Sunday, October 05, 2008

Teacher's Diary: final day

The "big" news that hits me as I turn up for breakfast (yes they provide breakfast! not a bad place, this!) is that last night there was an accident right outside school. A power cable had been knocked out by a swaying tree and had been ripped right out. It fell down through the hammock - luckily nobody was in it at the time - and the resulting power surge blew various pieces of equipment in the serviced apartments. The apartments in question have a very high teacher occupancy rate. It turns out the swaying tree had been an obvious threat but the local authorities had only cut it down yesterday after the accident, and apparently there is no buildings insurance to speak of. It remains to be seen what will happen in way of recompense.

Today is a 'marking day', with no classes for me. I get my marking done fairly quickly and once the peer checking is completed, I announce scores to the students. On the whole, I'm delighted. Scores were far higher than I expected for many students. Either they, or I, or all of us have exceeded ourselves. It gives me a boost for the rest of the day.

The school is eerily quiet though, as only the upper grades are here. Now I have nothing to do, I take some time watching other teachers finish their work. With no classes to attend, the teachers become more talkative and the room echoes with three distinct languages.

There are three "groups" of teachers in our establishment: Thais, Filipinos and westerners. It would be nice and idealistic to think of it as a multicultural working wonderland, with everybody happily mucking in together but this is not how life works, at least not in any country I've been to. Each staff room can be almost literally zoned off by the three groupings, despite the fact most teachers can sit where they wish. Naturally perhaps, each group tends to stick together and have the occasional whine or spat with the other groups. That's not to say it isn't harmonious mind you, on the contrary, Englishman especially are often happiest when they are complaining. We sit and moan about the noise from the Thai staff, who sit and moan about the laziness of the westerners, who moan about the cliques of the Filipinos, who sit and moan about the arrogance of the westerners and the bossiness of the Thais.

For the most part, it's pretty harmless and I can honestly say that nearly every teacher will put petty differences aside when it comes to doing anything to help the students. On occasions such as Christmas, everybody works and has fun together. What's more, there are plenty of relationships that cross the imaginary divide.

Working in Thailand is rarely boring (though today comes close due to lack of work) and often rewarding. Some teachers become so bogged down in day to day grumbles and gripes - just as we all do - that they forget the bigger picture. We are the guests, and we can be grateful or get lost.

And that's all for the teacher's diary, bar the occasional 'one off' perhaps. Thanks for reading!

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