I’ve been ruminating on for several years of how Continuing Professional Development like observations, workshops and being given responsibility for a supplementary file or two often start off seeming like an opportunity and then gradually come to seem like just unpaid work that benefits the school more than you. While I’ve been thinking, someone else has been writing- and has summarized the situation in a simple and very direct letter in this month’s Humanizing Language Teaching Letters Page:
“Dear Ms Kryszewska
I wrote to you sometime ago – after I had been enthused by Mario Rinvolucri – and told you I’d be submitting to HLT. You very kindly sent me back the guidelines. I apologise for not getting back to you sooner.
I’ve since received your hand-out: “13 Reasons Why You Might Want To Write For HLT” which you circulated via e-mail to all the readers of HLT.
Unfortunately, as always in this exploitative industry of ours, there is no question of payment for this extra work. This is not your fault. I’m sure, as always, there is no budget for this in my school.
However, I have already produced many worksheets for my school and taken several teacher-training sessions without payment, and, to be frank, am sick and tired of not being remunerated for my time and effort. I can’t feed my family by “raising my profile in the company”.
As it happens, I already share creative ideas and infect my colleagues with enthusiasm on a day-to-day basis out of an feeling of basic human solidarity, which the people with their hands on the purse strings in our industry would do well to emulate. Perhaps I am harking back to a golden age of the 1970’s when teachers originally set up schools as co-operatives which have since been taken over by mercenary, corporate EFL barons who place cost effectiveness over pedagogy every time.
I object to a premiership elite of pop star EFL methodologists being handsomely rewarded, while the rest of have to slum it in the lower leagues on casual contracts and insulting rates of pay, wondering whether we’ll be timetabled out next week or not. With the greatest of respect to Mario Rinvolucri, whose work I admire immensely, I think it shows insensitivity and disrespect to expect others to produce for gratis what he does for love and money.
Instead of a school asking teachers to contribute for free, one sure way of avoiding the kind of de-motivation and stuck-in-a-rut-ness, would be to stop undervaluing our contribution every day of the working week by paying us a decent wage in the first place.
(End of quote. Name not published, but I would put money on this person working for International House, as this almost exactly echoes what people who worked for them in Madrid who did my DELTA with me used to say)
My twoyenworth on this matter, slightly changed since I’ve been in Japan, is:
This person is right, but would be much better off forgetting that fact as soon as possible (I recommend tequila for its magical effects on short term memory). Now that the younger generation in Japan have decided that they are being exploited by their companies they have thrown themselves into the same misery, soul searching and jobsworth attitudes that had become the particular speciality of the British over the years, reducing how well they do their jobs without improving their position or their happiness in any way at all. Until someone comes up with a better way of arranging our industry (and/ or industry in general) more fairly, the only two options which are likely to lead to happiness for you and the people around you are throwing yourself into the job with abandon or getting out completely.
Might I have oversimplified the situation just a tad? Comments below please: