In this brief article composed expressly for ISR, I hope to offer some timely advice that should be of help to teachers deterred from teaching overseas due to the many negative reviews found on ISR. Likewise, my words may be of assistance to teachers already overseas and dissatisfied with their current situation.
To begin, let me say that I am fairly certain most of us began our teaching careers in the public schools of the Western world. Funded 100% by tax payer money, these schools are free to focus their energies completely on education with no need to compromise their ideals to raise money needed to pay salaries. Private overseas schools by contrast, to survive, be they For-Profit or Non-Profit, raise funds through tuition and are therefore forced to walk the line between being both a profitable business and a School. If you are going overseas or teaching in a private institution in your home country, you would do well to accept the fact that when you cross a business with a school there are going to be practices that fly in the face of what a true educationalist would consider best practices.
Accepting a student half-way through the school year who speaks little English can be par for the course in a tuition-funded school. You may even be expected to “move” this student on with a better than passing grade. An administration that refuses to discipline unruly students may also be the norm in a private school where a gossipy parent who feels their child has been unduly singled out has the power to organize parents to leave the school. Mixing business with education has its undeniable draw backs. In any business it’s important to cater to the customers. The question is, at what point does such catering conflict with your own sense of ethics as a Western trained educator?
I’m not suggesting I agree with much of what I have seen go on in International Schools. As a school director I have had to compromise some of my ideals for the continued existence of a school and the continued opportunity to serve students, teachers and parents to the best of my abilities under the circumstances. Where I draw the line is when I see a school owner reaping bountiful financial rewards and neglecting to fund the necessities of the school. I don’t expect any school owner to sacrifice their well-being or that of their family for a school – philanthropists are few and far between. When I found myself a pawn in a host national’s plan to get rich at the expense of children’s educations, I made every effort to get everything I felt the students needed. I was later “released from duty” and immediately posted the truth about this school as I knew it to be – or better stated, how the situation exceeded what I was willing to compromise.
We each have a threshold for what we can and cannot accept. One thing is for certain though, when you immerse yourself in an overseas culture and tuitions are needed to fund a school, some form of compromise will have to be made on your part. The same will hold true in a private school in your own country. I highly recommend teachers read between the lines of ISR reviews with an eye to deciphering what sort of compromise on the part of the author could have made the situation a better experience. If the compromises needed to succeed at the institution are within your realm of acceptance, this could be a school for you. If not, and you consider yourself a pure educationalist, you may never be happy in an overseas school.