Monday, January 31, 2005

The Start of Exams Weeks

Yes, I have got that right.

It is the start of exams weeks. We have three weeks to finish all our exams. I and some of the other teachers have started doing the speaking tests with the flashcards that have been provided.

Already my enthusiasm of asking "what are the differences?" "what is she doing?" has departed the scene by taking the first flight out of the country. I have 60 tests at one level to do and 80 of another. It looks like at the moment that the P3 test - of which there are 80 - may take 5 lessons to do, they are being incredibly slow so far. I am only getting 4 or 5 done in each lesson. Because the P2 test is so much easier I will have that finished in maybe two but definately 3 lessons ( 1 week ).

Its a bit of a joke. The P3 test has 2 cards and one of them is a little cartoon strip. In theory the kids are supposed to give me a story about the pictures. Fat chance. So far the results have not been encouraging. How are you I asked them to settle down. Monday replies one. DOH !!!!! I ended up giving a kid 3 marks just because he managed to walk from the class to the test area without falling over. It certainly wasn't because of any english ability he showed. Mind you, if he had been chewing gum at the same time, I am not sure if he could have got to the test area.

The behind the scenes politicking and manoeuvering is coming more and more to light and those who have been quietly offered jobs on the full time corporate side of things reveal their status. To be honest, that would be my preference as I think I said last week and as I did say to the senior FUD here but "he can only pass on wishes" BS.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

New Teachers

Today was just another boring day trying to get the kids to behave and do mock listening tests with the same results as before. Ho Hum.

The last lesson I spent 30 minutes waiting for the class to line up properly, stop playing and stop talking, finally they almost managed it but I had wasted too much of my patience to try anything so I just got them to be quiet and put their heads down on the desk for the rest of the period. At least it gave me a chance to sit down.

We have a new teacher here for the rest of the very short year and well, its just as well its a short year. He is already causing problems with the way he takes the kids to and from class. He just lets them run riot, running ahead into other class group, then when he lets them out he just opens the door and lets them loos to create havoc on the rest of the world. Then again, he is covering the class on the gay yank who had similar problems getting control. So it might not be his fault entirely but he is not helping matters. Earlier in the week he used someone elses classroom and by all accounts the place was a complete and utter shambles with worksheets that had been stored in cupboards, desks were all over the place and so on.

Ah well, only teaching/exam 3 weeks to go.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Listening Thai Kids ( not )

Nothing of note really happened today except that I got feedback on my observation from the head FUD. I think it lasted all of 5 minutes and that included time for a “career chat” on what I was going to do next year. Wow. The biggest, well I will be honest, bigger comment because there were only two, was that I hadn’t got the kids into teams to “involve” them more.

True enough, I don’t have the kids in teams. I have tried it before and then had to change them round because of discipline problems. Then when I changed the teams, they ended up with about half the original team. Which sort of goes against the whole team bonding, making it involved and keeping their interest theory when the team changes every couple of weeks.

I tried a couple of practice listening tests today on the 2s & 3s and really it was as expected. Some did ok and some were just not interested and didn’t try. Some of them are so bad at listening. They just don’t try, don’t want to try and even if they are half trying they cant do it because they are not used to doing it in normal class. Imagine saying “draw a line between the dog and the ball…the chair and the snake….the father and the sandwiches….” Some of them drew lines between the right objects, some between the correct things, some drew LIONS ! Some had lines going from random objects to other random objects, some connected everything.

Now imagine part of the exercise is to colour in various objects. Despite being told to bring coloured pencils to every class, I had one P3 class where out of 20 kids, 7 of them had the coloured pencils. AAARRRGGGHHHH. So a quick lecture of you cannot share, you cannot borrow, you have to write the colour next to the object later and we start the test. Can you guess, the first thing that happens? Yes, that’s right, the ones without the colours start to get up to borrow from the ones that have them. Double aarrgghhh!

The search for a job goes on for May and beyond. But as I previously wrote, the timing in some ways is wrong with many of the schools not yet looking for warm bodies. But there are schools advertising and I have sent a few applications away to see what happens.

