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Give and take in China
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fred13331



Joined: 20 Feb 2012
Posts: 108
Location: Southern China

PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2013 5:57 am    Post subject: Give and take in China Reply with quote

I am now in my 7th year here, 4 years in my current job. My wife is Chinese, I own an apartment in China. My current employers just sent me a cheque for 18,000 to cover my recent hospitalization expenses (broken clavicle). Unfortunately, I missed the free 4 day trip to Xi'an because of this injury. In short I like China, and am doing well here. My employer is good and caring. I am somewhat sickened by all the negativity on these boards.


Sure there are things I don't like about China. Making up classes (Its not a holiday if I have to work on the frigging weekend instead!!). Lack of structure for the students, lack of accountability in my department, rich students who don't try, pollution, price gouging, queue jumping. However back home I would be facing, different problems - I come from Ireland, an economic wasteland. Guys with Ph.Ds working in McD's for crisssakes.

In China I have a 7 month job which pays 12. Instead of the 500 hours a year that job would require, I work 1500 hours a year, with the tacit consent of my employer. This allows me to save a bundle - another thing that would be near impossible back home.

Having said that my employer is a university, renowned for its good care and excellent salary in the TEFL industry in China. My previous 2 jobs in China were also pretty good, but, I fully recognize there are horrible jobs, and experiences out there. A lot of them. I have been pretty lucky, many others have not.

But one needs to make ones luck. In my 1st year here, there was an American, my neighbor, still my friend, who was a great guy and a great teacher. But he bitched and moaned to the IO on an almost daily basis. He got into heated arguments with Chinese teachers. He shouted and screamed. He did not know how to play the game, how to keep his head out of the firing line. He was not asked to renew after his first year.

I know of another guy who had bad experiences in China - with PELCC, China TEFL, and Angelina's cafe. Anyone he asked with 5 minutes experience in China would tell him these were bad choices, but, the guy doesn't listen.

You gotta keep your head down, gotta listen to others, gotta swallow some bitter pills. It's not rocket science, it is easy to succeed here, to make a Western salary. However it is even easier to be an arrogant douche and have a terrible time. Sadly it is also easy to be a good person and still get messed around
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Non Sequitur



Joined: 23 May 2010
Posts: 2583
Location: China

PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2013 6:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good post and good timing as we approach the hiring season.
Newbies - take note.
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GreatApe



Joined: 11 Apr 2012
Posts: 424
Location: South of Heaven and East of Nowhere

PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2013 6:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

+ 1, fred13331

I agree with your post, although I'm just passing my three year mark. The "Honeymoon" period is definitely over, but I still love living and working in China and there are many challenges ahead which I look forward to facing.

I have several really good opportunities here, thanks to a great boss and a good school/job ... that makes me feel rewarded and content. I definitely DON'T miss teaching high school in California for a living, although I made more money and had some great years there during my 5 year run!

Newbies, take care and proceed with caution ... but living and teaching in the PRC has a lot to do with WHAT YOU MAKE OF IT!

--GA
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Zimmer



Joined: 26 Oct 2011
Posts: 225

PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2013 6:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good post Fred, you sum it up well.
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kev7161



Joined: 06 Feb 2004
Posts: 5801
Location: Suzhou, China

PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2013 7:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think if one comes here and one of their major intentions is to find a spouse or a life partner, perhaps make a family and they have no real ties to people or things back home, that the idea of living many, many years in China can turn into a good thing (or at least better than what was in their past life!).

However, I think those that come here for fun and games, hopping from job to job, not saving money, not planning for retirement, and no real goals for their future, then China can become a crap shoot and can be a very frustrating country.

I didn't come here searching for a relationship, although I've made some really close friends. I came here to work for a couple of years (that has, to date, turned into 10!). My job is pretty good - - not perfect, but pays well and gives me a good life. I too grow weary of the "Chinese way" and the spoiled little rich kids I teach.

