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Are Americans SHUNED by NET Program
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tbigdog



Joined: 15 Jul 2005
Posts: 25
Location: Seoul, Korea

PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2007 5:07 am    Post subject: Are Americans SHUNED by NET Program Reply with quote

Hello, I am an American interested in The PNET program but I have recieved a few replies that AMERICANS are very rare or just not offered positions in the NET SCHEME. How are Americans accepted by principles, hong kong locals, and the NET program??? Question Question Question
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dodgee



Joined: 01 Jun 2005
Posts: 47

PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2007 5:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It seems to be a principle here (and in Singapore) that principals prefer British and Commonwealth educated teachers. Virtually the opposite of Korea and Japan. Why? Probably because the education system here was nurtured by the English initially. I know Americans teaching here though so if your skills and experience are good you should still have a chance. Good luck!
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misutabiru



Joined: 04 Sep 2004
Posts: 112
Location: Daegu

PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2007 2:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's not impossible. I have just been accepted into both the PNET and SNET Schemes, and although I don't often admit it, I am indeed an American. Whether I'll actually get any offers from schools remains to be seen.

MB
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Pieface



Joined: 18 Jun 2004
Posts: 42

PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2007 12:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Accepted into BOTH schemes? I thought you were only allowed to apply for one of the schemes. Shocked ???
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anninhk



Joined: 08 Oct 2005
Posts: 284

PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2007 12:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No, you can apply for both if you have the qualifications and why not put in to be an AT for good measure!
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misutabiru



Joined: 04 Sep 2004
Posts: 112
Location: Daegu

PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2007 12:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yup, both of them. I had two interviews and everything.
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hkteach



Joined: 29 May 2005
Posts: 202
Location: Hong Kong

PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2007 3:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting to suggest that a newbie might be made an AT first up.

I don't believe that any 'foreigner' should be an AT without first working in the system here - they haven't experienced the real issues that NETs face (the social isolation of the job, the bullying by principals, the issue of holiday duties when your spouse/friends are already on leave, problems with pay or airfare reimbursement, deployment issues or the real difficulties surrounding change management in schools.)

Even if they do understand, they can just walk away and not visit again for another month or two.
So I think it's an issue of credibility.
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Pieface



Joined: 18 Jun 2004
Posts: 42

PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2007 3:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't anninhk's suggestion made with tongue firmly in cheek? Razz
hkteach, you are talking about worst case scenarios. It seems that you have experienced one or more of the problems that you mentioned which is a shame to hear. However, contrary to what some people believe there ARE schools out there that provide great support for the NET, and there ARE AT's that are absolutely excellent (admittedly, my AT this year is one of them)
On a final, somewhat unrelated (for this topic) note, potential PNETs could do worse than to check out briandwest's website/blog. I think it provides a pretty good insight into life as a PNET. It certainly appears that he stumbled across a gem of a school with that one! Very Happy
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anninhk



Joined: 08 Oct 2005
Posts: 284

PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2007 7:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I must say I agree with hkteach that you shouldn't be an AT without being in the system first.
When I came in 2002 however that was impossible as we were the first batch of PNETs. There had been a pilot scheme and one or two of the teachers who were part of that scheme became ATs, but even they had not really had the same experience as the first PNETs.
I know I was encouraged to apply for primary and an AT job as was a friend, and we were both glad we chose primary, despite its problems.
I think all expat ATs have had a lot of teaching experience and most do give support, but they are usually not able to help that much if a teacher has real problems with their school.
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in_asia_bill



Joined: 02 Mar 2006
Posts: 197

PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2007 8:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Where can we find a link to 'briandwest's website/blog'?
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hkteach



Joined: 29 May 2005
Posts: 202
Location: Hong Kong

PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2007 12:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wasn't sure if anninhk's post was tongue in cheek or not, but wanted to make those points. Like anninhk, I was offered an AT spot after interview but couldn't imagine doing that work without knowing the 'lie of the land'.

Yes, Pie Face, I have experienced some of the situations I described (my first placement was not good due to a power-crazy schemer as a SET, an ineffective Panel Chair, a principal who never communicated with me, too many lessons and summer duties as well). I wondered why I'd bothered to come here.

