Thursday, 9 December 2010
Tuesday, 30 November 2010
or lack of it.
children in america are getting less creative!
although this research was carried out in america, the same can surely be said for Japan, the epicentre of all things video game (not to mention the epicentre of all things standardised)
i got wind of this amazing article via the lovely creative blog that is giddygiddy. It struck a cord with me because since i started teaching in japan it has been quite clear to me that there is something missing in the way that children here are educated.
don't get me wrong, every effort is made to ensure an army of little einsteins are produced each year. no expense is spared by parents in the form of extra classes, placements and field trips. and the kids themselves work their little sock off with school work and extra curricular activities, often not getting home before 10 in order to knuckle down to homework.
but ask the average japanese child or adult alike what their opinion is about something and you are met with wide eyed bewilderment and a lot of head shaking. ask them to imagine what something is like and that look turns to utter blank incomprehension.
as many teachers here will testify unless you ask a question which has a standard answer you will struggle to get an answer at all, which let me tell you can get more than a little tedious.
think for a minute about what creativity actually means: the word is often quite wrongly associated exclusively with the arts. but creativity is really just the ability to generate ideas in order to solve problems. so it is not only the artists, the choreographers and the musicians who are creative thinkers but also the scientists, inventors, doctors, authors and as it turns out a lot of the powerful people in this world who score highly in 'CQ' tests.
“It’s (creativity) not just about sustaining our nation’s economic growth. All around us are matters of national and international importance that are crying out for creative solutions, from saving the Gulf of Mexico, to bringing peace to Afghanistan to delivering health care."
creativity is essential to progress which is why the policy makers and the japanese board of education need to. READ THIS. and take heed.
you are not doing your kids or the future of your country any favours by spoon feeding them, even if you are doing it for 14 hours a day.
ps confiscate those games consoles too!
Tuesday, 26 October 2010
sometimes it irritates me that this blog is so disorganised and sporadic. I look at other people's tidy, catagorised and beautifully presented blogs and i feel ashamed of my shabby effort. I've thought about giving up on it, when times have been hard ( busy) and there have been posting droughts. but then i always think, see or hear something that needs to be shared and so it seems to stumble on. I cant really change its form or the flow of posts because well... my life is not that consistent and this blog is a reflection of that. i thought it couldn't hurt to try n add a little something to the content though.
last week in the midst of runny noses and splutters i celebrated a year in japan! (wozers how time does fly, and to think i was only really planning to stay a year.) i thought it would be cool to start some kind of regular what's what of japan. a 'japan corner' if you will. believe me there is a lot of funny stuff to share. island nations we may both be, but that is where the similarities end.
please note; this idea may fall on its face...but what the heck, thought id give it a go.
starting with these lovely ladies. this is what happens to street style when kids grow up on a diet of manga and anime.
Friday, 22 October 2010
this week i have been ill. every year for my birthday the universe gifts me with a rotten stinking cold. i can scarcely remember a birthday celebration where i have not been dosed up to the eyeballs on a day nurse/lemsip cocktail. and this years halloween party in tokyo was no exception. the result of this of course is that i have full throttle post birthday hangover/cold combo ( times ten to the power of two)... so that was me this week. and in japan you dont get paid sick days, so for most of it i had to soldier on. inflicting ( and no doubt irritating) my colleagues and students with all the wheezing, hacking and nose blowing (plus a little whimpering too). on wednesday it reached its peak and the school actually insisted that I go home...so that i did. and sleep and sleep and sleep. its amazing what a few hours extra kip can do. yesterday i felt like a new me and eagerly attended work plus all appointments plus my japanese lesson and i cleaned the apartment with time left to read my book.
im glad i made it to work. if for no other reason than to see one of my favourite second year students draw 'open eyes' in magic marker on his eyelids then spend the lesson with them closed so that i had these creepy ( hilarious) eyes staring back at me.
those kids, they are amazing.