Ideally I would like to get a full time corporate gig or in house trainer. A couple have appeared in the Bangkok Post which I have applied for, so it’s a case of wait and see now.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Shaving Problems & Kids

Ooooh eerrr missus. That title sounds a bit suspect doesn't it!

But sorry, I am not that way inclined. I am talking about that daily chore that we men have, scraping the rough hairs off the chin every morning.

By nature and habit I have been an Electric Shaver man for about 20 plus years. The only times I have wet shaved is on holidays when the batteries ran out or for whatever reason I didn’t have my trusty Braun.

I am now in one of those periods when my shaver has broken down and needs to be repaired. As my recollections of wet shaving were of rashes, cuts and pain, I decided to try and make the experience as painless as possible. So I popped down to the supermarket and purchased a BIC dual blade, adjustable head razor with one of those lubricating strips to “make shaving even more of a pleasure” (copyright just about every shaving company) and to make sure, I also bought shaving cream for I think the first time in my life.

The whole idea of using a shaving cream is to provide a foam that will soften the hairs and help the razor blades give you get the closest shave possible without cutting your face or leaving that nasty shaving rash. And to sum it up, that was exactly what I was looking for.

Now which one to choose? Errr Nivea? Wilkinson? Gillette? …… HELP!!!! Too many to choose from!! I quickly became one of those rabbits caught in the headlights of an oncoming car transfixed until its run over. God, which one? Nivea? nah too poncy and gay. Gillette? Yes! A manly product, no doubting I'm a man here. Now which flavour? Original, Lime, Sea Breaze, Pizza? OK, just joking on the last one. Bloody hell. Why does everything come with 15 choices? Cant have a coke now, got to have a caffeine free non diet lemon flavour or a diet caffeine included chery flavour.

Its one of these things in life a man cant admit to. That he cant use a blade razor. Oh bugger, how do I use it? I went straight from bum fluff to electric. I cant ask my mates as thats as good as saying KICK ME, I'M A TOSSSER! Do I go with the grain or against it? Why does shaving the moustache bit and my Adams apple feel so fecking sore ?

So, to the actual first use.
Like most foamy things when it comes out the nozzle it is heavily expanded and its only when you first start spreading it over your face you get an idea of how much you actually have. Being the inquisitive and the frankly scared of hurting and cutting myself wimpish type I decided early on to experiment with volumes and time left on the face to see if it made any difference on softening the days growth. I found it didn’t really seem to matter that much how much I put on as it all came off with the first blade stroke. I started off with just one application but towards the end I ended up applying a double application of the foam for the initial sweep and then the following clean up sweeps.

Onto the shaving and the nitty gritty, did it work and make shaving a more pleasurable experience? Well, actually it did. I do have quite a sensitive skin ( no laughing at the back ) as despite the cream and the lubricating strip I still got the shavers rash and the odd cut but it was a definite improvement than trying to shave without. It was only really small patches around the area of my Adams Apple that looked raw. The last time I tried it just with water and soap, I ended up looking like a victim of some deranged machete wielding maniac.

Now whether all the extra ingredients will make any difference in cleansing my pores or moisturizing my skin I have no idea, I don’t really see any difference but who knows. Sounds a bit new age and metrosexual for me.

Why cant they make a smaller size? the smallest I saw was 175g, not only for people like me who are going to use it for only a short time but also for those who want a smaller can for holidays etc or who want to try a new brand without wasting a lot of money for 95% of a product they might never use again?

Now, I hope my Braun will be back soon so I can start using that again. Will I switch to a wet shaving man? Sorry, no. I still prefer the buzz and the shave anywhere convenience of the electric. But, if I need to wet shave I will definitely use the Gillette Foamy to help ease the pain.

Now back to the sad reality. I have managed to make a kid cry again. This time I didnt touch him. Honest! All I did was catch him playing with Blu Tack and I took it off him and for the last 20 minutes of the class he was blubbering away like nobodies business. Jeeeezo!

Monday, January 24, 2005

Assorted School Happenings and an Ajarn Piss Up

Well, it’s been a long time since I slagged any of the staff off so I suppose it's about time.

Well, we finally got a copy of the exams we are going to give out darling beloveds in a couple of weeks and it's the usual cries of horror and bewilderment. And that’s just the teachers.

