The Quantum Leap Diary #1; 4/28/14
04/30/2014 § 1 Comment
I’m going to try something different; a journal throughout May. I have 7 weeks to find a full-time job for a school that can sponsor my visa. If I don’t get one, I have to go back to the US with my tail between my legs with nothing up front to show for being here (Japan)16 years. My spiritual resources, oracles and intuition all say I’m going to make a Quantum Leap in my life this next month. But its up to me to do it.
This was going to be the first day I would sit down at the computer and start trolling for work. Up to now, I’ve been working on 9 papers I need to complete for a certificate course I started last year, actually 2 years ago. Nobody told me the papers would be this bloody hard. I’ve been working on two of them since the first of April. I can’t believe that I’m still working on them, 28 days later, basically working average 4 hours every day. Its for a course in teaching English as a Foreign Language to people who speak another First Language, like Japanese. The first paper is on teaching methodology, how people learn a language and how to teach them. The second is on teaching communication, the practical ability to understand and be understood. Why is this taking so bloody long?
I got off to a great start today. I was going to work just a few hours on the writing, and then spend the rest of the day looking and the job sites. But it was slow, and I spent all day on the paper instead. Thing is, I’m just at that point where I can seen the end coming, I’ve got the outline done and am just filling in. I think its just a cake walk, and then I realize I have to say something about the other methodologies that were being practiced around the time of the one I’m writing about. I ‘ve got all the groundwork done, narrowed it down to a few pages I need to go read and notate, and I fall asleep. I wake up and its almost time to go to my private tutoring job.
It takes about 45 minutes by train and bus from my place. I walk up the hill to the train line on the ridge. Change trains once, get to Chiba City Station, hang out at Tully’s for a half hour, and take the bus to the hospital. I’ve been doing this every week for 4 years. My students are two hematologists in the leukemia department, one is the department director. The pace is easy-going, mostly just conversation, with some textbook instruction. One of the two students says something very pertinent to my paper, so I record him with my keitai (cell phone); something about how he was taught to read English in public school, constructing grammatical sentences in his mind before writing them down, but he was not taught how to construct sentences while listening and talking — a fundamental language skill. This quote will nail the paper! As I bussed back home, I thought that maybe the reason this paper is taking so long is just so I could grab this quote.
I’m having an epiphany at the end of the day: acutely aware that I have a horrifying deadline ahead of me, I’m inexplicably feeling more confident than I have in a long time. Never mind the things that are going wrong– I’m not a reliable judge of my own failure– a whole lot of small stuff is going right. Writing the paper is healing a wound. I was let go of my last job because some of the classes went out of control and became completely unmanageable– the students wouldn’t follow me at all, in spite of great efforts I took to try to make it work. I’m pretty darn sure that it was because my Japanese Assistant Teacher (JAT) didn’t know what she was doing. It was one of those situations where I could only make myself look bad if I went after her,unless I laid out to our supervisors exactly what it was she was doing wrong in the calm, dispassionate language of academics. Which I couldn’t do. But now I can. So I’m not just writing a paper, I realized; I’m building a case.
That’s why its taking so long, and I’m doing just fine.