26 Nov 2023
2nd February 2023
JET Spotlight : Will Farr
Dr. Will Farr is an academic, currently a Senior Teaching Associate at Cambridge University, who specializes in autism in education. His career has developed a lot since he was a JET in Tottori in 1998; he sat down with us a discussed some of his best experiences and how it led to his current career.
Will Farr has always been interested in seeking out the experiences of marginalized groups, even when he was on the JET programme.
On one of his days off, he visited "the ethnic minority museum in Osaka, and it was so hard to find. On reflection, that didn't surprise me. But in my home, there was a hamlet with Burakumin, and so I looked out for those kids in school. The local town knew the families, and they were challenged and really marginalized with lots of emotional/ income issues. It was hard. I saw the map in the teacher's office where the area in the town was. It was a clear hamlet."
He went on to say that "The school staff were really on the kid's sides. They were far more social support and social worker-ish in their work than we are here. It worked really well. The pastoral element was really core there."
When asked about his favourite JET memories, he said, "The Shanshan festival in Tottori city, the Umbrella Dance during Obon. Hours and hours of time practicing a couple of dances and then doing it round and round the streets of the city for hours on end fuelled by sake."
How long were you a teacher before going on JET?
"only a couple of years prior had I qualified. But I had a really quick rise and after two years was a KS2 head, IT PE, teacher governor, year 5/6 teacher, and was just spent. My first month of teaching was Ofsted, so it was a birth of fire. So I wanted to do something else with teaching whilst I could. "
How did your career progress after JET?
"Back into teaching, then eventually DHT, AHT, Senco, and finally followed the trajectory of work (special needs) and did an MA, the Ph.D. All mixed with teaching and research. Then, in 2015 met a pediatrician at a garden party and wrote a grant, and never looked back"
Do you have any advice for returning JETs on how to stay involved with Japanese culture?
"Do what I did - just get stuck in. Keep the language going (SOAS in London is great for that, for example, and great to see more AJET involvement in this regard as well). So, Japan Society, AJET, Daiwa Foundation, British Sake Association, and the British Go Association. Stay in contact with friends there. Write letters, mark hatchings, matchings, and dispatchings with friends. It's really important.
And cook! I make a mean tofu now."