Friday, 5 August 2005

The red pen effect

I have recently discovered that retired teachers make up a substantial proportion of the readership of this blog. They include both my parents and at least one of my father’s ex-colleagues. As a result, I have become acutely aware of my mediocre grammar and imagine them sat reading, fingers twitching, in need of a red pen. Thankfully, computer screens don’t care much for biros so I can sit here happily typing away, accusing the inept computer programmers for their failure to design adequate spelling and grammar checks.

In honour of my newly discovered audience, I feel the need to share my experience out drinking with English teachers here in Laos. With so many teachers disillusioned with the state of the teaching profession in the UK, it is a shame that more don't follow the path of the guys I met on Tuesday night.

Here in Laos, an eclectic bunch of men, mostly British, meet at one of the bars / family homes most nights of the week. Beer Lao in hand, they discuss why they could never head back to the UK, they compare their motorbike / near death experiences of the day and decide which bar to meet at the following evening. They discuss their working days. Ben is unlucky; he had to work five hours that day. Most of the other English teachers teach for 2-3 hours a day. Not only that, but Ben has to be at school by 10 am the following morning. The other teachers don’t start work until mid afternoon.

According to Shane, his friends head out practically every night for a few drinks. There is no moaning about inept delinquents, no dealing with verbal or physical abuse and very little work done outside working hours. In return they earn 10 dollars an hour. Baring in mind the average civil servant here takes home 20 US a month, the teaching wages are perfectly adequate to live off.

And so, living in houses they rent for $100 a month (which includes bills, cleaning and laundry) they teach a few hours by day, sip beer by night and suffer none of the stress that teachers in the UK endure. No wonder they’ve been out here for three years; no wonder they have no intention of heading home.

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