Bushidō is essentially the “way of the warrior” and governed the life of Samurai in old Japan. Part of the idea behind bushidō is perseverence and a strong will to fight through. This concept is awesome if you’re on the field of battle and about to take on a bunch of bad guys. This concept is decidely not awesome if you’re a Junior High School teacher in the 21st Century.
Today is the first day of spring break here in Osato and yet I’m writing this blog from my desk in the staff room. For some reason, only the students are given a two week vacation; the teachers must come to work everyday or use nenkyu (paid vacation) if they want a break.
It seems the idea of bushidō has persisted beyond the days of the Samurai and into our modern era. The teachers here likely don’t want to come into work during spring break any more than I do, but they’re not complaining on their blogs because they possess the bushidō mindset.
Well, here I say boo for bushidō. The teacher’s deserve a spring break and should take some time off from work. Even though the teachers are here today I bet the majority will only do a few hours of work the whole day. The requirement to come in seems to be only out of honorary duty not because of a real need to do any work. It’s the same reason that teachers stay late into the evening during the school year. Efficiency and work are not the main reason, but rather a cultural pressure that requires the teachers to stay and show their dedication to the job…even if they play mah jong on the computer; their mere presence is enough.
What’s crazier is that the students–who have the spring break and can do what they want for two weeks–still came to school today! The arrived this morning all dressed in their club uniforms to practice their respective activity. The kids are being trained for later in life when they too will have to stay late after school and won’t be given a spring break.
On a completely different note, eight of my colleagues are leaving the school. It’s not that Osato Junior High School is a bad school or that we are cutting back because of the economy, but rather because it’s normal in the Japanese education system. Teachers regularly switch schools and stay at one location for only one to five years. At the end of the school year, the kocho-sensei (principal) announces who is leaving during a staff meeting and the respective teachers stands up, says a host of humble phrases, and bows.
In the newspaper this morning, all the teacher transfers across Miyagi were posted. Hundreds of teachers around the prefecture are being shuffled around the different schools. None of the new teachers are from schools that where I know the JET so I”m not sure what they will be like. I must say, though, that I’m anxiously awaiting the new staff. I’ll likely write a post about the new teachers when they come.