Now I'm in a MUCH better place (probably one of the best situations for a NET ). But it's a rare NET who doesn't experience at least some of the difficulties I mentioned (e.g. being the only foreigner on the staff - this can be very isolating)
Some of the posts on our own forum indicate that even those who consider themselves well-placed still have issues of some sort.

You can view the messages on the PNETs' forum (the one set up by Brian) at west-web.net and then click PNETs Forum.
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ironopolis



Joined: 01 Apr 2004
Posts: 379

PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2007 2:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hkteach wrote:
But it's a rare NET who doesn't experience at least some of the difficulties I mentioned (e.g. being the only foreigner on the staff - this can be very isolating)



A bit surprised by the above. I'm not being facetious here and perhaps I've misunderstood what was meant somewhere. But are there really people on the NET scheme or applying for it, who did NOT expect to be the only foreigner in the school they ended up in?

When considering the NET scheme, I was completely under the impression that if I was successful I would almost certainly be the only foreigner in whichever school I was working. I would have thought that surely anyone who felt uncomfortable with this would never consider applying.


Incidentally, is there anyone out there who interviewed for NET last month or before and hasn't heard anything yet?
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11:59



Joined: 31 Aug 2006
Posts: 632
Location: Hong Kong: The 'Pearl of the Orient'

PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2007 6:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I thought it was 'shunned', not 'shuned'. Anyway, here goes.

dodgee wrote:
I know Americans teaching here though so if your skills and experience are good you should still have a chance.

Yes, but are they actually on the EMB NET scheme? If so then that is indeed really quite rare.

misutabiru wrote:
I have just been accepted into both the PNET and SNET Schemes, and although I don't often admit it, I am indeed an American. Whether I'll actually get any offers from schools remains to be seen.

This will indeed remain to be seen. The proof is in the pudding, as they say. Apart from the (wholly ludicrous) belief unfortunately held by many here that 'British English' is somehow superior to 'US English' (definitions for these terms are rarely if ever offered and no attempt is ever made to justify this irrational stance), there is the issue of the grammar presented in the textbooks, and that tested in exams, often clashing with the idiolects and judgements of native speakers of various forms of US English. Many principals (an inordinate number of which are saliently power-thirsty potential little-Hitlers), English Panels (an inordinate number of which are saliently insecure) and SETs (an inordinate number of which are saliently disturbed) are concerned about this and, if given the choice, will often opt to remain 'NET-less' rather than employ an American who may inadvertently confuse the students. Let me illustrate through a concrete example. I have an American friend from my rowing club who, despite the fact that we have never before discussed the possibility of my going to the land of the rising sun, will, out of the blue, say things such as 'Did you go to Japan?' In British English this is at best bizarre and at worst simply downright unacceptable/invalid/inappropriate (insert term of choice). In an exam in HK a student will be marked wrong for producing and/or not correcting such an utterance in this context. Sometimes my same US friend, after we have previously discussed my plans to go to, say, Korea, will say things such as 'Did you go to Korea yet?' Again, in British English the semantics of the instance of 'yet' here clash with those established and asserted by the tense and the underlying structure in which it appears. (Indeed, to speakers of British English this is actually painful to the ear and eye.) We have to say either 'Have you been yet?' or 'Did you go?' We can't say 'Did you go yet?'

Basic, stock vocabulary can be an issue, too. The textbooks refer to 'pavements', not 'sidewalks', and students come to school with 'satchels', not whatever the US term is. They watch 'films' in HK, not 'movies', and it is 'autumn', not 'the fall'. A 'college' refers to a 6th form establishment, not a tertiary institution, for which the term 'university' is employed (witness CUHK, LU, OUHK, HKUST, HKBU, CU, etc.). The issue of the UK/US spelling dichotomy comes up frequently as well. In many schools in Hong Kong US spelling is not as long as students are consistent so much viewed as a legitimate and widespread (indeed global) alternative, as more a hideous corruption that needs to be eradicated forthwith. Phonetics and phonology can cause problems for the teachers and students, too. Again, to cite my US friend, when he speaks I cannot distinguish between, for example, 'writing' and 'riding'. For in his pronunciation (educated, middle class New York) they are homophonic, and only differ in the written language. I could go on all day but the point will be clear. The question is, can American teachers endure being consistently told by both (non-native-English-speaking) teachers and students alike that they are 'wrong'?

anninhk wrote:
No, you can apply for both if you have the qualifications and why not put in to be an AT for good measure!

