As we all sit and cast blame around, a thought occurred to me. Actually, it’s been simmering for some time and having read the letters, perhaps now is the time to put forward my own views on the quality of a teacher’s life. I have not been teaching here for ever, I don’t hold a Masters degree in education and I don’t for a moment pretend that I know it all. I don’t therefore have the latest fashionable theory that promises to solve all the problems of teaching within the pages of one book. Like many, I became a teacher out of necessity but yes, I do have a Masters degree, (other), a TEFL and a work permit.
I have worked in two schools, one government and one private. The government school being slightly better; not concerning conditions, but in the student’s being willing to learn. Disruption within the classroom, a non willingness to learn, managerial corruption and altering exam scores so that everyone passes – it’s what we’re all used to, but beneath all that I think most teachers and certainly the ones that I know, do genuinely care.
We face an impossible task. You can’t force someone to learn and I flatly refuse to accept that it is all the teacher’s fault. The schools and managers would certainly have you believe that and it is in their own interests to do so. Students become ‘paying customers’, parents become ‘esteemed financers’ and the teachers, the maximum hours + and ‘performers’. It’s all one jolly company in which very few learn anything, but everyone involved makes a living out of and therefore everyone should be happy. Fail your exams? No problem, you know you’re going to get a 50% pass, don’t you. Disrupt the classroom? No problem, you know I can’t do anything about it anyway. Complain to the manager(s) and you’re told, ‘you’re the teacher, it’s your problem’.
I don’t know if we’re in general agreement here, but I’m seeing teachers with years and years of experience gradually being reduced to tears with the stress of it. In fact I no longer wonder why there is a gradual shortage of teachers, because the ones I know of are seriously thinking about, or have already gone to places like China and Vietnam.
Yes, it’s a gripe, but a serious one? Why is Thailand continually at the bottom of any league table in education? Why do many of its classrooms resemble playgrounds? Why are many of the student’s regarded by the government itself as having low I.Q’s? Happy doesn’t always mean good and ‘too serious’ is perhaps another term for ‘I can’t be bothered’. Is that the teacher’s fault? I regularly hold classes in which students of 16 years of age don’t even know where Thailand is on a map and can’t name the four countries adjoining it and what is more, a sizeable majority don’t care. The answer is to load on yet more classes and the up to 24 hours teaching then turns into 24 hours teaching, plus all the exam marking, preparation, homework, reading time . . . . . I don’t think it’s simply about the money, I’m seeing some pretty burned out teachers at the moment. Quantity over quality?!
I want to teach. I actually get a kick out of students grasping the finer points of English grammar, or in any of the other add on subjects that I’m required to teach. I genuinely feel for the student’s who are told that because they have paid a lot of money they will now have no problem attending university in places like the U.K. I already know they have the core subject level of a 12 year old, but I’m not allowed to say so.
Perhaps I’m wrong, but I have a strange feeling the ones who will largely disagree are the directors, managers and or recruiters who are too busy feathering their own nests and looking to put the blame on others for this continuation of affairs. Am I telling you what you already know, or is this a surprise?