Thursday, March 30, 2017

They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha Ha

Instant Message conversation:  

 Crazy Bob: So i ask you, X, if someone had told you in 1976 that you would be living in X place in 30, 40 years would you have greeted the news with wonder and awe?

ETX: I would have said, "You mean I don't lose my mind and live in a cardboard box? Far out!"  

So, how many people -- colleagues or former colleagues -- do you know who are in mental institutions, or recently released from mental institutions?

I know three.

Is that a lot?

I don't know.

I'm 47 years old, and have worked with dozens of people, probably hundreds at this point, so maybe it's not that strange that three people on my Facebook feed are institutionalized.

(Not close friends, incidentally, just former colleagues.)

 According to statistics, about 1 in 5 people in America experience serious mental illness in their life. The percentage of people who end up institutionalized is harder to figure, because many end up in jail instead.

Of course I know a tremendous number of people who are barely clinging to sanity, but three of 'em, well, they just couldn't fake it anymore.

(Crazy Bob is still pretty crazy but he's having some health problems that have slowed him down a little.)

I have long postulated that crazy people are drawn to the TEFL lifestyle.

But the world being what it is these days, maybe it's no longer a good place for crazy people to hide.

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Sunday, March 12, 2017

TEFLpocolypse 2017: Take Shelter

It almost seemed too good to be true, this contract in China, considering the ongoing TEFLpocolypse.

I was offered a job with barely a ten minute interview, there were no particular hassles about my qualifications, and the terms are pretty much equal to my first job in Saudi -- $4000 a month plus accommodation and 3 months paid vacation time. 

Almost too good to be true, and turns out it kind of was. 

Two of my colleagues were up for contract renewals recently, and this week found out they wouldn't be offered new contracts. There are perfectly good teachers with qualifications, who are in China with spouses and kids.  

Now they're scrambling to find jobs. 

Word is that the school is going to be hiring more bilingual Chinese teachers next year, and the contracts for international teachers will involve about 20 percent more teaching and 20 percent less salary. 

The rumors are flying around the office, of course. Private international schools are being legislated against, and there's a story that it will now be impossible for a foreigner to work in Beijing for more than 5 years. (I can't find any immediate confirmation of that online.) 

This is definitely one of the hardest jobs I've had, in terms of the students. Everything I'd ever heard about Chinese kids -- that they were respectful, orderly, studious, quiet, and well-behaved -- is absolutely incorrect here. Management is a wreck; pretty much every single management position was vacated at Christmas, and new people are struggling to figure out what's going on. Something like a half-dozen teachers left at Christmas, fed up with the terrible students, inconsistent management, and the isolated location. 

(We're in a new development an hour from Beijing, basically in a construction zone, so most of the teachers had spotty internet service and constant noise. I'm at the front of the compound so haven't suffered that much, and truthfully most of the ones that left were people with a lot of experience teaching back home but not much time abroad, ergo had unreasonable expectations. Like civilization and stuff.) 

But after a rocky start and a conflict with the dotty old lady who was my immediate superior, who also left at Christmas, I;m actually kind of enjoying teaching the spoiled, neglected little shits now. I use to train them like Pavlov dogs, and it works a treat. 

Still it seems this job won't last more than the 2 year contract I have now, ending summer of 2018. 

My teaching philosophy nowadays is basically "take the money and run" anyway. X remains if not fearless, than at least resigned, in the face of a profession, and a world, that is rapidly burning to the ground. 

"The world is not the same as it was. Mutants ... they're gone now."