The Cambridge Exam is one of these tests that supposedly tests the knowledge in a real life type of conversation / instruction. To me it doesn’t do that, it just over elaborates the instruction unnecessarily. I will post the exact script tomorrow but it's along these lines.

Listening test – the student have to draw a line between two objects. Now if the instruction had said “ draw a line between the cat and bus” it would be ok but instead it goes.

Examiner - Put the cat into the bus.
Student - The car?
Examiner - No, the bus.

Now, if I was faced with that I would be going, how can I put the cat into the bus? It's on the paper, I cant physically move the drawing, do I have to draw the cat in the bus? Do I draw a line between them? What am I supposed to do? And the rest of the test carries on in that vein.

One of these days, I am going to find out at what age these are actually aimed at and at what language level. As I said, reading the script, It would take me quite a few seconds to work out what I am supposed to do never mind these kids.

Quite a few long faces I can tell you in the staffroom.

Now, I haven’t mentioned Cleric for a while so here is his chance for glory again. In some ways life has actually improved between the two of us. I don’t speak to him and he doesn’t speak to me. Suits me fine and lately he hasn’t been in the staffroom as much as he used to. Until the last week or so when he started hanging around it again spouting his usual I know best crap. “ This is what you want to do….”

He has started hanging round the back of peoples chairs again reading what they are doing and hoping they get pissed off at him and leave a pc free. Today, he was hanging around and started reading someones CV then he goes “ Oh, it's your CV!” and starts giving advice on layout and stuff. Now OK, this was someone who he is friendly with but.. MY GOD. This is someones personal details!

I don’t care if it is a friend of mine or not who says that but they are intruding on my personal information and space. If I choose to let someone see it or ask them for help, it's my right to do that. Someone imposing their help is unwelcome and frankly unwanted. Even if you do catch site of what someone is doing – email or reading an article or doing a CV it really is quite rude to be nosey. You can’t really help but see a screen if a pc is right next to another but you should really try and be as discrete as possible about it and pretend not to see anything personal.

The other thing is that he has started staying after work which bugs me as well as I write for a few different web sites and forums. Some of which I most definitely don’t want him to know about. So most times I end up going home and to my crappy home connection rather than give away any “secrets”. But, he is supposedly going home in a couple of months so with luck it will only be another 8 weeks or so I have to tolerate him for.

Sometimes people complain about their connection at home and I ask what connection speed have they got? Oh 29.8kbps they say or 30 or 25. Well, tonight I have hit a new low. 6.4kbps. I can only hope that I can actually upload this. Yes, I am typing this on Word and then will copy and paste it over. ICQ can function – just. The BEST speed I have ever got was 26kbps and even then it took about a minutes for a web page to open. Anything with heavy graphics is just a joke. I rarely bother surfing at home. ICQ & MSM messenger and sometimes not even they work until I disconnect and redial. Oh, how I would love broadband!!

Finally got to meet some of the crowd on Saturday night for a piss up. So hello to Reg Young - totally not what I expected him to be like, LDMA - taller than I thought he would be, DJ Pat - pretty much how I thought he would be, Wally Raffles - didnt really have a mental picture of him so no preconceived notions and the same with Mangoedout. Cheers guys.

Friday, January 21, 2005

It's that end of term feeling

The closer and closer we get to the end of term, the more and more energy is being sucked out of us.

Or at least that's what it feels and looks like. People who started off being all bouncy and full of energy and ideas and idealistic and were change the world are now "oh feck, do I have to teach those creeps again?" And those who started off cynical and got, well, even worse.

It's one of those things that annoys me when I speak to people back home - "oh you're an english teacher are you? That must have been fun, playing games. Wish I didn't have a proper job either" ???? Proper job, WTF???? And I go on to give them a piece of my mind about if they think it is easy then why dont they try it etc etc and you can see the expression on their face change to "oh, he's lost it again!"

I am sure that when I go back home and start applying for jobs, I will be asked what I did and be told the same thing. Its easy, its not a proper job etc. If I have the guts I will turn round and say something like "well, if you werent treating it like a proper job then no wonder you feel that way" or "You cant have been actually teaching then" Assuming of course they have done it themselves.

