Division or Integration?

There are mergers and acquisitions going on among Japan’s education industry. One company that offers correspondence courses to high school seniors and another prep school chain that operates hundreds of schools throughout the nation have reached an agreement of corporate mergers.

I teach part-time at such a prep school based on the annual contract myself, and therefore I should have a say on this merger.

I have long assumed that educating people does not bring much money to the educator. I do not expect much money to flow into my bank account like never-ending streams of water. Instead, I focus on this one student. I know that the TOEFL is a test that requires a test taker to make a strenuous effort until s/he gets the result. If I show them how some of the tips work in the actual test to a large audience, good results will not be realized. Each individual has a different learning style; they have / suffer from different levels of understanding; and their respective educational backgrounds can work differently for them. The matter of the fact is that the bottom line is obtained only through monitoring each student until they can make it. And how hard it is!

I’m actually proud of the hard-earned money in my bank account. The amount is enough to make a decent living (but not sufficient to stop working once and for all!)

I am even imagining more of a separation than an integration taking place in this industry. How about dividing the entire school into each individual teacher, who will then work as an independent professional? My impression is that lawyers and doctors pursue a similar path. Once assigned to a large organization, each legal / medical expert will part with the institution to have their own firm.

Is that possible when it comes to teaching?


MD was for Material Development.

I was writing a text for the preparatory school I work for. I do not consider myself a good material writer, and that is why I had avoided such a responsibility until 15 years ago. Back when I was working for an English (conversation) school in Japan, I did all my best to ask my boss to assign me not to the material development section, but to the teacher training section. Such a person has now published as many as ten books (and another is coming out soon!), and contributes a text to a prep school. You never know what is in store.


Good Teacher?

I had an opportunity to talk with a friend of mine who turned out to be a professor at a university in Japan. We used to work together and I am very glad to keep a good relationship with this former co-worker. What led to this reunion was … maybe I should refrain from exposing too many things here? Anyway, she wanted to know in detail about teaching the TOEFL and I shared with her what I knew about it. The talk itself was very much fun and I would share as much as possible here, if I really could, but I shouldn’t (self-control!). However there are two things that she requested that I share.

One is that university students do not have a practical skill in note-taking. While you hear a lecture, you may want to take notes on it, for sure, but students do not voluntarily do so, except that the prof asks them to. Our assumption was the same; this is probably because of kind teachers at high school and even kinder teachers at preparatory school. They change colors of the chalk they use according to their principles: important rules are written in red, ┬áJapanese translation is given in yellow, and the others are written in white, for instance. Students are mainly responsible for copying the blackboard. We laughed together, knowing that this does not apply to university. This professor reiterated the nonsensical excuses to change the color of the marker (on the whiteboard). “I use red, not because what I am writing is important or anything. I use red, just because that’s the color that I happened to hold. “Hey, Shinobu, you should remind them of this back at your prep school!”

… and I did. And I wrote it in red.