Monday 19 February 2018

Genius In Nigeria, Stupid In Japan- My Japanese Intensive Course Experience

"Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid."This is a quote attributed to Albert Einstein and is very popular in Education circles and what it simply means is that "Ëverybody is a genius depending on the context in which they find themselves."
The truth of the above statement truly hit me when I arrived in Japan in September 2017 to commence my teacher training program sponsored by the Government of Japan, I was a complete idiot in the Japanese language; could neither speak, read or write. I was so eager to begin the Language course so I could enjoy living in the Japanese society. And then the course began and for at least the first month I couldn't understand what was happening. I, who was so "educated" in the English language became an utter fool when it came to the Japanese language and so a huge wave of panic hit me. If you checked my browser history during that month you would see a lot of google search on "Is it possible to be dyslexic in one language and not in another?" To make matters worse, I had learners from China and Korea in my class and except for just minor pronunciation issues that they had, they made the Japanese language look too easy and further heightened my feelings of stupidity! 

To cut a long story short, last week I completed the course in flying colours and became certified in Japanese language. Right now I can read, write and speak the Japanese language at the basic level. There are still many more levels to attain but at least for now I am no longer illiterate. So how did I cross the hurdle? I immersed myself fully into the language, reading ahead of lessons, watching Japanese animes and practicing whatever Japanese I learnt in class with native Japanese speakers. The most important factor that helped speed up my progress was the せんせいたち(pronounced senseitachi-meaning teachers). No matter how much I studied on my own, the concept only became clearer when I got to class and the teachers explained it using several interesting teaching methods. Every time we struggled, Yamashita Sensei would encourage us by saying "Don't worry, you still have 16weeks to go!" The place of a good teacher is indispensable in Education and more than ever before, I am proud to be a teacher.

Now in a few weeks, I will be commencing my teacher training program and I will be surprised to find out that I am a complete fool when it comes to teaching. I am sure I will learn a lot of new things but that I will be completely illiterate will be out of the question. This brings me to my main point. Genius is relative but it should be global. Language studies aside, if a child is a genius in science, maths, or Arts in Nigeria he should be a genius in America, Japan or Europe in the same field otherwise there is something wrong with the Educational system. So while we are waving the Albert Einstein quote around and working hard to help our children find their strengths and build their own niche we should ensure that we school them well using global teaching methods to ensure that they fit in any part of the world. They cannot be gurus in ICT in Nigeria and be stupid in Japan. 

But then, how can you give what you do not have? Start by exploring how teachers in other parts of the world are teaching your subject and incorporate these methods into your lessons as much as possible; you owe humanity that little. Remember, a lot of parents have no clue what quality education is like but they trust us-teachers to give the best to their kids.

Cheers to global teachers raising global geniuses!


Image: Google Image tweaked by Teacher Lola.

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