Why teach in Thailand?
In praise of Thai schools, or rather the distinct lack of. Yes, every country has its good or bad jobs, but with increasing frustration I seek to read of a happy or even contented foreign teacher in Thailand. Post after post detailing the inadequacies of the Thai education system and perhaps the ‘happy’ teachers are far too busy enjoying themselves to respond?
Granted, previously I had only been in Thailand for three years, but in that time I never met a teacher who enjoyed their job. I do suppose there are, but I also think they might be an endangered species. Now again granted, I am not in the lofty position of being a qualified teacher, but even so I never met one of those that was happy either. Thailand is not what you make it, it’s what Thailand makes of you and Mr Grumpy in his post perfectly sums that up. If this happened in our respective countries there would be an outcry, strikes, the unions would be up in arms. So why do we pretend? Why do we pretend that in some unfathomable way we are helping children by passing the failures and conforming to crooked practices? Why do we pretend that being a ‘qualified’ teacher in some way separates us from the crowd when we are all well aware that the main requirements are to be under 30, have a white skin and the energy to jump up and down? Why do we put ourselves above those of the Peace Corps, who can and do probably jump up and down higher than we can and will do it for a lot less money!
These ‘professionally run’ schools in Thailand, where are they? Is it where the ‘professional’ teachers are?! Let’s be honest and say that professionally qualified or not, we are/were here because it’s a great place to live and let’s not pretend that altruism in helping children, or to improve the Thai education system is why we came here. We are all required to cheat and lie and come the exams not one of my students ever achieved less than a 50% score – my employment depended on it as did the ‘professional’ teachers. We were/are all regularly and on a daily basis used and abused and that applies equally to those who have a Masters degree in education as it does to the newly arrived graduates in social whatever. My own personal opinion is that the Thai mentality is not adaptable and when this is allied with the ‘Mai Pen Rai’ attitude, the results can only be a failure in whatever direction that management is applied.
So I came to China. Yes, there are probably instances of not being paid by companies, probably corruption and yes, if you can’t speak Chinese and how many can, there is a feeling of isolation. Yet I haven’t come across teaching problems, discipline problems or overworked, burned out foreigners. Perhaps it’s why China excels and in a recent Thai government acknowledgement, is why Thai children have the lowest attainment and IQ in the Eastern hemisphere. It is not our fault, qualified or not, it is the fault of the system in which we play a part because we are unable to change it. Again, in my opinion, the situation will only get worse as more people leave and are replaced by those willing to adapt to the ‘Thai way’.