Two weeks ago, the English-speaking teacher at S Elementary (the Prison Fort) asked me if it would be possible for me to take a class or two for the open day they were having on Sunday 13th. This wasn't my ideal way to spend a sunday, but scheduling shenanigans have resulted in me having very few days at the Prison Fort this term, so I agreed to let him put the idea to the other teachers at the next staff meeting.
Last week, he reported back that the other teachers had liked the plan. A lot. So much, in fact, that ALL of them wanted me to take their classes today. Obviously, time constraints made this impossible, but there was a solution - how did I feel about teaching two whole grades at a time in the school's crappy falling-to-pieces gym? Politeness prevented me from giving voice to my true feelings on the matter ("Jesus God, no."), and my vague sentiments of "Well if it isn't inconvenient or anything..." were duly interpreted as assent.
So this morning, I gave up a precious day off to teach 3 classes, each consisting of 65-75 kids from the wildest of my schools. With their parents watching. Despite this, I set off in a hopeful mood. I mean, so the ichinensei and ninensei closely resemble a gaggle of baboons. So the yonensei contains the two most evil 9 year-old boys I've ever met. They're mainly good kids at heart, and they all like me. How bad could it be? The answer turned out to be something approximating this:
As you can see, the children were very pleased to have me there. After this rather enthusiastic greeting, I felt that a re-drawing of the teaching plan was in order. In particular, as many activities as possible were modified to include the kids switching places, doing dances, or running aimlessly about the hall. Anything, in fact, that drained their energy, ate up some time, and/or involved me not trying to make them actually learn anything. This policy actually proved quite effective. It didn't stop the evil yonensei boys from screaming gibberish over the top of me, getting up and running about when I was talking, or trying to steal all the flashcards, but then, the presence of 4 teachers and half-a-dozen parents didn't stop it either. The shaven-headed Yakuza-in-training boy in particular is on my shit list, and the next time we play dodgeball, he is going down. Hehehehehehehe. Curiously enough the worst class was with the go/rokunensei, who were polite, reserved and well-mannered, but who singularly failed to be enthused by anything I had to offer, and who had problems understanding the main game ("Goddamn it! The sanensei understood it, and they're 3 years younger than you! The yonensei understood it, and they spent half the explanaion trying to steal my wallet! You're meant to be a good class, for fuck's sake!") Obviously, this was the class with the most parents watching. Ho-hum.
More photos are up, illustrating the various aspects of my day at the zoo. None of them are of me posing as a catgirl. Yes, I know you all want to see them, but actually taking them would involve entrusting my camera to Henko, and that, my dears, is a bigger risk than I'm prepared to take.
However, I have something better (in my own opinion, anyway) for you. The one oasis of sanity (or a least, of pleasant insanity) at the Prison Fort is Class 3:1, the sweetest bunch of kids in the school district. Possibly the sweetest of them (though there is stiff competition) is Yurika. Today, Yurika... well, lets just say that after today she is now officially the most adorable child in the universe ever.
I will give fair warning that the following pictures may prove fatal for those not inured to H-Bomb level cuteness.