How Kaizen TEFL ruined my life

A while ago I wrote about what the Japanese concept of “kaizen” or “continuous improvement” could teach us to help improve our error-strewn textbooks and endlessly recycled worksheets, something that technology is slowly making a reality. More recently, I started practising what I preach, not using any of my materials again without polishing them up at least a little and producing second, third and fourth generation versions of my worksheets.

However, what that taught me is why other people don’t follow the philosophy of “kaizen TEFL” – with the possible exception of overusing time management tactics, nothing is more guaranteed to drain the joy out of life than continuous improvement, like spending your whole life rewriting a published novel over and over without ever moving on to your second. There’s neither the joy of creating and using something new nor the relief and nostalgia of using a classic photocopiable. Instead, there’s just the certainty that any file you find on your computer will be more work when you open it and still more work when you find other ways in which you could polish it up when you are using it, all for just a 1.346% improvement in your lessons.

Not sure what the solution is, other than trying to find some kind of balance in my life – something I’ve probably managed even less than the dosser TEFLers, and the main reason why they don’t piss me off.

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