Monday, March 3, 2008

The Free Market Prevails! ... dammit

A thousand apologies for the recent lack of posts. The Japanese school system lets out in March, so the corresponding flurry of exams and tests that signals that thundering crescendo is steadily mounting right now--in fact, it feels like it's steadily mounting me sometimes.

The grand payoff is something pretty laughable-- like 2 or 3 weeks of vacation for the students. Not to get off topic, but that is one hell of a raw deal. Thinking back to my own youth, summers meant 3 months of sleeping in till noon, having water balloon fights with the weird neighbor, watching movies, and capping it all off with 5 hour Doom II session, because hey, why not? Of course, when my body grew strong enough to do unfun things, summers meant hauling gravel for grandma and racing other middle-class white boys in fancy carbon boats on various lakes/rivers around the country, but I still didn't have to go to school dammit!

Anyway, the point is not to complain that Japanese students don't get much vacation--who cares, they are not me. The point is to complain that they're dragging me down with them.

See, I work for a private school. Since it's a private enterprise operating on the principles of profit and supply and demand and has all kinds of invisible hands running their fingers up and down its taut, efficient body, I have to work extra. There's not much fat on our organization, so the more work that exists, the more work exists for me personally. The end of the school year means that students are getting tested on everything possible--English included. So they need practice tests for the real tests, and preparation tests for the practice tests they'll encounter in high school.

This all boils down to me having to work twice as hard making/giving/grading these tests. Meanwhile, most of my friends here are in the JET program, which is a program sponsored by the Japanese government. As their school year grows busier, the Japanese teachers of English no longer have time to think up things for the JET teachers to do, because they have to prepare their students for the standardized tests they'll face. This, in turn, results in the Japanese government paying people to hang out and trade witty jabs via Gmail while the Japanese teachers of English are on their 7th cup of coffee and 70th cigarette. A market inefficiency? Sure. Will it be corrected? Hell, no, it's the government.

And so here I sit, looking at all that green grass on the other side, angry at a system that demands an honest day's work for my day's pay. I'm going going to find some bizarre government grant to study the fecal patterns of African elephants or something to even things out when I get back home.


d said...

I'm reading Doug Hofstadter's latest book so in that context I find it fascinating that you blog about not being able to blog.

David said...

I think most of the government funding you're going to get today will be for either religious purposes or weapons development. Sorry.

Nate said...

So whatever, I'll just come up with some lame idea, call it something like the "Sword of Lazarus" project, and watch the G-man's dollars roll in!