This is the place to air your views on TEFL issues in Thailand. Most topics are welcome but please use common sense at all times. Please note that not all submissions will be used, particularly if the post is just a one or two sentence comment about a previous entry.
A lifelong journey of learning
Our classrooms can be regarded as a factory where students from various backgrounds come and take the essence of the spoon fed experience. This is where facts, information and theoretical knowledge have been passed on from generation unto generation of students to cultivate learning skills and knowledge necessary for their further studies at universities or colleges.
If I was to introduce myself, I would say that I am the silver spoon that facilitates the flow of knowledge to students who crave learning and creativity at the different educational stages of their lives. Over the years, I have seen the transition in the curriculum taught to students. For instance, it is becoming more of the trend in teaching that more visuals, music, and colorful worksheets are used in the classrooms to enhance the teaching and learning experience. When I was in high school, the teaching styles that I was exposed to were great at that point in time, but I was not as fortunate in terms of experiencing the new teaching strategies available nowadays. Computers were just being introduced into schools, so I did not benefit from the new advancement in learning.
I am sure, in the next generation, better ways of passing on knowledge will be designed and adopted. And even though the main concepts in knowledge may remain the same, the styles of presenting them would evolve. Teaching through animation has become a huge success these days. Today, teachers are enjoying the teaching profession because of the advancement of computer technology and the Internet. And like a buffet, teachers today can pick and choose teaching techniques and information that can enhance their teaching. Teachers can utilize many teaching tools, and for students of each level, appropriate educational worksheets to facilitate their learning.
It does not matter where a student comes from; education has become a necessity practically for everyone. There are many Bilingual, International, Public, Private Schools and Language Centers in Thailand in which the educational goals are equivalent. Parents enroll their children in Bilingual Schools so that their kids can learn to be fluent both in English and Thai. Many English Teaching programs have been introduced to many Bilingual Schools, and the number of native speaking teachers in these schools has also jumped significantly over the years. Whereas International schools are relegated the responsibility of teaching the English language to children, parents have to supplement, either by themselves or by private tutorial, the teaching of Thai so that children do not to lose their Thai connections. In the teaching of writing, reading, speaking and listening of English, there is a need to strike a balance. Thus, parents must consider carefully where to enroll their children. As a child grows, the parents should also discuss subjects, courses and interests with him or her. The various Thai-language programs taught at international schools are by themselves lacking.
Language centers have adequate resources and reliable teachers to assist in developing lesson plans, newsletters, worksheets and activities for students to gain up-to-date facts. The spoon feeding technique has not completely disappeared as some students are still too used to this outdated teaching technique. This could occur when teachers give in too easily when they see their students struggle in their studies. One way to curtail spoon-feeding teaching is for teachers to put students into groups and have other students help their classmates to increase their learning efficiency. In this way students can always seek help from their teachers when necessary. Sometimes, it is the students who give up too easily and are not motivated enough with certain subjects, so they prefer the traditional way of the teacher giving them all the answers. Despite the spoon feeding technique remaining in many schools and centers, teachers do adopt new approaches, such as role playing or the use of visuals to accommodate a more dynamic learning environment.
Having taught for over five years, I would say that teaching has become “edutainment” where students are learning to recognize the requirements of top local and international universities. I love the books that are used to teach English. I often encouraged my students to at least become friends with them. Studying for IGCSE’s, IB, or the SATs, IELTS and IBT-TOEFL will need strong dedication from students. Most importantly, the students’ interests need to be nurtured. In short they must learn to like the subjects they are studying in. As a result, students would have the motivation to pursue studying in the subjects successfully. Teaching and learning have a love – hate relationship which has important implications on the outcome since it is natural for students to feel disheartened with courses they find difficult.
Stress and despair faced by students have become common problems. But the rapport between teachers and students can ease the problems and help them accomplish their goals in their studies. New types of lesson plans, such as, Brainology, and teaching software, such as Yenka.com, Seussville.com, Journeyed.com, etc., are available, and all propagate creative lesson plans, worksheets and useful information. We can utilize them in our learning.
In conclusion, I have no regrets in my profession as a teacher. To me “Teaching and learning has been a wonderful spoon feeding journey of knowledge for decades, and I expect it will certainly go on, as knowledge will be passed on incessantly. Bangkok City has been a great place to teach and the Thai society is open and provides new development to foster the inquisitive Thai minds in achieving educational standards that are on par with the world.”
