Submit your own Great Escape

Michael West

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I returned home to Australia (to what is probably age-enforced retirement)

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I worked in Thailand for nearly 2 years. I taught Music in Bangkok from May 2006 to October 2006, then I took a short music contract in Pattaya until December 2006. I was offered an extension to that contract, but I chose not to extend. I returned to Australia, in December 2006, and was offered an English (ESL) contract at the first school at which I taught in Thailand from June 2007. That contract ended in March 2008. I was again offered an extension, but I was (and still am) keen to return to my major area of music, so I came home.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

(see 2. above) and also that ludicrous “Thai Language & Culture” requirement. The idiot responsible for that particular insanity ought to be institutionalized.

Q4. What are the advantages of working where you are now compared to Thailand?

Not applicable (see 6. below)

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Cheap living, kids who mostly smile at you rather than snarl at you as Australian kids do, and of course friends - both Thai and "foreign" - that I made whilst I was there.

Q6. Would you advise a new teacher to seek work in Thailand or where you are now?

Certainly not in Australia – especially for a male. It is a minefield with ridiculously applied “political correctness” in the education area. The proof of that is in the inordinate imbalance of males versus females in the teaching service, as well as the fact that a significant majority of teachers seek other employment after only a very few years of teaching. Most will do anything to get out of the classroom.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Possibly, although I think that at 68 years of age, despite my good health, I am not likely to be “employable”, and almost certainly not at a salary commensurate with my qualifications and experience.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

It would be nice to think that one day, the dinosaurs in the Ministry of Education would actually take a look at the rest of the world, and attempt to throw off their xenophobia. Are they too benighted to understand that if there is no fear of failure for students, then there is equally no motivation for them to succeed? This is clearly one of the most potent reasons for the inability of Thai students (except those from International Schools) to compete internationally. Someone famous once said that “comparisons are odious”, but one has only to look at Singapore to see that this is true.

Finally, with some notable exceptions in my experience, considerable numbers of Thai school administrators, and indeed many teachers, are incompetent, and their ideas and methods are rooted in the past. They are at best reluctant to embrace any ideas suggested by foreigners because “they don’t understand Thailand”.

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