Monday, October 5, 2009

How Did English Teachers Get Such a Bad Rap?

I have read and heard so much about how English teachers in Japan are `scum ball losers who drink all the time, make trouble all the time, and sleep around all the time.` It seems a lot of folks out there love to talk shit about English teachers in Japan. It seems to be a favorite pass time of many; both on the net and in real life. I have read many `articles` about how bad examples of human beings English teachers in Japan are these days. Some people even go as far as to say that there are very few `good` English teachers in Japan. Some folks say things like: `English teachers in Japan are lazy good for nothings`,`They are just getting paid to speak their native language`, `English teachers do not teach they entertain.` These are just a few of the comments I have come across.

In truth, I have not seen so much proof to back-up the reputation which many wish to place on English teachers in Japan. Many teachers like to drink and have a good time but most people like to do such things. In Tokyo for example, most people like to get a good and drunk on a regular basis. In fact, I see more crazy drunk Japanese than I do gaijin.

Everyone has their crazy stories. Maybe the difference is gaijin are more willing to share their life experiences than Japanese people. Japanese do plenty of crazy shit in the name of having a good time. They seem to keep much more quiet about it than gaijin. A Japanese women, for example, will go out and get into all kinds of crazy shit and not tell anyone about it. They will show up to work the next day like nothing happened. They tend to play it cool. The same goes for Japanese men.

So, English teachers do crazy shit and do not try to hide it so much. If an English teacher goes out and gets drunk as a skunk and hooks up with some gal you will know it the next day at work. If he does not tell you will know by his behavior. He will be a little slow and maybe even smell like the gal he spend the night with. As long as he does he job, I do not understand why people give him any shit for what he does outside of work. What a teacher does outside of work is his/her own business!

Sleeping with Students:

Okay. This is something which gets much more attention when it should. Yeah, it does happen sometimes. I do not condone it. A lot of people say it is a bad idea. They usually give professional reasons and job security as explanations. There is another side to this issue which most people do not talk about as much.

There is a much more deeper reason for avoiding sleeping with your students than losing your job. Students talk to each other about the teachers. They spread rumors faster than staff could ever dream. Once you sleep with one student, the rest of them will know about it real quick. How is this a bad thing? Well, Japanese do not like teachers who sleep with students! It will cost you, not only lessons, but also number of students per-lesson. You know what that means: less money for you! Although this is not the major reason gaijin English teachers have got a bad rap.

I am going to go ahead and say it now: it is because you are not Japanese. It is one of the those situations in which you are damned if you do and damned if you don`t. If you dress in a good looking suit and teach English decently well, be prepared to have shit talked about you by Japanese and fellow gaijin alike. If you become really good at teaching English the flood gates of shit talk will never end.

So, how did English teachers in Japan get a bad rap? It is because the majority of people in Japan want them to have a bad rap.


Orchid64 said...

In my experience, most Japanese people don't necessarily have a bad impression of English teachers. It's the other gaijin who have the greatest contempt for them. I think part of this is classic snobbery and a desire on the part of foreigners who have gotten other jobs to feel better than other foreigners.

I think part of their desire to see English teachers as the lowest is based on their own experiences as newcomers when they taught as well (as many start that way). And, newcomers tend to be younger, more immature and to party more so they were bound to encounter more people who were just in the job for soaking up as much life experience as possible.

I think it's deeper than that though for some people. I think a lot of people who left teaching hated the job and didn't have an aptitude for it so they have to diminish the value of it. They were never comfortable teaching, never enjoyed it, so they deride those who are good at it or say that anyone can do it. They have to say it's no more than speaking your own language so that they can rationalize their lack of skill.

The interesting thing about the partying criticism is that a foreigner working in a Japanese office who refused to take part in "nomikai" (drinking parties) would be accused of refusing to fit into Japanese business culture, yet teachers are criticized for drinking!

