The chalkies need a real change

In response to Phil's front Page Comment that links to an article from the Phuket Gazette that states that foreign teachers are in short supply (in Phuket). In all the years I have been teaching here, I have met a few kids that ruffled my feathers. But, nothing I could not manage. That is what comes with experience and teacher training - TEFL courses do help, but nothing beats a real long term program. However, nothing can prepare the foreign teacher for the employee-to-management-to-admin staff life. Dealing with these matters can drive the most experienced teachers up the wall and can turn a normally friendly teacher into a paranoid wreck!

Daily fears of ‘did one Wai the director or janitor the right way’ can take a higher precedence than lesson quality. Don’t forget, the janitor often gets paid before the foreign teachers and he/she cleans the director’s office. Upset the janitor and the director knows about the teacher’s deepest and darkest secrets – such might include bathroom habits, eating habits or even worse, the contents of the teacher’s dustbin!

If the foreign teacher can survive the Wai, then he/she must overcome the grumpy smile-less faces of the close to retirement teachers that still remember the Dark Ages. The foreign teacher’s salary, skin colour, dress sense, mode of transportation and eating habits all irritate those godfathers and godmothers of the place of learning. Many of them associate more with the stray dogs than with their fellow Thai teachers and a lot less than with students. The foreign teacher is doomed from the start, as nothing will please these respected people whose one word results in instant contract termination and 24 hours to leave the country or face jail. However, the more capable foreign teacher can win by being the friend of one’s enemy – feed those straw dogs!

If the foreign teacher has overcome the above, then his/her battle just begins. The dreaded visa and work permit is enough to have most foreigners run to the hills. All the paperwork required must be signed by the director. If the Wai is not perfected or the stray dogs are not fed, expect delays or even no visa and workpermit. Also, there is the need for the teachers licence or the 2 year ‘absolution of all failures’ document from the teacher’s council. It is easier to become a Freemason than to get these documents. Without these a visa and workpermit will not be issued.

This battle hardened teacher is now ready to teach in Phuket!

Then he/she turns to the job section of his/her favourite website and sees a list of 15-20,000 Baht a month jobs offering 9 month contracts where only 6 are paid for. The foreign teacher suddenly gets a flashback of all those years feeding the stray dogs, kneeling down to Wai anybody and everybody (including the straw dogs), remembers the months he/she never got paid for teaching work done, travelling at night to a Myanmar border where guns with live ammunition were pointed at him/her; just to get that temporary visa and avoid being arrested and chained in a dungeon.

The foreign teacher, slowly gets up on a stool, places the noose and tightens it around his/her neck. Before he/she kicks the stool, a question is asked...
Does the relaxation of requirements, by the Phuket Education office (as mentioned in the news report) address the above?

Mr Grumpy

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