Elementary school teachers.

I recently put up an interview on an expat interview site. See http://www.expatinterviews.com/
One of the questions was about what I think about the Japanese. I had an experience this morning that will illustrate my feelings better than my answer in the interview.
It snowed this morning, about 25 centimeters. This is the first snow of any import this year. My son, when putting on his big down jacket told me his teacher told him not to wear the removable hat. It is a hat that can be removed or attached by zipper. He then told me he couldn’t wear boots because the teacher told him he can only wear them on the coldest days. She told him on a day that was colder than today. While today isn’t the coldest day so far this year it is the snowiest and if there is any day he should wear his best gear it would be today. My children walk about three and a half kilometers through the mountains to school. My sons teacher drives to school. I insisted he wear proper clothes and that I would talk to the teacher.
We got to school and I went into the school yard. By chance his teacher came out of the school building so instead of relaying my “request” to the principal which I had imagined would be the case I told her directly. I speak pretty good Japanese and could if I wanted relay what I wanted to in a culturally appropriate way. That might take ten minutes or so. Instead I took what I believe is a better approach and told her  in a direct manner to relay any complaints about my son’s clothing directly to me. This took less than one minute. I can’t read her mind but I would bet money she was less than pleased at my request and even less pleased at my directness.
I think my way is more appropriate for a number of reasons. I don’t think I am pulling the “foreign card”. That is to say asking her to give me special treatment because I am a foreigner. I COULD relate the request in a way that would make her happier, notice I don’t say happy, but it would probably increase my gray hair count. I think it is, in a worst case scenario a lose/lose situation and in a better case scenario a not so bad though slightly amusing/very stressful situation with me being on either side of the equation depending on every ones mood. Do I feel I am completely in the right? In what I wanted to convey yes. I think the teacher should let the parents dress the children. I am not talking in extremes. There are some cases where the school has agency but this is not one of them. I always have to weigh if I am in the right on being direct. If I am not direct there have been cases that I have been mis-understood. Do I feel for the teacher? Yes, I can imagine it is very stressful for her and I can understand stress having lived here going on 14 years. I don’t think it is better that I say nothing and just let my son take her half baked advice.
This answers the interview question much better.

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One Response to “Elementary school teachers.”

  1. alexcase Says:

    I must say, I have some sympathy for the Japanese idea about toughening the kids up through cold weather. The Norwegians do it to.


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