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RACE and AGE issues: Your views please, especially Heads and SMTs out there.

Discussion in 'Teaching overseas' started by Nqobizitha, Feb 2, 2011.

  1. I have recently decided to go and teach abroad and have sent in several applications. In most cases I get a favourable initial response but as soon as some schools realise my ethnic background, they show no interest at all. A message I got from one head teacher (in Africa) who was kind enough to call me back was: you are brilliant and would have loved to have you on my team, but the owners of the school would really prefer a Caucasian teacher.
    I work in UK and have always been offered jobs on all interviews bar one despite my African origins . I have had a similar complaint from a friend from China who, after several failed applications, was offered a job there but at local rates despite having been teaching in UK for 12 years.
    Should I give up my dream of teaching in an international school outside of Europe? (I was offered a job before in Mainland Europe in what is usually seen as a racist country).
    I was advised not to try the Middle East as they generally consider even their darker counterparts as second class citizens hence they wouldn't want their children taught by one. True or myth?
    Thanks for all the anticipated info and views.
  2. MisterMaker

    MisterMaker Occasional commenter

    The cold hard reality is there is an issue with race in international schools. Owners, who are often non-whites, usualy prefer to hire expats with caucasian looks. This is based on a belief that parents expect the teachers to be white. In some cases, where they hire non-whites it is on a lower salary. It always the case though and there are many good schools out there with an equalities mandate.However, you'll find few schools opening express an equal opportunities policy in their adverts, whereas almost all schools in the UK do include the standard speil.
    It may surprise some of my detractors that I do hire non-whites (not that they presume I'm racist, but they just think the worst of me usually). The last time I hired a British black lady my question to her during the interview was how would she respond when parents make offensive remarks and / or believe she is inferior. She accepted that she may find parents racist and agreed not to make it an issue. Things went well after joining and there was never an issue that came to my attention..
    On the other hand, I didn't hire a muslim teacher some years back as, when asked if she would at interview, she refused to take off her hijab within school; the hijab is nothing to do with Islam and I personally don't believe a full face hijab is appropriate in a school environment. The school was in a Muslim country and the owner (a muslim) was also clear on her thoughts on hiajbs and non of the muslims within the school were allowed a full face hijab.
    The reality, I beleive, is that most parents sending their children to British curriculum schools will expect the teachers to be white, but will not have a problem so long as the quality of teaching is good.

  3. MisterMaker

    MisterMaker Occasional commenter

    I blame my keyboard - should be: It isn't always the case though
  4. millsandboon

    millsandboon New commenter

    I have to say that most of the faces I have seen in International schools have been white European, American or Marsupial. The times that I have worked with colleagues who are other ethnicities, I have found that they have received more racism from fellow 'colleagues' than parents. One teacher, who is as British as my white self is not Asian or Black, but was described as a "Black ***" openly in the staffroom and questioned about her suitability for teaching her subject because she was Indian. She's not Indian for a start, and whats that got to do with the price of hanging rope and burning crosses?!
    International schools are not the hot house of racial understanding you would hope they would be...far from it in some instances. My current workplace included. I can only sympathise and says its a pile of codshit that you shouldn't have to be dealing with in the 21st century.
    I've only experienced blatant sexism so far in my life and that's **** enough, so I can only sympathise and wish you the best in finding a decent place out there that isn't run by bigots and neo-fascists. I hear the IBO based schools in Europee may be your best bet.....
    sara2323 likes this.
  5. MisterMaker

    MisterMaker Occasional commenter

    It comes to something when schools will hire Kangaroos but won't take on non-whites.
  6. Over to you Yasimum.
  7. I teach in a nearly all white Independent school in the UK and after several years here I have not had any blatant racial comments made to me. I am also the only non-white teacher and it has never been an issue. I was of the opinion that most international schools are run as a business and with what I have to offer,it would save them hiring one or two other teachers if not three. Unfortunately its hard to know when it is my ethnicity and not my teaching ability that would have let me down.
  8. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    You must be feeling in a generous mood today MM; I'd have expected you to say Possums

    OP also mentioned age. For the benefit of old b@stards like myself, would you deign to give us your wisdom on whether there's much prejudice. For instance, I know I'm too old to rock n roll in Borneo.
  9. MisterMaker

    MisterMaker Occasional commenter

    Thought you might have been around a bit to have your own experience and thoughts, but as you asked so nicely: Any ageism isn't as strong as racism in my experience. However, some countries are restrictive with their labour laws and that is what will stop many schools hiring the old & wise; or perhaps in your case just the old[​IMG]
  10. I am black and have been teaching overseas for about 10 years now. There is racism and that can be discouraging but I have had a great time. At the first job fair I went to there were only 2 non-whites. However at the job fair in January, there were many non-whites. Things are definitely getting better. I have found the American schools overall seem to be more open to non-whites than the British schools.
    I think you shouldn't give up. There are many good schools who will be willing to hire you, not just in Europe. I work in Asia at the moment.
  11. stopwatch

    stopwatch Established commenter

    I think ageism is a problem. Heading to mid 50's and being PE biased, I think people presume you (i.e. me) are falling apart and unable to put one foot in front of another without falling over.

    I think I have a pretty good track record, but in both of my last 2 job moves, think age has gone against me.

    This is re-enforced when I see the ages of other teachers in the schools I have worked in.
  12. percy topliss

    percy topliss Occasional commenter

    This is a strange one. I have been abroad now for 13 years and HAVE seen some racism, but have also worked with teachers of all colours and creeds. I think that you may find that if you are of African descent you may not be welcomed in schools on that continent, yet I have worked with black as well as south asian teachers whilst working in the Far and Middle East. My advice, for what it is worth, would be to persevere as you WILL eventually get a job, it just depends where you want to get it!

    Obviously if you are a marsupial you will either be stuck up a tree or applying for Ricky Pontings job so none of this will apply.

  13. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Established commenter

    There is prejudice but there is no predictable pattern to it and, as Perce says, many schools will seriously consider your application. I appointed the first three local black teachers in an old, conservative school in Africa. (The salary scale was the same as for the expats so that was not an issue). Two of the young men turned out to be very good teachers and quickly gained acceptance with African, Asian and European parents. One of the most popular teachers in our school in Malaysia was a British Indian.
    The owners of the first school I started in India had a stated policy of employing a 'rainbow' staff. The second lot I worked for there wanted the faculty (including the Indians!) to be as light skinned as possible and the Nordic appearance of Mrs M and myself was definitely a marketing tool.
    Incidentally, if you browse this forum and look at some of the discussions about what defines international education you will come across some interesting examples of unconscious racism by us teachers, as in 'They call it an international school but but there's hardly a white face to be seen'.

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