Last autumn, I compared the different disciplining styles of both American and Japanese preschools in my English CIP blog. Although most of my observations in regards to discipline haven’t changed, the age groups to which I have taken observations from have changed. Last semester I primarily worked with 4 to 5 year olds, which were some of the oldest children at the school. However, this semester I usually work with the 2 year olds. Despite the 2 year olds being adorably cute, I do not have as much opportunity to actually communicate with them, based on the fact they are indeed 2 years old. Not only do 2 year olds lack a sufficient Japanese vocabulary, they are way too embarrassed and scared by my presence to even attempt English beyond “hello”.
Therefore, rather than talking about the communication I have with the children at my CIP; I’d rather focus on a question I’ve always pondered about my CIP – the significance of time in a time conscious society. I arrive at my CIP roughly the same time every week – 12 noon to the minute. Not only am I afraid of arriving late because it would give both KCJS and American’s a bad reputation, but I’m afraid of arriving any earlier and getting in the teachers way, since they wouldn’t be prepared for more. However, despite me arriving exactly on time, I always manage to feel either absurdly early or extremely late. Apparently there is not exact start time for my CIP (or end time, for that matter). Sometimes I arrive at noon and the students are already mid-meal, in which case I scurry to grab my food and join a table feeling like I’ve somehow arrived very late (which is not the case). Otherwise, the students are still midst their mid-morning activities and they haven’t even started the lunch prep duties, in which case I feel like I’ve arrived too early (again, this is not the case) and am standing around uselessly until lunch actually begins. I find this lack of an exact start time to be a very interesting, considering just how time-conscious my Japanese peers, host family, and school experience have all been. I wonder if lunch time is not exact because there is more emphasis placed on the motions of “lunch” rather than the promptness of “time” at this point in the education system; preschoolers are educated on the way to do things, rather than the timely fashion in which it should be done. . For example, a child has not finished lunch until has every grain of rice is cleaned from their bowl, even if it takes that child more than an hour to do so. I couldn’t even imagine being given more than 45 minutes in my elementary school, let alone an hour to finish lunch. If I didn’t finish lunch on time, well too bad for me. I either had to re-pack it and take it home or throw it away.
Does anyone else face very interesting (either expected or unexpected) challenges when it comes to being “on time”‘?