Sometimes, of course, it does feel that I am not teaching, just maintaining crowd control. Especially when the little darlings decide to play up during the Kings Song at the end of the day. Oh, I just wish one time I had a video camera to catch them at it so I could show the thai teachers and parents that little Somchai is not the imagined angel and is in fact one of Satans special little helpers.

Ah well, its the weekend. So two days of not worrying and only 1 more week of real teaching to go until the exams start. Hmm, must get back to ranting about other staff next week :)

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Traffic and Pedestrians in Bangkok

I read a lot of stuff on the internet. Perhaps too much sometimes. Unlike a previous writer on the blog, I find that the longer I stay here the less tolerant I have actually become to certain things.

Like the writer in the Bangkok Post a few days ago - who gave notice that he was going to fight back and “help” off motorbike riders who ride on the pavements - I am sick and tired of having to get out the way of them when they decide they cannot be bothered to wait for traffic to move or to try and wind their way through the traffic.

It does seem to be especially bad on lower Silom and unfortunately it peaks at rush hour just when I am battling my way though it to get to the local shops. The other bad time is when I am walking to and from work.

The route to work is a series of alleys that are maybe about 4 feet wider than an average car. This usually means I am walking in a space that has mere inches of safety between me getting hit and arriving in work in one piece. So far, I have been lucky and not been hit or even had metal brush my skin. Others have not been so fortunate and had cars hit their arms, legs or had to fling themselves against walls to avoid being hit. For me, the cars are usually not the problem, it’s the poxy motorbikes.

I can be walking along successfully avoiding the cars and a motorbike decides it cant wait and will charge down the 2 feet of space I am occupying. Its then a game of chicken to see who gives in first. It’s a funny thing but it does seem to be that if I can see the eyes of the rider, I can stare them down but if they have a mirrored visor, its them that usually win. Psychology at work I guess. Even when there is no traffic or there is a gap between cars and the bikes have the whole road to themselves, the bikes do seem to take a perverse pleasure is trying to drive as close as possible to the intended target i.e. me. I have just about as many near misses with no traffic as I have had with traffic!

The trouble is of course, is that if you do “help” off the riders, the odds are us farang are going to come off worse unless we are lucky. But given past experiences, the rider themselves would run after you and catch you, someone else would report you to the coppers, witness could appear even if they didn’t see it and confirm the story and then …. well you get the idea, especially if it’s a motorbike taxi.

Leading on from that, crossing the road is a complete nightmare. Even at pedestrian crossings or should that be especially at pedestrian crossings! I still naively believe somewhere in my brain that the cars will stop and let me cross. Oh no. of course not, that would be logical.

Its purely and simply again a game of dare. If you can dare to step, out the cars will usually stop – but not always. When was the last time you saw a free path across a pedestrian crossing in rush hour? Almost never, the prats driving the BMWs, Mercs, Hondas, buses, taxis etc make sure of that.

Again going back to Silom, last week I was crossing the road and the cars were backed up, a brief break in the traffic produced maybe a 10 foot gap in one lane, the rest were stationary. Thinking it was safe I started crossing. The driver of the middle lane were the gap was saw me, I know he did as we made eye contact. But did he stop so I could cross? No, of course not. The result I was a was not walking straight across but was having to walk diagonally to avoid this prick running me down. If he had just touched the brakes, he would have waited 5 seconds and then continued that precious extra 10 feet to the bumper of the car in front. I think this whole myth of Jai Yen Yen is just that, a myth. Put a Thai behind a wheel and they are more of a homicidal maniac than people back in my home town and Thais think we are hot tempered.

And it has come to pass that I have now had more than 1,000 poor lost souls who found their way here and read the ramblings. So, to all of you I say welcome, thanks and I hope you enjoyed the rant of the days and you come back again. Please visit some of the other sites and buttons on this page I link to.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The Winter of TEFL Teachers Discontent

This is the period where most TEFL teachers in Thailand start to get twitchy.

