"Giddy-up and giddy-up and get away, we're goin' crazy and we're goin' today, here we go rockin' all over the world!" – 'Rockin’ all over the world, Status Quo.'
Sharpen your claws and grind your teeth for a tongue in cheek satirical look at TEFL characters in Thailand. The types of people recruited into TEFL teaching; a profession along similar lines as that of nursing, or social work and for which fate alone (courtesy of a lax immigration system) allowed them to participate. It’s a long continuation of others with a rich pedigree before me.
The evil expatriates (2006)
"So: low self-esteem, insecurity, fear of loss of the only social standing the person has ever had. And perhaps, just perhaps, a little residual sexual guilt? If the hostility of the farang is born of insecurity then what is its source? … Is it the fear you will see behind his carefully constructed facade?"
"… there is an army of professional wankers in the English teaching business who create pretentious re-workings of liberal education theories and somehow think that if these idiotic missives are deployed, they will somehow make teachers in Thailand better or more efficient in the classroom."
Rather harsh, but let’s take a brief satirical look at three of the personality types I’ve spotted.
At number one which many have personally met and a firm favourite, Mr. Deadbeat left for Thailand after being sacked from Wal-Mart because he couldn’t mop a floor properly.
Luckily, a TEFL course taught Mr. Deadbeat that nouns, verbs and adjectives were not types of vegetables and he managed to wing his way through each application and secure a position.
A functioning alcoholic now back in his home country and after four different teaching jobs in which his contract wasn’t renewed, without references and having progressed to a Tesco shelf-stacker, Mr. Deadbeat is often seen to look down his nose, sniff politely and state, "I was once a teacher yer know!"
This impresses his co-workers because they’d always thought nouns, verbs and adjectives were types of fruit. Responsible for turning others to atheism in the hope they will never have to meet him again in this life or the next, Mr. Deadbeat is the reincarnation of Mr. Micawber from 'David Copperfield.'
"Gentlemen, do with me as you will! I am a straw upon the surface of the deep, and am tossed in all directions by the elephants- I beg your pardon; I should have said the elements."
Close behind at number two and lingering like a bad dose of flu, these characters are common and once populated teacher discussion forums in droves.
Oh the memories with more than a smattering of irony. One teacher forum was a magical land where everyone earned a hundred thousand plus and spent their weekends on the beach, or playing golf. It’s where TEFL masochists went to get a daily dose of verbal flagellation from their betters.
Elsewhere referred to as a baiter or troll, Mr. Nasty wears his personality disorder with pride. He’s the character that ajarn Phil warned of in another comments section when he stated, "You know who you are … We don’t do spiteful here." We know who you are too and in social psychology there’s a phenomenon known as the 'Dunning-Kruger effect.'
"These low performers were also unable to recognize the skill and competence levels of other people, which is part of the reason why they consistently view themselves as better, more capable, and more knowledgeable than others."
This suggests that some people are so stupid they fail to realize it themselves, but prove it to others in remarks made where they assume that ignorance passes for knowledge. Mr. Nasty represents Alice in 'Down the Rabbit-Hole.'
"Oh, how I wish I could shut up like a telescope! I think I could, if only I knew how to begin." A sentiment shared by all who come across them
A round of applause and in at number three; an expert on just about everything. Mr. Experienced gained his knowledge from, well, experience.
After failing to realize a floor was slippery when wet and slipping, it’s why we now have signs saying, "Beware, floor slippery when wet!" Similarly, after nearly choking on a bag of nuts, thanks to Mr. Experienced we now have a warning label on packets of nuts that state, "This product may contain … Nuts!"
Godammit, if it weren’t for Mr. Experienced we’d now be falling in wet supermarket aisles like nine-pins and choking on the contents of packets of nuts we thought were apples!
Likewise, whether propping up a bar, or in a TEFL setting, Mr. Experienced is the go-to person for advice, because he’s already done it, knows some who has, or why he personally wouldn’t. Mr. Experienced is life’s ajarn having had seven jobs in seven years.
From falling off your bike, or damage caused after a leaking roof, Mr. Experienced is the man in the corner of any staff room who frowns slightly, shakes his head and is heard to mumble, "I knew this would happen."
Mr. Experienced is the 'David Copperfield’s' Uriah Heep of TEFL. Generally an unassuming person of no apparent outward ambition, Mr. Experienced is driven by an intense dislike for any one in his peer group who occupies a similarly respected position.
"People like to be above you,' says father, 'keep yourself down.' I am very umble to the present moment, Master Copperfield, but I've got a little power!"
If you’ve ever been in a staff room of more than a handful of foreign teachers you’ll recognize at least one of these characters. Or perhaps you recognize yourself?
If you’re just an average teacher struggling along in a sea of two legged sharks trying to do your best give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back, because you sir or madam are gold dust.
The ajarn bloggers
Ajarn bloggers are people with something to say, plus the ability to say it. We may agree or disagree, or even agree to disagree, but contrary to the people who can only criticize, we are not stupid people.
Among us are criminologists, psychologists, sociologists … whose copied qualifications many bought on Khao San Road. We are the ones who raise our heads above the TEFL parapet looking across no-man’s land at the snipers, without which there’d be nothing to comment on.
We assume people can distinguish between the caricatures of satire and the serious, plus have the comprehension skills to understand what was said and not assume what was meant. Maybe you’re an ex-millionaire, or a former secret service agent who decided on a career change to TEFL? Whatever, we’d love to hear from you even though we’ve heard it all before.
Join us. You’ll need the knowledge to make sense, a degree of pessimism matching life experience and a thick skin to ward off the kind of comments from the above three character types.