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British Training Institute/CfBT
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carnac



Joined: 30 Jul 2004
Posts: 310
Location: in my village in Oman ;-)

PostPosted: Wed Oct 06, 2004 9:39 am    Post subject: ok, ok,ok Reply with quote

You have convinced me.
Let's go back: does anyone know of GOOD schools with GOOD working conditions looking for evening teachers already in residence in the Muscat area? Or should this be a new thread?
As a final note, at least from me, on the subject of CfBT or any other school that had promise and went downhill, it's a little discouraging, I think. I have to wonder how and why it happens. Bad teachers? Bad managers? No funding? Location? Lack of external support? Marketing? What?
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travellingtefler



Joined: 05 Sep 2004
Posts: 36
Location: Finished one contract - travelling to another

PostPosted: Wed Oct 06, 2004 5:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Carnac

I think your first question was answered under Evening Work in Muscat.
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Signor



Joined: 07 Sep 2004
Posts: 66
Location: Qatar

PostPosted: Wed Oct 06, 2004 5:42 pm    Post subject: Bad schools Reply with quote

Don't leave us now Carnac - I think this topic may get interesting as it is a subject that concerns us all.

I think that the reasons why schools go down are complex. However, if you read the threads across many of the forums - there is never (or seldom) mention of location, marketing, funding, a lack of external support or funding. If the problems are with teachers, then they are usually removed very quickly (although I accept this doesn't always happen).

Bad schools sometimes thrive - I 've worked in some - usually because of the efforts of the front-line staff who may not be treated well but are ignored by self-absorbed managers and so can get on with their job.

Other bad schools fail - usually when there is incompetent management who think they know what they're doing and interfere with the day to day work of the teachers. These sorts of managers are usually failed teachers who chose to believe that their talents are best used in 'management' but they manage as well as they taught. Result - staff can't do their job and students leave.

That's my opinion for what's it's worth.
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carnac



Joined: 30 Jul 2004
Posts: 310
Location: in my village in Oman ;-)

PostPosted: Thu Oct 07, 2004 2:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Signor: I think what you're talking about is called "The Peter Principle", a rule from the eponymous book by Lawrence J. Peter some years ago, which predicated that in any organization people rise to their level of incompetence and then stay in that position. In education, as would be this example, you take someone who is a fairly ok teacher who puts in the hours and does a fairly good job (or someone who has some political or personal wasta). The person is subsequently promoted to a supervisory role for which they are perhaps not suited. They do a bad job in the new position, not so bad as to get themselves sacked, but not good enough to provide growth or good leadership. The consequence: the organization has lost a teacher and gained an incompetent manager. The new manager is often unhappy because things don't go as they "should", and the organization is unhappy (assuming the organization is aware), again because things are not going as they should. Once in the new position, the person stays there (if I am remembering Peter's argument correctly) at their "level of incompetence" and neither rises further, because they are not good, nor is demoted, because they are not seen as being all that bad. What may happen is that the person, if detected as an incompetent, is "laterally promoted", ie, given a new job at an equivalent level where less harm can be done, rather than eliminating the person completely. An appropriate title is given to the person ("Director of..." or "Manager of.." )("We are giving you a promotion") by gutless senior managers also at their level of incompetence so that no feelings are hurt, and a different incompetent is selected for the post vacated by the previous incompetent, usually.
Or am I too cynical here? I seem to have seen many ships sunk by "The Peter Principle".
I'm truly interested in what you (and anyone else reading this post) have seen of this phenomenon.
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Signor



Joined: 07 Sep 2004
Posts: 66
Location: Qatar

PostPosted: Thu Oct 07, 2004 4:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Carnac

I've seen this happen back at home and abroad.

However, the Peter Principle is usually complicated (especially abroad) by the incompetent manager bringing in their cronies. This forms a closed circle that cannot be questioned by outsiders.

In the ME, it is sometimes called a mafia and I have seen it destroy the working environment in companies.

I worked in one place and the 'manager' who was self-absorbed (and so let us get on with our work) recruited his friend as his second in command. The friend was the same as the 'manager' so things went on.

The friend started an 'inappropriate relationship' with one of the staff and this woman (who was incompetent and a nasty control freak) gained rapid promotion and became number three. She gathered her friends around her and they did nothing but were always very busy. They were tasked with student liaison and making decisions. However, they ignored the students and the staff and things went rapidly downhill.