I am not talking about those backpackers who are here for a couple of months or those who have a history of doing a moonlight flit from one school to another. I am talking about those poor deluded fools who actually try and do the right thing and stay with a school for a full year and try and do their best for the kids. I would like to think I am in this latter category - even though I get frustrated, even though I get angry at the stupidity of them and the whole situation. At the end of the day, I still try and do the right thing.

Now, why are so many people twitchy? Contracts and jobs for the new school year. That's why. A lot of schools haven't a clue what going on next year and don't tell the teachers. The teachers are left with no idea if they have a job, have to find a new one, need to make arrangements for new work permits and so on.

A basic sort of timetable is this

January - teachers begin to ask schools what is happening. Schools begin to ask their board what is happening.

February - teachers ask again what is happening. Schools haven't decided yet what to tell the teachers.

March - teachers start applying for new jobs but there aren't may around as a lot of schools don't know what is happening. Schools decide to wait until after the holidays before making a decision.

April - teachers run around in circles trying to organise a new job and their work permit and visa. Schools cant make decisions because everyone is on holiday.

May - teachers have gone to Japan, USA, UK etc in disgust to be replaced with a new batch of frantic teachers trying to find jobs. Schools realise that term started last week and maybe they ought to advertise.

June - the situation settles down as teachers start to find jobs......

in Taiwan

Schools are still trying to organise timetables and interviews. Students wonder what the hell is going on with the 4th teacher of the year, as any teachers that have been hired have quit because of the chaos.

OK, a bit of an exaggeration but not as much as you might think in some schools.

In a way, at least I know what's happening. I have to get a new job. But it could mean I don't move school. The reason for that is the agency I work for has lost the contract to provide teachers. The school is now going to employ the teachers direct and in fact I saw the advert for it on Sunday. Hmm, should I apply for it considering all I have said.

Well, the answer actually is probably. Because with it going direct, it may provide a better deal than I have just now. Better working relationships with the Thai staff, better pay and so on. OR it could be a complete disaster. Who knows?

The only thing that is certain is that I am now applying for a few jobs, including some International Schools where basically I know I haven't a chance in hell but have decided to try anyway. The worst that can happen is I don't get a reply. Unless of course they phone up and ask me if I applied as some sort of bet! :(

But going back to the broader picture, just who is to blame for all this uncertainty and confusion?

Well, from where I am, it lies with everyone involved to an extent but the majority does lie with the schools in not making plans for the unexpected event called "NEXT SEMESTER" Add in the mix of any new regulations that the government has added, any change of management at the school who wants to change things around and well......

It has to be said that there are some teachers out there who don't help. Agreeing to start a job, getting a second one and then not bothering to either tell the first school they aren't coming or turn up for 1 day or even not turning up in the country!. Which means the school needs to go through the whole hiring thing again.

How can it be improved? Well, a bit of planning wouldn't go amiss from the schools. Some idea for existing teachers on how many are going to be kept on, putting out adverts in February for vacancies in May. On the teachers side, keeping the school informed if they cant take up the position would be a great help to a lot of the "better" schools.

Add all that up, you will still get stuff going on that wasn't expected or planned for and last minute emergencies and changes but it couldn't be any worse than what's happening now.

Could it?

Thursday, January 13, 2005

The Finite Amount of Patience

Today I have finally given up with one class and for the remaining two weeks of actual teaching time left, I will get them to do workbook and worksheet activities.

I believe that each of us has a finite amount of patience and for some people its larger than others. I would like to think that mine is pretty large but today mine ran out. I have a P3 class that has 2 really bright kids but unfortunately, they are ill disciplines, rude, disruptive, distractive, over active kids I have out of all my classes. Unfortunately, they then lead the next two intelligent boys down the same road.

Their favourite activity at the moment is to jump up and down behind my back when they think I am not looking. Also whenever the word bottle is mentioned, one of them always shouts bottom! Yes, yes, very good. Now shut up. Looking back I don’t think they have ever shown any respect to me through the full year. They go through the motions sometimes but actual respect, I don’t think so. They also like to shout out almost random words or phrases when I am asking a question ie “where is the meat?” Some of the class will go “ in the fridge” but one of these two clowns will shout out “in the bathroom!” When I ask them a simple question they pretend not to understand. And use impolite Thai to me - ARAI WA? They think I don’t hear and understand what they say but I know enough and hear enough to understand they are being disrespectful.

