Saturday, February 21, 2015

Final comment on my MA

The last 5 months have been the most nerve-wracking time of my life. But all my efforts and achings paid off: I got M.A degree with distinction (meaning honor I think). Oddly enough, my emotional roller coaster reached the top when I sent the dissertation to my university in the UK. So, when I got the result with an honorable award, I felt strangely calm. I felt the sense of achievement and self-indulging excitement only when I announced the result on Facebook and received numerous warm comments from my friends.

At the moment, I've been thinking what's next while my daughter is doing her best to get into the high school she would like to be for the next three years and my partner is doing his best to get a PhD. I'm not anxious about their results. I'm sure they will get what they deserve and they deserve what they wish to have. Perhaps this is what I've learned from MA course. I don't need to worry what I get because I deserve what I deserve anyway. Lots of luck with supports will follow when you can imagine what you need to do and do the best you can. So, here is the path of success of your goal:

1 Dream.
2 Imagine how you get the dream come true.
3 Do it!

DID will get you what you desire eventually. When my daughter was the first grader in a primary school, I had only the Japanese high school diploma. As my daughter is about to become 10th grader this spring, I have a master's degree in TESOL. It is quite an achievement for a lazy and dreamy mum like myself. I have been a dreamer ever since I was born. I can easily imagine something, but I never had steadfast determination to realize the dreams until I had this beautiful baby and the sense of responsibility.

The first challenge was to quit smoking when I conceived my daughter. I dreamed to have a healthy baby, imagined how I could quit smoking and did it. Her presence in my belly got the steadfast determination to achieve this goal. I was a heavy smoker (Three packs a day: a chain smoker) and it wasn't an easy job.

The second challenge was to get a driver's license within the minimum amount of time and cost when my daughter was 2. I dreamed places where I can go with my baby in a car, imagined how I could get the license within a few months and did it. Driving skill is, by the way, one of the most useful skills a mum can have since there are many more occasions than you can ever imagine when you need to get to a certain place (for instance, the hospital) as fast as possible desperately.

The third challenge came to my mind when she entered a primary school. While I was nagging her to do her best at school, I thought to myself,  "I should go back to school and do my best if I tell her to do so." It took me one year to get all the required documents and put myself together. I enrolled in a university to get my BA degree through corresponding course, as my daughter became a second grader. I dreamed to graduate the uni as she graduates her primary school, imagined how to get all the credits by then and did it.

Then the latest challenge came right after the third as my daughter entered a junior high. This time I was more interested in how far I could go on the academic ladder. I dreamed to be awarded MA in the UK, imagined how to work on it and did it. This time, my daughter didn't motivate me in a direct manner, yet her constant criticism and rebellious behavior brought my unyielding spirit. With lots of support from my friends and family, I was able to maintain my determination.

Now it's my daughter's turn to realize her goal and she's shown me how mature and wise she has become. Her spirit inspires me to set a new goal. I can't fully imagine how I pull it off yet. But when I do, you know I will do it :-)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A book of messages.

This morning, I saw my daughter struggling to go to school. I know the face with a little anxiety and less motivation. She had it when she had a tough time at the beginning of this year. I asked her if she was ok and she nodded in a way she wasn't. There is not much I can do to help her except to hope that she would be strong enough to go through one of the most complex period time of her life, especially in the age of 15 before the entrance exam to a high school. The air at school must be intense and everyone gets edgy. I can only imagine how insecure and nervous she feels now because of the uncertainty of the future ahead of her. It seemed impossible to face and deal with the tests you have to take in the school days. It is precious when it's over, but when you are in the middle of it, you want to escape from the stress from time to time. Perhaps she was in such a pessimistic state of mind this morning. I felt the heaviness in the air around her. After sending her off to school, I came to a cafe and talked with one of my dearest friends in Canada via Skype chat for a few hours about my worries and our future projects. I felt calmer and positive after having a nice chat with him. MCU. his nickname)

Then I decided to plan for the Halloween party with kids. While I was searching for a book to share for the occasion with kids on Amazon, I found two new books that Momo's favorite author, Naoko Maehashi, published. A book has been one of a means to communicate with her heart. I've been telling her an important message when I get it borrowing other's voice via words of a book. Since this author's words touch her heart the most effectively, I hope this book also talk to her well, reminding her how rebellious and unbeatable her soul is. Momo has learned so many lessons from books, especially Children's literature and the ability to connect with words in the deepest sense is one of her gifts. 

While I was struggling with my own matters, I might have missed the signs she sent to me for supports. My words from the mouth might not comfort her enough but I am sure the books will do the job. It is a gift for me to hear reviews of books she read. I look forward to sitting down at a cafe with her and listen to her interpretation of the books. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Final stage of M.A. Mama

This blog has been inactive since the last post in March: I’ve been through one of the most critical phases of my life. The good news is it’s been educational and rewarding in terms of my personal and professional development.

Personally, I have had a breakthrough or a Eureka moment as a mum. As my daughter, Momo decided to go to a public school from her private school, my role as one of the decision-makers of her life to a financial sponsor of her project, called life. This radical shift was more nerve-wracking and challenging than I’ve imagined. I have no idea how many times I bite my tongue, literally. Whenever she looked disturbed, I had to look away to make myself zip this interfering mouth. Whenever she says her troubles aloud, I needed to tell myself not to give her any responses in my own perspectives before she reaches her won response to the issue at hand. Oh, how simple my motherhood was a few years ago in Momo’s pre-teen era. Her troubles mean her demands for my help. Within this asymmetrical relationship I can always feel powerful queen of justice and compassion. I can indulge in the role, feeling like a VIP of the entire universe.
But as soon as the little girl entered self-realizing phase of her life, she started developing critical thinking skill, which denies any interferences of her own thinking process. It was so fast development that I couldn’t follow and because of the mental gap between the mum and the daughter, constant conflicts occurred. It was the daughter who brought the concord within the conflict by stating the declaration of her independence. She even clearly stated the obligations as a parent, I must follow, including the human rights to be protected and cared physically and mentally in terms of the UN convention ( “Who told you this?” was my question to the statement and her answer was, of course, “You did.” Indeed, I learn things in a hard way.

Professionally, I finally reached the last stage of my MA course: Dissertation. Luckily, I had enough time and supports to complete the first draft of my dissertation in the first week of August 2014. I started to feel hopeful to turn in the paper in November 2014 instead of April 2015, which is much earlier than the plan I’ve made in the first module. It depends on the meeting I will have with my tutor at the end of this summer: She might suggest so many revisions.
This thesis is a portfolio of my work in the MA course and a gateway of my life as a teacher/ researcher in the field of TEYL.

The parallel personal and professional development in the couple of months transformed and empowered me as a member of “World society” (

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.