Monday, 18 October 2010
I completely agree!! (especially in japan) they are farming clones in this country!! kids are not taught to think creatively at all, which means, in my experience, that by the time they reach adulthood many have lost their imaginations completely. its a real problem...a whole nation trained to think the same...not a recipe for progression.
Saturday, 16 October 2010
Tuesday, 12 October 2010
when i stumbled up on the speech from this amazing wedding it struck me as pretty spot on.
“The size and age of the Cosmos are beyond ordinary human understanding. Lost somewhere between immensity and eternity is our tiny planetary home. And yet our species is young and curious and brave and shows much promise. In the last few millennia we have made the most astonishing and unexpected discoveries. They remind us that humans have evolved to wonder, that understanding is a joy, that knowledge is prerequisite to survival. Our little planet floats like a mote of dust in the morning sky. All that you see, all that we can see, exploded out of a star billions of years ago, and the particles slowly arranged themselves into living things, including all of us. We are made of star stuff. We are the mechanism by which the universe can comprehend itself. The world is so exquisite with so much love and moral depth. We should remain grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides. The sum of all our evolution, our thinking and our accomplishments is love. A marriage makes two fractional lives a whole. It gives to two questioning natures a renewed reason for living. It brings a new gladness to the sunshine, and a new fragrance to the flowers, and new beauty to the earth, a new mystery to life.
Thursday, 30 September 2010
welcome to our world little man! this is the most recent picture i have of you and your mum on my visit to england. this was taken about 6 weeks ago when your mum and her friends were having afternoon tea and cake in the sun. you must have been enjoying it too, you were wriggling, making us all laugh. we didnt know it then but we had a hunch you'd be a boy. we even called you roy all weekend. ( im secretly hoping it will stick... little roy).
im so glad we were right! i cant wait to see some more recent pictures of you. give your mum and dad a little squark from me. i miss you all and wish i was there to say hello and welcome and congratulate you all in person. sending you bountiful amounts love from japan. oxoxoxoxox
Tuesday, 14 September 2010
happy birthday mum. this song always makes me think of you. its such a beautiful tribute to all mothers, especially ones who pass on their love of singing and dancing as you undoubtedly have to me.
so mama, for all the lullabys, for all the sing-alongs, for all the pushing back of the kitchen table so we could really swing and twist and shout...and for all the other things too, thank you. have a happy day.i love you with all my heart oxoxox
ps i told my second graders it was my mums birthday and they all burst into a chorus of *happy birthday ellis mum*...it made me a bit teary it did.
Monday, 13 September 2010
im back. I took a break from blogging this summer. i didn't intend to but the weeks went by and it just sort of happened. sitting in front of a computer just wasn't on the top of my list of things to do. my apartment doesn't have a.c and the temperatures soared to brain boiling heights...it made doing anything inside rather unpleasant... so you see words, they just did not come to me.
then there was the three and a half weeks i spent back in the motherland visiting friends and family. getting my fix of music festivals and the great out doors (not to mention roast lamb and rain) which left me very little internet time. more on that later, but for now a quick hello im back or as they say in Japan ta-dai-ma! its good to be back oxoxo
Wednesday, 21 July 2010
I recommend losing yourself for a few minutes in the work of russian based artist/illustrator Ei Ka on the Behance Network. It was here drawings that first caught my eye but then i discovered this series of kaleidoscopic photos...dreeeamy!
...yes they do Ei Ka, how right you are.
Tuesday, 20 July 2010
I have just finished my last morning of work for six weeks!
from now until the 1st of august my days will be spent thus;
earlyish rises, excercises, cycling to the beach, picnics, swimming, surfing, reading books, eating snow cones, drinking cold beers. taking photos....counting the days...