I have tried involving them in as many activities through the lesson as possible to keep them occupied and interested but as soon as they stop the activity, they start acting up again. They are not interested in listening to other peoples attempts, they are only concerned about themselves. I really don’t want to pick them exclusively for activities as I am aware I am already giving them far too much of my time during a class as it is. The others deserve it far more.

I have sent a letter to their parents, I have shouted them down in front of class, I have given them low marks on their report cards, I have given them lines, I have stood them in a corner, I have had our Thai staff speak to them, I have embarrassed them in front of the rest of the class but as soon as they go out the classroom door all is forgotten and they are laughing and joking about it again.

Of course, what happens when they do this is that the rest of the class watch them or listen to them instead of to me. Now, this foursome are intelligent enough to get away with not paying attention but the rest can't. They need to listen to me and other speaking so they can get it right.

A few of the other teachers have already given up on all their classes and given the behaviour - which goes back to the lack of discipline and consequences of actions that I have moaned about before - that is hardly surprising. Sad but not surprising.

Which is all the more annoying as many of these problem kids are great out of the classroom. You see them on the street or in a corridor and its good morning teacher with a wai, how are you teacher. Rather suspiciously they are on there own or with a parent when they do this. In other words peer behaviour and maybe pressure to misbehave.

Ah well, there are only a few weeks to go and I will only miss one of two kids out the entire lot.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Business As Usual

After all the excitement fo the last few days, its returned to normal or at least as normal as it ever gets in this lunatic asylum.

We had a staff meeting on Friday to discuss a few things and as always, nothing was really concrete. We will all at some point have a chat to discuss future opportunities - when we dont know, but it will be soon. Too be fair, the agency is in a bit of a pickle. They could still be trying to get schools to sign up for next year so at the moment they have nothing confirmed. Or they know exactly what they have - nothing and are too scared to tell everyone. Its probably somewhere in the middle.

But the search for jobs on continues. I sent away a couple of applications today. But the trouble is not many places look for staff just now. Quite a few leave it until the last minute. The ones that do tend to be the better schools who want a US / UK teaching degree. Not just a TESOL which is a problem for me as I have a degree and TESOL not a teaching degree. However, I am just gong to send off applications anyway and the worst that can happen is the dont reply.

Anyway, again the topic of Visas came up - we will be given plenty of time to get a new job before the agency cancells the Visa and Work Permit of someone leaving next year. Hmm, little bit cynical about this one but will wait and see.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Relief and Discipline in Thai Schools

OK, you were probably wondering what that semi cryptic post on Friday was all about.

Well basically a kid made a complaint about me to the Thai teachers and ran into their staffroom crying his eyes out. He basically said that I had attempted to strangle him.

Au contraire mes amis! All I actually had done was put my right hand at the bottom of his neck to make him keep pace and not wander all over the place like he was trying to do at that point and had done previously. Sort of like a lead on a dog so to speak. I actually thought the way he was wriggling he was just playing and I never heard him say once in English or Thai that I was hurting him. Neither did any of the other kids who were in front, beside and behind me. It was only when I let go – possibly 60 seconds from start to finish – he suddenly “collapsed to the ground” and started crying. My initial reaction was oh what a drama queen as he got quite hysterical and then wouldn’t let anyone else near him and then bolted off to the staff room. Thinking about it now, I still don’t think that I had gripped him at all tightly. But and here’s the rub, we had been warned at various points through the year that we weren’t even supposed to touch the kids, never mind hold them at that point of the body. Hence me saying it was avoidable and mostly my fault, I shouldn’t have done it.

But then what can you do to keep some form of discipline? Most of the “younger” age group teachers have been, at various points, flicking ears, pulling arms to get kids to stay in one place etc etc. Not what you would call corporal punishment at all in my eyes but still definitely classed as touching.

