Thanks for all your comments. It’s encouraging to see that at least people are starting to talk about the issue.
As you know, Westerners have trouble understanding Japanese ideas about both the role of teachers and the problem of work/life balance, and this story combines the two, so it’s not surprising that we have different ideas about it.
The reality of being a teacher in Japan is that it means you have almost no time to spend with your own kids because you are so busy looking after other people’s. Mind you, I suppose the same thing is true in a lot of other jobs. The problem is that many teachers have to choose between having a career and having a family, and that cannot be a good thing.
In particular, there is a very high turnover of elementary school teachers these days. Many of our female students tell us that they want to teach until they are about 30, and then they want to quit so that they can start a family of their own. Surely it would be better to create a work environment where they could do both.
Anyway, here is some feedback on your comments.
However, if she were in charge of the first-graders, I think she should never be absent!
However, …. , I definitely think she should have attended.
Like she is the only mother for her son, she is the only class teacher for her students, too.
But surely being someone’s mother is a far bigger role than being their teacher! Students will have many teachers in their lives, but they will only ever have one mother.
But in Japanese society, her decision isn’t forgivable,
But in Japanese society, her decision is not acceptable.
I wonder if there weren’t other family members,father or grandparents.
I wonder if there weren’t any other family members who could have gone in her place, such as the boy’s father or his grandparents.
Sorry for bothering.
Sorry for bothering you.
For some reason, I was simply convinced that the story was all about ‘elementary school’!
For some reason, I had assumed that the story was about an elementary school.
Then, the whole story gives me a slightly different impression.
In that case, my views are slightly different.
I read that she’d written a letter to her students and parents apologizing for her absent
… apologizing for her absence
I’m not particularly against teachers to put their families first
I have nothing against teachers putting their families first
She is someone’s teacher but at the same time she is someone’s mother too.
That’s pretty much the view of most Western people, and whichever way you look at it, “mother” trumps “teacher”!
Respondents comments are fifty fifty: about half agreed and half disagreed.
That’s really interesting. I would have expected most Japanese people to criticise her.
I don’t think we have an equivalent of a school ceremony
Hi Kattie, it is difficult to over-stress how much Japanese people love ceremonies. They have them for everything! They even have entrance ceremonies and graduation ceremonies for kindergartens! The only thing even close in the UK would be a university graduation ceremony.
If it were me, I know I would waver a lot!
If it were me, I know that I would find it hard to choose.
If I were her co-worker, I’d rather think how to avoid blame from parents for her.
If I were one of her co-workers, I would rather think of ways to make sure the parents didn’t complain about her.
That’s all for this week. Have a great weekend.