About halfway through my run here, I realized that I didn't want to be here until I retire or die, whichever comes first. I also realized that things weren't (and really, still aren't) too great back home. So I made a plan and I hope to see the fruition of that plan by summer, 2014. We'll see. But having that plan, that end in sight, makes my days and nights in this country a little more palpable.
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dean_a_jones



Joined: 03 Jul 2009
Posts: 1140
Location: Wuhan, China

PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:41 am    Post subject: Re: Give and take in China Reply with quote

fred13331 wrote:
But one needs to make ones luck...know how to play the game, how to keep his head out of the firing line...You gotta keep your head down, gotta listen to others, gotta swallow some bitter pills. It's not rocket science, it is easy to succeed here, to make a Western salary. However it is even easier to be an arrogant douche and have a terrible time. Sadly it is also easy to be a good person and still get messed around


Yeah, this pretty much sums it up. A lot of the time, people who struggle here are a bit too stuck in their own ways or only bothering to see things from their own viewpoint. Not that you shouldn't stand firm at times and avoid being taken advantage of, but you have to allow for some level of adaptation and adjustment or you won't be able to survive anywhere, let alone in a place so different (and with quite different social rules/ettiquette etc.). This includes playing the game to some degree, regardless of whether you like it or not.

Having said that, a fair few people I have encountered here would face the same difficulties back home if they held the same general attitude. In general you create your own luck, both good and bad.

Good post anyway, and for anyone thinking of taking on work here for the first time, solid advice.
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doogsville



Joined: 17 Nov 2011
Posts: 700
Location: China

PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

+ 1 too! It is a game, and games should not be taken too seriously. I take my job very seriously, but I don't take my self or my life too seriously.

I first came here in 2009. The reason was that in the few years prior, several people close to me died. None of them were old enough to die yet, and it made me realise, really really realise, that life is way too short. So I gave it all up for a life of fun and adventure. Do I get that every day? Of course not. But I do get better weather, a shorter working week, a better standard of living and a much richer and interesting daily life than I had before. Sure, China has it's frustrations. It's far from perfect, and it has way more rough edges than the UK has. But the UK had all those things at one time. China is a developing country, not a developed one. I sometimes think FT's here lose sight of that. I'm married now, and have no plan to leave China. If I did I would most likely go to another South East Asian country, for more adventure.

We're all going to end up dead. No matter how much we try to avoid thinking about it. I want to have as good a time as I can before that happens. If I start having such a bad time here that I have to post on Dave's about it and argue with anyone who dares to differ, then I'll move on.
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wonderingjoesmith



Joined: 19 Aug 2012
Posts: 910
Location: Guangzhou

PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2013 2:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What all the posts on this thread seem to be advocating is to act in accordance with the local attitudes. This, to me, sounds right when it comes to foreigners in the country, although; forgive my negativity, it’s quite concerning when professional goals are to be met. I can’t imagine a foreign project following the local approach to planning, management and support of staff.

Quote:
OP
But one needs to make ones luck. In my 1st year here, there was an American, my neighbor, still my friend, who was a great guy and a great teacher. But he bitched and moaned to the IO on an almost daily basis. He got into heated arguments with Chinese teachers. He shouted and screamed. He did not know how to play the game, how to keep his head out of the firing line. He was not asked to renew after his first year.
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
You gotta keep your head down, gotta listen to others, gotta swallow some bitter pills. It's not rocket science, it is easy to succeed here, to make a Western salary. However it is even easier to be an arrogant douche and have a terrible time. Sadly it is also easy to be a good person and still get messed around
I am wondering about the kind of success we are talking about here. We sure aren’t rocket scientists but I guess some, if not many of us, fall into the category of educators. Is a teacher that earns the “Western salary” and that has been offered another year contract successful, when his students have not reached the intended target of academic program and/or have not been able to improve in specific areas?

Quote:
OP
In China I have a 7 month job which pays 12. Instead of the 500 hours a year that job would require, I work 1500 hours a year, with the tacit consent of my employer. This allows me to save a bundle - another thing that would be near impossible back home.
Would there be the answer to my question of what success here is?

Quote:
Doogsville
+ 1 too! It is a game, and games should not be taken too seriously. I take my job very seriously, but I don't take my self or my life too seriously.
Because”I take my job very seriously”, I wouldn’t give “+1” to the original post. Educating isn’t a game but hard work that requires a lot of support and planning. If this is about educational games we play with students, however, I’d agree that they should be taken very very seriously.

Regardless how hard we work, we’ll all die one day and that much is true. Tell that to your kids or students in the classroom though.
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fred13331



Joined: 20 Feb 2012
Posts: 108
Location: Southern China

PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2013 2:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wonderingjoesmith wrote:
What all the posts on this thread seem to be advocating is to act in accordance with the local attitudes. This, to me, sounds right when it comes to foreigners in the country, although; forgive my negativity, it’s quite concerning when professional goals are to be met. I can’t imagine a foreign project following the local approach to planning, management and support of staff.