In regards to sleeping with students, you can't prey on someone who doesn't want to be caught. If the Japanese people want to sleep with foreigners and they are adults, it is their own business unless the school's policies forbid it. What people do in their own bedrooms as consenting adults is no one's business but theirs. I realize many schools do forbid it (for good reasons as it can be bad for business), and would condemn any foreigner who knowingly acted in opposition to an explicit no fraternization policy.

Anonymous said...

In my experience it is not the Japanese that give English teachers bad rap - it is other English teachers. Sorry to say, that usually means Americans. Yep, there I said it. Americans. I have taught English in Japan for the better part of twenty years, and my experience shows that of all the English teachers coming from all over the world it is the Americans who are quick to degrade other English teachers, heap shit on the Japanese and generally just be snobs. Sure there are many good American English teachers - but most are going to put down other teachers. Is it in the American culture? I dunno.

More noticeable to me are Americans who will look down on you and act as if only THEY have the right to be in Japan.

TheGhost said...

If a lot of Americans are doing that kind of thing it is very sad for sure. I know some American teachers and only one or two have slightly displayed such an attitude in front of me.

McAlpine said...

I think MALE TEACHERS in general get a bad rap in Japan.

( female teachers "no")

It doesn't matter whether you are a Japanese teacher teaching at a school or an Eikaiwa English teacher; male teachers all get bad raps.  Teachers all get bad raps the world over because we are expected to not only be moral but faultless. Some teacher fall for their students, which in my opinion doesn't make them less of a teacher, just less of a professional teacher. Students look to exploit and take advantage of the teacher in order to get special favors. It's all one sick pathological mind game.

Bridget Beaver said...

while I don't agree with everything in this post...(as far as sleeping with students, I'd say that's unprofessional in any situation, but that's just my own opinion) I do, however, agree with the last statement - it's because you're a foreigner. It makes it easy to pick us out and place the blame on us. You're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't!

a toothless man in a wife beater said...

Oh, I try my best not to fuck my students, but dammit it to Hell, some of them are so cute. I just wanna pound those tight little anus' 'till they vomit their Soba lunch.

I also agree with all the comments and your post. American's are often culprits, and it's the Gaijin that are bad mouthing one another. What can you do, eye-fuck everyone, swill more pisswater beer and swear like you're from the hill country?

A: Yes.

TheGhost said...

Good God. Even the internet has it loonies.

Anonymous said...

Ghost-san, i also agree it's the foregners bad mouthing ALTs, not the students. As far as "doing" students is concerned...that(s a tough one. When i used to work at NOVA I'd say more the half the female student body were bored housewives or college students as interested in "interacting" with foreigners as they were in studying English. Of these, there were a good number who felt the policy with fraternization was more of a guideline and flirted if not pursued teachers with vigor. Like another commentor said, consenting adults, right? Plus the very nature of life here in Japan limits the amount of Japanese people you can know as well as you get to know those students who frequented your lessons in an Eikaiwa. They are your initial and eager introduction to Japan. They are very proud of their country and want to show you a good time and teach you about Japanese people and culture and in most cases more.
Now I'm an ALT at a JRHS so temptation to be "taught" is gone but "back in the days" the temptation was almost irresistable.
As far as the other behavior of foreigners...take a bunch of kids straight out of college and stick them in a foreign country with a little money surrounded by friendly xenophobic people and what do you expect?
good post!

billywest said...

It's funny, I have to admit that when Japanese people would ask me, "Are you an English teacher?" in my head I would be like, Fuck, do I look like some English teacher? And then I would say, "Yes, I am."

TheGhost said...

Yeah, a lot of them seem to think every male gaijin is an English teacher. Although, I have only been asked the `teacher` questions a few times.

Anonymous said...

well thats Americans for you, some of em anyhow. i quite like taking short trips to Holland and the number of loud arrogant Americans is astounding. they need to drop the attitude, America is by far NOT the greatest country in the world