A few months ago I wrote an article for UKEdMag about education around the world and the differences between various countries. I found many differences in culture and school day, as well as term time and approaches. It left me with the overall impression that education in different parts of the world, dare I say, could be better than that of England.
So imagine my surprise when ex pat's living in Hanoi, Vietnam told me that they were facing almost the exact same problems I was before I left! I was fortunate enough to be able to stay with these family friends, who just happened to be teachers. One was teaching English as a foreign language and the other ICT. We got talking about the various systems, what the problems are etc. and found we were basically all saying the same thing, in front of my friend who will begin training in September (I warned her but apparently it's what she wants!).
One of the common problems was, obviously, behaviour. I guess I thought that in a country where children are taught to be so respectful to their elders that they would show this to their teachers. However, as these teachers said, at international schools the children have a sense of entitlement, that the teacher is working for them not the other way round. I can't speak for the local schools but from what I can see of them, they look underfunded and not well kept.
Another glaring similarity is the politics. There's a reason I'm not a politician, I hate the dirtiness of politics. To progress teachers have to suck up to the higher ups, go way above and beyond their actual job and generally kill themselves with stress!! They complained of being put on cover more often after sick days, or being accused of taking days off and calling them sick days. It all sounded very familiar, those who played the game would do well and those who didn't would not.
But the worst one for me, by far, was that both in their school in Vietnam, full of teachers from all walks of life, and in my old school in England, people did not share their resources!! The job is nye on impossible as it is, why oh why, do we make it harder by not pooling together our resources. In my books it is the highest sin as a teacher, it won't hurt you to make your prints available to others and in return you could get an Incredible amount back. Nowhere is this more important than with new schemes of work or in a school with such a rich diversity of teachers, teaching styles and pedagogy.
So, were Vietnamese schools what I expected, no. Perhaps that is due to it being an international school or perhaps I'm going to have to start accepting the fact that education as a whole might be more similar than I thought. Which might be a spanner in the works.