Random thoughts, comments, observations and general fluff from a random bint who left London at the end of September 2004 to embark on a new life and new adventures in Tokyo, land of the cute.... and is leaving mid-June 2010 - and counting!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Time Is Right

November 2007 NOVA, one of the big chains of language schools in Japan, collapsed.

April 2010 GEOS, another of the big ones, collapses.

Aeon? Gaba? ECC? Shane? Surely it's only a matter of time before another one bites the dust.

My company just shut it's New Zealand branch. We can't afford new textbooks to replace tattered ones in the schools. Student confidence can't help but be shaken by what's happened with GEOS after NOVA. Maybe it won't make students leave, although I'm sure students will seriously consider whether or not to renew - but I think the affect on potential new students is going to be huge.

Teachers come and go from language schools, but the sheer number of teachers leaving from my district - experienced teachers; teachers who have been around for a long time; good teachers, is quite staggering. I can't help but think that this will persuade any teacher worth half a grain, to seriously consider other options now - and not wait around for the whole Japanese language school industry to come toppling down like a neat little row of dominoes.

And with the departure of good and experienced teachers, will come the departure of loyal students. I'm not saying inexperienced teachers won't do a good job - we all started somewhere, but with a lack of support from experienced colleagues, the potential to learn from others just goes.

RIP Industry. I'm glad I'm getting out while I still have the choice.


On another note, I'm glad I'm getting out before I go batty from hearing things like:

  • First year university students don't work hard because they're so tired from their entrance exams;
  • It's okay for kids to sleep in class if they're tired;
  • It's good for kids to go to cram school at kindergarten age because they need to get into a good elementary school;
  • Kids don't need free-time - it's healthy for them to get up at 5am, spend an hour travelling to school, go to their music/tennis/flower arranging club after school every day and then go to cram school and then go home and do their homework before going to bed. And it's good that lots of Japanese kids spend Saturdays being shepherded from swimming lesson to English lesson to music lesson. Okay, I'm paraphrasing slightly on this last one.
  • I've just had enough now of seeing babied / overly tired / uncontrollable kids. We're teachers NOT babysitters. Not every child is suited to the environment we teach in. That's a fact. If you're going to come to exhausted to a lesson - have an energy drink. Or don't come. If you're too tired to catch a ball and too tired to keep your eyes open in the lesson if you sit down, then what are we, as teachers, expected to do?

I adore some of my students but others should definitely be either at home sleeping or running around a football pitch to expend their energy. They shouldn't be coming to us.

And unlike some organisations where students attend 2 or 3 times a week for 90 minutes at a time, how on earth can people expect to progress when they come for 30, 40 or 55 minutes once a week and can't be bothered to study in between lessons. It's a struggle to teach them. They don't show progress because they don't put the effort it. They choose to study for whatever reason but I don't think the reasons are 'solid' enough. The courses are ongoing. They never end. There's no goal. There's no exam at the end. There's no progress check before going to the next level. Many of the students have never gone abroad. Most of them are certainly not brave enough to go on a trip that isn't an organised tour. They don't NEED English. They know this. And that's half the problem. The number of students who came back from a trip abroad who, when asked if they practiced their English when away, said they didn't is staggering.

There. I said it. I said what I really feel.

I'm not talking about every Japanese person. I'm not even talking about every Japanese student of English. But for the majority of students who come to our schools, it feels like this is the case.

Things that once seemed amusing to me are now just irritating. The time really is right to get out.


On even more devastating news: my external hard drive, containing thousands of photos, documents, movies, songs, etc has died. I've tried freezing it. Nothing. Am gutted. Hopefully a data recovery service can work some magic - and without charging an arm and a leg for it.


Blogger Alesa Warcan said...

How did the drive die? Did you get error messages? Or did it suddenly stop working? Are you sure it's the actual drive inside or just the wiring of external casing?
I've had ext drives die on me twice before and both times it wasn't the drive that died but the casing, so all I had to do was mount the drive in my desktop as a slave to retrieve my data.

12:18 pm

Blogger Jo said...

Alesa - no nothing. One night it was fine; the next morning dead as a dodo.

I have no idea what it is and one quote I was given was so ridiculous that I'm hoping someone can help me without making me chop off my right arm.

If I was in England I'd demand the shop's help. Can't do that here.

I'm hoping I can get someone to help me!

9:11 pm

Blogger Alesa Warcan said...

Go through the usual steps. Is it the kind with an on/off switch and a power diode? When you switch it on, or plug it in, does the light go on, is there any kind of sound inside? Or is it totally dead, as you described it.
If it’s totally dead, then chances are you have a wiring/cable problem, check the length of your power cable for damage (moved furniture that squished it, cat gnawing, whatever) try jiggling the power cable’s connector on either end, plugging the cable into another socket, or better yet using another power cable if you have one.

Do you use a desktop or a laptop? In your case it could be worth getting the drive out of the external mounting and sticking it into your desktop if you have one, or into a friend’s desktop and transferring your data onto another drive: if the external drive is suddenly not powering up at all then your data is quite possibly fine.

Sorry I can’t help you any further without actually being there.

9:36 pm

Blogger Jo said...

It's a Buffalo HD-CE640U2. There's no switch and the cables look fine. When I plug it in, there's no light and if I connect it to my old laptop or new notebook, nothing happens and it's not picked up by them. I can feel a bit of a vibration from it sometimes, but no noise.

Thank you for your ideas.

I'm hopeful the data isn't lost. Nervously optimistic is another way to put it!

12:10 am

Blogger Alesa Warcan said...

Hmm... Curious. The fact that you feel vibration would suggest it is powered. On the other hand that model has a green light when it is on (right?), the fact it doesn't light up would suggest it isn't actually being powered.

I guess the next simple step would be to open the case, unplug the actual HD from the case, and then plug it into a desktop computer via the slave connection on the desktop's ribbon cable and to see what happens.

That's all I can recommend at this point in time. Hope you work it out. Cheers.

12:38 am


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