My Special Kids

I think one of the greatest joys I have teaching here is getting to occasionally teach English in the special education classes.

In Kanagi I have two such classes. Since I have no idea how to accurately describe the difference between the two classes in any clinical or psychological terms, let me just give an example. I did an activity recently where I said simple things in English, and they listened and drew a picture of what I was saying. In one class I said "blue house" and my kids broke out rulers, sketched a vanishing point, and went to work on an almost archetectural-style drawing of a blue house. In the other class I got a yellow house. Let me say, I love both of these classes.

My future drafters (who I assume have some form of autism) have an insane command of English vocabularly. Their grammar and syntax aren't great, but I'll be damned if they'll ever need a dictionary to do quick translations from one to the other. They made some really impressive crossword puzzles the other day where they were connecting words at speeds I couldn't even begin to imagine. I really hope they get to put their English skills to use some day. I'm not sure how continuing education works for kids like this in Japan, but my guess is probably not.

My yellow house kids are I guess what would be called "slow" in un-PC terms. They're infinitely charitable though, and they love to greet me in English in the hallways, at lunch, etc. Their command of English is tenacious at best, but it doesn't matter much because they have genuine enthusiasm about it that never fails to brighten my day.

In Asahi two special education students (a boy and a girl) joined the school for the first time in...well, I don't know how long, but long enough that they had no provisions for dealing with them and had to get two new teachers (which is a lot considering the staff topped out at 13 last year). They would probably be in the yellow house class if they were at Kanagi as they seem to have learning disabilities. They are also extremely sweet-natured, and ever-keen to talk to me. The boy specifically seems to have taken a shine to me. We had the following conversation one day after lunch (in Japanese):

Boy: "So...where do you live?"
Me: "Huh?"
Boy: "In Japan...where do you live?"
Me: "Well...do you know Imafuku?"
Boy: "No..."
Me: "How about Kanagi...I live near Kanagi."
Boy: "Oh yeah yeah, I know Kanagi." [pause] "So do you live with your wife, or what?"
Me: [laughing] "No, I'm not married."
Boy: "Well how old are you?"
Me: "I'm only 22."
Boy: "Oh. Okay. That's okay. You're still young then. Don't worry."
Me: [in my head] "Thanks kid...I wasn't worried in the first place."
Boy: [walking away] "Don't worry about it, you're young."
Me: [laughing] "See you later"

So yeah. It's pretty awesome to get to work with the special kids. I think the thing I like most, which is evidenced from the above interaction, is that they don't filter what they say around me. I feel like most Japanese people think over what they're going to say a million times before they talk to me. In fact a lot of conversations start with "Is it okay if I talk to you now." But these kids just talk to me...in English, in Japanese. They don't care. And they will say anything, whether I saw it coming or not.



Blogger Lindsay said...

you're alive!

Anonymous debbymac said...

Dear Darrell,
You know how much I love hearing about your "adventures" with your kids... a wonderful birthday treat! A terrific way to begin my day:)
I Love You! Thank you.

Blogger Ben said...

Those kids sound interesting.

Anonymous Dad said...

Welcome back!
Love, Dad

Blogger Ashley said...

Okay, so I LOVE posts like this...I think they're very enlightening and interesting and all that fun stuff, so no I am not complaining about the content of this. HOWEVER, remember the time on 4.9.07 when you were like "Some cool stuff has been going on, and I'll be sure to post pics and stuff later."? Yeah...so where are the new pictures, liar liar pants on fire?

Blogger Lindsay said...

my friend found out what her placement would be in the JET program...Ehime. but she was just offered a job teaching spanish at a private school in MD so i don't think she is going to go now.


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