The Legend of Keio

I had the pleasure of talking with a Keio legend the other day. Mr. Oikawa taught the current chancellor of the Keio SFC Jr/Sr high school. He taught for 48 years with Keio and is now retired and 70 years old.

Mr. Oikawa is a very pleasant man to spend an evening with. I hope to see him again.

by Kevin Burns

We asked his thoughts on teaching and in a nutshell he said:

“My grand-daughter is four years old and she tries everything. She does everything by trial and error, and tries everything. She never stops trying to do new things.”

He went on to say that he thought teaching was about compassion; being compassionate with our students. For a moment I thought I could see the Dalai Lama, then the image faded. I had put my hand in my beer.

I immediately thought of the student I had told to “Shut up!” that day, and thought, that wasn`t very compassionate of me. I took a sip. My beer tasted salty.

I think we can all be compassionate with our students and try to remember that even the ones that are currently giving us problems, deep down, are good people.

(Even Jim Evanston, who put a tack on the seat of Mrs. Stubbe`s chair back in grade 10. If he isn`t in prison now, on an assault charge, I bet he is a good man! Mrs. Stubbe did have extremely bad breath. But no one deserves treatment like that.)

Everyone has good in them and we can see it if we try. Ironically just this act of finding the good in others, often changes their behaviour. It is magical.

(My wife is forced to try to see the good in me everyday.)

Actions do indeed speak louder than words.

The bosozoku of Japan can attest to this fact.

Mr. Oikawa, I thank you for your wisdom and reminding us of some of the very important things that we need to remember when we teach. Whomever we teach.

To be a better teacher, find the legends where you work. Find the master teachers and seek their advice. Teachers are teachers, and they love teaching anyone, even other teachers. Someone like Mr. Oikawa has a wealth of hard-won advice, garnered over many, many years of toil.

He knows how to teach and has seen it all. You can learn so much from teachers like him if you ask and listen.

“… a fairly comprehensive survey of junior high school students showed that their interest in English, and enjoyment of the subject, peaks at the beginning of JHS and drops like a rock soon steadily thereafter. No surprise here to anyone who has been in Japan for more than 20 minutes, but at least this very thorough and balanced survey substantiates the fact.

Most JHS students found English harder than expected and were soon disenchanted at not sensing any progress in their English skills. This is very much like that time you bought a guitar believing that you would soon learn what it takes to become a guitar god- but you gave it up in two weeks when you found out that musical skills actually require discipline and hard work, so now your guitar collects dust in that dark room under the stairs next to your table-hockey set.”

–Mike Guest, ELT News Column, “The Uni-Files”

About kintaro63

Writer and teacher in Japan
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