Saturday, September 18, 2004

79. Letter to a friend in Sweden

No need to be sorry -- it is me who should be sorry because I haven't even seen your messages until today. Yes, I have been damnably busy. I'm not writing poems because I don't have the time to walk around the lake and sit on the grass and laugh out loud when the good ideas come. Instead I'm doing all kinds of short-term necessary things and trying to take care of my kids who really trust me. I set up a blog for my writing class and I tell them to use their imagination and forget about the damn rules, which is all they ever get in their lessons with Japanese teachers. Unfortunately (for me) I have to give a lecture about my methods to the regional education board in October in front of (Japanese) teachers from about ??? high schools. This is the punishment you get for having fun with your students. Teaching English is a serious business, it's not supposed to be fun.

I'm working on my speech. I'm going to start with the fact that English is a mongrel language with ridiculous spelling and go on from there. Lighten up. They won't. Everything is so goddam serious.

The kids are fine but the teachers (adults) are crap. The teachers want to analyze the language and get tied into knots over grammar. English is a living thing. They're not interested in that: they want to murder it, pin it down on a table and dissect it. I refuse to do that because this approach is stupid and it simply doesn't work.

This is how I get into trouble. The whole education system here depends on making simple things difficult, and making interesting things boring. My school leaves me alone but the Board of Education has heard about me so now I have to defend my methods in front of a hostile audience of Japanese teachers who hate innovations of any kind and who (basically) can't even speak English.

So maybe that's why I'm not writing so many poems these days ....