Quote:
OP
But one needs to make ones luck. In my 1st year here, there was an American, my neighbor, still my friend, who was a great guy and a great teacher. But he bitched and moaned to the IO on an almost daily basis. He got into heated arguments with Chinese teachers. He shouted and screamed. He did not know how to play the game, how to keep his head out of the firing line. He was not asked to renew after his first year.
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
You gotta keep your head down, gotta listen to others, gotta swallow some bitter pills. It's not rocket science, it is easy to succeed here, to make a Western salary. However it is even easier to be an arrogant douche and have a terrible time. Sadly it is also easy to be a good person and still get messed around
I am wondering about the kind of success we are talking about here. We sure aren’t rocket scientists but I guess some, if not many of us, fall into the category of educators. Is a teacher that earns the “Western salary” and that has been offered another year contract successful, when his students have not reached the intended target of academic program and/or have not been able to improve in specific areas?

Quote:
OP
In China I have a 7 month job which pays 12. Instead of the 500 hours a year that job would require, I work 1500 hours a year, with the tacit consent of my employer. This allows me to save a bundle - another thing that would be near impossible back home.
Would there be the answer to my question of what success here is?

Quote:
Doogsville
+ 1 too! It is a game, and games should not be taken too seriously. I take my job very seriously, but I don't take my self or my life too seriously.
Because”I take my job very seriously”, I wouldn’t give “+1” to the original post. Educating isn’t a game but hard work that requires a lot of support and planning. If this is about educational games we play with students, however, I’d agree that they should be taken very very seriously.

Regardless how hard we work, we’ll all die one day and that much is true. Tell that to your kids or students in the classroom though.


Joe - obviously the goal is to do the best by the kids you teach. The personal goal is to provide a decent standard of living for your family. Hopefully both things go hand in hand. My main job, and most of my auxiliary work revolves around IELTS. If the students improve, increase their scores, everyone is happy. That is success all round.

I realize it is imperfect - for my university, sending kids abroad for 2 years is essentially a cash cow. But the kids benefit, foreign degrees help get the job, the university benefits, I benefit.

My outside work is equally simple. I help private students pass IELTS. Some appreciate how i go about it. They tell their friends, and on it goes. Is it an educators paradise? No. Is is an effective means to an end for all concerned? Yes
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dean_a_jones



Joined: 03 Jul 2009
Posts: 1140
Location: Wuhan, China

PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2013 3:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wonderingjoesmith wrote:
This, to me, sounds right when it comes to foreigners in the country, although; forgive my negativity, it’s quite concerning when professional goals are to be met. I can’t imagine a foreign project following the local approach to planning, management and support of staff.


Sure, but most of us don't work in a place that fits that description, we work for local schools. Most of us work for a place where a fair degree of patience is required, where you have to 'play the game' (i.e. operate with a system with a set culture and rules--don't think that the 'game' doesn't happen back home or anywhere else for that matter, just that the 'rules' might be different), not lose your temper, give and take while still giving back what you can in terms of teaching and getting the best out of your school, yourself and your students.

Keep in mind the OP was describing what they think an FT needs to survive here--there are plenty who realise they can coast (or worse) and ultimately, it is up to the locals (government, schools, parents, students, clients etc.) to get those standards up by pressing for better quality whichever way they can.
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kev7161



Joined: 06 Feb 2004
Posts: 5801
Location: Suzhou, China

PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 4:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I am wondering about the kind of success we are talking about here. We sure aren’t rocket scientists but I guess some, if not many of us, fall into the category of educators. Is a teacher that earns the “Western salary” and that has been offered another year contract successful, when his students have not reached the intended target of academic program and/or have not been able to improve in specific areas?


Except in my school at least, we are set up to fail. Here's what I mean:

1. All kids are passed to the next level regardless of grades earned.

2. There are no special programs for low-level students - - no special ed. teachers, no counselors, no "after school" programs, nothing. They all get the same education and we are told they are all equal. Don't want to make a child feel "bad" for being separated from the herd, er, group of classmates because they can't understand or can't keep up.

3. There are no punishments for lazy students - - students who don't do their homework, students that never raise their hands in class, students who slouch behind their desks all day, etc. Students can come in late to school, can fight with each other, can be verbally (and sometimes even physically!) abusive to the teacher and nothing is ever done about it . . . . ever. Granted this is a private school where money is king and we have far too many "VIP" students, but still . . .