...and then to england! :-)
Monday, 19 July 2010
Monday, 12 July 2010
Sunday, 11 July 2010
last weekend saw the much anticipated opening of the summer beach bars in enoshima. yes thats right peeps... there are beach bars. they're annually erected for the enjoyment shonan folk. in the coming weeks under these temporary roofs, many a cocktail will be drunk, many a flip flop kicked off, many a record spun, shape thrown, phone number exchanged, friend made...but only for these fleeting weeks of summer, at the end of which these temples of fun will be pulled down as they are evey year...because as we know winter is no time for fun...so in the mean time, while they are here ...i plan to partake in some frantic fun!
Tuesday, 29 June 2010
Im sitting outside on my shabby stoop. im being eaten alive, but inside the air is like hot mud. rainy season has started and the humidity is cloying. my apartment smells earthy, like forest floors and mushrooms, (which may be something to do with the rotting tatami mat festering under my futon.)
at this moment im surrounded by tea lights, a glass of red wine in hand. the only sound is the hum of insects and floating scales, as my landlord practices the flute next door. little does he know the warm fuzzy feeling he is providing me with, as i remember summer nights as a kid, with my mum lulling us to sleep with soothing notes from her flute drifting up from the basement of our house on spencer road.
there are things i need to talk about from the past few weeks. I need to tell you about the hydrangeas and how astonished i am at the variety and the vibrance of their abundant blooms, as i cycle along the river each day. how can there be that many? who put them there? how is that electric blue even be possible? every day i am amazed.
i need to tell you about life at the schools and about how we take off our shoes at the door and wear slippers all day! and how at 2,30 on the dot, a melody plays which heralds cleaning time and all the students appear with brooms and mops and buckets and whirl around the corridors until the school gleams, like something from a disney film... and how they greet me through out the day with nods and waves,whoops and high fives and genuinely excited faces.
and how i cant walk around my neighborhood without hearing excited squeals where ever i go. i dont know what the secret is but im telling you, the kids here are just so easily pleased! even the cool older kids. they just seem so happy to be at school. its weirrrrd!
its also weird that they are allowed to sleep on their desks during class! seriously and the teachers dont do a thing about it. and that despite the notoriously long hours japanese kids spend at school their english ability is woefully low ( i guess you cant lean when youre asleep!) the text books are unchallenging and 10% incorrect! and that the japanese teachers actually teach them that 'sit' is pronounced with an 'sh'! ...but thats a whole other post.
i need to tell you much much more about the summery events that have been occurring in these parts but its way past my bed time and my eyelids are heavy so I'll have to leave it at that for now.
Wednesday, 23 June 2010
Im still here.... and believe it or not, eager to share all the cool things i've been up to, but my work /play schedule is jam packed at the moment. im waiting for a quiet moment in which to gather my thoughts . In the mean time here are some pictures. words soon to follow. oxoxo
Sunday, 13 June 2010
Thursday, 10 June 2010
Tuesday, 8 June 2010
Sunday, 6 June 2010
Friday, 28 May 2010
Tuesday, 25 May 2010
this weekend was sports festival at one of my schools. this is a really big deal round these parts. they rehearsed for it all week. real lessons were cancelled so that they could perfect their three legged race, their hula hooping and their rope jumping skills ( 35 people. one rope not to be sniffed at). most of the games looked like the kind that you play only when drunk. you know tying (30) peoples legs together and then watching them run. running round traffic cones clutching long poles. making human pyramids. etc etc although all of these were practiced and practiced and performed with the dedication of true athletes! man they must have been tired by the time the actual day came round. banners were made, pom poms where waved, horns were blown and marching bands played. i do not remember anything like this at my school ...did we even have a sports day? was i too busy being the arty, gothy girl to notice?!
Monday, 17 May 2010
Wednesday, 12 May 2010
Wednesday, 5 May 2010
o what a golden week indeed! we camped on a beach, which i can happily report we had to ourselves with the exception of a few surfers. it was miles away from civilisation . we had beach bonfires beneath the stars in a perfectly sized and positioned sand dune every night, cooked delicious sea food, played games and got satisfactorily sunburnt. if more of this is what i have in store this summer im a happy girl. pictures to follow.... in the meantime; music + excellent video.
