Sunday, March 24, 2013

Bad News Break Down

    As an English teacher in Japan's public school system you know you come the end of March with the opening of cherry blossoms also comes the potential for your work world to dramatically change. Voices from mysterious Prefectural offices send out names on charts that, seemingly, uncaringly uproot teachers from their current schools and forcibly scatter them to all the far flung corners of the prefecture. For my past two years the teacher change has left my school largely unaffected.
    I entered to pottery studio last Thursday to desks covered in cardboard boxes and a very overwhelmed best friend. Tabe Sensei (my school's incredible craft teacher, and the reason I am able to use the pottery studio at my school, and most importantly my best friend at work) has been summoned away by the voices on high. She has 3 days to completely clean the studio and all of its Tabe art, decorations, and teaching aids. It's a daunting task. Over her years here many students have gifted her their art projects. These gifts adorn every inch of the studio. In slight shock at the news that Thursday and Friday will be my last days of seeing her, and my studio (at least as I have known it), all I can muster is, "I'll help?"
    In relative silence we collect the relics of her years teaching here. She chooses a few that mean the most to her (they'll follow her to her next school), but there are far more than could ever make the trip to her currently unknown next school. So, with pliers, hammers, and other instruments of disaster we deconstruct her collection of art in to suitably sorted piles of recyclabe parts. We save the pottery room for last. There we gather all our students work that is left over. . .

take it out behind the kiln shed,

Tabe the destroyer!
This is only a third of the student's work we smashed.

the aftermath

     and take out our frustration in a duel hammer weilding frenzy. After the dust settles and we've spread the shattered bits evenly about laughter takes us. Inside I'm still smashing things with hammers. We go back and talk about our years together with kids and in the studio. We cram all our work into the electric kiln for one last group bisque fire, and watch as a construction crew crain lifts the old broken down gas kiln away into nothingness (now even the kiln room feels empty). She says she'll come to school and visit me when she can, and reminds me that we live in the same town. I assure her that I'll take her up on her invitation of comming to her house any time to say hello.

     All in all, last weeks ceramics news was somewhat crippling. It is a total system reset. It means getting to know a new craft teacher, probably not teaching any ceramics courses this year, and at least for the moment a severly less agressive studio presence. Tabe sensei apearantly went to university with the genltman who will be taking her spot at school. She says he's brilliant, and claims that she has explained to him that I use the studio and can help the students as well. These are all promissing details, but none the less change (big or small) is difficult, and my school in total lost about 13 incredible teachers. Two of those 13 are English teachers I love working with, and one is my best Japanese friend.
    For now, I have to go and continue to help clean the studio, and say farewells. More will come as I know what the ceramics situation looks like from here. I'll post when I can with updates.
Everything changes, the important thing is how you handle that change. Tabe sensei and I will see eachother again, and even if I am only granted once a week after school studio time it will still be sticking my hands in mud. . . . gratitude for my two plus years of working with her and thoughts of how much she ( and the time she allowed me to have in the studio) helped me to find my love of ceramics throughout my years here are the thoughts I'm trying really hard to focus on.

more soon.

Keep creating friends!

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