A brief recent clash with Jason Renshaw over whether something is rotten in the state of TEFL (my answer- yes, but no worse than the rest of this crazy world), reminded me of our only other disagreement about what he called “the smeagol teachers who turn up five minutes before work and rip out 5-10 wordfinds and worksheets as their version of preparing for a day’s classes”. Although it seems to be behind me, I have worked with and supervised people like this before, and although I saw it as a problem that needed to be tackled rather than something you just throw up your hands in defeat about, it never annoyed me. Here are some possible reasons why:
– Does teachers paid at or under the national minimum wage (summer school teachers in the UK) or less than teachers 10 years ago still working as hard as they possibly can and paying for their own materials and teacher development improve the industry, or will paying peanuts and getting monkeys finally teach schools that they get what they pay for?
– Makes the rest of us look good
– I’ve had days or even weeks when I really couldn’t be bothered and so just used my greatest hits with minimal extra preparation. If I’d never made any greatest hits, obviously I’d be using the first acceptable thing I found instead. And if I had that feeling every day for years, would I really respond differently to the TEFL dossers?
– The main reason I write worksheets is that I find it rewarding. The main reason I make sure my classes go well is that I hate the feeling of them going badly. If I didn’t have those selfish motivations, would I plan as much as now, or would I avoid it the way I now avoid paperwork?
– If I’d done a bit more partying when I was a new TEFL teacher, maybe I would’ve learnt enough to avoid teaching with a hangover at all last year!
– I can hardly claim to have found the secret to health, wealth and happiness, so I have no philosophical justification in criticising people who take the complete opposite approach to work and life (see The Unbearable Lightness of Being for more details)