Well, to cut a long story short, the teachers called me in to get my side of the story with one of our office staff translating. A few of the other kids who saw what happened were also called in to say what happened. Not to put too fine a point about it, I was totally bricking it. As I had said on Friday, if logic took precedent, I would be alright. But bearing in mind this is a country where the point of view can be dependent on the clout of the various people and not on the facts then I could have been in for a difficult time and worst case, the agency could have been asked by the school to remove me from the contract.

Fortunately, it seems to have settled with the parents giving it a bit of the “my darling is an angel and would never do this sort of thing” and I am not sure what level of combination but the agency and the school saying the teacher wouldn’t do it deliberately and anyway the kid is known for telling tales.

But anyway, lesson learned. I won’t do that again even though it may be my natural instincts to “discipline” a child for doing something they shouldn’t be doing ( or the other way around ).

But this whole approach and attitude to discipline is very confusing and hypocritical. You see the Thai teachers at the line ups smacking the kids with rulers or their hands on the legs or arms or hands and we aren’t supposed to touch them. When we speak to the parents, they want us to control the kids and get them to talk but when we try to get them to talk, they only talk in thai and don’t listen to us. When we punish them, the parents say we are being too hard and the kids should play more games. Well err… what do you want? Make your mind up please.

Anyway, thank god we only have 3 weeks of teaching left and then we start the exams at the beginning of February and maybe see the kids for the last time round about the 3rd week in. After that its still up in the air when we leave the school for good and what will happen for next year. New school, new job, new rants for sure :)

Friday, January 07, 2005


At the moment I am really not feeling in the best of moods.

Something has happened today that will either have bad employment consequences for me or it will be brushed off and life will continue as normal. I will hopefully find out for certain on Monday. Logically nothing should happen but bearing in mind this is Thailand and the people involved….. Until then the knot in my stomach will surface every now and again. And of course the really stupid thing is that it was 98% preventable – from my side.

Until then I hope its ciao and not goodbye.

If it all works out OK I will tell you all what happened.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Thai Kids and Little Birds

Watching some of the little ones ( and not so little ones - some of them are bigger than me in both height and weight which is a scary thing for a 12 year old!! ) at lunch today I was trying to think what they look like.

Then it struck me. Little birds still in the nest, waiting for the mothers or canteen staff or whoever to drop the next batch of food down their mouths. Sometimes when you go through the playground in the morning you see kids of 10, 11 years of age being hand fed by teh mothers. Come on ! Have the mothers nothing else to do? Hmm Probably not.

Even in the canteen they seem incapable of waiting more than 1 seconds for the little ( usually susgar infested ) treat. I have seen them literally shove others out the wave to get served. The way they treat the staff is not far short of the way they treat us teachers - with little or no respect. I saw one kid in particular throw a tantrum because there were 4 other kids in the scrum by the server and he didnt get his food fast enough. One other I actually saw go round the back of the counter again because he wasnt served fast enough. Other regularly pull at aprons, arms, legs anything to get the food quicker.

I hold my hat off to the canteen staff I really do. Unfortunately, they are probably of the impressions that they deserve that treatment as they dont have the social standing / face that the kids do with the mums and dads BMWs and Mercs. If I were there I might just slip into the urban myth of the McDonalds employee who, when he gets treated badly gobs on the burger before selling it.

And on that cheery note - I hope you arent eating - goodnight and be nice to anyone that gives you food! :)

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

2005 and beyond.

Well, happy new year to everyone and I hope it was a good one.

Thailand and Bangkok obviously had quite a quiet one with many bars being quieter than normal and especially the streets as well. It seemed that a lot of people did what the government suggested and just stayed home to see in the new year.

And the new year brings in, for me at least, not a lot of change except the wallet lightened and the waistline expanded. ( why is it never the other way around? )

I had intended to write a mock obituary of an ex college Mr Slabby McSlab who recently departed our scene but obviously in light of other events, it isnt going to happen for a while.

The first day back was as subdued as could be expected from a bunch of teachers who know there isnt much point putting effort in with the kids going beserk, the exams coming up at the end of February, the contract ending and that they will be home or in a new job in a couple of months.

Anyway, chin chin, and dont let the bastards grind you down. ( geddit? grind? Daily TEFL Grin.... oh forget it, good night :) )