Thursday, September 06, 2007

KBS on criminal teachers

Last night, KBS aired a "60 Minutes" program focusing on criminal foreigner teachers . They started with the drug users and dealers, then moved on to those with fake degrees, and finished off with teachers working with no qualifications at all. The bulk of the program was about the misdeeds of the teachers and the illegal things they do to get their jobs (and while on the job); no big suprise there. I was actually suprised that they made an attempt at balanced journalism and focused a little attention on the Hagwon directors and recruiters that make it possible for these people to find jobs. They also showed some good teachers in their classes and gave a little attention to the fact that there are many good teachers in Korea both foreign and Korean. But the focus was well-centered on the misdeeds of the foreigner teachers (hey, they gotta get the viewers somehow). I couldn't understand everything but I definately did not get the impression that they were being particularly prejudiced or just bashing foreigners in general. This may just be my lack of understanding Korean since I am not fluent and my wife did not get to watch all of it with me. If someone else got a different impression (evidently the Metropolitician did), you are welcome to make comment on it below. This is not really about the quality of the reporting. I'll leave that to others.

That said; as I was watching the story unfold, I found myself incredibly annoyed at the foreigner teachers who cheat, lie, use fake degrees and work without proper documents as much as I loathed the Hagwon directors and recruiters because basically it is THEIR FAULT that English teachers (myself included) are paid so little in a country where English Education is a multi-billion dollar industry. The internet is inundated with advertisements for recruiters trying to find teachers at any cost so they can make a little money. According to the KBS feature, they don't even seem to care if the person has no education or experience teaching (suprise?!).

If, and this is a big if, the Korean government could stop the hiring of unqualified teachers, then there just wouldn't be enough teachers to go around. Hagwons would close right and left and the pay for good and qualified teachers would rise. But, that is how this all got started in the first place. The glut of hagwons needing warm foreign bodies to teach the classes.

But the government won't do what is necessary to keep out the unqualified and the other riffraff because, even if they could, the hagwon directors association would scream bloody murder and the parents would be screaming at the government because of the lack of English study facilities. The fact is, there are just NOT that many qualified teachers who are willing to come to Korea to teach for the mediocre pay and cultural aggrevation that is most often perceived.

I can tell you that if I knew of a person who was:

  • working illegally or
  • with a fake degree...
  • using drugs on or off the workplace (not only is it a crime and a cultural no-no but it effects the way you teach, period)
  • dealing drugs to ANYONE (especially students)
  • I suspected as a pederast or other type of abuser
I would not hesitate to turn them in to the authorities. Call me a prude, tattletale, race traitor, hypocrite, whatever you like...these people are costing me money and quickly changing to negative the traditionally positive and respectful view of teachers in Korea and they are stunting the progress of English Education here. If that makes you stop respecting me or reading my blog, so be it. Catch you later. I'm gonna watch out for what's mine.

Message to Immigration: If you need any help to sting some of these miscreants. I'm in.
Message to Illegals without degrees or quals: If you want to teach English here or anywhere, get your qualifications, go to school, take a course, learn about teaching language and get it right.
Message to others in Illegal activities: Don't assume that foreigner you are drinking with, or the guy you meet on the train and think is 'alright' is what you think. It might be me pulling your chain just long enough to get you busted. Entrapment laws in Korea are a FARCE! they won't help you.

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