Japan is a nation built on virtue. Perhaps one of most important is efficiency; the senselessness of wasting resources. Yet I have come to witness colossal wastage in Japan. I talk of the boards of education in certain regions that corrupt the teaching of English, driving dedicated teachers away.
I came to Japan in December 2012 and quickly started teaching in Osaka. I continued in Yamaguchi for a further year. Attitudes of teachers and students were almost always receptive.
However, when I started working in Nara Prefecture in April 2015, I encountered endless problems. Although the schools I worked were well-funded, with 1,000 students combined, the necessary audiovisual equipment to complement the mandated textbook (“Hello Friends”) had been denied by the board of education.
In addition, one senior teacher actively told students not to do the assigned English homework. Further, I was told by the principal and the head teacher not to use the incentive toy money (endorsed by JET, used with great success at every previous school) because it contradicted Edo Period beliefs.
Approaching the board for resolution on all this, I was dismissed. One elderly employee ended the meeting with the imperative that I must speak Japanese throughout the day, as this was Japan.
Last year the JET Program alone employed thousands of foreign teachers at the cost of billions of yen. Parents and taxpayers would be angry to know their money is being wasted by foolish old men who barely conceal their prejudice against things foreign. As long as these fools populate Japan’s boards of education, it will continue to regress and will be left behind in the international education stakes.
Look forward Japan. Stop looking back.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.