Lazy Sunday afternoon.... are you joking?
Well that's another weekend over, prep work done for next week and its only 9pm Sunday night which gives me another hour or two before I think about those staires and a very nice cosy bed.
Time to think about life, well we all chew the fat don't we?.... I find it a great time to bounce those ideals and those thoughts on life, this time at home chilling, yes chilling in Thailand, well excuse the pun. Thailand is chilled in so many ways excluding what we all know as per the temperature. Oh I still need aircon, even in November and December, but what a lovely thought eh?
I went for a swim this morning before breakfast, and then dried off soaking up some winter sun before ice cold milk, corn flakes then tea. A little conversation with some local friends, then it was time to get ready to support the girlfriend and her visit to her temple. Did I have to go?... well no, but is that not the point of a relationship supporting ones significant other? Look I'm no saint and you would be hard pressed to get me in church back in "Old Blighty" at this time of year... actually any time of year. However it was important to her and she wanted me there with her.
I can't say it was the most fun filled day of my life, and the thought of a numb bum. dead legs, then hours of chanting is hardly what I would call a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon, actually a rabid class of hyper active 14 years old had some appeal! However I did the honoured thing for about 2 hours before my legs said to me I had to walk before I lost the will to live, so I just spent the following couple of hours walking, watching, laughing to myself then waiting some more. During these hours I mulled the idea of what would I have done at home?
Well... my septic Isle is rather cold, wind swept with a touch of white rain, sorry I mean snow, so I guess I'd have been wrapped up warm in some pigeon box called home looking at more school work, or even getting on with the household chores, we all remember those don't we? watching tv, or as its called today the re-run of x- factor or some other soap...... Then again I could have ventured out and taken lunch at some resturant which has staff from some eastern European nation that has no idea of my culture or what my stomach calls a roast dinner, then if I am luck to have a native speaker, its amazing that they are not surly or can even be bothered to look at me inbetween text messages on their mobile phones.
I know why I am in Thailand and its not for the money. Before anyone gets on their high horse, this place can be a real bind as well, but as a rule while I'm trying to be overcharged, at least its done with a genuine smile, the food is in most cases at least up to the mark, its not cost me the world, its not cold wet or even snowing, I don't have to face the stupidity that comes with driving in the UK and being seen as a cash cow for everyone. Sure I'm looked at as a walking ATM, but this one does not open on Sundays or even most days of the week. I can proudly say I still have moths in my wallet and they are in no chance of being made homeless either. So after the long afternoon. being blasted at 6,000,000 watts, amps or decibels in fact the lack of noise polution control, I really needed some place to give the ears a rest. Hard to find in Bangkok eh?... no not really, even Bangkok has its oasis of peace.
However all in all, we can get stitched up, ripped off, stung, fleeced, taken for a ride anywhere, Thailand is no different you have to be on your guard at all times, but then I travel back to the UK often, more for personal reasons and an 80 year old mother, but I have to say.... we moan here!.... You should see it back there, the place is fast becoming a toilet and not one you can park you butt on without charge. Its a mess and its getting worse, it fills me with sadness at its plight a once great nation on the downward slide. Today even though I've had better days, its been warm, dry and I can still have a beer for £1 in social surroundings.
The harsh reality
In response to Ell Tee’s letter “Why so bitter?” Ajarn Postbox (October 29, 2010)
I believe the writer is confusing what he perceives is bitterness and culture shock, with the frustrations of teaching Thai students. I also have taught in several countries including my home country, America and in my opinion, Thais are by far the most difficult to teach. The difference between other countries and Thailand is yes, partly the culture, but there are many more factors that also play a role in the obvious frustrations. In my opinion, the worst culprit has to be the MOE and their policies.
The MOE states they want students to learn English, but the facts do not support their rhetoric. As I wrote in my letter “unteaching what Thai teachers have taught” dated July 17, 2010, just about anything and everything you can think of comes before education. Therefore, we get no support from the MOE or the schools because it obviously isn’t important that the students learn for the reasons I stated in my letter, but they try to make it appear as if they are. We get no support from the parents either because the majority do not speak English, so they can’t help their children learn. At times, we’re not even supplied with books and yet, we’re expected to teach the student’s English. The MOE mandates a curriculum that is based on an English speaking countries curriculum for native speakers that is impossible to meet. But of course they expect improved test scores and satisfactory results.
