Smoky Mountains

The dirt on the playground is yellow, and the trees are so green that against the sky none of this feels real. A classroom of melodicas hums into the summer air and the hodgepodge of notes mingle with the elongated chirps of the cicadas. Someone is hammering something in the distance, and the repetitiveness of this sound blends into my mindstream, drifting back and forth and in and out of my awareness. Perhaps it is the metronome in the music class.  Hm. Another sip of coffee as I slide back into my lesson plans.

I have given my self-introduction 15 times, perfected it as an artform, and am now past this and into the full swing of teaching. A lot of stuff has been piled on me since I was 10, but with being around these kids and them being the majority of the people that I interact with in my life, I am starting to remember a lot about myself and what life was like before society fed me its poisons. Although I’m in front of the class in the position of a teacher who is older and supposedly more formal than the kids, what they might not be able to see is that I really just see myself as one of them. I’ve always rejected the idea that there are such things as adults. We’re all just kids at heart and some of us have just happened to be around longer than some of the other ones. I guess we need some word for the younger ones though. Oh verbal language, I’m teaching a dark art.

The kids are so freaking adorable that I just could jump out of a window. The little little ones have this way of saying “Senseeeeeeeeiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii” in about as cute as a way as you could imagine it being said multiplied by a few millionfold and it melts my heart like butter every time. Every one of them is a part of their society and myself and all the other teachers are a part of it. Life is easy here. No class distinctions, no credentials, no judgement. Everyone has their part. Characters in a cartoon. Ah. The fact that I’m drawn back into this makes me question whether or not our evolution away from these things as we get older is really a product of “growing up”. I’m under the belief that our “growing up and moving away from innocence” is just a reaction to fear and the natural bi-product of eating too much of the horse shit of our 21st-century value system. Apparently I must have thought it was delicious at the time.

Here’s a pic of Kawakami Elementary, which can be seen from my house. I’m teaching at 4 schools total (2 ES and 2 JHS), all of which are insanely beautiful. Both JHSs are situated up on hills that sit right above the river and the sights from outside of the windows are intense. Again, none of this feels real.

The schools are all very small, and each one contains less than 50 students total. Some of my classes only have 3 kids in them! This wasn’t always the case out here–it is said that the rural areas of Japan are really starting to evaporate. This is due to a combination of factors; people moving to the big cities, an “aging population” (people having less kids), etc. I’m enjoying it thoroughly, everyone around here knows me and the kids flip shit when they see me driving by them on their bikes in the afternoons. “DAVID SENSEI! DAVID SENSEI!”

Teaching is going well. One of my favorite things to do is to bring hiphop drum loops in and spit some new vocab to some riddims. Below is a video of some paid professional actors performing a dramatic reenactment of the general way that classes have been going.

inspired by a Japanese-English lesson! Method is gold.

à bientôt.

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