The Thing About Teaching...
What am I talking about? I'm talking about the fact that today I had my last class of 1st Year English for the academic year and noticed that while some of my kids can actively go through a piece of text a pick out the verbs/nouns/etc., another large portion of my class can't even read.
This is alarming. What's more alarming is that in the Japanese education system there's not much that can be done about it. In my 2nd Year classes I'd often be amazed at my students lack of English skill, but due to their general aversion to learning I chalked it up to lazyness and missed homework assignments. However, upon final review of my 1st Years for the year I've discovered that there's a huge subset of kids who drop under the radar, unable to read basic words in English like "on" and "this", and who graduate into their second year doomed to sink further and further behind.
Now I don't know that this is the case for other courses, I can only speak for English. But I can imagine that the same thing happens in science, math, and even Japanese. It's because the children are not held accountable for their grades or examination performance, they are simply passed on to the next grade as long as they show up for school (and sometimes they don't even have to do that, see "hikikomori"). Japanese students are simply expected to memorize things and pass their high school entrance exams, everything else is pretty much ceremony, routine and other BS with the underlying purpose of instructing them on how to become "Japanese" (ie- fit in to Japanese society).
I know in the West we hear a lot about the Japanese education system and how the children are better educated and whatnot...but I can tell you right now, a Japanese kid wouldn't survive a day in an American school. And no, I'm not talking about school violence, I'm talking about the fact that they'd be expected to express their opinions and do their homework, otherwise they wouldn't be advanced to the next grade.
Now this isn't new. I've known for some time that many of my kids aren't stellar at English, and I don't expect them to be...but I think that they should be able to read "on" and "this", and I think they should be held accountable for their performance. I've offered my time to tutor students after school only to be met with "that sounds like a good idea" and no follow up, or "after school the students have club activities."
Okay, I understand that. But during school they're essentially failing English. What are we going to do about that?