They supply a minimal amount of funds for the program and the families are expected to pay the rest. The money that the families have to contribute, many need to spend on food. But, they give it so their child can get into an English Program. At least THEY understand the importance of learning English. The schools English Program and English Club are merely a farce because it is taught by teachers that can’t speak English correctly themselves. Or if they do attempt to speak English, much of the time it is incoherent or “pigeon” English. The school will buy a few books for the English Program and the rest of what they need, they will copy (to save money), and hire native speaker(s) to indicate to the parents their children are being taught by a native speaker(s) so they will give more money. But, in reality many times the native speaker doesn’t have to even participate in the English Club and teaches only a few of the students. The Thai “English” teachers teach the rest and over see the English Club. Yes, many of the ones that can’t even speak English. As with most things in Thailand, it doesn’t have to work, it just has to look like it does.
The ones that benefit from the English program are the directors of the respective schools. The money the school generates for the English Program is astronomical. Do the math at any school. They have discovered a profitable “cash cow” and sell it vigorously.
The MOE has teachers teaching English that can’t speak a coherent sentence and some can’t even speak at all, yet they give them awards and raises for doing a good job. Even the ones that I personally have seen stand in the hall and talk on their mobile phones for the whole 50 minute class, multiple times. That is; if they even come to class on time. Which is rare at every government school I have worked at.
The native speaker at a government school typically has a class of 40 to 60 students. They are there because the parents want them to be. So, 20 minutes of the class is spent taking mobile phones, stopping fights, etc. Once the students are calmed down and the attendance is called, the teacher has about 30 minutes of actual teaching time. One day a week for 30 minutes. Unless, the teacher before you kept the students overtime to clean his/her room (another priority before education) and then they may not show up at all.
How can anyone in their right mind expect a student to learn? There is no discipline policy. Students aren’t made to be accountable for skipping class or being tardy, and a no fail policy. But, there IS a hair and dress policy. Which in my opinion is utter bull----. Without these policies, there is no incentive for the students to do anything. And if they skip, no one will check to find out why they missed a class and they will still pass. The students are well aware of this.
When a student inevitably fails the semester final exam and/or has poor grades, the foreign teacher is instructed to dumb down the exam and let the student retake it so he/she will get a passing grade or retake it several times if necessary. If the teacher refuses to give the exam until the student passes, the foreigner teacher is deemed incompetent and terminated. The student’s homeroom teacher will adjust the student’s scores to get a passing grade. So, the homeroom teacher and the program director will appear to be doing a good job; on paper anyway. Because their career depends on it.
At the end of the semester, the program director will get upset because test scores are low. They get upset because her bonus and advancing in their career depends on good scores. Certainly not because they care about the students learning English. The foreign teachers are blamed, called lazy, inefficient, or a backpacker.
The MOE blames us foreign teachers for their mistakes. In reality, the policies that are in place are their fault. But of course they would never admit their policies need to be rewritten or they are wrong. That would show them losing face and we all know, that is not their “culture”.
It is my belief that most teachers come here with the illusion and will of teaching students that want to learn and honestly try to do a good job. But, after a while the crusty, thick skinned teachers (myself included) that has taught here for a number of years, learns we can’t change the policies or make the students learn that do not want to learn. So, we teach the few that want to learn and the others of course we try, but inevitably we will fail. They will pass and finish school and most likely do as many of their parents have done and scratch out a living the best they can with the knowledge of a 3rd grader after finishing high school. That’s not bitterness or culture shock. That’s the facts.
To understand the frustrations or as the writer perceives as “bitterness and culture shock”, he should leave a country that supports and values education and come to teach here. Only then will he fully understand and realize the reality and frustrations of teaching in Amazing Thailand.
A land that time has thankfully made me forget
Well, its the weekend....
For a change I'm sitting at my pc back in old blighty!.... A few issues, bills, family illness and stress related matters to deal with, so am I happy here? Well no I'm not.... sorry to all those who have the rose tinted glasses about home, its an absolute mess back here, and by the time this is posted on the site, I should be back at home.... yes home in Bangkok with someone who cares and a job where people who actually understand me as well as care.
