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-7-
Where’s Sis…
… hoping to connect…
I wake up at 7:30 to call my sister. I call her house, but she’s long gone. I try her cell, but its turned off: It automatically connects to her answering service. I think she’s pretty much like me. We don’t consider ourselves anti-social, but we treasure our privacy. I certainly feel that way. I am fairly open and honest and outgoing… when placed in a social situation, but in most cases I stick to myself, my family. I have my phone set to ring twice before it rolls over to the answering machine, giving me the opportunity screen my callers. My colleagues at work find this irritating: my boss usually begins with, “Onigiriman, will you pick up?!?” Haha… If I’m not in the mood, I will not. If you wanna talk to me about work, talk to me at work. If she leaves me a message saying, “It’s important, call me back,” she will never get a call back from me. If it’s that important leave a message.

This is one of the reasons why I don’t own a cell phone. I don’t want to be contacted on my own private time, so if I have it turned off except when I’m at work, why should I carry one in the first place? If I leave it on, I’m not going to answer it anyway, because a cell phone is like a leash. “Where are you Onigiriman? I can contact you anytime!” No thanks. People who know me know how to get a hold of me.

But as I said, I am not anti-social in a social setting. Indeed, I am more than social in the appropriate setting. When students come to my office, I am always willing… no, eager to chat about anything: readings, exams, jobs, love, songs from the 60s, anything. I once helped a student compose a love poem in Japanese so he could put it into the school newspaper on Valentine’s Day after he had a mjor arguement with her. Am I accessible or what? Haha, sorry, don’t mean to keep tooting my own horn. (Why does that expression always strike me as perverted? Ah, only in the perverted mind can simple objects be turned into… other things.)

Anyway, my sister is supposed to arrive today, and I just wanted to confirm her arrival, but couldn’t contact her. Oh well, she’ll be fine. She’s the kind of person who does things by herself because she can take care of herself. We have not been on the best of terms for the past 6-7 years since I got divorced–she got along very well with my ex. And she has all but accused my current wife as the reason for the divorce. But that’s a story for a later time. For now, she is slowly accepting my current arrangement and is willing to come for Thanksgiving–two consecutive years. There are reasons for this as well, but are too sad to talk about here. Suffice it to say that I’m thankful that she is coming and we can spend the holiday together…

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! And don’t be like me and eat too much!

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-6-

Empathy is often grounded in experience

I myself was a pretty lame student back in the day… But when I say lame–in response to Takunishi‘s comment–I mean I was uninspired and unmotivated, i.e. lame–academically weak and crippled. Insight and acknowledgement of my own deficiencies urge me to be more understanding of my students issues–whatever they are. Most academics I know are friggin’ geniuses. They are brilliant and often do not understand the problems many students might have. Perhpas worse are the native speakers. I have had teachers who could never teach because they have absolutely no idea the issues that non-native speakers have.

“Learn the adjectives; it’s easy.”

“Yeah, right. Adjectives don’t conjugate in English…”

“Oh, okay, just memorize it then…”

“Thanks…”

NOTE: In case you’re worried, the instructors in our program aren’t like this. We have had many discussions about this and there shouldn’t be a problem. If there is, let me know. You guys know where my office is–

Anyway, I liken these people to Ted Williams who was a great baseball player but a lousy coach/manager. He was a natural, and never understood how hard his own players had to work to reach a level of competency. When he was the manager of the Washington Senators, he would always blow his top in frustration: Just keep your eye on the seam of the ball and watch the rotation! Just turn your wrist over and pull the ball! Just, just, just. Well, I’m the Freddy Patek (KC Royals in the 70s?) of academia: Short, no power, just good enough to make it to the show, but I try hard. And no, I cannot see the rotation of the seam of a baseball as it leaves the pitcher’s hand. Can you believe these guys? They can actually see red stitching, determine the kind of pitch that is coming and decide whether or not to swing, in about 0.074 seconds (I just made up the number). Me? I close my eyes and hold the bat out, hoping to connect.

