Tattooing is the most misunderstood art form in Japan today. Looked down upon for centuries and rarely discussed in social circles, people with tattoos are outcasts in this country, banned from most public spaces such as beaches, bathhouses, and even gyms. Tattoos have an extensive history in Japan, and to truly understand the stigma behind them it is essential to be aware of their significance. The first records of tattoos...Read More
By Marta Guevara, TGS Teacher
We’re Not In School Yet?
A group of teachers and students sat in my room as we discussed a number of “girl” topics. As our conversation started to expand to a more general discussion, one of our students remarked, “my friends are home have been asking me if we have started school yet, but I keep telling them we even haven’t SEEN the school.”
I waited for a moment and paused. All the teachers in the room looked at one another, and asked, “Haven’t we?”
In the past four days, students have said goodbye to friends and family to join a group of complete strangers. Some of them have traveled for thousands of miles, and changed multiple time zones to join us. At the age of 14/15 they’ve taken a leap into adulthood, and chosen to start developing their independence and self-reliance.
Aren’t we in a classroom when we walk the streets of a foreign country where most of us don’t speak the language? They can’t read and understand street signs, climate is radically different to what they’re used to, smells around them have no memories attached to them, even sirens sound differently, …
For three days now, they’ve been given iPhones, and asked to use them at all times. They’ve had to take pictures, learned how to use Spot, have been informed that their work will be open for everyone in the world to see. For some of them, much of this technology is completely new. For others, they’ve been asked to start pushing the limits of what they’re comfortable with, and start downloading new apps and experimenting with the information they’re compiling as they walk down a street, the woods, a metro station.
Our students have engaged in team building exercises in the woods under pouring rain. Two hours later they greeted me once again laughing and joking about the activities they had just enjoyed. They’ve been interviewed by specialists to determine how best we can meet their personal needs and learning styles.
Willingly, they were up early before breakfast to join a teacher on a morning walk of the city. They volunteer to do dishes and help in the kitchen. Without any complaint, they’ve gobbled up healthy meals since they’ve already learn they need energy and not comfort food. They have explored and taken pictures in various locations in Stockholm. They have been open to trying different foods. Such as the vegetarian restaurant where they realized …it wasn’t so bad after all!
And everyday the list continues…
True we haven’t been inside a classroom. We haven’t given them textbooks, but… are you sure school hasn’t started yet?