For those of you who have not ventured back to the place of your roots, can I just say don't bother, you are far better off where you are. The Grand Old Lady (UK) is in a real sorry state. The country that many of us left years ago is something of the distant past. You and I live in an emerging nation, not one that is in freefall, sorry if that hurts a few feelings, but trust me, the UK is no place to think about as a safe, easy, cosy place to live.
I'm lucky..... hold on let me rephrase that.... I thought I was... I came back here for several reasons, the main one being an 80 year old mother and two daughters, the rest is just absolute stupidity. Let's be honest Thailand has its issues and we have all been stung or caught by one or both, however its is at least there in your face obvious and you know whats going on.
What I really hate about the UK of the 21st century, is that yes you are shafted, from time to time ( that's life yes? like it or not) lets just say here we understand the rules of maybe paying a little extra as a farang from time to time, but its open and there to discuss! In the UK your are shafted from every direction and below I will list a few:
Telephone.... line rental make a call or not - you pay
Council tax.... you pay if you are there or not.
Water..... your pay if your are there or not
Insurance..... good one... sub sections, Life, car, health, accident, property, travel, goods or personal items I could go on.
Telephone sales, postal scams, and the whole view by every so call business, we are not walking ATM's but credit card, cash, and asset items to be raided at every chance.
How about our lovely cars?...... Ah, sore point. the British motorist has been raped for money for years. So if we start with petrol £1.26 a ltr, car tax, mot, insurance, servicing when you need it, yess we know the honour of the local british garage... Ok now I hear you all laughing. I think I'm better off in Thailand by close to £8k, but that's just by not driving at all.
I'm depressed by the lowering of standards.... social ones that is. I can walk in my local district in Bangkok and enjoy a night out, maybe the odd taxi or motorbike could come alarmingly close, or the pack of dogs sniffing out something, but I can sit in a bar, restaurant or a place to eat without having to face the low life of town or city situations where some drunken underclass wants to beat my brains out because I looked at them or even asked that that showing of their privates in public is not quite a good ideal when contemplating a supper, and that's just the women.
We all have our views on Thai police, but you know the score. The UK ones are not to be trusted. Sure they don't want money off you, but they do enjoy the position they have of being somewhere inbetween the underclass, outclass, outlaws and real world.... When I'm being shafted ( I'm old school) I like to know that i'm being turned over with politeness and a smile...
The UK has a national debt of over £25k per person ( man, woman, child, and those yet born), Sure Thailand has its issues, but in general the social graces here are streets ahead, they treat their senior people much better than the UK, the family unit is closer, there is actually community where people respect, understand and look after each other.
No I do not have rose tinted glasses...... but I have seen both sides... I can earn so much more in the UK, but its not just about money.... quality of life is far more important. I don't doubt it can be tough here in Thailand and we are facing the same issues that immigrants face in UK and Europe, but trust me, its better to be part of the future, molding its people, and building a life, than it is to be in a nation that has deep social, economic, trust and truth issues, which is on freefall, because its still supporting the banks which have ravaged society for everything they can get.
In truth I weep for my homeland, its riddled like a cancer... the same sort which took my father 3 years ago and the health service paid lip service to him and did very little to make his last months comfortable. I've seen such idleness and wastefulness, and damn right corrupt bleeding of society, and some say Thailand has issues. I'm more than happy to live my life here..... for all its issues, there is a sense of understanding, acceptance, and social respect that died long ago in many western nations.
It's life Jim, but not as we know it.
I am still quite a freshman to all this living in Thailand, and don't get me wrong, there are things that I like and things that I don't, but then is that not why we are here, it's not our original home is it?
Remember whereever we came from our considered home before we arrive at these shores, our native land has had the same issue of foreign nationals coming over to work. We've seen it all before, well in the UK its been happening for hundreds of years, first the Irish, then followed by the list of commonwealth nationals making their way to our Septic Isle.
In truth we are here in Thailand for whatever reasons are important to us, however this is their country and we are the guests, so its up to us to fit in with their life, rules and culture regardless of how strange difficult or hard to stomach we may feel. Of course that does not mean we have to accept or even agree or understand some aspects of life we may find unacceptable, and sure we can and should raise these issues. Whilst people are different, in many ways, I like many have had some good experiences here and some not so good, but that is the life of someone in foreign shores, sadly we often learn by our mistakes. Even though I am lucky enough to have travelled worldwide for many years every country has its hang-ups and issues, Thailand is no different to that.
