Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Happy card

Today in one of my classes the students, who were supposed to be writing answers to a list of questions, were discussing my weight.

"I wonder if we can ask her how much she weighs?" said one.

"I don't think so," said another. "She might get angry."

"But she's funny when she gets angry," said the first student. "She only pretends."

I pretended not to understand. It requires less energy than pretending to be angry, and anyway, in that class I am maintaining the fiction that I cannot understand anything they say in Japanese. Besides having perfectly good pedagogical reasons for doing so, it's more fun that way. Also, today I was feeling particularly cheerful.

I like listening to the students. I guess they'd heard about the recent survey about height and weight in Japan, and were wondering where I fit in. (The height figure made me realize why I feel tall here, and what a freak The Man is.)

But I didn't worry about my students' lack of application to their study of English. I've stopped worrying about it, especially at that place. That particular class is in the 'Human Nutrition' department (and no, there is no 'Alien Nutrition' department, I am sorry to say), in which many of the students want to become school nurses. They will probably never use English in their lives after they finish my class. I help the ones who want to learn, and with the others maintain the polite fiction that we are seriously working on the acquisition of English, while having as much fun as possible.

The ones who want to become nail artists instead of school nurses will likely never use English again, either, which leads me to a little digression. What is Japan going to do with all the university educated nail artists it will suddenly have a few years from now? If my students are anything to go by, there is going to be an awful lot of them. What is a nail artist, anyway? Perhaps, eventually, Japan could send a rocket containing nail artists off into space, to look for another habitable planet where there is a dearth of nail artists. (I am channelling Douglas Adams, in case you hadn't noticed. Badly.)

But the main reason I didn't worry about my students' complete lack of interest in what I was supposedly teaching (and their corresponding interest in my weight) was the interview I had listened to on my way to work. I have been catching up with the August podcasts from the Saturday Morning with Kim Hill show, on Radio New Zealand, and I'd just listened to an interview with Alexander Waugh. (Sadly, this has now dropped off the bottom of the list on the site. It was a good interview.) Near the end Alexander said, explaining his father's habit of communicating in jokes:

"Seriousness is a form of deep stupidity."

He then added:

"I think the whole modern world is in grave danger of taking itself too seriously and taking everything in the world too seriously, and thereby not understanding it at all."

I was cheerful today because I had just found out what my life is all about. I realized that at an early age I dedicated myself to being a very, very intelligent person who understands the world, and I have never swerved from this path.

It is a wonderful thought. I had always thought I was rather pathetically unambitious, but it turns out that I have been a goal-oriented person ALL MY LIFE.

When I went back to the teachers' room after class I discovered that the students at the front had not just been plundering my pencilcase in order to borrow things, as they usually do. One of them had also left a note:

I have chosen the perfect career to help me to achieve my life's goal. My job is helping me to understand the world better and better every day.


tinyhands said...

Let me see if I've got this straight: Seriousness is stupidity. Your life's goal is to be intelligent.

Therefore, your life is joke? ;)

Badaunt said...

That's the SHORT version of this post. (And I thought I was being subtle...)

kenju said...

LOL - I love it!

Maria said...

nail artists are needed in japan because there seems to be an insatiable appetite for those not-even-new-fangled things called the "manikuaa" which produces not just simple polished and sleek, tasteful nails, but the freakish 3D claws of the japanese nail art.

(i hate them, i hate them, i hate them, i CANNOT get a decent manicure in this bloody country without having to pay an arm and a leg for JUST FILING, CUTICLE TRIM AND COLOR THAT IS ALL I WANT, i miss my $30USD mani AND pedi right across the street from my house, don't even need to make an appointment...)

seriously, i really do scratch my head especially when they have things the length of sutorappu dangling from a hole pierced in the nail, lol.

Radioactive Jam said...

What a great card!

Seems like the kind of day if you had a chance to repeat, you wouldn't change a thing.