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Monday, January 9, 2017

Echoes Of Futures Past

Ugh... I have to go back to work on Monday - first time back since the 16th of December or something like that (they trick is not to take vacation during the rest of the year)... though I did spend a few hours at home writing an article for work and putting out a couple of e-newsletters... so I wasn't completely vegetating at home playing video games and watching my son play video games.

I've also been active in getting my son's baseball team ready - I get to be head coach this year - organizing a uniform fitting later this week, ensuring there's no duplication of jersey numbers, getting a school gym for indoor training - Canada, eh. I'm sure kids in sunny Florida could be out training all year round - probably why there are far more kids in the U.S. playing pro ball... that and they have some talented coaches.

In anticipation of our first indoor practice this Thursday, I've had to do my homework on what constitutes drills et al for the team... write them down, and when I get off doing this blog, organizing them and then passing the information to the other coaches for their input.

I even went out and bought some training gear - a flat ladder to be used for agility step drills... oh, they'll love that.

Which got me thinking about my time as an assistant English teacher (AET) on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Program that I was lucky enough to have participated in between 1990-1993.

Back then... as a 25-19-year-old... I didn't do a whole lot of real teaching of English.

There... I said it.

I was pretty much only used to read English stories out loud in order for the junior high school kids to hear how the words are supposed to be spoken - without a Japlish accent.

It is important... as some JET's (Japanese teachers of English) did speak English with a thick Japanese accent that made the pronunciation of English words... well... not as clean or clear as it could have and should have been. I said some... not all teachers.

I would work with the JTE and the students as they read the English words out loud, gently correcting them where required and always with encouragement.

You can't expect everyone to be perfect, and very few were. It's stuff I have learned to apply to coaching of sports teams: such as my son's low-level hockey team, and the 10 years I spent coaching soccer teams (eight for women, two for boys) - and excluding this year's baseball experience, I have never been a head coach before.

It's funny... up until this week when I take on the head coaching cap for the first time... I have always been an assistant.

Or maybe I don't give myself enough credit. I did teach piano and clarinet before going to Japan. And, I did work as a real live journalist for a daily newspaper (Toronto Star)... so I guess I can and have done things all by my lonesome.

It's funny, though... the things you pick up along the way.. and how you think it might be useless in the future turns out to have a tremendous impact on the present.

I can recall back in Grade 13 physical education class how my buddy Rob and I had to go and teach a gym class to a bunch of Grade 5's, once a week for a couple of months...

And now... writing these blogs here and on Pioneers of Aviation... and even for work... it's all about teaching... presenting facts and figures in an interesting manner to make people "get it".

The two blogs I write have pushed me over the 3,500 mark for articles (3400 Japan, and 100 for Aviation).

As I get older (hopefully that continues for a long while), I realize that the kids I taught in Japan probably have kids of their own now... and they would be the same age as their parents were when I taught them. Holy smokes.

Time flies when you are busy edu-macating people.

Since I'll be back at work on Monday... I'll probably get my head back into gear re: this blog... so many people have sent me articles and such on Japan... and with few exceptions, I've been remiss in putting my own unprofessional spin on them.

Okay... vacation is over... time to get back to work.

Man... I am going to hate getting up... I've been awake till after 3AM everyday for weeks now...

Andrew Joseph
PS: In the photo above - that's me having a good time in one of the classes I taught at Ohtawara Chu Gakko (Ohtawara Junior High School in Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken, Japan). Thankfully that sweater is long gone... as is the ponytail... and the black hair. Ugh.

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