on teaching. I'm focused on writing a novel, now. And having to look for work is a serious distraction.

(This is the common complaint of artists everywhere, but, again, that's too many distractions for one rant. And the distraction is not actually a bad thing unless I let it be a bad thing. Distractions actually help creativity. Even though they push the finished product further off into the future, they help refine the product.)

I need to make a copy of my résumé for backup and clean it up, refine the focus, sell my accomplishments.


(I have a focused résumé online, uhm, that is, relatively speaking, focused. For me, it's focused. :-/)

Well, I realized something else this morning, something that moved me to rant mode:

All three companies said they would only contact those applicants whose résumés passed their initial screening process.

That means I have no way of knowing that they even got my résumé. For all I know, Gaijinpot's server may have gone temporarily off-line, and that error message I got about the server timing out may really mean that my résumé was never sent.

Without some sort of confirmation that the submitted résumé actually made it to the company I intended to submit it to, I have no way of knowing they even got it. I can only wait for an event I have no reason to believe will actually happen. And I don't know how long I should wait.

This is bad information protocol. A program written this way would die on you every time you turned around.

Well, I can call and bug them about my résumé. All the counseling about job search tells you to follow up, anyway, so I really should follow up:
Me: Did you get it?

HR: We said we'd contact you if we want to interview you.

Me: Oh. Sorry. That's not what I read. I read that I should assume that you really didn't want to see my résumé at all.
Okay, so asking, "Did you get it?" is probably the wrong way to start.

But submitting the résumé on-line to a company that says they won't respond unless they want to respond is probably not the best thing to do, either.

Should have reviewed my résumé before I sent it.

And I should have sent it directly. After calling them first. I should know this, considering the number of training sessions I've been through.

(But I've never actually gotten a job doing it the way the training sessions tell you, which means that the one thing you should never do in a job search is rely on some sort of set procedure. Which means that software and job search are not a good match, after all.)

Maybe I can make sending the wrong copy an excuse to sent a decent copy instead. We'll see.

Job search sites really, really should provide, in their web UI, some sort of feedback button that the HR person can hit to send an e-mail saying, at bare minimum, "Yes, we did get the résumé, and if we don't reply within n days, you should assume you didn't pass the first screening."

A company whose HR department can't provide bare minimum information exchange protocol may not be worth applying to.

Except that that is precisely the sort of company that currently owns the market for foreign English teachers in Japan. Which is one of the reasons I want my novel to find readers -- so I can hope it will find buyers if I finish it.

If I can't hope to pay the rent with my writing, I should focus on teaching, in spite of the non-optimal stuff that I have to put up with in order to do so.

Speaking of my novel, here's the current (second) draft in progress again:

http://joel-rees-economics.blogspot.com/2017/01/soc500-00-00-toc.html

And here's the (roughly) two-thirds-complete first draft:

http://joel-rees-economics.blogspot.com/2016/04/economics-101-novel-rough-draft-index.html.

If you like it, tell your friends about it. Don't worry about whether the publishers will be scared away, if I have to, I'll self-publish. Maybe start with an electronic edition and a link to my paypal account if I can't find something better.

If the IRS hasn't found a way to throttle that, too.

But if I know people are reading it, I will find some way to properly publish it.