Friday, February 15, 2008

An Ass Kicked and a Lesson Learned

There's a kid in my last class on Friday who's a few years and a few moral lapses away from growing up to become yellow trash. I've alluded to him before. He's tall and fat, sports a square flat-top haircut and usually jean shorts. Sometimes he wears a Sepultra t-shirt paired with a blue velour Scooby-Doo jacket. His voice is about twice the volume of an average American, which equates to roughly 9 times louder than the average Japanese adult. Sometimes when we're repeating phrases in English, he'll repeat them at an incredibly loud volume, thus drowning out every other student's voice. He usually sits across from his sister and interrupts class to tell me in broken English that she's a "big devil." Whenever confronted about being obnoxious and disruptive, he emits a loud stream of profanity and self-righteous indignation at the implication that he's not a perfect student. I usually have to stop class to yell at him about 15 times per session, I'd say.

So last week this particular kid was being amazingly bad, even for him. He was louder, crasser, and less cooperative than he'd ever been. Sometimes he would just ignore everyone, cover his face with his hood, and say random stuff to himself at max volume.

I was near my boiling point, but unfortunately I can't really do anything except for yell at him in a language he doesn't understand. Fortune, however, decided to smile on me tonight.

He started making fun of another kid in class. This other kid is much smaller, but is a solid block of muscle, and happens to be the regional Judo champion for his age group. I was writing on the whiteboard with my back to the class, and turned around just in time to see the smaller kid walk up to the loudmouth, say something in Japanese, and slug him in the face. Blood starting coming out of his nose. I stormed over and hauled both kids out by their collars and sat them down on a bench outside of the room while I got a Japanese-speaking authority figure.

At schools I've gone to in America, it's almost always the kid who throws the punch who gets in bigger trouble. Not here apparently.

The loudmouth got a speech that amounted to: "Listen, you're big but weak and no one respects you. If you are stronger and have a strong mind, people will come to respect you. You must know when it's okay to joke with someone, and when they will take it personally. If you don't learn this, you will get punched in the face sometimes."

The kid who did the punching got absolutely zero punishment--not even a stern word. Everyone--my boss, his parents, the loudmouth's parents--thought he was absolutely in the right and justified. I completely agree, but this is not how it works in the US of A, to the best of my knowledge.

We talked about the incident afterwards, and the consensus around the office was that this kid got what he deserved, and that a little well-placed ass-kickery in his youth might yield lessons that will serve him for the rest of his life.

And you know what? This week in class he was a hundred times better. Are American schools ruining an important part of childhood with their zero-tolerance approaches towards fighting? I think they might be. But then again, it's not ever a concern that it will escalate into a gun or knife fight here, either.


Todd Johnson said...

Thats a great story, I think I'll adopt that practice with my kids, haha

Nate said...

Excellent--I think I'll adopt that practice with your kids, too!