October 27, 2010

Bureaucracy insanity: What makes a good Thai teacher?

Just when you think you've gotten used to the quirks of Thai society, you get blindsided by something so unthinkably backwards you question your grasp on reality. There's no October equivalent of April Fool's Day in Thailand, is there?

This little ditty is a form a friend asked me to fill out. She is a recent university graduate who just completed her teaching certification, and is now looking for teaching work at the primary school level. When she asked if I would provide her a recommendation, I was surprised that instead of a recommendation letter, or a phone call from the school, I am expected to fill out a form that rates this grown adult on the following  traits, based on a three-point scale of 'good', 'average', or 'needs improvement':

Outer personality
  1. Hairstyle
  2. Face
  3. Teeth
  4. Weight
  5. Attire
  6. Jewelry/accessories
  7. Shoes and socks
Inner personality
  1. Self-esteem
  2. Responsibility
  3. Self-discipline
  4. Patience
  5. Control of temper
  1. Speaking
  2. Listening
  3. Looking
  4. Sitting
  5. Standing
  6. Walking
Now, I understand the need for a system of recommendation and evaluation. But I was blown away by how pointless and demeaning most of the items on this list are. Naturally, I gave my friend perfect marks by way of protest against such an asinine questionnaire.

Maybe if we want to fix the moribund Thai education system we should worry less about whether teachers wear socks and know how to stand properly, and focus more on, I don't know, modern pedagogical techniques? Egads.