Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Education is...

Grumble... grumble... steam... steam...

I have been teaching English to my little 6th grade N-chan for.... nearly 6 years!  She has always been a cheery, motivated, show-offy sort of student.  When she was in a class she would get upset if I didn't call on her and her ability has always been far above students even older than she.  When everyone else graduated to jr. high last year, she wanted to stay on and so she's been having a private lesson each week.  I have tried to treat her as an adult... for example serving tea while we study English, using the dining room table rather than the room where I teach children.  We've played games and cooked and sewn together.  All in all I think we have had an enjoyable 6 years.

But last night N-chan turned ornery and lazy, propping her head on her elbow...  giving me grunts to questions.  After the third "Whatever" I lost my temper and slammed books shut and asked her to explain her attitude problem or go home.  We faced off in a silent stare for a minute or two and N-chan grudgingly mumbled that she was tired.

Let's say... I'm not surprised.  Not that she's tired, that she has an attitude problem.  Hey, she's going into her teens soon.  This is what pre-teenagers do!  I don't think I have EVER had a pre-teen student (including my own children) that hasn't had me wishing I'd chosen a different profession!  I've sent students home, I've stormed out myself until an apology was given, I've called parents and asked them to reconsider the student's English motivation, I've lectured and scolded and explained my position (... and I mangle the Japanese language so when I'm upset.  I wonder if anyone even understands what I'm sputtering about.)

Whether N-chan and I repaired our relationship after 15 minutes of mumbling (her) and sputtering (me), I won't know until next week I guess.  She SAID she wants to continue until March (when she graduates) but other students have never come back after one of these confrontations.  It makes me sad because I have put a lot of time and effort and LOVE into making English enjoyable and encouraging each student to develop as they can.  After one of these episodes I fear the student will hate me (who cares about that!) and for the rest of their lives will have negative connotations about English.... because I lost my temper once.

"Education is..." Well, I've lost my temper and my confidence both.  You know... most of these students never say boo to me again even after 6 years of coming weekly to my house.  Now WHY did I want to be an English teacher?

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