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The Bitch of Teaching October 2, 2007

Posted by Mitch in Rantings.

I’ve not made it too much of a secret that I don’t intend on teaching. Ever again. I decided in Germany that it wasn’t really for me. A stint of teaching German in England confirmed it and Japan must just seem like overkill to make sure that I definitely have made the right decision. Don’t get me wrong; there are a lot of positives about being in a position of power. I’m somewhat of a celebrity (although not as much of one as people seem to think I would be. I’m a tall white guy with fairer hair than the Japanese – I should be a rock star, apparently. Alas, I’m not!) and at the same time that some of the kids revere me, most of them are just scared that I’m going to blabber on in English. To be fair to them, in lessons I do. But, also, being the out-of-place foreigner, it means the school can wheel me out on special occasions to show the entire town that they have one of my kind in captivity. This was true for the school Sports Day and will be repeated when the school’s Culture Festival rolls round towards the closing days of this month. The other day, when I was at the Speech Contest, one of the English teachers (we’ll call her Julie) turned to me and asked me if I could sing. One major thought flitted through my mind when I heard this question: Say yes and run the risk of constantly having to sing at school events, in lessons, whenever they can think of a reason to get the weird foreigner to perform. “No, I’m really sorry, Julie, I can’t sing at all. Why do you ask?”

As it turns out, some of the girls in the school band (I think the band sounds really good, but I’m told that they’re poor in contrast to other local bands) want to play an English song and have a couple of teachers sing it at the Culture Festival. In front of the school. And the rest of the town. Thank Christ I told them I couldn’t sing, right? Wrong! I was handed a sheet of paper with a list of songs (all in Katakana, for the record) and told to pick one.

Me: “But Julie! I told you I couldn’t sing!”
Julie: “Look, there’s Can You Feel The Love Tonight. Want to do that one?”
Me: “I honk like a goose. I’ll ruin the festival. People will leave and I’ll be burned at the stake as a foreign witch”
Julie: “I’m going to ask you not to choose Whitney, because that may be too hard”

So apparently I’m singing. Somewhere Over The Rainbow. Part of me hopes it’ll be the Eva Cassidy version because that suits my voice better. Then I wonder why I care. But, actually, I do care. Just because I’ve been roped into it, despite protestations on my part, doesn’t mean that I can’t do it well. As it happens, I can sing. Without meaning to sound arrogant, it’s possibly what I do best. So when I take my first tentative steps out onto that Japanese stage, I’m going to do it, head held high, and rock their split-toed socks off.



1. soph - October 9, 2007

mitch, i seem to remember a secondary school moment of you singing “can you feel the love tonight!” how did she know?!?!?!?!

2. Wendy - October 11, 2007

Well, that will teach you to lie! And has your nose grown bigger!

That said, sock it to em, show em how we do it, make me proud and all that crap!!


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