-6-

Empathy is often grounded in experience

I myself was a pretty lame student back in the day… But when I say lame–in response to Takunishi‘s comment–I mean I was uninspired and unmotivated, i.e. lame–academically weak and crippled. Insight and acknowledgement of my own deficiencies urge me to be more understanding of my students issues–whatever they are. Most academics I know are friggin’ geniuses. They are brilliant and often do not understand the problems many students might have. Perhpas worse are the native speakers. I have had teachers who could never teach because they have absolutely no idea the issues that non-native speakers have.

“Learn the adjectives; it’s easy.”

“Yeah, right. Adjectives don’t conjugate in English…”

“Oh, okay, just memorize it then…”

“Thanks…”

NOTE: In case you’re worried, the instructors in our program aren’t like this. We have had many discussions about this and there shouldn’t be a problem. If there is, let me know. You guys know where my office is–

Anyway, I liken these people to Ted Williams who was a great baseball player but a lousy coach/manager. He was a natural, and never understood how hard his own players had to work to reach a level of competency. When he was the manager of the Washington Senators, he would always blow his top in frustration: Just keep your eye on the seam of the ball and watch the rotation! Just turn your wrist over and pull the ball! Just, just, just. Well, I’m the Freddy Patek (KC Royals in the 70s?) of academia: Short, no power, just good enough to make it to the show, but I try hard. And no, I cannot see the rotation of the seam of a baseball as it leaves the pitcher’s hand. Can you believe these guys? They can actually see red stitching, determine the kind of pitch that is coming and decide whether or not to swing, in about 0.074 seconds (I just made up the number). Me? I close my eyes and hold the bat out, hoping to connect.

-6- Empathy is often grounded in experience… …

-6-

Empathy is often grounded in experience

I myself was a pretty lame student back in the day… But when I say lame–in response to Takunishi‘s comment–I mean I was uninspired and unmotivated, i.e. lame–academically weak and crippled. Insight and acknowledgement of my own deficiencies urge me to be more understanding of my students issues–whatever they are. Most academics I know are friggin’ geniuses. They are brilliant and often do not understand the problems many students might have. Perhpas worse are the native speakers. I have had teachers who could never teach because they have absolutely no idea the issues that non-native speakers have.

“Learn the adjectives; it’s easy.”

“Yeah, right. Adjectives don’t conjugate in English…”

“Oh, okay, just memorize it then…”

“Thanks…”

NOTE: In case you’re worried, the instructors in our program aren’t like this. We have had many discussions about this and there shouldn’t be a problem. If there is, let me know. You guys know where my office is–

Anyway, I liken these people to Ted Williams who was a great baseball player but a lousy coach/manager. He was a natural, and never understood how hard his own players had to work to reach a level of competency. When he was the manager of the Washington Senators, he would always blow his top in frustration: Just keep your eye on the seam of the ball and watch the rotation! Just turn your wrist over and pull the ball! Just, just, just. Well, I’m the Freddy Patek (KC Royals in the 70s?) of academia: Short, no power, just good enough to make it to the show, but I try hard. And no, I cannot see the rotation of the seam of a baseball as it leaves the pitcher’s hand. Can you believe these guys? They can actually see red stitching, determine the kind of pitch that is coming and decide whether or not to swing, in about 0.074 seconds (I just made up the number). Me? I close my eyes and hold the bat out, hoping to connect.

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-6-
Empathy is often grounded in experience
I myself was a pretty lame student back in the day… But when I say lame–in response to Takunishi‘s comment–I mean I was uninspired and unmotivated, i.e. lame–academically weak and crippled. Insight and acknowledgement of my own deficiencies urge me to be more understanding of my students issues–whatever they are. Most academics I know are friggin’ geniuses. They are brilliant and often do not understand the problems many students might have. Perhpas worse are the native speakers. I have had teachers who could never teach because they have absolutely no idea the issues that non-native speakers have.

“Learn the adjectives; it’s easy.”
“Yeah, right. Adjectives don’t conjugate in English…”
“Oh, okay, just memorize it then…”
“Thanks…”

NOTE: In case you’re worried, the instructors in our program aren’t like this. We have had many discussions about this and there shouldn’t be a problem. If there is, let me know. You guys know where my office is–

Anyway, I liken these people to Ted Williams who was a great baseball player but a lousy coach/manager. He was a natural, and never understood how hard his own players had to work to reach a level of competency. When he was the manager of the Washington Senators, he would always blow his top in frustration: Just keep your eye on the seam of the ball and watch the rotation! Just turn your wrist over and pull the ball! Just, just, just. Well, I’m the Freddy Patek (KC Royals in the 70s?) of academia: Short, no power, just good enough to make it to the show, but I try hard. And no, I cannot see the rotation of the seam of a baseball as it leaves the pitcher’s hand. Can you believe these guys? They can actually see red stitching, determine the kind of pitch that is coming and decide whether or not to swing, in about 0.074 seconds (I just made up the number). Me? I close my eyes and hold the bat out, hoping to connect.

