Welcome to My Homepage
My name is Manabu Sannohe. My nickname is “Gaku-chan,” reading the charcter of my first name in Chinese-style. I was born with a disability called cerebral palsy. I’m called “a severely disabled” by the Japanese societal/administrative standards. I’m a teacher at a public junior high school since April 2001. I stand – or I shall say “sit” as I do sit in a chair while I teach – in front of the class to teach math.
I interact with my students as myself. Although I have a disability, my heart is not cloudy. I have a mountain of things that I want to convey to my students. I now spend my schoollife and my time in classes with my dear students.
This year is my 8th year of my career as a teacher. I enjoy being a teacher as I have become used to the school where I work now and am surrounded by good colleagues. As I continue to build up many experiences, my dream will remain unchanged: “I want to be an advocate who speak for the junior high school students with whom I share time and space.”
Through my homepage, you’ll see me as a person who I am. I hope that you will feel and gain something by visiting my homepage.
Please enjoy my website, “The Gaku-chan World.” I cherish opportunities to meet new people. I hope that my life will be expanded as I get to meet various people through this homepage.
My dream is important to me. I think it was because I held strongly onto the dream to become a teacher that I could make it come true upon my third attempt. When I became wanting to become a junior high school teacher and thus began taking the Teacher Employment Examination, most had difficult opinions about my attempt. For example, “If you want to be a teacher, just keep taking the exam as long as the age requirement allows,” someone told me. And others also said things like “Why don’t you try becoming a teacher of a special school rather than a junior high school?” and “It would probably be a difficult challenge for you as disabled teachers have been close to none in the past…”
I think all of those words reflected generous considerations toward me. However, I did not believe that it was such a reckless challenge and so I just tried my best working toward my own dream. It was not like I had a luxury of many advantages, but rather I struggled and managed to cultivate my path thanks to the help I got from many people.
Lately, I am drawn
to table-tennis. I first saw an advertisement of a disabled table-tennis class
hosted by the city of
September 2000, I won a gold medal in the cerebral palsy class at “Akita
Physical Education Competition for the Physically Disabled.” It was my first
time to participate in a sports competition and to feel the lively excitements
of the games. In the next year then, I made an entry into “The 1st
National Sports Competition for the Disabled in Miyagi.” It was 2 wins and 2
losts, and I won a bronze. It was a regrettable competition for me. In 2007, I
once again participated in “The 7th National Sports Competition for
the Disabled in
I greatly enjoy playing table-tennis. It makes me feel good. I would like to keep playing and get better at it. “Table-tennis” has become my new dream. I want to challenge and see how far I can go, even though it will be a start from nothing.
I would like my students to have dreams and to live up to them. Then, I as a teacher shall demonstrate such an attitude to the students – I want to convey the message myself.
Miwako Sekihara, a free writer, has written about me and published a book “Cheer up! Gaku-chan-sensei – A story of challenge of a junior high school teacher with cerebral palsy” (Shogakukan) in 2003. And in 2008, I published my very first book “My vector: Don’t give up the dream” (Graph-sha).
It was perhaps because of these activities that I have won “The 1st Renaissance of Japanese Education Award” in August 2008. The three award recipients including myself were presented the award at the opening ceremony of the Education Summer Festival 2008 (an event hosted by the Renaissance of Japanese Education with the support from the Yokohama City Board of Education). Mr. Hideo Kageyama, the chairman of the Renaissance of Japanese Education, presented me a certificate and a trophy. “I hope teachers like you will play an active part in schools more and more,” hesaid. The three reasons of my winning the award included:
¨ To give teachers and the prospect of education a hope by, despite the disability, overcoming the handicapps of disability, developing original teaching materials, and teaching classes creatively.
¨ To serve as an educational model for the students in the aspect of societal activities by participating and achieving good results at sports competitions for the disabled.
¨ To make efforts to convey educational messages through the publication of “Cheer up! Gaku-chan-sensei – A story of challenge of a junior high school teacher with cerebral palsy” (Shogakukan) and “My vector: Don’t give up the dream” (Graph-sha).
These reasons for the award pushed my back. It gave me a confidence that there were some people who appreciated my educational policy. As a teacher, it was an honor to be recognized.
Now I once again strengthen my determination that I devote my life as an educator pursuing my original mission to teach math to the junior high school students. I envision becoming a teacher to whom students I taught will say, “Thanks to you, thanks to learning math from you, I learned a lot.” A teacher can make big effects on a human being. I intend to teach math to my students while I am well aware of such influential power of a teacher.
I have disability in my speech. You can understand me once you get accustomed to it. However, giving a class is different from mere conversation. My students must be able to understand mathematical contents by listening to my explanation. If they cannot understand my speech, they will not be able to learn math. The fact that my students do learn math in my class may mean that they are acquiring great skills besides math as well.
In addition, I cannot draw straight lines using a ruler. Although I practiced a lot, I have found it difficult to stable a T square with my right hand while I draw a line with my left hand. So I decided not to use rulers altogether. Instead, I draw lines free hand. My lines of course will not be exactly “straight” but rather be shaky ones but I say to my students, “You draw straight lines using rulers.” The students are good with it. Although, occasionally some may say, “What does a straight line look like, teacher? Draw and show it to us.”
I thought that I could try to solve a problem when it did arise, such as my free-hand written lines somehow make it harder for students to understand the class. I also teach lessons on figures by this style. As I say “Look at this square,” I refer to a figure that cannot really be a square. I guess it is okay as long as students do not say “I don’t understand” (or not…).
It was particularly hard to draw a circle. Typically it’s drawn using a pair of compasses. I cannot use typical compasses in my class, so I ask the class, “Is there anyone who can draw a circle on a blackboard for me?” I thought this had to be my way, although inside of myself, I desired to be able to draw a circle myself and to surprise my students. When I was looking through a catalogue of math teaching materials, a pair of compasses caught my eyes. It gave me a slightest hope that I might be able to draw a circle on my own… I showed the catalogue to one of my colleagues and said, “I cannot draw a circle with a typical pair of compasses, but wth these…?” “Yeah, why don’t you try it?” he encouraged me. The compasses that caught my mind had magnet on the back so they can attach on the blackboard. Set a desired radius, hold a chalk, move my hand around, and there, I could draw a circle.
In one class, I tried my compasses for the first time. I attached the compasses on the blackboard, held a chalk, moved my arm around, and I could draw a circle by myself. At that moment, I felt like I overcame a barrier that I faced as a math teacher. I remember that I felt confident. My students too were excited as if it were their own successes.
For my class, I prepare some learning cards by choosing key words, printing them out individually on a computer, laminating each card, and put magnetic stripes on its back. I use those cards at the summative phase of the class as well as during the time when I review previous lessons. I used to make those cards using thick construction papers, but I figured they quickly became worn-out when they were used frequently. So I decided to laminate each card so it would be more durable.
As a teacher, I have not experienced having my own class. I hope to be a classroom teacher just like others. My colleagues do have their own classes, so why can’t I? I think it is because I have a disability. What prevents my desire to become a classroom teacher from being realized? I sense that it is people’s attitudes. My being able to have my own classroom is one way to embody inclusive education. Inclusive education should not only be an educational philosophy but also mean to build up concrete practices around you.
My motto is: With my students. With my colleagues. With everyone.
My favorite word “with” represents my wish; I want to live with you.
Please feel free to leave your message on the message board or send me emails if you have encouragements and supportive messages for me.
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