Pieface wrote:
Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't anninhk's suggestion made with tongue firmly in cheek?

I too believe it was, but, unfortunately, there are dim-witted bods up there in the Ivory Tower that they otherwise refer to as the EMB head quarters who, unfortunately, have never even so much as set foot in a local school, let alone worked in one. Of course this trivial fact does not prevent them from being employed to sit in a plush office and, to quote from a recent EMB job description I recently happened to come across, decree 'overall policy', 'set general frameworks', 'co-ordinate policy shifts', 'oversee daily operations', 'advise on educational reforms', 'liase with counterparts in other states such as Canada, Australia, and New Zealand', who, despite the advent of email, somewhat strangely still need to be visited at least once a year in person (business class of course), and 'manage' managers, (and of course draw salaries often in excess of $80,000 HK a month for their august and selfless efforts). The expression 'jobs for the boys' comes to mind.

hkteach wrote:
But it's a rare NET who doesn't experience at least some of the difficulties I mentioned (e.g. being the only foreigner on the staff - this can be very isolating)

ironopolis wrote:
A bit surprised by the above. I'm not being facetious here and perhaps I've misunderstood what was meant somewhere. But are there really people on the NET scheme or applying for it, who did NOT expect to be the only foreigner in the school they ended up in?

Remember that there are a few Band 1 elite schools that do have two EMB NETs on their staff. But, leaving this aside, for the rest I do not think that there could be anyone who was not fully aware that they were to be the only foreigner in their school, but I do not think that this is what the chap meant when he referred to this point. There is after all an immense gulf between being the only foreigner in a school (something I think everyone is fully aware of, well prepared for, and wholly comfortable with) and being totally and entirely isolated, often to the point of actually being openly ostrichsised. I have never been on either of the NET schemes, but I do currently meet a number of NETs as part and parcel of my present job (and my, albeit limited, social life) and I was on the precursor to the NET scheme, the ET scheme, when I was here the first time. Believe me, the term ET was highly accurate as most if not all of us were certainly regarded and treated as extra-terrestrials. From what I gather from today's NETs little has changed.

Most NETs I speak to tell me that it is a rare event for a local teacher to ever talk to them, or even to offer them a greeting such as 'Good morning'. Many complain of at best just being blanked, and at worse having to endure endless dirty looks, scowls, and other assorted glares. There can be a number of reasons for this isolation and hostile treatment. To begin with the former, one is that many local teachers are absolutely petrified of making mistakes in English (or indeed in any area in life). They encourage students to put aside any fear they may have of attempting to speak a foreign language such as Mandarin or English (the two other 'official' languages in HK), and will often publicly scold them for not doing so, but they themselves will often simply freeze at the prospect of having to actually engage someone in either of these languages themselves. (As with so many of aspects of education and socialisation in HK it is a question of 'do as I say, not as I do'.) As regards the latter, one reason is that local teachers are of course local people and thus are typically exceedingly introverted, mind-numbingly inward-looking, self-centred to an extent which is difficult for a westerner to comprehend, selfish to an extreme, arrogant beyond words, provokingly obnoxious, survivalistic to a degree unheard of outside of HK, and cynical with a capital 'C'. In short, they have been rendered twisted and embittered by both the 'education' system in HK and the underlying societal structure and resulting 'life' conditions (remember, it is life, just not as we know it). Very few are married (or ever will be), and it is rare for any of them to have a boyfriend or girlfriend (dating is not big in Hong Kong as it is considered inappropriate, promiscuous, or downright immoral), and even fewer have any interests, hobbies, or pastimes outside of the workplace. The vast majority still live at home with their parents, and even the slim minority that are married will, more often than not, be childless and will still live at home with one or the other set of parents. This 'saves money' (both the ultimate meaning and measure of life in HK) and of course has the somewhat favourable and desirable knock-on effect of furnishing them with just the excuse they require to avoid engaging in normal, intimate (i.e., sexual) relationships. Many thirty-something-year-old teachers will often still sleep in bunk beds above or below their forty-something-year-old brother or sister. Such conditions have a very real effect on their outward behaviour, and indeed on their very inner psyche, that is, their id. After all, having five or six people (as there is invariably also at least one grandparent living with them in addition to the ever-present 'domestic helper') cooped up in a flat (which incidentally would be termed a shoebox or rabbit hutch in the west) is not exactly conducive to normal, healthy, intimate, meaningful relationships. Add to this the fact that most are perpetually exhausted from ridiculously long hours at work (note I do not say working hours I choose my words carefully), are exposed to incessant noise of an eardrum-shattering volume and repetitive nature, rarely if ever exercise, rarely if ever read anything (books in HK are all but non-existent and intellectual activity is not exactly encouraged), never release energy or pent up frustrations through sexual contact/behaviour, conduct and maintain relationships with friends through mobile phones, seem to have very little to live for save for far off (pipe) dreams of retiring to Canada or Australia, and we soon see why so many HK teachers can be considered to be at best emotionally hardened city-dwellers, and at worse resentful and hostile if not downright vicious boors.

