6 March 2013

Daybreak

6.15 The digital alarm goes but I'm usually already awake.
6.16 Stumble to the living room extension and press the kettle button.
6.17 Shower including wet shave using the mirror I bought at Tesco Lotus the day after I arrived.
6.25 Breakfast in the living room area - muesli or toast with honey, a big mug of coffee and my essential banana.Watch Al Jazeera news on the television.
6.42 Getting dressed - including inappropriately - tie and black leather shoes.
6.50. Remember lunch token, name tag, diary and pens and set off for work.
7.00 "Sawasdwee krap" to the maids and then soon to the street sweeper and the motorcycle taxi guys in their official orange jerkins. A foul smell of subterranean sewage wafts up on the corner. I hold my breath. The same stray dogs are scrounging around looking for scraps. The same young woman in a light blue Volkswagen Beetle drives by. The traffic jam is already congealing as another working day begins in Bangkok 
7.12 Arrive at the school and clock in electronically with my name tag.
7.13 Drink water from one of the fountains.
7.15 In classroom. Turn on air conditioning. Switch on computer. Check out the Daily Bulletin. Prepare the electronic register before the pupils arrive. Check personal emails and last night's football (if any).
7.45 Pupils arrive. A tutor group of nine fourteen year olds. There's Porsche and Win and there's Eye and Cherie.Take register. Read out notices.
8.00 We are in Pavilion One - like an open barn. The pupils stand in lines. The tannoy plays the Thai national anthem. The younger children sing along. Afterwards all students turn and "wei" to each other with hands clasped together as if in prayer.

And so begins yet another school day. I have been back here two months now and the thing that really sustains me - apart from the salary I can save - is the students. So much warmth and sheer pleasantness. The idea of respecting teachers seems innate and unquestionable but as before, the main thing I observe is how very pleasant they are to each other. There's no chance of a fight breaking out. They help each other with their work They don't shout or snarl or seek to belittle others. Nobody's trying to impress or to be top dog. They just get on with things without fuss and with ready smiles on their faces. There can be subtle cultural undertones but essentially what you see is what you get - happy kids, happy to be at school and happy to do their best, grateful for any extra help you can give them. If only teaching had always been this way...

10 comments:

  1. I was trying to figure out what the bananawatch was that you had for breakfast till I realised there was a missing space. And as for dressing inappropriately and sawasdwee krapping the maids, well the mind boggles. Is it something to do with the heat?

    Seriously though, it must be very rewarding to teach in Bangkok and not just financially.

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  2. I'm no expert but I'm sure not all the kids back in Sheffield were horrors....and I do wonder if there are ever any naughty kids in Bankok?
    Of course what you describe sounds wonderful and if only we could transplant such behaviour to the UK.

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  3. Is it a Buddhist thing d'you think. I don't more than 20 but they're all calm and mellow pretty much all of the time and a pleasure to be around.

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  4. Sounds like what a classroom used to be like in the good old days when teachers were treated with respect ... by parents and therefore kids. Glad you are experiencing the joy of teaching again and your final experiences in the classroom will be better than they were when you retired.

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  5. Sounds perfect!
    But later? - any statistics on mental health, depressions, stress etc in later life ?
    Over here in Sunny Catalonia (still a part of Spain), they keep telling us how great the education system is in Finland etc and how we should take a leaf out of their books - but then, just the other week,a TV presenter gave out a rant about, "oh yeah, perfect, but what about all those depressed alcoholics?". Who knows?!
    Having said that, I'm sure some UK kids grow up as "free" (ha ha!) souls and continue being just as nasty into later life!

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  6. It does all sound so lovely, and easy to teach. Here the Montessori classes are similar. Except that I used to get the feeling I had a bunch of considerate and practical, yet very INDIVIDUAL young (7 - 10 year-old) people. Are the kids you teach able to be individuals too YP? Not wishing to cast dispersions, but you didn't mention that...

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  7. SHOOTING PARROTS Wearing a tie and leather shoes in 36 degree + heat seems quite bizarre... but this isn't required of women teachers! It's sexism!
    LIBBY You're right to remind us that generalisation can be very misleading and yes many youngsters I taught in Sheffield were lovely, well-balanced and appreciative students.
    MUMASU I am sure that Buddhist philosophy does impact on Thai people's behaviour in lots of ways.
    HELEN Yes. It's a nice way to sign off from a profession that could suck the lifeblood out of you and leave you out to dry. I think you'd love it too Helen.
    BRIAN Depression in later life? I haven't seen any statistics but I doubt that it's an issue. After all if you are contented and calm in your schooldays why should you be storing something up for the future? I guess the main issue here is the grinding poverty that the majority face...not the kids in my school though. They're all rich.
    KATHERINE Individualism seems less prized than the ability to get along with others - to fit in with the rest of society but there are some real "one offs" in the school who show they are a bit different from the rest. I am always drawn to kids like that. Gemma the Art teacher oversees some wonderful acts of creation by the way. So much patience.

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  8. I like the way you put that YP: "...oversees some wonderful acts of creation..."

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  9. OK, thanks. Just asking , it sounds too good to be true!

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  10. OK, thanks. Just asking , it sounds too good to be true!

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