-5-

Strictly Speaking …Grade harshly. Grade strictly… as my mentor once told me. She was a professor of linguistics when I was a TA for first-year Japanese going for my MA. And I did as I was told. However, she also told me, never forget what it was like to be an undergraduate, never forget what it was like to learn a foreing language that was completely different than my native tongue. I took Japanese in college–I learned Japanese as an adult, much like most of my students–but I did remember French, taking the class, not the language itself.

My French was horrible, as much a reflection of my dedication to study as it was of my intellect, both in very short supply. Indeed, all I can remember is Comment allez-vous? Je vais bien. Et vous? Hahaha. Wait, there’s one more: Je m’apelle Onigiriman… This and ten francs might get me a cup of coffee in Paris. Once on a quiz, I had to respond to the following:

“Write the seven days of the week in French.”

Hmmm. “Days” was masculine, right? Okay, so “Le”… no “Les” cuz its plural. Seven is “sept”, and day was “jour” as in “bon jour”, so I can write “Les sept jours”. I don’t ever remember learning the word for week, so I just wrote, “Les sept jours du week,” only to learn later that I was supposed to list the actual seven days of the week: Lundi, Marcredi, Mardi, etc. Like I said, I was pretty bad.

So when a student makes a mistake, I try to give them the benfit of the doubt. “Okay, you made a mistake, learn from it and don’t make it again.” This is one of the reasons why I often put the same kanji on different quizzes. I keep tabs on my kids and I can usually tell who learns from their mistakes and who is simply studying the night before to pass a quiz. I do so want them to do well in Japanese. Indeed, it is the ones who make mistakes that I want to see improvement. An ‘A’ student will get an A, even if you leave them alone. My job, as I see it, is to make the C student into a B student, and a B student into an A student. And I attribute this mostly to the fact that I myself was a pretty lame student back in the day…

-5-

Strictly Speaking …Grade harshly. Grade strictly… as my mentor once told me. She was a professor of linguistics when I was a TA for first-year Japanese going for my MA. And I did as I was told. However, she also told me, never forget what it was like to be an undergraduate, never forget what it was like to learn a foreing language that was completely different than my native tongue. I took Japanese in college–I learned Japanese as an adult, much like most of my students–but I did remember French, taking the class, not the language itself.

My French was horrible, as much a reflection of my dedication to study as it was of my intellect, both in very short supply. Indeed, all I can remember is Comment allez-vous? Je vais bien. Et vous? Hahaha. Wait, there’s one more: Je m’apelle Onigiriman… This and ten francs might get me a cup of coffee in Paris. Once on a quiz, I had to respond to the following:

“Write the seven days of the week in French.”

Hmmm. “Days” was masculine, right? Okay, so “Le”… no “Les” cuz its plural. Seven is “sept”, and day was “jour” as in “bon jour”, so I can write “Les sept jours”. I don’t ever remember learning the word for week, so I just wrote, “Les sept jours du week,” only to learn later that I was supposed to list the actual seven days of the week: Lundi, Marcredi, Mardi, etc. Like I said, I was pretty bad.

So when a student makes a mistake, I try to give them the benfit of the doubt. “Okay, you made a mistake, learn from it and don’t make it again.” This is one of the reasons why I often put the same kanji on different quizzes. I keep tabs on my kids and I can usually tell who learns from their mistakes and who is simply studying the night before to pass a quiz. I do so want them to do well in Japanese. Indeed, it is the ones who make mistakes that I want to see improvement. An ‘A’ student will get an A, even if you leave them alone. My job, as I see it, is to make the C student into a B student, and a B student into an A student. And I attribute this mostly to the fact that I myself was a pretty lame student back in the day…