American Experience – International Backdrop

September 25, 2014

egypt49516232Dear ISR, I’ve read the many comments teachers sent in reply to your article, Is Paying for Grades the Norm Grades the Norm? My observation, as owner of a school in a developing nation, is that your teachers really don’t want a true international experience. I think what they really want is a teaching experience just like in any school in America but with an international backdrop.

Teachers come over here with perceptions of how things should be, and when reality doesn’t meet their expectations they try to tailor the experience to an American criteria. When that plan is meet with opposition by the owners or administration, they post angry comments and reviews to your web site.

We don’t have much in the way of enforceable labor laws here. And it’s true (in many nations) that rich people can buy their way through life, laws are for poor people, contracts are often of little value, and schools are what the students (and parents) make of them. No, not everyone is equal here. We don’t do things over here like you do in America. So instead of wasting time and energy complaining about every, single perceived injustice, why don’t these teachers ‘go with the flow’, as you say in your country, and get a real international experience?

Teachers may see me as dishonest because I negotiate with parents, but in this culture I’m respected. I know your culture. I went to university in your country. If teachers want an American experience transposed into a different culture, I recommend they just stay home because it is not going to happen. At least not at my school!

Wishing you all the best,


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Is ‘Paying for Grades’ the Norm?

September 18, 2014

payingforgrades49910573Dear ISR, I have a troubling question that has been eating at me. I wonder if you could solicit your readers for their opinion and experience in regards to this topic?

I am American and my husband is not. This year we moved to his home country and have two high school aged sons. We’ve enrolled them in a rather expensive international school here and our boys just received their first-quarter reports. Their grades are good, not great, but definitely above average.

I was on the campus yesterday and ran into the mother of one of my son’s classmates. In a braggart sort of way, this woman brought up the topic of grades and gloatingly told me her son got all “As”. My sons have told me her son is a class trouble maker and I’ve heard about some of his unpleasant antics. They also tell me he never does a lick of work and basically just hangs out and gives the teacher a bad time. I have to admit I was confused.

After my boys gave their report cards to their dad, I told him I learned that their classmate with a reputation for doing nothing in class had received all “As”. Our boys, who I know work hard, got mostly “B” grades. This is when I learned grades can be purchased.

My husband tells me the ultra rich here have the power to use their money to purchase favors, from law authorities on down to superior grades for their children. I suppose I shouldn’t be so naïve, but what about this boy? I really feel for this kid. It seems to me he is being set up to fail for the rest of his life just so his mother can boast the kid is an “A” student and look good to her friends and the community.

How common is this practice and can a school truthfully call itself an international school when it’s really just a supermarket for grades?

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Also see the American Experience – International Backdrop blog in which
a school owner writes in regards to teachers comments found in this blog.

Is This an International School?

September 11, 2014

international-kidsIf you ask a school owner what makes their school an International School, he/she may tell you it’s the international mix of the student body. Others may say it’s the recruited Western-educated teachers. Still others will point to their American or British curriculum.

If you’re teaching in what is termed an International School, you’re sure to have a different interpretation of what makes a school truly international than does the owner/director. Chances are you’ll question a school if the student body is composed of 98% local kids (some/many with dual citizenship)–does this influx of duel-citizenship passports qualify it for International status? Likewise, you have to wonder if an English-language curriculum is taught in strict lock-step with 3 other classrooms (same grade level), is this considered International Education? When all the kids on the school yard converse only in the local language, are they really international students?

From time-to-time we get letters from ISR members telling us that their current school, although represented at the conference as being an International School, has turned out to be nothing more than a glorified local school masquerading as something it is not. These same teachers tell us they would not have considered the job had they known at interview time that the term International was being used as nothing more than a thinly veneered part of a sales package.

In an effort to arrive at the definition for the term International School, we invite you to visit the Is This an International School? Blog and share your thoughts on the topic. With so many new teachers entering the field of International Education, here’s an opportunity for seasoned overseas educators to help newbies discover what they should be questioning at interview time.

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Please do not use this blog to comment on/evaluate individual schools
Click Here to tell colleagues about the international status of a specific school

Playing for Change

September 4, 2014

With the school year now on a steady course, we thought we’d take a step back from our regular editorials and introduce you to a promising organization focused on promoting world peace through music. We were introduced to Playing for Change by an ISR Member. Read more in this week’s ISR Newsletter.