A little over two weeks ago, I got another request to go to the School for the Blind. They actually changed the school’s name recently to something that takes like twice as many kanji to write but…”School for the Blind” is easier. ^_^; Anyway, I received a fax from one of the teachers with an unusually detailed lesson request.
One of the classes I’d be teaching was with just two first year students. I’d taught these particular boys before. Both are weak-sighted rather than blind. One really doesn’t like English and makes no effort to speak it. I’ll refer to him as “FF-kun.” The other boy is an average student. I’ll refer to him as “World-kun.”
The last time I taught them, the teacher came to me before class to talk about FF-kun.
Teacher: FF-kun has never spoken English and he’s very shy. But he really loves FF. Do you know FF?
Me: *Internally geeking out* Yes, I love Final Fantasy!
Teacher: If you talk about FF, maybe he will talk to you.
Me: Okay! I’ve got two FF straps on my phone; I’ll take it to class and show them to him.
Since that class, I was told that FF-kun enjoys English class–though he still makes no effort to speak English. ^_^;
By the way, I’m not writing “FF” out of laziness, most people here say 「エフエフ」(“efu efu,” meaning, “FF”) rather than 「ファイナル・ファンタシー」(“fainaru fantashii”, that is, “Final Fantasy”). I admit to me it feels a bit funny to call it “FF” when speaking in English, but, eh, I’ll go with the flow.
So, that was the state of things. The detailed request I got for the upcoming class with FF-kun and World-kun went something like this:
Teacher (by fax): I asked the students what they wanted to study in Eli-sensei’s class. One said he wants to study Final Fantasy. Maybe a matching game, for example, the answer to “Cecil Harvey” would be “A dark knight and captain of Baron’s Red Wings.” The other is interested in “We Are the World.” Could you make a lesson with these?
I never thought I’d see the words “A dark knight and captain of Baron’s Red Wings” in an official fax from a school. ^o^
So, I spent a good amount of time trying to come up with an activity that would combine both things rather than doing two separate activities. I even wrote a post over on my Square-Enix Members page asking fellow FF fans what they thought Final Fantasy and “We Are the World” had in common in hopes that their answers would give me an idea. Before I could answer the teacher though, she sent another fax that was a more finalized lesson plan that allocated time for two activities. So, I figured I’d leave it at that and simply say to the class, “Both FF and ‘We Are the World’ are about helping others and saving the world.” ^o^
I made a handout for the FF matching game, as well as a handout with the lyrics to the new version of “We Are the World” (that is, “We Are the World 25 for Haiti”) with blanks in the latter half of the song so the students would do kikitori (listening comprehension) with it. Here’s a screencap of the FF sheet:
I purposely made some of the descriptions simple physical traits so that World-kun, who wasn’t familiar with FF, could get some of the answers anyway, while throwing in specific details on others so FF-kun could display his knowledge and feel accomplished. I printed it out on regular A4 (8.5 x 11) paper, and the teacher blew it up to A3 (twice as big) to make it easier for the students to see. (As far as I know, my school doesn’t keep paper that big in stock, so I always try to give the teachers at the School for the Blind any materials I make at least a few periods in advance, if not the day before, so they can enlarge them or type them in Braille as need be.)
Yesterday was the actual class. I found out that FF-kun had a disliking not just for English, but school in general. That morning, the teacher told me, he skipped all his classes and came just in time for English class. I was both flattered and worried. ^_^;;;
We actually did the We Are the World activity first out of fear that FF-kun would completely zone out once the FF part was done if we did that one first. So, at first FF-kun was making a show of not participating, but he started listening a little when the following happened after I got done introducing the original version of We Are the World. I asked why the new version was made; they didn’t know, so I told them:
Me: The new version was made to help the people in Haiti after an earthquake hit it in January of this year. Do you know what ‘earthquake’ means?
Me: ‘Earthquake’ is this. *shakes World-kun’s desk*
World-kun: What was that supposed to be?
Me: ^_^; An earthquake…
FF-kun: I think I’ve heard that somewhere…
Me: *Surprised he’s participating* Yes yes yes, it’s in FF! It’s magic! It’s called ‘Quake’!
FF-kun: Oh, it’s that.
Me: So, what does ‘earthquake’ mean?
Me: Yes, that’s right! ‘Earthquake’ is ‘jishin’!
During the song activity proper FF-kun once again participated to the surprise of myself and the JTE.
Once that was done, we moved on to the matching game. I will say that World-kun seemed to find the abrupt shift in activities a bit anticlimactic. ^_^; That’s precisely what I had wanted to avoid by more closely linking the activities, but oh well. It went pretty well though. FF-kun really liked it, and World-kun was able to get some of the answers as planned.
Since the last item on the sheet was “young woman who uses an alias,” FF-kun said, “You find out her real name in Chapter 11.” I asked if he remembered what Lightning’s real name was, and he busted out his FFXIII Scenario Ultimania. (The Ultimanias are books that aren’t just strategy guides, but give in-depth info on the game it covers such as its development process, interviews with the creators, etc.) At the end of class, FF-kun said, “I never thought I’d use this book for a class.” ^o^
I actually haven’t beat FFXIII yet, I don’t have much time to play but I happen to be on Chapter 11 right now. I haven’t gotten to the point where Lightning’s real name is revealed, but I’d seen it already elsewhere. I said so to FF-kun, and he once again went looking in the Ultimania. He told me the upcoming boss was really hard. I told him, “thanks for the warning.” ^o^
I think it’s funny…in general I’ve seen it recommended on various blogs that JET hopefuls not mention their love of anime, manga, or gaming in their JET interview for fear they might be taken for otaku. (“Otaku” in the original, negative sense of the word, not how most of the American fandom uses it.) But I wouldn’t have been able to reach FF-kun if I wasn’t familiar with Final Fantasy. I haven’t played every single FF game out there, not even half of them, but I know enough about them and can be considered at least a casual gamer. Now, of course I didn’t put “Defeated Ruby WEAPON with Cid Highwind at Level 60” on the Achievements section of the JET application; of the “questionable” hobbies I only listed manga on the Interests section, but I wonder if the JET interviewers really have such a negative view of gamers and anime/manga enthusiasts.
In a similar vein, knowing the SoftBank Hawks’ theme song (「いざゆけ若鷹軍団」”Izayuke Wakataka Gundan,” which I wrote about in this older post) has also come in very handy. A few of the students at the School for the Blind are learning to live with not only visual impairments but also other physical, emotional, and learning impediments. One such student is a huge fan of the Hawks and loves that song. The CD player in his homeroom is occupied solely by the CD with that song on it. He’s very shy and runs away from people. The teachers always tried to get him to talk to me, telling him, “Say ‘hi'” or “Say ‘I love the Hawks.'” One time they said, “Sing your favorite song,” and they started singing “Izayuke Wakataka Gundan,” so I started singing along. Since then, the boy doesn’t run away from me, and yesterday even beckoned to me to go to his homeroom during the afternoon break after lunch. He put the CD on so I thought he wanted to sing, but what he wanted was for me and one of his classmates to converse in English while the song played. ^o^
The point of this tangent is that it’s really silly for people to make assumptions about someone based on hobbies that are looked down upon, when those hobbies can yield knowledge that is useful in situations outside of the hobby, even for work. Imagine that. Granted, it would give me a bad impression if someone told me, “I play for 12 hours straight everyday,” or something only slightly less extreme, but why penalize all gamers or anime/manga fans for the “sins” of a few otaku?
Well, to end on a happy note, in conclusion, the FF × We Are the World class went really well. ^o^