A textbook of the Japanese language for kindergarten children lies before me. There are no pictures, no games, no Japanese words in it. Just a hundred pages of an English text and a task: “Translate!”
Several hundred people had gathered at the estate. Most of them were beginning tutors, but several were teachers with an impressive work record. The organizers had accompanied the guests to a large lecture room where the self-same old man in the brown raincoat was waiting for us. He had prepared a lecture on the teachers’ true destination and their inherent powers. The young teachers enthusiastically clapped while the aged teachers skeptically snorted.
“A tutor is a professional pedagogue, a spiritual mediator between the community and the child in his striving to learn the culture accrued by the humanity. This mediator arranges a system of relations through various learning activities, creates conditions for individual expression of each child, and individually adjusts the development of each person.”
I sincerely wished to live up to that definition. But I felt helpless. Can a single teacher, within a limited timeframe and under rigid standards, convey everything that had been acquired over the centuries of titanic efforts of a huge number of people?!
After the lecture, all the guests were offered to take a professional suitability test. Few consented to it, me one of them. Need I say that the test rounded my eyes to the size of tennis balls? Three hundred sixty-five questions on all subjects of the school curriculum in seven languages of the world! Physics and mathematics presented no problem thanks to numerous explanatory drawings and generally accepted symbols. I had to ponder on the subject of geography, chemistry and biology, though some answers were intuitively clear. But the work on texts for bringing out grammatical and historical errors plunged me into depression. There are no ideal teachers in the world who are able to pass that test!
“Do you really think so?” the man in the brown raincoat had read my thoughts. I lowered my eyes in confusion.
“Learn till tomorrow the first three lessons of this book and come by 11.30 for an interview. Only don’t be late!” the old man laid down a textbook of the Japanese language in front of me.