Saturday, 1 May 2010
Wednesday, 21 April 2010
Monday, 19 April 2010
I love my new job and most of all I love my new walk to work. the neighborhood is suddenly a riot of colour. sakura (cherry blossom) is in full bloom and pansies of every colour and variety nestle in clusters at the foot of every tree. tiny front gardens, hanging baskets and window boxes are bursting with fragrant lillies of the valley, hyacinths and sweetpeas. every inch or exposed earth has been planted with some gaudy bloom or other.
hiding in grass along railway tracks are silky orange poppies and sprays of mysterious flowers, violet , white like little stars. tiny wild yellow and blue flowers have sprung through the cracks in the paving slabs and the concrete banks of the river near the school. fujisawa is like one big nanas garden... on steroids. I love it!!!
and then there's the kids i see on the way... its so safe in japan that elementary kids walk to school in convoy without their parents! the one who lives furthest sets off and picks up his neighbor, they go to the next house and so on, gathering more friends on the way. they walk in crocodile formation, chattering away and the best part..they all wear matching yellow caps ( in my hood anyway). to call these little guys sweet would be an understatement. this morning was raining so each one of them had a different brightly coloured umbrella. it was like watching a giant colourful centipede navigate pavements and crossings ahead of me. for once i didnt mind the rain.
ps still posting through posterous. blogger fooked. i need to reformat my mac or sommit. arrgh.
Friday, 16 April 2010
Monday, 12 April 2010
this is what happens in japan when the cherry trees bloom. people worship the cherry blossom. it s everywhere at this time of year. it is celebrated like a festival, with shops offering sakura flavoured everything...the image of the cherry bloom adorns everything from billboards to menus. there is even a cherry blossom forecast, counting down the days until the trees explode into life and people take pictures frantically as though it were the first time it had ever happened. at this time of year the whole of japan turns sugary pink in celebration of this sweet smelling flower that lasts just a short week.
this is in yoyogi park in tokyo. people had come out in their thousands to languish beneath the beautiful boughs...and drink...and mingle and sing and did i mention drink?... a lot.
p.s after boasting about fixing the blog it seems to have broken again i can only post via posterous not ideal!... I need the help on a nerd.
Tuesday, 6 April 2010
it was all about the cookies. i didnt know what they were but now i do and apparently they they were clogging up my poor blogs arteries or something.
anyway i'm back. hi. i have missed you.
Friday, 2 April 2010
Thursday, 1 April 2010
I havent posted for ages because i cant get onto my 'new post ' page on my blogger account. Its driving me mad! what can i do? is anyone else having this problem?
this week i have been recovering from an amazing fun packed last week with onders and wild weekend in tokyo with ben, heidi and co. where we discovered a place that serves Y50 beers! (thats 33p to you...33p!!!)
we did a lot of exploring and made some great discoveries in tokyo and kamakura. it was great being a tourist for a change. we went to tucked away suburbs and discovered lovely vintage boutiques and cafes with the most delicious coffee and cake. we found an excellent music shop/coffee shop/music venue in kamakura where we substituted the coffee for beer and ate more cake!
i finally experienced my first onsen. which i think i enjoyed all the more because it rained so hard all day. i was cold to the bone, sinking into that steaming hot volcanic rock pool, while the rain still splashed my face was magic.
I went to not one but two galleries and saw lots of exhibitions ( including the planets above) in the space of a week. wandered along blossom lined canals in the sun. went to art night and enjoyed the gimmicky instillations in the incredible futuristic ropongi hills and even squeezed in a mad hatter's party and some dancing. by sunday night i was in pieces but feeling very very good about life in japan.
this week i've also been attending some pretty intensive training for my new job which starts on monday. im knackered. i skipped today on the basis that being voluntary (unpaid) training, it cannot be that important ne?
hopefully blogger will sort itself out soon...so i can write a proper post!! with links and more photos!