Would I love for all my students to be at C-level or better? You bet I would! Do I try hard to make this happen? Of course I do! Does the school offer any sort of support or suggestions to help make this come true? Not a chance! I don't see how I can make miracles happen without some divine intervention.

So I play the game as it is presented to me. I can be frustrated and try my best, but at the end of it all, I'm only one person with a limited amount of time and control. But if my school wants to continue to pay me a grand salary for my contributions, then that means (to me) that I am doing exactly what they want from me.
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johntpartee



Joined: 02 Mar 2010
Posts: 3233

PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 4:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
can be verbally (and sometimes even physically!) abusive to the teacher and nothing is ever done about it


Shocked

Quote:
So I play the game as it is presented to me


Shocked Shocked
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DirtGuy



Joined: 28 Dec 2004
Posts: 529

PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2013 5:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What a fantastic post and a pleasure to read given all the negativity on this site. I hope every newbie finds this thread and reads it carefully as it's really a great recipe for having a successful time in the country.

As for the concern about being an "educator", well, what is that? Is your definition one that is shared by the people in charge here of something that works for just you? Do you go by your own personal "No Child Left Behind" or do you adjust to what the people paying your salary want? It has to be the latter and whatever you do, like it or not, must conform to their demands. Kind of sucks at times but living and working here is a choice you made and you can leave anytime you like. You do what you can to help your students and accept what cannot be changed. That or experience 24/7 frustration.

What I'd love to do if find more private students who want to get ready for IELTS in the small city where I live. I'm thinking about making up some flyers and having one of my uni students pass them out in front of the local high schools. Suggestions?

DirtGuy
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wonderingjoesmith



Joined: 19 Aug 2012
Posts: 910
Location: Guangzhou

PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2013 10:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I find the “Give and take in China” self-centered, ignorant, irresponsible and somehow bias and parasitic. A few self-indulgent posts appear to pay attention to their own well being rather than anything else and they preach unaccountability for the duties of the profession to all who want to teach in China. The impartial judgment of the posts that lean towards the local attitudes seems, to me, to be intentional for the need of such professionals (as suggested on this thread) in the country.

In my half a year on mainland, I’ve seen some nice recently built residential areas with heated swimming pools out of service or expensive tennis courts that have potholes. I also have experienced luxurious hotels that over serviced me with unnecessary grins, giggles, gestures, directions and that falsely advertised their “practical services”. I have been to beautiful gyms with 50% of their equipment broken. What my observations suggest may not reflect the whole country, although it may point to how business is done around.

Moreover, I’ve noticed some pretty schools with plenty of sports facilities, PowerPoint options in every classroom; however, students’ physical education doesn’t correspond with what’s offered, the internet isn’t in their curriculum and either with or without the help I have failed to locate any practical material in their libraries. The Give and Take of those business people and educators sadly enough may not be far off from this thread’s strategy.

Lastly, we all know the world has been "imperfect" since it began. Nobody here has said that we have come from a perfect world. My give is to improve it as well as to help our great (teacher) colleagues who have the integrity or ideas to make the world better. Many of us do not want to compromise our positions or lose the "decent standard of living", however, should we really be feeding our directors/employers with the poor efforts to keep our jobs and the world so imperfect? The field of education or foundation programs to western universities is to be perfected, not imperfect-ed. Aren’t we living in the world of interconnected rather than isolated nations? One nations problem may be the other one’s as well. My Give and Take is about our characters, professional attitudes, responsibilities and integrity.


In the end, it most certainly ought to be up to the locals to fix their country’s issues and that I agree with. On the other hand though, questions should arise when the country’s ill prepared students plan to enroll in our homelands’ universities, or when the country’s nationals have in their minds to either establish themselves in or deal with our homelands. Some posts on this topic here, especially the ones which indicate that the posters assist kids to go abroad, clearly lack any integrity. The "Educators paradise" that some have suggested is nowhere on Earth, may not be too far from the parasite educators heaven.
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MisterButtkins



Joined: 03 Oct 2009
Posts: 1215

PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 5:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is this a thread about working as a teacher or a priest? I'm glad I've never met any teachers in real life who were as preachy as some of the posters on here. I must have missed the part of my contract where it says 'Cause problems for the administration by trying to change their educational system and failing horribly.' Or: 'Act like you must know better than your boss since you have a degree in education, the same college major as many football players.' Or: 'It is your job to set the standards at this school, since, as an ESL teacher, you must be a genius.'
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