Dear Philip, I hope you can to publish this letter in your postbag section for public access.
I have enjoyed reading your website for its informative and helpful advice for years not to mention its useful jobs section. However, I think you are doing a disservice to teachers by allowing your website to be used by institutions that promote age discrimination when they advertise for English teachers.
Surprisingly, a respected top university in Thailand was one of the first to promote this kind of blatant prejudice against teachers. Someone there has decided for some reason that anyone over 50 is braindead and incapable of teaching English to undergraduates! Usually teachers at this age are experts in their profession and are quite capable of working for at least another 10 years. I can understand why a profit orientated language school would prefer to hire cute young studs or pretty gals to entertain their students and get them to keep signing up for another course as they are in the business of edutainment. In developed countries with just labour laws it would be unacceptable for an institute of higher learning to publicly discriminate against older teachers. So why is this happening in Thailand?
An institute of higher learning ought to act as a role model for society by avoiding discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, skin color, (or in Thailand’s case skin complexion!) religion, race or age. It's time Thailand became serious about teaching English. For too long the teaching of English, even at college level, has been tokenistic and pretend. Teachers should be judged by their work record not by their age or how pretty,or “ribroy” they look on the outside. Would a Thai institute of higher learning have employed Professor Albert Einstein if he had applied to work here. His hair may have raised a few eyebrows or he probably would not even have got to the interview stage because he was over 50! Students can actually enjoy studying when they are learning something serious. They don't need to be entertained by bright young things all the time.
If one college decides on 50 as the cut off age this may set a precedent or even worse, other colleges may decide to bring down the age. Actually, recently another third level college has done just this by advertising for teachers between the ages of 23 and 37! Where did they get these magic numbers from? From scratching the bark of a sacred tree? Ajarn.com is a service to help teachers, not to make life more difficult for them. These colleges of higher learning could be persuaded not to be so blatantly ageist in a public forum if their ads were to be politely rejected and hints given as to why, so as to put a stop to this unfair employment practice that makes no logical sense.
<b>Phil's response</b> - Thank you for the letter KD. As a man of 45 years old, I know what it feels like to suddenly realise you just might be on the wrong side of the tracks. However, I'd like to make a few points. Firstly, this 'ageism' thing in ajarn.com job ads is NOT something new. I noticed the trend and wrote an article about this topic over four years ago. Personally, I don't think the trend ever became par for the course. You will always have the odd employer who is looking primarily for the younger teacher but that doesn't mean every employer and job advertiser follows suite. There are still many employers out there who recognise the value of experience and usually they are the ones worth working for. I've always had a saying where teaching jobs in Thailand are concerned - what schools want and what schools get are two entirely different things. I'm willing to bet that your 'respected university' changes its tune when it realises that there probably aren't enough good teachers under fifty years of age applying for the positions. We'll wait and see shall we?
In ajarn.com's defence, your idea of me, little old me, trying to educate these establishments not to be so ageist just won't work. I'm sorry but it won't. Advertisers will simply lose face and stop placing job ads altogether. And of course we haven't got into the issue of how time-consuming it would be to contact these 'rogue advertisers' and actually talk to the target person. Then again, perhaps refusing to post their job ads until the employer sees sense will serve as a form of punishment? But what about the teacher who is aged between 23 and 37 and who is desperately looking for a job? Won't they get punished as well if the job ad doesn't appear at all? Let us know your thoughts.