Out of the Mouth of Babes!
By Miss Brigitte (my name as a teacher in Japan)
There’s one thing that doesn’t change no matter the time or the place and that’s children: their love of life, their curiosity to ask the most important questions, and their ability to be courageous, leaving what lies behind and reaching for what lies ahead – the joy of a new day!
After 31 great years of teaching in primary and middle schools for Education Queensland, I chose to take on such views. I resigned; I studied for 6 months, then I headed to Japan, a country my son, an avid snowboarder, had often raved about: its stunning beauty, its startling uniqueness, and its generous, welcoming people. A new learning horizon dawned.
Certainly, it wasn’t easy to step away from a secure job, a stable home life, and living close to my loving son who had finished his air-conditioning and refrigeration apprenticeship and was working full-time. However, my desire to be curious and courageous like the children I had taught for so many years, was strong, and I thankfully did follow my heart and their encouragement, to go on such an adventure as this: to live and work in a country far away – Japan.
Before applying for a teaching job in Japan, I thought I’d do well to study, in depth, the teaching of English as a second language so I enrolled in a three-month CELTA course at the University of Queensland at Saint Lucia. It was wonderful to meet other people keen for an overseas adventure. In addition, it was great to refresh and deepen my knowledge of the English language and to learn more strategies for teaching this challenging language.
In addition to children’s encouragement in all things courageous, I also learned to value very highly another trait that surprisingly goes well with courage, and that’s humility. As I soon discovered, it is one thing to teach a language but another thing entirely to learn a second language yourself! Inspired, I began studying Japanese. With success in my sights came hard work, and as my knowledge and skills increased, so did my growth in character, commitment and casting away of pride.
In the process of learning a second language, I was also practicing the courage to speak, and the humility to use mistakes positively. Not only did my Japanese language skills grow but my character was being painfully yet beneficially stretched. Certainly, this language learning venture, along with the many other challenges that came with living in a new country, has given me even more empathy for the learning journey of others, and particularly the children I teach.
After teaching children for so many years in Australia and in Japan, I am grateful for the many things I learn from them: their love of life, their curiosity, and their courage to want to learn. However, most of all, I am learning to understand and respect the perspective of the learner, the challenges they face, and the encouragement they need for success. My life in Japan has without a doubt helped me to keep this perspective fresh, and I know it has equipped me further to tune into the learner’s needs and better assist them to reach their goals.
Most importantly, I am glad to heed what I hear out of the mouth of babes; it is definitely the wisdom I continue to enjoy. Last year, due to the COVID pandemic, I chose to take up yet another venture, to return to Springwood, Australia, and enjoy living close to my son and his family.
Furthermore, I look forward to more learning opportunities alongside children and adults as I start my new business – Tutoring Toward Excellence.
For tutoring enquiries, please contact me by phone on 0421 877 705 or email firstname.lastname@example.org