Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Blackboard Demon

Eight hundred and eighty-nine days have passed since my return from years of life in Japan and even now a random notion or sight of some small mikado-like doodad plunges me suddenly back again into memories and yearnings for Tokyo. Time perhaps has the power to erase many things but if that be true the process is delayed in my case.

Several days ago a friend in Tokyo sent me a movie made by the students in his tenth grade homeroom class at Kôsei Gakuen, a private junior-senior high school of all boys. In writing to me, Ken explained that his students made the movie specially for the annual cultural festival held over one weekend in September. The simple mention of this festival was enough to set my mind overflowing with a thousand images of those yearly festivals, events I attended dozens of times and in some cases participated in. Chocolate covered bananas, haunted houses, paper plates loaded with noodles or hot dogs, rock bands, art exhibits, concerts, and for one weekend students free to die their hair, wear hip hop fashions and get a little wild, with no harm done. This sort of autumn festival is a long tradition for all schools in Japan, kindergarten to university and provides students with an opportunity to show off their school to family and friends. It also provides a financial bonus for the student council, since a portion of all earnings from sales of food and drink are funneled into the council’s treasury. But the best part about these festivals is that students do every bit of the planning, preparation, shopping and management on their own, with only small advice and guidance from the teachers.

The movie below is student made from start to finish and probably was not too difficult for what their teacher calls ‘digital natives.’ You’ve heard it before—fifteen year-olds these days can do anything with computers and cameras. Take a look at the movie made by the students of tenth grade class 1-B at Kôsei Gakuen.

At the 1:28 time mark, you will see five lines of Japanese writing narrated by one of the students. He is giving the viewer an intro to the story, in English something like… 
‘Seeing a stick figure suddenly appear on the blackboard, a student peels the figure off, crumples it up and throws it away, but the figure returns as a vengeful devil and attacks the student.’

Have a look. The setting is in the classroom, hallways and area outside. It offers a very good look at the typical Japanese classroom, hallways and student uniforms.


  1. The movie was fun, enjoyable and entertaining. The language was universal! Seeing these students using their creative talents brings back fond classroom memories. These boys should be proud of their product but more importantly, proud of themselves for such good work!
    Bill, I know that you must miss your work. It looks like it would have been very fulfilling.
    Thank you for sharing, Karen

  2. This is wonderful stuff: creative, entertaining, and done with such humor. A great example that teaching should involve so much more than the traditional methods so often used in the classroom. No doubt doing this film taught the students organization and working together, creating story, and the practical application of actually getting the product on film and conveying the endeavor through images and background music. From someone far away, a deep bow to all the students involved. Bravo! Bravo!

  3. This was an excellent production and I'm sure they are pleased with their success. The story is understandable even though I didn't understand the language. I can understand that this brought back memories of your years teaching. It would be interesting to know how these students succeed in their future. A great post.

  4. Loved the movie. You guys did a great job! I thought I knew a bit about digital videos, but there are parts of that movie that blew me away. I'm scratching my head wondering how you did it. Your creativity and ingenuity far surpass your years. Bill, thank you for giving us an opportunity to share such a fun video. And guys, your choice of music was terrific, especially One Direction and Black Eyed Peas. You've taught me a very valuable lesson - I will NEVER remove a stick figure from anything, anywhere - I'll just wish it well and walk away!

  5. Yes, time tends to wash away all the 'bad memories' and only the good ones remain. In my case, not much time has passed, but that's so true.

    I taught those boys when they were jr. high students. Some of them for three years, and others just for one year. Speaking frankly, I had a hard time with them in my classroom. To say the least, they were not easy students. However, on the last day of my teaching career, they voluntarily asked their homeroom teachers to make an opportunity to say goodbye and thank you to me. In front of all the students, one representative student made a short speech and gave me group efforts written by all of them. That was definitely one of the most unforgettable moments for me.

    Now I've quit teaching, and, from a distance, I see them developing their talents like this filmmaking, which is a pure joy. I'd like to keep a warm eye on their growth.

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About Me

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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America