Posted: 22/09/2012 in Education, Health

Stress is now going to be more of a recurring theme, quite simply I have accepted that the part-time teaching job is important to me and that will bring all careerism and profiteering issues up again. Here’s a good one. I needed photocopying for tests, and was told that bulk photocopying was done at the shop. I asked my principal and she said give the tests to her. I should have argued. Later she was in a meeting and I was marking near her. At the end of the meeting we spoke, and I asked her if she understood what was required of the tests. She checked the envelope to find that two of the tests were missing. It appears that other Principals in her meeting had used my tests as scrap paper. Fortunately a disaster had been averted because if I hadn’t asked her and she had photocopied what was in her envelope 2 of the three tests would not have been done.

This is a clear example of the kind of stress I will have to endure as part of my decision to work in a schoool where no-one speaks English. These tests were a small part of a major stress disaster over the last 10 days. On Tuesday 11th the Principal told me that I had to write an end of term exam and give a term grade 70% classwork and 30% exam with a pass mark of 50%. Now I knew of this uneducational pass mark but I don’t know that a term grade consisted of 70% classwork. For 2 of the classes I had begun the term as a volunteer, and whilst I checked some of their work I had accepted discipline and the lack of marking as part of my compromise. I should have told her to piss off with the classwork side but instead the next day I came up with this:-

Tests Effort Notebook Behaviour
20% 20% 20% 10%

This meant I had to check all the books, and I did that this week. Mega-stress. But I learnt that although some of the students appeared to be working they were not, so in the end it was worthwhile. As a volunteer such did not matter, I kind of accepted that the students could volunteer to work with me or not. But as a “proper teacher” I have a responsibility on these matters. In the last 2 weeks I have also instituted a detention system which is effective – more time. In fact it works out well, check the books (one set a week) whilst someone is in detention.

I am actually happy that I am involved in the grading, I had previously considered asking to be so. I don’t know how serious the students take it especially with this pass mark. Every student must get 50%. There are students with no notebooks who behave badly and if I told them to write the alphabet 5 times would still not get 50%. The requirements would then be that the students must repeat the test, how meaningless. I will create a sliding scale of marks starting at 50%, I am not wasting extra time on students for whom the percentage means nothing. If they don’t agree, I will argue and not do it, but then the tests matter so little – after all my tests were seen as scrap paper.

So this week has been particularly hard, and meditation was gone. I didn’t sleep properly, one time I got up at 3.00 am to finish writing a test – I had had 5 hours sleep by then. In my last discussion of stress meditation was reduced, this week none – as with no Chi Gung. But I must get used to this working again – remember I haven’t worked for 6 years.

Interestingly I have been conscious of a need to change my diet to take account of the increased stress. I need to chouai yooi more, and I need to improve my GERD treatment. I now have green juice and apple-carrot juice before work. But I must also have green juice in the evening and kombucha tea as well as kimchee with my lunch – or at least some dong every day. To help with GERD I am starting again the ACV, turmeric, honey and lemon drink.

Concomitant to all of this there are decisions that bring with them sadness. This teaching makes me tired so effectively it is my last bout of work. More importantly it means that I will not be a spiritual teacher or writer. Since retiring I have done much writing with the birth of BlogBill, Treatise of Zandtao, Matriellez on education, and the first book of Apocalopus finished. I would like to teach to Zandtao, but whilst that would be meaningful I have now realised that teaching means subscribing to an organisation such as Buddhism or mb, or it means being a writer – subscribing to that aspect of the 1%’s economy. Neither of these are me so my spiritual teaching will be limited to personal contact. blogs or internet posts; not that meaningful. That is SAD.

  1. naivelysage says:

    It seems that you have been doing a fair bit of productive work with your various blogs since you retired. I know from the last two plus years that it can be difficult to find the motivation to be productive without external drivers such as the obligations of paid work.

    Perhaps teaching is part of your spiritual path and that is why you are being recalled to it. You have, I think, said in the past that there is a natural time for retirement when a teacher no longer has the energy to deal with kids but from your description the real energy drain is dealing with the bureaucratic requirements of the job plus the obligations of preparing, marking and reporting on work which can often seem meaningless. Draining too is the understanding that the institution you are working for has a lot of inefficiencies that it is unwilling to examine. The challenge of working within an institutional context is to both rationalise and spiritualise the way you work within the institution.

  2. mandtao says:

    1 scifi book finished 1 part way through, spiritual one almost finished as well as an educational one almost finished, not just blogs. It is not so much the pay as the lack of impact, the lack of people meaningfully interacting with what I am writing, but of course in the book world money and distribution are controlled by the publishers.

    No doubt that teaching is part of my spiritual Path – always has been. In my education book I described where education could go if it were education, but throughout will be the undertones of why I retired early. I am unsure where you got your “energy recollection” from. My own retrospective recollection of why I retired was that I was sick and tired of all the careerism and profiteering, and I wanted to study Buddhism. That study became all the writing I have done – not quite the same but not too different either, but I now don’t feel the same urge. A scifi book has stalled as has the Mandtao blog. At the time of retirement I was still enjoying the teaching of kids but the careerism and profiteering was too much. Whilst reports, marking and preparation are tedious that is just discipline, they never really bothered me. They stressed me this time because it was so much work at once when I wasn’t used to it – having been retired for 6 years.

    The institutional side is always draining as far as I can see, perhaps in Thailand more so than previously if I became involved. As a volunteer they let me decide what to do, and it gave them what they wanted. Now they have an experienced English teacher in a small backwoods primary school teaching pre-school as well, this gives them PR – they take my photo a lot. But in all schools genuine education doesn’t matter, ultimately that is what causes the draining. Same is true here in Thailand. I didn’t say in my blog but at the school the teachers don’t stay in the classroom – they set work and go and do other stuff. What is that?

    There have been 2 institutional impositions that have impacted on me, both of which stressed me but now I have then under control; if there are too many I will simply not renew my contract which is termly. My Principal knows she has no financial control so she is careful – more careful than she is with exam papers!! Previously the institutional challenges became too much for me, now I just hope there will be minimal Principal involvement. Can’t be really, we don’t speak a common language. This lack of involvement and imposition is what might make me comfortable, unlike being Head of Maths I am not at all important in the career structure.

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