So far, I've talked about teaching in Japan. I've barely mentioned why I want to teach in Japan, or what I want to do afterward. I did briefly mention starting my own English school, which I'll elaborate on a bit here. First, though, let's start with why.
Why do I want to teach English in Japan? There are many minor reasons that add up, as well as a deeper reason. First, I enjoyed teaching when I was back in graduate school. I taught the same class three times per semester for two years. I also taught a second, full 15-week course twice. I had a rather weak start (my first class had me shaking and ended after only 15 minutes) but a much stronger finish. I really found my voice over those two years. I was still nervous, but handled it MUCH better.
Second, I enjoy learning. Going deep into a single field, to me, will eventually become boring. I have a wide variety of interests, as frequently mentioned on this blog. This is why I continue to learn about anything that interests me. And that's why teaching children draws me in: I have to constantly learn to be able to improve how effective I am. Yes, I know every field is like that to an extent, but working with children is slightly different: with young kids, you draw, read books, play games, sing, play music instruments, put on plays, and talk about a variety of topics. I need to continuously improve myself on a variety of fronts to excel.
Third, I have an interest in Japan. This interest developed fairly recently, and I can't pinpoint just when, but it's there and isn't going away. I have an interest in the language, cuisine, culture, gardening, history, and geography of the country. I can't even say that about my own country. Yes, entering a different culture, especially one as different as Japan's, will give me a fair amount of culture shock no matter how much I learn about it. But I don't care. I know I can adapt. I know it'll be fun. I know I'll keep my interest.
Fourth, I enjoy children and helping them grow mentally. There is so much potential in a single child that it is awe inspiring. It's a shame that so very few even attempt to reach for a fraction of it. Humanity would be so much better off if we could better show the children of the world what the future can hold, if they but reach for it. So many of us waste years of our lives doing activities of zero importance. I'm not talking about boring work that needs to be done. I'm talking about the 400 games of Freecell I've played in the past month. I may have won all of them, but it did not do much of anything for me. You don't even have to make life boring to get a progressive advantage. You just need to give them incentive that makes them want to do it for their own sakes. This even works with adults. Give us a reason to recycle that is easy and we will recycle like crazy.
Finally, and the deeper reason, is that children are the future. I know that sounds hokey, but think about it. That three year old across the street could one day cure a disease, stop a war, start a war, invent something so amazing that even my overactive imagination cant think of it... English is the de facto international language. No one person or nation decided this, it just is. And it will be for a while. Teaching children English gives them more opportunities to do something amazing. And out of all of the countries out there, Japan is the one with the greatest potential. I'm not talking about technology or wealth. I'm talking about their ability to adapt another culture's social, economic, and technical ideas into their own and make it work. Not many other cultures do it nearly as well as them.
Are these good reasons? I don't know. But they work for me. I'm going to Japan. I'm going to teach English to young children. I'm going to help them reach more of their potential.
So what do I want to do after I have some teaching experience? If my sojourn works out well, I hope to eventually open my own English school. This would give me more control over how I teach, so I can take the best practices and apply them in the classroom. I don't know the details of what I'll do, I want to gain more experience first and see how much I enjoy it, but I want to create an immersive environment. I want kids to have a place where they can act like they were Americans, not to spread the 'awesomeness' of America, but to give them a chance to apply what they learn. I have a lot of small ideas that I hope to build up into a legacy.
If things work out, do I want to spend the rest of my life in Japan? I don't know. I do want to keep a foot in both countries. I also have a lot of family here in the States that I can't just leave behind. forever. Time will tell about the details, but I see Japan as a big part of my future.