Sunday, 27 September 2009

Your Japanese word of the week is...

"manabu" 学ぶ which is "to learn (a skill)". And seeing that all I do these days is go to school, come home from school, and do schoolwork, it seems inevitable that it's something I think a lot about.

Learning isn't an easy task in itself, but learning to facilitate learning is a completely different beast. The B. Ed program tries to show the difference between what the commonly held belief of learning was (more or less rote memory) and what the new direction of education is taking (understanding and critical thinking). It isn't, however, to say that one is more important than the other, but that education as a whole is quite caught up in whether or not facts become "known", as opposed to "understood. This was further broken down by famous American educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom into Bloom's Taxonomy of Thinking.

There are two versions, one which is simpler and structured like a ladder in order of increasing difficulty and complexity. There's also this one, known as Bloom's Rose, which doesn't necessarily imply a ranking to them. Either way, it'll be useful as I think about what level I'm getting my students to learn at and how to move them away from the details and into concepts.

Otherwise, things are good here... the weather is typical Vancouver fall, karate is going well with everyone enjoying the classes, and the people in my class are great. Here's us at Science World for a Teacher's Night Out (read: pick up free posters night). =P

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Your Japanese word of the week is...

"tsuzukeru" 続ける which means "to continue/go on". It's my second week into school and my first week back at Pacific Spirit Wado Kai and lots have been going on. Probably more than I expected...

The biggest thing that struck me is that this really is a launching point for what I'll be doing for the next few years. More so than any other "transition point" I've ever had in my life. I feel I've got more direction now than ever and that's always a good thing...

But I never noticed it til last week when, in one of my classes, we had to talk about one of our teaching experiences and how it related to us. Try as I might, I always end up referring to my time in Japan (because it's recent and a lot did happen there heh) but this time, it was quite relevant because I noticed just how the process of learning was reinvented within me over time.

I started karate almost 13 years ago and I've been through a lot of phases. It took some time for me to learn the ropes and get my black belt. Then I had to learn how to lead classes and help teach the students. From there we joined the Japan Karatedo Federation Wadokai and I had to again learn some of the subtle differences found in the JKF Wadokai's karate. That lead me to Japan where I had to learn (again) and refine my karate, including some of the most basic aspects.

But while I was there, I also learned what it takes to run a successful dojo, to better teach what I know to students, and even a new language (somewhat =P).

And now I'm again learning at UBC and, being back with PSWK (above), I can continue the process of learning both by helping my students learn and learning myself.

Most importantly for me is how this is continual. At every stage I learned from someone and hopefully helped someone learn. And not only that, I've been learning to help myself and others learn better.

Now it's just about putting all this theory to practice... =P

Friday, 11 September 2009

Your Japanese word of the week is...

"kekkyoku" 結局 which means "after all" or "finally". And after what has technically been a 2 year "delay", I've finally started school.

And by school, I mean UBC. As a student. I'm in the B. Ed (Bachelor's of Education) program for Secondary school teachers, specializing in Biology. This is something I actually planned on doing back in 2007 but I turned it down so I go could to Japan to do the Shiramizu Karate Internship. It was also the very same program I ended up not re-applying to because I chose to stay another year in Japan at Seiritsu Gakuen. I knew both of those experiences would be useful in this program, but it wasn't til I finally started class and listened to what the instructors and other students had to say that I realised just how relevant Japan was to this program.
The program's set up interestingly in that it's broken up into cohorts that learn the B. Ed curriculum in the context of their specialized subject. In my case, I'm in the science cohort and, within that, have a special course that focuses solely on the biology material in official BC-prescribed curriculum. And then there's a general science class so we can brush up on our chemistry and physics as well as other theory of teaching courses, such as social issues in the classroom or working with special needs children.
The most interesting aspect, I've found, is that I see members from my own cohort nearly everyday. It's got a bit of that high school "same class" feel which certainly helps everyone get to known each other and that, in turn, becomes handy considering all the group work that we do. And there are people from all walks of life from freshly graduated UBC biology students to a mother of two with a PhD in biochemistry. It makes for a really dynamic classroom and, with everyone's mind staying open, is a great chance to absorb the experiences of others.
And while not unexpected, the workload's managed to sneak up on me quite quickly. It's not "heavy" per se but relentless. Already I have an assignment to teach a mini-lesson (I'm going to teach everyone how to do a drumroll!), a group project to find out about Prince Edward Island's categorization of children with special needs, a positionality paper, and various readings to finish.
But I'll be fine. It's all about time management and if I'm going to be able to do this as a career, I should....... well, need to be able to handle something like this. So keep checking back to see how it goes!

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Your Japanese word of the week is...

"kanshin suru" 感心する which means "to be impressed". This past week, I've been meeting with various language exchange people and it never ceases to interest me just how many varied walks of life there are. The path that people have travelled to end up having a coffee with me is really interesting and I really learn a lot......

One of the most impressive things that was shown to me was how to conjugate verbs.

Let's take, for example, "ugoku" 動く which is the verb "to move" .

Taking the last syllable ("ku"), you make a chart with all the characters in the "ku" family.

ka | nai - negative
ki | masu - present/future
ugo ku | - - perfect tense
ke | ru - possibility (ability to)
ko | u - "Let's"

While this wasn't technically "new" information, it was amazing to see it laid out in such a simple and easy to understand manner. In actuality, my friend told me she learned it from a Japanese teacher and that this isn't normally the way it's taught. There are, of course, variations of this chart depending on how a verb needs to be conjugated ("taberu" 食べる or "to eat") but this brings a bit of order to what I thought was just a jumble of grammar rules...

The other thing that's impressed me lately is my friend's new car........ he's also a car nut and we look for similar things in cars, so he ended up buying a pristine 2000 BMW M5. Not only it is fast, it's quite a rare car as well, which means it'll hold its value for longer. Of course, having not yet found my own sporty car to drive, I offered to take some pictures of his and my other friend's car (1974 Datsun 270Z) to celebrate the occasion. Enjoy! The last one is my favourite from the night.