Others, as nice as they otherwise may be, simply resent the housing allowance that NETs receive and/or their placement on the master pay scale. I have actually heard local teachers (in Cantonese) say things such as 'Why should he/she get $13,000 a month housing allowance just for having fair hair/blue eyes/white skin/etc.?' and 'Why should he/she come straight in at X thousand a month when I had to work ten years to reach that level on the pay scale?' Such statements are produced aloud in the staff room for all (Cantonese speakers) to hear. Another frequent cause of complaint is that NETs 'arrive at school late' (which, translated from local school-speak, means something along the lines of 'later than they, that is, the local teachers, get there'), do 'less work', and 'leave early'. I have commented on this attitude and discussed these points at some length on another thread (see the PGDE discussion) and so won't repeat myself here, suffice to say that in many schools unless you go in at 7am and do not leave until 9pm you will be considered to be, and earmarked as (sometimes in actual writing), a bad teacher and a lazy so-and-so (or a degenerate layabout) who is only in it for the money. The fact that NETs tend not to have a cooked breakfast at work, somehow resist the temptation to have an hour-long lunchtime kip at their desk, somewhat amazingly manage to survive without having afternoon tea in the staff room, and prefer to have a cooked evening meal at home rather than at work alone in silence at their desk (among the numerous other essential daily 'activities' performed by your average, diligent, conscientious local teacher) does not count for anything. What is important in their eyes is the sheer number of hours spent at work, not the attitude you evince, work you do, qualifications you have, rapport you build up with the kids, or the results you otherwise achieve.
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ironopolis



Joined: 01 Apr 2004
Posts: 379

PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2007 11:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've often heard exactly the same complaints as above by people in similar situations in schools in both the countries I've lived in in East Asia.

Come to think of it, such ignoring and resentment from regular teachers reminds me very much of things I heard people complain about during my PGCE course days in England. In fact, I remember overhearing teachers in my teaching practice school say things like, "why should they get money from the government when they hardly do anything?". I also recall from those days quite a few teachers who took their own resentment at the frustrations of their position out on the trainee teachers. Not all did of course, but the points above about HK do still sound very familiar.

At the end of the day though, valid points though I'm sure many of the above are, I personally feel that in this or similar situations you can find yourself in all over the world, you can either moan constantly, feel sorry for yourself and insist it's anyone's fault but your own; or you can try and develop strategies to help you deal with it all and help you try and get on with people better. It may not work every time, but I know which one I've nearly always found the better approach.
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briandwest



Joined: 10 Feb 2006
Posts: 98
Location: Hong Kong

PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2007 12:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As a NET actually working in the NET scheme 11:59's complete castigation of local teachers is at complete odds to my experience and that of my NET friends.
Whilst appreciating erudite and knowledgable opinion on the teaching profession gained through long experience in the University sector I'm frankly fed up with continued bashing of local people and local teachers, and through them NETs working in HK.
I hereby resolve to not read such posts in the future and encourage potential NETs out there to do the same.
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