Sure when I first arrived I went a little off the rails, living life to the full so to speak, but after a while and a wasted few pounds later, plus with the help of a wonderful local woman, life has settled down to be rather good. As we know not all Thais are alike and neither are us expats, there are good and bad in all of all. I think I have found a reasonable life, I work and earn a fair salary, nothing amazing, but it gives me a fair standard of living, I enjoy my job, teaching a variety of students, my day is varied and stimulating, then I go home to someone who is actually please to see me. I fit in with her family and take an active role within it. I can't say its always been easy, but over time your do earn respect if you make the effort and we are the visitors so really we must make the first step.
I now look at my lot and say, could and would I be better off back back in the UK, on a higher salary and work load, would I be happy? The fact of the matter is no, I think everything considered my life here offers me more, a good circle of Thai and English speaking friends, a caring partner, a family that accept me and actually take an interest in me, and not as a walking ATM. I have enough money to live in a reasonable home which both of us work to keep and improve, then there is some free time to relax and enjoy. Yes I do miss some things from home and that is only natural, but I think I have found many more new things to take their place. We all know things can change from one day to the next, and at times we all get let down and messed about, that happens everywhere and its always hurts and causes discomfort. Life is always about learning and pushing boundaries, but now I leave the pushing bit to the students I teach.
Thai nationalism – a final rejoinder
I'd like to thank David for his response to my letter concerning Thai nationalism ('Thai Nationalism' Ajarn Postbox 18th October)
His efforts to refute the contents of that letter are commendable. They are also remarkably unconvincing:
“Can you name another country on this planet where people are not nationalistic?”
In my letter, I never asserted or implied that there were any countries on Earth that weren’t nationalistic to one degree or another. Your question is therefore irrelevant.
“Isnt pride in where you are from an inate feeling that probably has some social bonding mechanism that aids survival at a more primevial level?”
Yes, nationalism can be conceptualized as an outgrowth of tribalism and other phenomena existing at a ‘primevial’ [sic] level of social organization.
“I would also argue that nationalism is a negative phrase implying some kind of desire for dominiation of non-nationals, which is unlikely to be the case here.”
What are you basing your argument on? If you’ve read anything about nationalism, you’d know that it doesn’t necessitate a desire for or policy of domination over groups outside the nation-state. Even if it did, you still betray your ignorance of Thai history in your statement. Forgive me for quoting at length:
“Nominalistic policy raised the spectre of irredentism by suggesting that Thai people subject to colonial authorities in Burma and Indochina should become Thai citizens – and thus, implicitly, ‘free’. The patent inspiration behind the vision of a ‘greater Thai empire’ (maha anachak thai) that should ideally incorporate the Shan territories, Laos and western Cambodia was Deutschland as the homeland of peoples of Germanic stock living in Germany as well as Austria and Poland. To promote irredentism, the Ministry of Defence and the Royal Survey Department printed and distributed to schools and barracks historical maps that highlighted the territorial losses suffered at the hands of the British and the French, while the pseudo-scientific racial categories were manipulated to demonstrate the ethnic commonality of the Thais with the Lao and the Shans.
[…] Luang Wichit, acting as the government’s spokesman, asserted: ‘This territory [the Shan territories, Laos and western Cambodia] really belongs to us. It is not a colony, it is not a foreign territory; it is a living place for Thai people of Thai blood’. In January 1941 rhetoric was turned into action when the Thai army seized the western Cambodian provinces…In May 1942, after declaring war on the Allies, Thailand also annexed allegedly lost territory in the Shan States across the border with British Burma. All territories were returned at the end of the war.” – Peleggi, Maurizio. (2007). Thailand: The worldly kingdom, p. 123.
It’s simply not the case that Thailand has never invaded its neighbors and attempted to subjugate them. If you choose to believe the Thai propaganda of the time claiming that these invasions were carried out in the name of ‘freedom’ and ‘liberation’, that’s your choice. In any case, your statement is invalid.
