The willingness of Japanese teachers to be hands on is something that I’ve been really chuffed to see generally speaking. In elementary school even the male teachers are happy to hug or take the hand of pupils. In Middle school theres less touching but more so than in an English Middle School.
Actually my lack of willingness to touch pupils has been commented on and laughed at (apparently my predecessor was a big guy for hugging) and it has been cause for comment in the staffroom that I ask permission of the pupils before taking any photos of them (at sports day, speech contests etc.etc.) Usually they just assume it’s a difference between Brits and Americans…But yeah, generally speaking I don’t touch the pupils, I’ll high five instead of hugging and a number of the first year boys think its great fun to shake hands with me whenever they see me…I can’t get out of the habit of thinking that years of Girl Guide Leadership training and the bloody PGCE put into my head.
However much I can’t touch the kids myself I do like seeing the Japanese teachers being unafraid of it, I like the fact that the little first year girl in tears at one of my elementary schools was picked up and cuddled by the deputy headmaster until she stopped crying and could explain what was the matter (something to do with either a girl called Midori or the colour green!) and I also like the less savory fact that kids are occaisionally scooped bodily out of a class that they are disrupting.
Now I’ve worked with various special needs groups in England, and the last advice I remember for a disruptive pupil either throwing a tantrum or causing the class to be disrupted was to leave them where they were, with an appropriate adult present and take the rest of the class elsewhere. Which has always seemed to me to be a particularly dumb piece of advice, because frankly its easier to move 1 kid than 29 especially when the other 29 are more interested in that 1 kid and what he’s doing. In Japan that 1 kid gets removed, sometimes physically.
So there have been three occaisions now where 3 separate kids in 2 of my elementary schools have disrupted an english lesson to the point of needing to be removed. The first two incidents were kids who started attacking others physically, both times the teacher said something to them, took them away from the other kid/s they were hurting and then when they repeated their actions in one case told them to go out of the room and in the other physically lifted them out. Neither case worried me, I was reasonably relieved that there were enough adults in the room to be able to deal both with that child and keep the others involved in the lesson. Yesterday a kid who I am reasonably sure has some sort of attention based problem threw a tantrum when I didn’t pick him to answer my question. The full works, sobbing, screaming, kicking and throwing himself about on the floor. I ignored him, and the rest of the class kept on playing the karuta game. His assistant went to talk to him and that only made things worse since his screaming got louder, if I hadn’t been in the room I would have sworn somebody was beating that kid up the noises he was making. The other kids were mostly trying to keep concentrating on the cards but the kid was loud and drowning out our question and answer session.
Now like I said, I’ve seen teachers physically pick up and remove kids before, and I’ve even silently applauded on occaision. But, as the assistant stood up the Japanese teacher dived over to the boy and dragged him out of the class by his wrists. I paused in the lesson for less than a breath. For a split second I wanted to go over there and tell her to stop, but I didn’t, I concentrated on making sure the rest of the class weren’t as distracted by this as I was.
Every other time I have seen a disrupting child be removed physically from the class room it’s been done in a way I would consider reasonable. Arms under the underarms, over the upper arms, around the waist, not overly forceful…something that looked ok to me. In this case she dragged a screaming child who wasn’t being physically harmful to the other children out by his wrists. And I kept the lesson going for her…
That kid didn’t stop screaming for most of the morning actually, he refused to go into any of the classrooms and sat/lay next to the waterfountain screaming with his assistant mostly just standing there.
I attempted to talk to the teacher in question, but mostly things got lost in translation…in England I’d have known who to talk to, what to say, but in Japan? So mostly I’ve given up, I tried talking to one of the teachers here at the Middle School but they’ve put it down to my ‘touching’ wierdness again. I have no idea what to do, or even how to tell the teacher what bothered me, it was my class. I want to tell her that it was the assistant’s call and not hers and that it should be the assistants call in any of my future classes. I wanted to explain that it was the fact she dragged him out by his wrists and not the fact he was removed. Once again my Japanese fails me and this time it bothers me more than I can say.