Thursday, March 27, 2014



As soon as I held my little baby in my arm on the night she was born, I experienced something I've never felt. Perhaps it was "LOVE". Unconditional one. As the little girl grows older, my expectations grow as well. "She can be something and changes the world." Whatever she did in her childhood was a  miraculous progress to me and formed my belief that she would make a beautiful butterfly. As she marched into her teenage era, suddenly my perception towards her was questioned. My little girl started acting out in a way that I had never seen, trying to rip off the colors and patterns I have painted on her wings. Panic came in. My Project - Get her back on the "right track"- launched. What I failed to remember was she was a different person from myself, although she carries some gene from both of her biological parents. She is a beautifully complex human-being who has unique characteristics and is capable of being responsible for her choices. It took me a year to really realize what she needs, wants and her potentials. I knew this kind of humanistic perspective and studied in my research paper. It has also been my philosophy for everything I do. But I was trapped with the blindness of socially constructed "rightness" of parenting. But this type of discipline tends to be conditional. By definition, Love should be unconditional, but my actions and words towards my daughter contradicted my belief. I tried to stop her before she stumbled without knowing how my supports deprive her of developing her potential. While I struggled to put her in the perceived rightness of mine, she suffered and lost all the motivations to live as who she was. We were stuck in a socially constructed box of rightness and almost choked to death.

The good news of human tendency is when you are in the darkness, instinctively you search for the light. And I knew from my experiences, my experienced mum friends are the light to reach. So I did.
By some of big slaps on my silly face, my senses came back and started breathing again. With the opened up senses, I managed to listen to my daughter's current voice. It wasn't fully convincing or the best  choice under her circumstances, yet it was her choice.  "I don't want to go to the private high school. I want to go to a public high school in this city."

My inner dialog had been just too ugly to publish. It was as if two characters fight within myself: Maternal instinct vs Socially constructed right parenthood. But fortunately the feeling I held her in my arms for the first time, the maternal instinct prevailed. Thanks to all of my friends for offering the insightful comments and the courage I needed to say, "Oh-oh. I was wrong It is not my job to color and paint her wings".

From the moment I admitted my error, I was quick enough to call all the institutions and experts to support my daughter's decision. From April, my daughter will wear a different uniform and goes to a local junior high school. I don't know if this is the "right" move or not. Besides, any radical reformations take a bit of the aches. She might have to suffer from the different types of aches. But avoiding errors and aches does not resolve anything. In fact, it numbs the youthful hearts and souls leaving them only colorless life. By giving a freedom to make errors and experience aches, the youth may come out from their cocoons and become uniquely beautiful butterflies.

What I wish to see is the day when my daughter flies away like a butterfly, whatever the colors and patterns she may chose to wear.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Notes for a story to make with my young learners.

I've been pondering about an idea, a series of short episode of a Japanese girl. Her findings through her innocent and curious eyes. Her name can be Momo and her pet cat named, Brownie from its color. Perhaps one little boy, Morrie moved in her suburban town in Tokyo from the UK. Each episode, Momo and Morrie learn something about their differences and their remembrance. Brownie always joins their mental and physical journey as a mediator as the nature represents.

Episode 1  New neighbour
Episode 2  New mate
Episode 3 At the park
Episode 4 At the supermarket
Episode 5 Lunch time
Episode 6 At school
Episode 7 Sleep over
Episode 8 The Secrets
Episode 9 The bullies
Episode 10 The diary

Each episode requires some things to decide like the main character hobbies, friends' names, families and their names, ages, works and hobbies. I can ask the kids to decide these details and make this story a collaborative work!

Oh, I will start drawing the characters :-)

Friday, March 14, 2014

Why do we read?: Empathy

The title of the article says "Why should we read?" but my puzzle is, "Why do we read?". My daughter has become a bookworm and nicknamed, Kinko after a Kinjoro Minomiya who is famous as an intensive and extensive reader ( She was addicted to stories and always carry a book in her hand wherever she went before iPhone era. She still reads, but book addiction has shifted to online addiction. Some may argue she still reads a lot of texts online and it is just a matter of different platform to read- from Physical book to digital ones. But I have been wondering if it is the case. My heart tells me that these are absolutely different experiences. There is some kind of magic to the reading with physical books, but I couldn't say articulately what it is. This article with scientific researches did the job for me. It is the depth of reading. The simple paper and ink nothing else invites you to the world of stories, the collaborative work of storytelling with the author of the book. It takes your mind to live in the story. The simplicity of the physical books allows you to have the space to be as creative and imaginative as you can be. Within the space or the entity, you become a co-author of the story. But such reading takes some time and space to be immersed.  In the fast-paced and instant online world, the depth and freedom of the mind will most likely suffer in order to catch up the speed and distracted by so many other stimuli.

The human race has a fairly long history and evolved constantly. But for a simple minded person like myself, a deep thinking process requires simplicity of a physical book and inner dialogue with its author. Without such a deep thinking process, some feelings such as empathy that requires vivid imagination and sensitivity to all your senses can't be developed. Without empathy, your sentiments are paralyzed and become edgy and abusive at worst.

In the children's conversation, I often hear those abusive words are exchanged so casually and frequently. I wonder how you can feel someone else's aches  and how you can live in peace and harmony with others without empathy.

Yesterday I got one of bestseller books about a high school girl who transformed from F student to A+ and entered Keio university, one of prestigious academic institutions in Japan. On the journey from the bottom to the top, she met some inspiring literature and a teacher and realized her potential and acquired empathy. Now this book is in my daughter's hand who is standing at a crucial time of her life. I am sure this story resonates with her and inspires her to hear her true voice.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

A note before writing the last chapter of MA Mama.

Back in 2011, I was skeptical if I would be able to enroll the TESOL master's course at Aston. To my surprise, I got enough overall score in IELTS in the first attempt. With a little mistake in paper work, my enrollment became official in April, 2012. By July in 2012, I managed to pass the foundation module which was the first introductory module of the course. By March in 2013, I passed the second module which was the most challenging one for me, Methodology with so many struggling. Passing this module accelerated my motivation to complete the third module, the most unfamiliar one, Written and Spoken Discourse Analysis. With so many helping hands and minds, I completed the paper by  October, 2013. Having written two research papers in one year got me a wild aim to complete the third one. Due to the familiarity of the module, Teaching Young Learners, I could achieve the challenging goal. As soon as I completed the third research paper, I registered the fifth module, The Course and Material Design in January, 2014. And today, I have received an official letter from Aston which notifies me that I have earned 80 credits. I got two months to write the last module assignment and the  dissertation awaits for me to nail down.
As I have said so many times, this is the biggest academic challenge for me to pursue. What I have learned so far and insights to worth sharing is that even a mediocre person like myself with no particular  talent might be able to achieve something unimaginable with determination and lots and lots of helping hands from brilliant minds. I haven't gotten the degree yet, but the journey so far has been full of unexpected discoveries. I got a feeling that I would find more of myself at the end of this journey regardless of the outcome. Of course, I would love to write the last chapter with successful ending, but I have no question that it will be a happy one.