“I find it ironic that an American is writing this attempt to discredit Thai pride with something more sinister, when America is supposed to be the beacon of freedom and Americans are urged to believe in themselves, which they certainly do.”
I addressed the issue of American nationalism and the attempts by educators and others in that country to cultivate so-called ‘patriotic values’ in my first letter. Perhaps you could try reading it again to help clarify things for you.
“Second question, do you really understand Thai culture well enough to be able to state quite categorically that what you perceive is nationalism and the belief of Thais in the perfection of their people?”
Maybe not - I must thank you, though. A part of me really does miss the "do you really understand Thai culture?" and other such mantras I used to hear on a daily basis in Thailand.
Do you understand Thai well enough to really know the subtleties of the language to truly know how the speaker feels?
No, but I don’t understand German, Italian, or Spanish all that well either.
Maybe what you percieve is a desperation not to lose face, after all isn’t that what Thais are infuriatingly famous for?
Yes, I suppose it is.
“Remember what you see on the surface does not necessarily reflect what is felt inside.”
If you’re referring to a sizable segment of the Thai populous, then yes, I concur.
“Maybe you are confusing preserving self pride with facist tendancies”
I never used the word ‘fascist’ in my letter - you did in yours.
“You claim you have never had a satisfactory answer to your question about what objective facts give Thais the right to feel so proud? Well what are you criteria for assessment”
That doesn’t answer my original question.
“…all the things you Americans have to thank us Europeans for”
And we are very thankful. As I recall, there a quite a few things ‘you Europeans’ have to thank ‘us Americans’ for as well, but in order for you to ‘save face’, I’ll refrain from mentioning them.
“As for having no substance, what about the price of a McDonald’s hamburger, there is somethiing that truly has no right to it’s belief in it’s value of over a dollar, when it is worth 4 cents at best.”
I’m sorry, but I neither eat McDonald’s nor do I understand the point of this sentence.
Phil / ajarn.com - thank you for the contribution. Could we now consider this particular Postbox topic closed.
Where are people not nationalistic?
In response to 'Thai Nationalism' (ajarn postbox 18th October 2010) Andy. Let me start with a question. Can you name another country on this planet where people are not nationalistic? Isnt pride in where you are from an inate feeling that probably has some social bonding mechanism that aids survival at a more primevial level? I would also argue that nationalism is a negative phrase implying some kind of desire for dominiation of non-nationals, which is unlikely to be the case here. I find it ironic that an American is writing this attempt to discredit Thai pride with something more sinister, when America is supposed to be the beacon of freedom and Americans are urged to believe in themselves, which they certainly do.
Second question, do you really understand Thai culture well enough to be able to state quite categorically that what you perceive is nationalism and the belief of Thais in the pefection of their people? Do you understand Thai well enough to really know the subtleties of the language to truly know how the speaker feels? Maybe what you percieve is a desperation not to lose face, after all isn't that what Thais are infuriatingly famous for? And if they dont want to face, this implies there is something wrong to make them lose face. Knowing something is wrong or not perfect would surely imply Thais dont feel they are perfect, they simply do not want to be hurt by showing they are not perfect. Remember what you see on the surface does not necessarily reflect what is felt inside. Maybe you are confusing preserving self pride with facist tendancies.
You claim you have never had a satisfactory answer to your question about what objective facts give Thais the right to feel so proud? Well what are you criteria for assessment. I am certain they will be based on Western values, technological and scientific advancement, a fair society, well developed legal systems etc (all the things you Americans have to thank us Europeans for). Maybe Thais do not judge their country in the way that Westerners judge theirs. They may have different criteria and to regard their criteria as anything other than different is arrogant.
As for having no substance, what about the price of a McDonald's hamburger, there is somethiing that truly has no right to it's belief in it's value of over a dollar, when it is worth 4 cents at best.
Let me confess right at the beginning that I am over 60 years old. I have taught in several countries and have taught within several different areas of study (Psychology, Business, English). I have two advanced degrees. I consider myself to be, above all else, a good, possibly talented, teacher. I am writing this to express some personal feelings that may or may not have general import. To be honest, thought, I feel I am pointing to problems that are having a serious impact on the teaching/learning process in Thailand.
