Saturday, October 14, 2006

Angry soul searching

Τhe strangest things bring people to this site. A search for a BBQ video is just as likely to motivate somebody to click on my blog in Google as a teacher looking for role play exercises for EFL learners. Yesterday somebody chanced upon me looking for, "teaching efl optimism pessimism". I guess that lately there has been enough of both here.

I try to keep the tone of my blog positive, if a little sarcastic on occasion.
However, there are times when you just went to vent, to lash out against the sometimes criminally idiotic things that you see being carried out in the name of education. The scams, cons and lies that are being told students and parents by those charged with teaching them. Sometimes it gets so bad that you feel you have to scream out and let somebody know what is going on, to expose the whole rotten edifice of what passes for education in the private foreign language education system here in Greece.

You probably have no idea what I mean so I would like to illustrate this by way of an example. Today I talked to a friend of mine today, also a frontisterio (private language teacher) who has just left her previous job at a school we shall call the K school of languages. During the past year and a half the school which has no more than 300 students has got through, three secretaries, six teachers (out of a total of eight) and five drivers (i.e. the guys who drive the mini van that picks up the younger students). I worked there many years ago and learnt that I had lost my job at the school just two days after my daughter was born, so I guess I'm biased.

The owner, who is considered to be a pillar of the local EFL teaching community, regularly berates and demeans her teachers in front of the students.She is absolutely convinced that there is only one way to teach and that is her way. Any attempt at discussion or debate is meet with instant dismissal..
It is not uncommon for staff to be reduced to a state of tears by her tirades.

How does such a person stay in business is beyond me. Yet the supply of people looking for work so far outstrips demand that she can call upon an endless stream of employees to insult and fire.
Most teachers keep their doubts and reservations to themselves knowing that to voice such criticism would cost them their job in a time of high unemployment,

Thus rent doth make cowards of us all." to paraphrase Shakespeare.

I really do not want to be part of this system, yet until I can find an alternative that pays the bills I'm stuck.


Anonymous said...

I remember being a tutor many years before I became a certified teacher. Tutors were treated like they were disposable, but this was a time when certified teachers were not being hired at all, so the tutoring centre hired a lot of B.Ed. grads. I was the only person without one, but the parents were told I had one. I remember how the parents were charged ridiculous amounts of cash. I couldn't say anything because I was desperate for work.

I hope you find something better. Have you thought of coming to Toronto? Are you an English citizen? We have the world's most multicultural city, never mind what NYC says. :)If you are English, it will be easier for you to get in here.

dorapap said...

Unfortunately you don't have many options in that field in Greece. You either work at frontisteria, just give private lessons or you might try your luck at the ASEP exams to be a state teacher. Of course there is always the possibility to find work somewhere else (office etc)
I experience it every day myself, so I feel for you!

teacher dude said...

The Devil or the deep blue sea, I guess.

melusina said...

Well, here's hoping you can find another way to make some cash. Maybe you can write an EFL teaching book? You seem to have a lot of great, revolutionary ideas...

Not that that can make you enough cash to live on. But if you write a book bosses like that can hardly argue with you.

Your experiences pretty much seal the deal on what I will try to do for work here. I really didn't want to teach English in any capacity, even as a private tutor anyway. I may never get a job but I'll be damned if I put up with that kind of crap. It isn't the pay that would bother me, but that kind of treatment. I think I would be fired the first day. =p

teacher dude said...

The problem with writing a course book using this stuff is that it doesn't fit in with the traditional model.

As far as working teaching English in a frontisterio is concerned, it is a place,

"Where you'll kiss ass or crack."

Dead Kennedys

A Holiday in Cambodia

Anonymous said...

Publishers are always looking for new writers and new ideas. Write to all the major publishers - contact the Thessaloniki offices and the Athens offices. Say you'd like some work as a reporter (writing reports on a freelance basis on manuscripts). From that you don't know what may happen. Of course they're not suddenly going to ask you to produce a coursebook with the material on this site, but if you show that you are competent you could get work writing Teacher's books, Companions etc. It's a useful sideline and something you can do at home of course.

teacher dude said...

Thanks Anon I really appreciate the comment. I'll look into what you said over the coming weeks.