Friday, December 5, 2008

Elementary School

I haven't talked about school in a while because I have grown tired of talking about it. Little changes, it just moves around in a circle. Being at elementary school throws an odd, diffused light on the subject. Two elementary schools feed into Tomorogi; Ishizu and Koya. Ishizu is smaller and in the middle of a good neighborhood. Koya is bigger and in the middle of a (to simplify things) bad neighborhood. Ishizu's problems are pretty normal. The kids that strike me as a concern there are just sullen. Sullen in a way that plenty of 6th graders all over the world are. I am concerned about them. I would get angry at some of their conduct if they were at junior high, but all in all it seems like the normal issues confronted in any school. Koya, on the other hand, seems almost pathological. The weird behaviour that is manifested at the junior high is incubated here at Koya. Tuesday the fifth graders, who are the worst grade level in the school, were either goofing off, or bullying a kid and kicked him into a window, breaking it and cutting his head open. I wasn't here for that. I didn't see their reactions, but it is fairly typical. Yesterday to fifth graders were fighting, when an older, female teacher went to break it up, they kicked her repeatedly in the legs.

I almost hesitate to comment, not having the clinical language or training to do it properly, but it seems, as I said before, pathological. I realize a lot of what I describe can be written off as "That's just kids." Or "That's just that age group." But I have spent a lot of time with a lot of kids, and this is just strange. Let me list out a few characteristics:

1. Refusal to accept responsibility for anything.
2. Willingness to lie beyond all reason.
3. Propensity for violence.
4. Complete inability to treat anything seriously.
5. Disrespect for property.
6. Anger without a clear source.
7. Inability to read the mood or social atmosphere.
8. Complete inability to follow directions (from rules to simple game instructions.)

A brief note: Today at school a particularly bad fifth grader was walking in front of me in the hall he turned and said, in English, "Die." I asked, in Japanese, "Do you really want me to die?" "Yes." He responded in English. I am not sure where to put this in the list, but kids from this school are obsessed with saying "die" both in English and Japanese. I hear it, easily, everyday. I tried to explain to some second years at the junior high that it really doesn't have the desired effect when said in English. That "Die!" isn't really that much of an insult. That it would just be kind of confusing unless you were saying it while plunging a letter opener into someone's neck. I am not sure exactly what response they are going for. If I think the kid is trying to provoke me, I will laugh it off and ask if they will come to my funeral. Or tell them that I will get around to it sooner or later. This seems to catch them off guard. If I think they are trying to show me up for the benefit of their friends I will tell them that if they really want me to die they should probably kill me, barring that they should shut up. They usually have trouble with that logic. Anyway, the oddness to me is the particualr obsession with this word from this one school.

There are good kids, and bad kids who have good moments, but the behavior is really curious. Again, I am telling you. I realize that the above list might strike you as kids anywhere, but it is beyond that. It is very strange behavior.

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attempting to silence the voices in my head.