Conohana-san of the Month July edition (Part 2)
In ‘Conohana-san of the Month’, we discuss the experiences of senior researchers who have successfully managed to balance their research/work with life events such as childbirth, child care and family care.
This is the part 2 of the interview with Professor Takashi Nakamura in the Graduate School of Education, and the dean of the Faculty of Education and Human Science. The secret of his somewhat good old (?) soul and gentle aura will be explained by his former job!
◎Introduction of Professor Takashi Nakamura
Specialty: Science Education (Math Department), Mathematical Education
Organizations: Education Practice and Innovation Major (Education Practice and Innovation Course), Graduate School of Education
・In the last interview, you told us what you wish for students who aspire to be teachers, to do in their student days. This time let us hear a little about yourself. You are from the department of education, and majored in mathematics. What made you want to be a math teacher?
Because I love mathematics. (Isn’t that natural?! – lol) I came to know the amusingness of mathematics in the latter years of middle school. So I decided to study Mathematical Education. For me, mathematics is a thought simply expressed. A long description in writing can be expressed here by several letters and signs. Moreover, your thoughts will be understood by people who don’t understand Japanese language. Numbers and signs are universal. So I feel that mathematics is a global common language. This is one of the charms of mathematics.
However, I had not determined to “be a teacher!” at the time of entering university. As a university student, I participated in governmental social educations such as community activities or summer camps for children, and became aware of “lifelong learning”. Until I was a junior, I intended to study pedagogy to get an education-related job.
・I wouldn’t have guessed. I thought you had always aspired to be a teacher. What happened in your junior year?
In that year, I did a practice teaching at an elementary school. Then I found how exciting it was to teach at elementary school! When they become middle school students, they would hide themselves or refrain from expressing their free thoughts, but elementary-school kids are fully open and carefree to show themselves. They would race to raise their hands without knowing what to answer. I liked that recklessness (lol). The work of an elementary- school teacher is not only to teach subjects but also to provide children with various school events, or help them socialize in class or in grade, and observe them growing up from various aspects. I felt it very fascinating, and I decided to be an elementary-school teacher.
・I’ve got it. So you became a teacher after graduating from university. About how long did you work there?
・T..wenty one years?! For such a long time?
Exactly. It may seem a long period, but it was such enjoyable work! I made the kids turn in “Study reports” after each class of mathematics (I still treasure them!). At first it was for me to evaluate my own teaching, but the reports became a chronology for me to check my weaknesses in teaching objectively. They also let me notice the kids’ gradual changes. This is a part of “Subject pedagogy”, which is my specialty. Doesn’t this sound interesting? To me, it is quite intriguing. I’ve kept in contact with some of those kids, and recently, thanks to Facebook, I became able to contact with other kids after a break of ten to twenty years. This is exciting. Now some of them have their own kids in elementary schools, which gives us animated topics to talk about their elementary-school days. This is an important human network for me. To enjoy personal connections for such a long time and have a good time with them must be one of the charms of being an elementary-school teacher.
・It is wonderful to share topics and keep relationship beyond generations. But now you are teaching at university, it means that you left elementary school job you loved so much. What in the world made you quit teaching at elementary school?
My old teacher advised me to do so. He is a person who experienced teaching at elementary/middle/high schools, and university. When I told him that being an elementary school teacher was very interesting, he agreed with me saying “Yes, it is interesting and rewarding. But if you feel that way, don’t you feel a sense of mission to communicate your findings to future teachers?” His words were persuading to me. I came to feel like disseminating what I learned from my job is what was really rewarding. I was deeply impressed by the words of my old teacher, and decided to teach at university. Because of that, we had to move out from Tokyo where we lived for a long time. Then my daughter, she was in the third year of middle school, asked me “What is the reason that you quit your job you always said you liked it a lot?” I explained to her that I wanted to teach how wonderful the vocation was because I truly knew it… I was impressed by how she had been grown up, too.
・That was it. You also had built a good relationship with your family since your daughter had understood how you felt about your work.
Even now I participate in periodical study of schooling (a group study of teaching method and others, visiting and observing at real elementary schools, together with the teachers from various schools) and on rare occasions, I am specially allowed to teach a class. Yes, it is definitely enjoyable!
・Professor is really into the vocation of teaching. Lastly, tell us something you feel about the students nowadays.
Well, I’m a little worried that the students nowadays are too righteous. They study too seriously (this may be controversial to those who are concerned.) In my student days we were more carefree, or society might have been more casual. I hope that students play more to learn more. Learning is not only from the curriculum, but also from part-time jobs, circle activities, volunteer activities, etc., and from getting involved with people in many ways. Student days are precious because such experiences are available. I want
them fulfil their university life by all means, and I’m committed to support them.
One more thing, I’d like to suggest the teachers now working think of an option to be a faculty member. Experienced teachers are important to cultivate young would-be teachers. The Graduate School of Education of this university has many practicing teachers who have unique teaching methods, and they are striving for educational research. I hope that this story will also be good information to you.
Here is website of Yamanashi University Graduate School of Education.
Please check it out→
・Listening to the things that one really enjoys makes us also happy♪ Thank you very much for a good time!