Saturday, January 24, 2009

Why I won't teach in the US.

Almost unfailingly, when people see/hear/learn I've been in Japan teaching these past few years, they ask if I plan on teaching back in the states. Another friend asked that via email just recently. And hell, what else is this blogging nonsense for if not working out whatevers going on in my brainpan?

I don't imagine I'll pursue teaching in the states. Actually, I know I won't. I have thought about it, moreso in the early days of being in Japan, when I kind of realized I was getting a kick out of it. But even the most cursory of research into the American educational system these days is rife with bureaucratic regulations and nonsense of the highest order. There's at least as much bureaucratic nonsense here, of a slightly different sort, but by virtue of my position here - not to mention the language barrier and the somewhat, ummm, racial, expectations of foreigners in Japan - I'm effectively removed from 99.9 percent of it, of which the net result is awesomeness.

Plus, here I get all the good parts of teaching - the teaching and connecting with kids parts - while having little to no responsibility at all for things like discipline and grading. Shoot, the sheer amount of rough housing, wrestling and judo I play with the elementary and Jr high kids would be enough to get me barred from most schools in the US. And while the slightly conformist nature of Japanese culture still can rub me the wrong way, in schools - it, um, works to my advantage. So my powers of denial deem that an acceptable trade-off.

And while I've not any teacher experience in the states to compare with, there's so little disciplinary difficulty here... regular disciplinary issues are things like dyed hair and short skirts. Maybe sleeping or being a little noisy. I mean, come on. And schools and teachers are still deferred to by parents in Japan, not the - obviously - other way around in the states. Where insane and irresponsible parents hamstring the educational system in the US with their sense of entitlement, leaving teachers and administrations living in fear of the inevitable lawsuit. At least that was my impression as the husband of a high school teacher for a few years. And from reading too much on the internets.

As an aside, there's actually a rise in this kind of parental behavior here in Japan, called "Monster Parent" - so much so that it achieved the pinnacle of Japanese culture last year - The TV Drama.

Monster Parent - DramaWiki:
"Monster parents-a neologism that denotes parents who repeatedly make unreasonable demands to their children’s school and prevent it from functioning normally. Takamura Itsuki is the ace lawyer of a major law firm. One day, she is assigned on a case requested by a school board, and learns of the existence of 'monster parents.' She meets a parent who wants the school to fire a teacher with a dialect for fear that he may exert bad influence on her child, a parent who insists that her son get a regular position on the soccer team, a parent who refuses to pay the lunch fee because it doesn’t taste good and so on. She is, at first, reluctant about this case, but gradually becomes determined to solve the problems. --Fuji TV"

Conservative Japanese, of course, blame this type of Monster Parent behavior on "foreign" influence. Sigh.

Conservative Republican now means more regulation and higher spending.

Nick Gillespie, of Reason, just crushes Bush's party of "small government."

Opinion: Bush and Big Government -
"Now that George W. Bush has finally left office, here's a challenge to a nation famous for its proud tradition of invention: Can somebody invent a machine capable of fully measuring the disaster that was the Bush presidency?

...In a way that was inconceivable when he took office, Mr. Bush -- the advance man for the "ownership society," smaller and more trustworthy government, and a humble foreign policy -- increased the size and scope of the federal government to unprecedented levels. At the same time, he constantly flashed signs of secrecy, duplicity, ineffectiveness and outright incompetence.

...The most basic Bush numbers are damning. If increases in government spending matter, then Mr. Bush is worse than any president in recent history. During his first four years in office -- a period during which his party controlled Congress -- he added a whopping $345 billion (in constant dollars) to the federal budget. The only other presidential term that comes close? Mr. Bush's second term. As of November 2008, he had added at least an additional $287 billion on top of that (and the months since then will add significantly to the bill). To put that in perspective, consider that the spendthrift LBJ added a mere $223 billion in total additional outlays in his one full term.

...If spending under Mr. Bush was a disaster, regulation was even worse. The number of pages in the Federal Registry is a rough proxy for the swollen expanse of the regulatory state. In 2001, some 64,438 pages of regulations were added to it. In 2007, more than 78,000 new pages were added.

...The Iraq war has lasted longer than any American conflict except for Vietnam and has cost more than any shooting match except for World War II.

...Mr. Bush's legacy is thus a bizarro version of Ronald Reagan's. Reagan entered office declaring that government was not the solution to our problems, it was the problem. Ironically, he demonstrated that government could do some important things right -- he helped tame inflation and masterfully drew the Cold War to a nonviolent triumph for the Free World. By contrast, Mr. Bush has massively expanded the government along with the sense that government is incompetent.

That is no small accomplishment -- and its pernicious effects will last long after Mr. Bush has moved back to Texas, and President Obama has announced that his stimulus package, originally tagged at $750 billion and already up to $825 billion, will cost $1 trillion or more. Mr. Bush has cleared the way for President Obama to intervene more and more in the economy and every other aspect of American life.

...George W. Bush has certainly taught us that government really can't be trusted to be very effective, or open, or smart. He has also taught us that government can always get bigger on every level and every way. It's a sad lesson that we'll be learning for many years to come."

Never say never, but I can't imagine he ever lives this one down - "Best Man Fail."

Oh, they knew what they were doing.

Too funny.

The Tiddy Bear Commercial

The Internet is Awesome - Random and kind of bored 'it's snowing and cold outside' edition.