After 15 months in Thailand I have reached some surprising conclusions. I now see that the image of a very astute and, some would say, inscrutable people, have, in fact, developed some habits that put them in a light that is not so bright and shining. Such details as the cleanliness (or lack thereof) of the land and water they use and the business practices they generally employ display an approach to everyday life that is short sighted and, I’m afraid, crassly money driven. However, I am speaking outside my “chair” in making such comments. I know education and teaching and learning and I know for sure that Thailand is sorely lacking in their approach to the educational enterprise.
Now, though, I want to home in on one very specific aspect of education within Thailand – namely, the prevailing approach to utilizing teachers. From what I have observed this country has moved strongly toward what I perceive, again, as an essentially money obsessed , cheap is better hiring scheme. I have seen this in public universities as well as private, and, most glaringly, in the language schools that dot the land.
One sign of this is the employment practices that, in effect, block out more experienced teachers for obvious reasons of age, but, I believe it also comes back to the obsession with a bottom line. As to the age question, it has been shocking to experience the “ageism” present here, in a part of the world where the concept of veneration of age and experience has, over the years, been presented as endemic within the various cultures. The specific example of a law that requires all faculty and staff at public universities to retire at 60 is so patently counterproductive to a society as to strain credulity. But, no one blinks an eye about this policy, a policy that flies in the face of utilizing wisdom – that is, the gathered benefit of living long enough to have gained training and experience and then the ability to put that into a context that benefits those being taught. I find it just amazing that this policy and attendant attitude is present in a country such as Thailand. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when the deliberations about this law were taking place.
Education is unique in its requirements as to the need for both artistic (teachers are performers) and scientific (teachers must know what they are talking about) abilities. Experience is, within this context, irreplaceably valuable. Thus, when combining the philosophy of cheaper is better with a diminished appreciation for potential wisdom, Thailand is getting the short term hit of a lot of teaching but they are thereby missing the true value of a real education.
Why so bitter?
I'm wondering about all the bitterness from Thailand teachers. Y'all are a bile-filled lot. I guess there's something about teaching in Thailand that makes you that way but I still have to wonder. I've taught in both of the Chinas (ROC & PRC) and have felt the culture shock, all three waves, and there's nothing more load-lightening than a good ol' bitch session with the other foreigners. But most of us, and I've talked to people teaching in Korea and Japan as well, just accept the differences in culture and get on with enjoying life in these great places.
Case in point: I have no illusions about any of my students becoming fluent in English any time before they go abroad and live in an English-speaking country. I'm happy that they can parrot back what I tried to dump in their little brains at the end of the week. I teach them the tests before they take it, I smile at the parents and tell them they're kid is great, punch my card and head to the mountains or the bar for the weekend. The retarded traffic, the unaware pedestrians, the spit and betel nut juice on the sidewalk, giant cockroaches, whatever; it's not going to get in the way of me enjoying the fact that I live in a great little tropical country where the living is cheap.
Maybe the difference is this: I, and many of my friends, are under no illusion that we are teachers or teaching. If we wanted to teach we would have gone to a country where the language of instruction was our own native tongue, and we would have taught a subject that we were passionate about. Did any of you really come to Asia to change young minds and make a difference in a child's life? You should have gotten that delusion excised before you even bought your plane ticket.
I'd love to work in Thailand. Thanks to the bitter folk who have warned me away from teaching in the municipal schools (I'll stick to the mall franchises). I like the country. I think I know the Asian mindset well enough. I know what my life would be like back in North America and I'm happy to have been given the chance to live a different one. Maybe some of you should think about that or try to go back and make it in your homeland. It's just a job.
I love ajarn.com with all my heart
Ajarn.com - Thailands number one TEFL website helping crusty old sex tourists find employment since 1999.
Love the website, its a really great place to find low paying crap jobs. I think I would rather take my degree and put it to good use. Teaching English in Thailand is the pits and what a waste of time. Can't hack life back home, then come and visit ajarn.com for a waster's dream ticket. This website is full of crusty old expats casting their opinions on things they really know f*** all about.... it's called Ajarn Street. Nothing better to do and must have such a boring existance in the TEFL graveyard. Can't afford a whore so kill time writing an article on this crap site. Love the site, keep up the great work!
Phil says "the key word is definitely 'crusty'. I guess it was a slow day at someone's office but it's always nice to get positive feedback about the website. It makes life all the more worthwhile.
Hiding behind a PC
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