Rain and balls and kids
The last seven days have been, personally, pretty uneventful. It's warm, but the rainy season has hit which means, er, that there's lots of rain. Or something. It's a pain for trying to dry washing and cycling, at any rate. But it's boring and there'll be plenty more of it, so let's move on...
Balls. I'm not a footie fan BUT I do like the World Cup. I suppose it's the equivalent of saying I'm religious but only go to church on Xmas Eve, isn't it? And maybe it's because I'm not in the UK, but this year I am particularly interested.
Of course, it's extremely bad luck that all the first round games are at 10pm, 1am or 4am and it is rather annoying watching them with Japanese commentary, but still. I'm happy to be able to watch the games.
What a shame then that England's first game was so bloody DULL. Apparently, they're finding Germany too hot. Poor loves.
I don't know if Japan complained about the heat, but I doubt it. The English complain. The Japanese don't. It's very un-samurai spirit, or something like that. So, I settled down last night to watch them donning a collection of very dodgy haircuts and some very strange jumps (did anyone else notice their strange jumps?) as they gave their 100% (NHK said their tactic for winning was to give 100%, so it must be true. Although it does seem a very daft thing to say. I mean, can you imagine saying a team is giving 98.5%? Exactly. It's daft, but no less than I'd expect from NHK news).
And didn't the Aussies look massive next to the Japanese? I mean, there must have been an average height difference of more than half a metre between the two teams.
Anyway, bad luck to the Japanese.
I tried to be sympathetic towards my students today. I even helped them with their pronunciation of 'Croatia' ready the next Japan game. See how nice I am? Of course, one of my students is confident that Japan will beat Brazil... I guess stranger things have happened, but still...!
Kids are Japan are lucky. Or are they? On the one hand, the majority of them get away with doing nothing around the house, and most of them don't have to do part-time jobs. (By kids, I mean anyone up to pre-university age). At the same time, they aren't trusted to do things like babysitting, because that involves responsibility; something they aren't normally entrusted with.
At the same time though, the pressure on kids here is enormous, and it's a story I hear repeatedly:
The majority of my kid/teenage students, and the kids/teenagers of my adult students, go to juku. Juku is 'cram school', or after school school, if you like, where they get help with their subjects from school en masse.
I have students who were sent to juku from FIVE years old, so they could pass exams to get into the best elementary schools. FIVE YEARS OLD.
Older students attend juku three times a week. To say nothing of their English lessons with my company, their music lessons, their dance lessons, their sports clubs, their periodic Saturdays at school, and so on. Most of my students seem to average about five hours of sleep a night. And it all seems to help them achieve the next step up to university and, once they manage to get into university, they just stop working.
It doesn't seem like much of a childhood to me.
And here's an interesting example from the BBC website that illustrates just how balmy it all is. I'm particularly speechless that this woman talks about lego building lessons.