There were staff meetings but decisions were only made if this woman agreed - otherwise they were deferred. It was a nightmare. All the problems were down to this group who made illogical decisions that no one understood or could explain to the students. The working environment was poisonous and people outside the circles had to drag themselves into work everyday.

Incidently - none of these people thought they were incompetent despite the evidence in front of them them (huge drop in student numbers, no repeat work, numerous complaints) and cited reasons like 'seasonal drop', 'we want to look for better paying contracts' etc despite competitors doing well. All the staff development opportunities went to these incompetents so the rest of us covered the classes while these people were either being very busy or adding to their CVs.

The 'manager' was sacked but the rest remained - and the situation didn't change.

So - I agree with your comments on the Peter Principle but I think cronieism is a complicating factor.
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Stephen Jones



Joined: 21 Feb 2003
Posts: 4124

PostPosted: Thu Oct 07, 2004 1:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I find it rare in the Middle East for the incompetent adminsitrators to have been successful teachers beforehand.
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travellingtefler



Joined: 05 Sep 2004
Posts: 36
Location: Finished one contract - travelling to another

PostPosted: Thu Oct 07, 2004 4:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I couldn't agree more - when I have been in this situation, the incompetent administrators are either failed teachers or failed administrative workers who either blag their way through an interview or 'know' someone.

The best administrators in an educational situation are committed, organised teachers who understand the demands of the job, can streamline things for the staff and know about client service.

But this situation isn't just in the Middle East - it's worldwide. I worked in one training company in the UK which was decimated when they brought in an accountant as the GM. We were all numbers in his little world and the students (to quote) were 'little bags of money'.
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Elizaoman



Joined: 01 May 2004
Posts: 6
Location: Oman

PostPosted: Thu Oct 07, 2004 6:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Couldn't agree more - I worked in Kuwait in a company where a 'teacher' who had attracted numerous complaints was promoted because she was bilingual.

She interfered in classes, passed on 'gossip' (that she had made up herself) and tried to undermine teaching staff constantly. The turnover in staff was incredible.

The 'management' knew of the situation because every member of staff who left had tried to speak with them about this woman. They always acknowledged the problem and said 'something would be done'.

To cut a long story short - the company lost contracts and sponsorship. The remaining business was taken over by another organisation.

This woman remained and (I've since heard) has been promoted. Business for the new company has gone down but incredibly she's still there.

Quite frightening.
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carnac



Joined: 30 Jul 2004
Posts: 310
Location: in my village in Oman ;-)

PostPosted: Fri Oct 08, 2004 3:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Seems like there are competing adages.
On one hand, "cream rises to the top".
On the other, something else floats.
How do these people get into these management positions anyway? And stay there? Are they just better BS artists? I have never understood this.I have known a number of organizations where everyone looking up knew where the problems lay and that the situation was very bad, and everyone looking down were doing ostrich imitations, head in the sand, seeing nothing, making occasional public statements about how well things were going. Most of these companies either limped along with little success or sank completely. And every time, the problem was sheer incompetence and wilful blindness by upper management. At least, those of management who weren't busy extracting every possible penny from the business before it crashed.
Oh, well,I am a mere humble teacher, what do I know?
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Elizaoman



Joined: 01 May 2004
Posts: 6
Location: Oman

PostPosted: Fri Oct 08, 2004 10:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Carnac - you know what all humble teachers know.

At home, the problem usually lay in small, privately owned companies so the absolute top wouldn't change no matter what the problem was. In other instances, it was the size of the organisation (especially in the public sector) and the lack of monitoring.

In the ME, it can sometimes be the sponsor interfering and the mafias. But the main problem is usually that the person tasked with running an organisation just speaks to the 'supervisors' (who have a vested interest in maintaining their position) - he or she never thinks of speaking to everyone (eg janitor, admin staff and teachers) to get a complete picture.

I find this quite amazing - it always makes me feel that I am nothing (and I'm sure everyone else outwith the 'supervisory strand' feels the same way). These types of company deserve to fail.

The other thing that they don't consider is that people talk and that their reputations go into tailspin. However, the 'upper management' go on getting their enhanced salaries, claiming expenses and driving their company cars until the end.

