Thursday, November 18, 2004

I suppose it is the nature of irony and fate that as soon as you do or post something positive or something good happens, something to pull you back down occurs, ying and yang, pleasure and pain and karma and and and……

By nature I am an easy going sort of person, level headed and normally a lot of things don’t really get to me. That’s not to say things don’t annoy me, they do. Of course reading this Blog you know that don’t you!

This week however, I have had some of the worst classes I have had in a long long time that have just flipped me right to the edge. Firstly a Prathom 2 class with one of the brightest boys I have in either 2 or 3. This was the last class of the day. Right from the word go they were not settling down in the line-up outside their classroom. On the way up it took the usual crawling pace and waits every floor to make sure the stragglers weren’t too far behind. Then lining up outside my class they continued the theme.

Inside the class the theory is that the walk into the room in silence giving me a bow of respect as they walk in, they then sit down in silence and then when I enter the room they stand up and say in unison "good morning/afternoon teacher" etc. In practice however, they continued to talk and despite me trying to get them quiet there were still a couple of talkers. I thought OK, lets get on with it so did the good afternoon routine but some decided to howl like dogs on the "how are you?" section and it came out "how are yooouuuuuuu?" So I told them off for that and tried again, it was a little better this time, so I tried again – 3rd time lucky it was ok and we started the lesson.

The talking continued and got worse and worse to the point I couldn’t hear the people who were supposed to speak so I got them to stand up and be quiet. No joy, I got them to put their hands on their hands and they still were talking and doing little dances and playing with the chairs and desks. I would tell one person to be quiet and they would nod their head, I would turn away and they would start again. Now at this point, ( in no particular order ) shouted at them, looked at them, towered over them, banged a desk with a board eraser, switched the lights on and off, glowered at them collectively and individually, stood in silence at the front, used body language, gestures ( no not that one but I wished I had ! ) just about everything short of slapping them hard. Now I must admit to sometimes flicking their ears or popping the marker pen on them to get their attention or to get them to stop doing whatever – nothing too violent, promise! So escalation time, I threatened to turn off the air con. They still wouldn’t be quiet so the air con went off. They still wouldn’t be quiet so the worst two offenders went onto their knees and then they were followed by another two. And so the last 20 minutes of the lesson passed. I think I got about 10 minutes of actual teaching time, maybe even less.

A day goes by then it turns out, the kids have gone and complained to the parents who then complained to the school about the amount of punishment I give them! If anyone should be complaining, it should be me about the amount of mental punishment they give me never mind me to them. If for once they would just shut the hell up and listen, I would even for just them shutting up and letting me teach the ones who want to be taught it would be great. Amongst my crimes apparently are constantly turning the air con off, getting them to stand on chairs, hitting them, keeping them late after class and after school………From the report card I should get them to sing more songs, get them to talk more, concentrate more, write more, help them out more, play more games……… Well, yes I would love to do these things but unless they shut the feck up how can I explain the game, the language, the song, the drawing, the cutting up, the insert activity here.

What is really getting my goat is that the kids will now know I can’t do anything, I can’t punish them at all. The air con was the greatest threat I could use and that has gone – the most ironic thing is that on that day the actual temperature rose in the room only about 5 degrees from start to finish as it was already unusually cool for an afternoon anyway. I would love to get a hold of the parents and tell them exactly why I did those things, I would love to tell them that their little darling is an immoral, vacuous, wilful, ignorant, rude, stupid little shit who gives no respect to the teacher, no respect to the school, no respect to the other people in the class who want to learn and see what they say.

The amount of complaints we get from parents and the school are just unreal, we get accused of hitting them every lesson, of touching them ( no, not in that way ), kicking them, our fingernails are too long, we don’t dress respectfully, we drink and eat in the school corridors, we are too loud, we collect the kids too soon, too late, we return them too soon, too late,…. and then we get onto how we teach them………………….

If we treated the kids the same way the Thai teachers do, we would be hitting them with rulers or slapping them with our hands on their hands, arms, legs, backs…. at the slightest provocation. Do they get complaints? No, of course not, they are Thai and we are just dirty farang who don’t know any better and should all go home as we are overpaid, drunken whoremongers and hate Thais and Thailand.

Now to top it all today I had another P2 class that just wouldn’t be quiet, wouldn’t stop talking and for the first time in a long time I was actually angry and showed it. All my previous outbursts where just acting and for show. It got to the point where I ranted about them wasting my time, their time, their parents money etc etc etc, no that it will do any good and I got them to sit in absolute silence for the last 20 minutes of the class. No doubt that will be complained about as well.

Then in a P3 class today, I had one kid sitting at the front of the class today because he was talking and every now and again I had a reaction from the remaining kids as if he was doing something and then I caught him. He was bending over as if to smell my bottom and smelling it, then holding his nose and waving his hand in front of it and pulling a face as though I smelt bad. Needless to say I was not a happy camper and I went totally ballistic at him. Nobody anywhere should be able to get away with doing that without consequences. I do not care if his parents complain because if they do I will tell them exactly why but then that only works in a logical country. They will probably back up their little darling against the big hairy smelly farang. The one thing is that I did tell a couple of people about it afterwards so no one can say I just made up that story to save my skin if the crunch does come.

Why is this happening? Am I losing my tolerance for their bad behaviour, is their behaviour getting worse and worse? I don’t know and at the moment, I don’t really care. Some of the other teachers are also complaining about the P2s and other classes as well since the break, so its not just me feeling it. I am so tempted to just give up on the P2s, I really am. But this is still in the heat of the moment hours after the happening and what I need is a break from them – which is another possible reason. We are in the semester when the routine is broken up with trips, holidays, activities and so on and so on. And that’s what these kids need – routine to build some sort of discipline. After all, it seems that not very many get any at home.

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