Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What Do You Get When You Mix a Sumo With a Strudel?

I called Candy. She was the lower school principal at AIS in Vienna who said ... "if you ever want a permanent position, call me." I needed a position ... any position. I guess I could have gone back to the states but I wanted to stay around Western Europe a little longer.

Candy lined up a job for me.

A week earlier, one of the high school history teachers was in a tragic automobile accident. There was suddenly a need for a substitute to teach her classes for the remaining school year. There was only one catch: the substitute had to teach Japanese history.

" Can you teach Japanese history?" the head of the history department asked me.
" Of course." I said without hesitation.
" Have you ever taught it?"
" Um ... no ... but I have a good knowlege base of ... what did you say it was again?"
" Japanese history."
" Yeah ... THAT."
" Okay ... it's yours."

He was obviously desperate. I didn't have a clue about Japanese history.  I figured ... nobody else did ... so maybe I could fake it. There was no internet back then ... so I had to look for everything I physically could get my hands on. Fortunately ... all the big embassies were in Vienna. Japan had a wonderful one and generously gave me pamphlets and literature on everything Japanese: the government, Sumo wrestling, cooking, art, royalty, geishas, paper making ... It was a gold mine.

Then came my REALLY BIG idea.

On my first day of class I introduced myself. We spent some time remembering their former teacher and sharing stories. I told them that I would try to continue teaching the course the best that I could but would never replace their beloved teacher.

I then passed out the embassy pamphlets to all the students. I wrote names on the board next to the corresponding pamphlet that ended up in their hands. Then ... I put random dates next to each name and gave them their instructions. Each student was to study the information they had and give a presentation to the class on the date that they were assigned. We'd all take notes (me included) on every presentation and at the end of the year I would give them a final exam on Japanese Culture and History based on their presentations.

It worked ... I learned alot that semester.

No comments:

Try Schitt's Creek ... My New FAVORITE Series

Oh yeah. As if the title isn't funny enough ... the plotline, the characters and the writing will keep you in stitches. Many thanks...