Travellingtefler got it right:

The best administrators in an educational situation are committed, organised teachers who understand the demands of the job, can streamline things for the staff and know about client service.

These types of people seldom get anywhere - the 'supervisors' rely on them to make the money and want to keep them away from the 'upper management' because it will show them up for the incompetents that they are.

I've started asking at interview about the backgrounds of the supervisors because I have danced the waltz among the incompetents so often.

Rant over - I feel better now - I'm going to prepare a lesson.
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carnac



Joined: 30 Jul 2004
Posts: 310
Location: in my village in Oman ;-)

PostPosted: Fri Oct 08, 2004 5:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Client service? You mean the students????
Sorry, your first error in the modern world of academe.
Let's put this into the simplest possible terms.
The first priority is the well-being, comfort and perks of the administrators. This must be a given.
Somewhere near the bottom of any priority list are the clerical staff who keep the place running on a daily basis. We all know they can be easily replaced.
Penultimate are the teachers, who are also eminentably replaceable. All good administrators know any damn fool can teach English.
Students are the least of the worries. Students? Just think, first we get rid of the students. That eliminates most of the problems right there.
Then dump the teachers. No students, you don't need all those teachers who only made trouble anyway.
Of course, we don't need as much clerical staff with fewer teachers and students to support, we only need the staff that supports the administrators.
And voila! A leaned-down,streamlined operation that can be reported to headquarters as having cut expenses and trimmed the fat.
I'm going to apply for an administrator job, now that I think of it.
But first, I must sharpen my knives and lower my IQ. I can do that.
Deer sirs
i wud like to aply for a job with your compnay.
I have a lot of expeerence runing edukayshunal bisneses. I have a certifacat to teach english and I know I cud do a good job if you give me a chance.
Yours sinceerly,

You're hired. Director of Studies. Need a secretary?
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carnac



Joined: 30 Jul 2004
Posts: 310
Location: in my village in Oman ;-)

PostPosted: Fri Oct 08, 2004 5:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am lurking to see who will correct "eminentably " before continuing reading. This might be fun.
Ok, ok, I'm off the topic, sorry. I do this with students, bury an egregious error and see what happens. High-Intermediate to Advanced only, ok?
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Signor



Joined: 07 Sep 2004
Posts: 66
Location: Qatar

PostPosted: Fri Oct 08, 2004 7:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Carnac

I detect bitter past/present experience with this.

I agree - so many companies seem to concentrate with the well being of those who push paper at the top and ignore the income generators (ie the teachers) and their support.

It would be an interesting exercise to count the number of admin in many companies in the ME (by admin I include all the staff who were recruited for their teaching background and then start to push paper) and then calculate their salaries and benefits against those who actually teach and bring in the money.

What always surprises me is that when things get tough - these are the people who remain - the ones that cost the company most and produce nothing.

I worked in one international company where I had to go out and look for my own work and I was bringing in twice my salary most weeks. Whe things got tough, I was called in to speak to my 'line manager' and told I might have to 'justify' my job. When I pointed out the facts, he looked quite shocked - he had obviously been 'too busy' to check what people were doing (most occupied their time with 'materials preparation' which comprised of cutting up pieces of cardboard on a regular basis).

I should know better but I was actually quite hurt and shocked. The 'line manager' didn't even pick up on this.

I don't think it's a complex matter - you look after the clients (students) and the income generating staff (the teachers) and the rest looks after itself - anyone want to tell me what's difficult about that?

Responses welcomed (especially from administrators).
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spicegirl



Joined: 29 Mar 2004
Posts: 110

PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2004 1:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

... wish someone would post some of these comments on the UAE or General Middle East forums. The recent posts would be extremely relevant to the UAE, and to one institution of higher education in particular.
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 16183
Location: USA

PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2004 4:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I suspect that this thread would fit rather nicely all over the boards. Most of it is relevant to EFLteaching everywhere, I fear - definitely in the language schools.

Come to think of it, much of it is just as true in all kinds of jobs even outside of academia. I've seen the 'Peter Principle' (and crony-ism) work just as well in business in the US too. Cool But, poor managers in business usually have some area of expertise like accounting or building the widgets. Only in EFL have I found so many managers who seemed so ignorant of both management and teaching!!

Kinda scary sometimes.

VS
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