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Survivors Guilt?

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by RoadToRags, May 27, 2019.

  1. RoadToRags

    RoadToRags New commenter

    I was looking at Linkedin and thinking about my former colleagues in the UK yesterday, and I started feeling what I can only describe as slightly guilty on a number of fronts. Guilty that I was not pushing myself in quite the same way that i was in the UK, and guilty that i had left all the teachers and leaders behind to pick up the slack and continue to teach the students that were so in need of our help, and whose backgrounds and behaviour could be equally horrible at times.

    I agree with those on the forum who have railed against martyrdom in the teaching profession, and the idea that teaching is a vocation for which one needs to be prepared to give up free time and financial gain for the "benefit of the kids". I have been vastly happier since leaving the UK, and find myself in a financially rewarding situation that gives me ample time to prepare what I need, in order to teach pleasant and respectful students. I still work hard, but 7-5 hard, rather than 7-7 with an hour commute on each end and more work on Sunday hard.

    This feeling of slight guilt would also not make sense in many other careers, where people will work towards higher salaries and better quality of life given the choice.

    However, when you think about careers where you provide valuable services for vulnerable people, such as medicine, social care, psychiatry, law, there is definitely a divide between those that work to get the big bucks with more wealthy patrons, and those that stay on lower wages to try and help those most in need.

    Teaching is still just a job, and people can view their connection to that job in any way they wish. I was just wondering whether this feeling had ever crept up on anyone else?
    tb9605, dumbbells66 and rideemcowboy like this.
  2. rideemcowboy

    rideemcowboy Occasional commenter

    I love and can relate your sentiment.
    I do not hold any guilt for leaving the UK, and I am so happy I did.
    My guilt stems from the same self-doubt I have always felt, wherever I am teaching. The responsibility I feel towards the children and parents in my classes. Are they being challenged enough? Are there children struggling with social or personal issues, and am I providing them with what is needed?
    I have a never-ending to-do list.
    I am comfortable with this self-imposed guilt. I am now free from much of the externally imposed ticking boxes for the SLT. I want my focus on my children, and it is.
  3. lucyrose50

    lucyrose50 Occasional commenter

    Definitely. My main thing is that I'm now teaching delightful young people who of course have their issues and difficulties like all teenagers, but compared to the students in the very deprived area of the UK where I used to teach, they are so privileged. Most of them do appreciate this (to an extent, at least), but it makes me very sad to think about some of the students I used to teach, who would have such a better experience of education and would go so much further in life if they'd had half of the opportunities my current students have. I still think about certain students who I used to work with, and wonder what will become of them in a school where they have to battle to learn anything because of other students' behaviour and there is no money or staff time to give them the support they need, especially when they get no help or encouragement at home. I feel very guilty for not sticking with it and doing my part to try and give them the best education we can manage amidst all the budget cuts and other problems.
  4. fullblownattack63

    fullblownattack63 New commenter

    The idea that teaching is a vocation where you put the kids before earning money is simply that. It’s an idea.

    There’s no reason why you can’t teach and earn good money for your future at the same time. You certainly shouldn’t feel guilty for doing it, or for doing things like exam marking or tuition to reap the financial gains for the future.

    In my case, I worked for 6 years in London as a teacher then HOD. I had a fantastic time. But I do not miss the 6 lesson days, intervention sessions instead of lunchbreaks, marking sets of 100+ books at the weekend and unrealistic progress targets. I am so happy that I have moved to a brilliant school in Qatar, made some more great friends, met someone special, and saved 20,000GBP.

    As for your colleagues and friends back home, feeling guilty for them is an absolute waste of energy. But if you are feeling a sense of ‘survival guilt’ as you call it, and I can understand why if you had a tough teaching career in the UK you might feel that way.

    The fact is teachers are not martyrs. Teaching is a job first, a profession by definition, and a vocation only if you choose to perceive it in that way. My advice is to work hard, enjoy it, get the best out of your students, and earn as much as possible as long as it doesn’t bring you down.
  5. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    do i feel guilty, no. do i feel pity for those suckered into the idea that they are an educational Martyr, then yes. do i feel guilty about earning 4,5,6 times more than any of those poor souls in Spain suckered into believing its all about the "lifestyle", hell no
  6. RoadToRags

    RoadToRags New commenter

    @lucyrose50 @rideemcowboy
    Very much agree that you should work hard for your students, wherever you are and whoever they are, and find a situation where you can enjoy your life and your job.

    @fullblownattack63 I am curious what that final sentence means though; "As long as it doesn't bring you down" ?

    I also agree with pretty much everything you say, and think I covered a lot of it in the OP. It is a shame that such talented teachers are not all being rewarded for their efforts in the UK, and have to deal with much more difficult work conditions. On reflection, I would not go as far as to say I feel guilty/sorry for them actually, as that would be somewhat condescending towards a life and teaching career that many of them enjoy and thrive whilst doing. Horses for courses, and everyone is free to choose how they live their life.
  7. bead

    bead New commenter

    I have never worked hard in my life. I have always worked effectively. There is a huge difference. By turning up and doing your job in an effective and caring manner is exactly how to make a difference to a lot of those poor wee souls. By stressing, working longer hours etc you put stress on yourselves your family and eventually quit and where does that leave the people that you need to help?
    I quit industry because I was fed up being asked to do more work and travel,in order to make more money for already rich shareholders who did not need more money.
    No one should feel guilty about earning as much as they can from your chosen career.
    Like I said, just by turning up and doing what you should do in an effective manner is the best way to do good.
  8. fullblownattack63

    fullblownattack63 New commenter

    OP, what I mean is be mindful and aware of the money you can save, but don't let it obsess you or affect negatively in any way. For me that means doing a few tutoring sessions a week, rather than a few every day (which some of my colleagues do). They may save more money but I'm not sure they are as happy as I am!
  9. salamandes

    salamandes New commenter

    Hi fulblownattack63 - can I send you a DM about Doha please? Many thanks.
    fullblownattack63 likes this.
  10. T0nyGT

    T0nyGT Lead commenter

    I relatively quickly lost touch with the people I worked with in the UK. They very quickly tire of hearing about the lifestyle or seeing pictures of sunsets and beaches. I don't feel sorry for them because it's the life they've chosen. No one has forced them in to it. I read the Workplace Dilemmas forum occasionally and wonder why on earth people put themselves through such things
    mermy, mas_o_menos and dumbbells66 like this.
  11. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    I have found that some teachers in the UK get very angry and offensive when you suggest that actually life in Good Old Blighty might be just a little bit stressful (and expensive). Like T0nyGT, I occasionally wander onto other forums and you can read some absolutely dreadful things. As for the TES itself, I have lost count of the articles that I have read about teachers being falsely accused, assaulted by ghastly parents, bullied by SLT, exhausted by doing cover for staff who are off with stress-related illness and worried sick about OFSTED. Then there are all the NQTs who do not even finish their induction year. And please do not get me started on the subject of Council Tax. Or house prices.
    yasf likes this.
  12. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    if only you had mentioned "Bulgaria" i would have do a full house on Hippo Bingo ;)
    SPC2, yasf, Mr_Frosty and 3 others like this.
  13. twisty08

    twisty08 New commenter

    I do feel tempted to feel pity for former colleagues who accept bad deals. But at the end of the day, it's their own choice.

    Sure I feel pity for those in the UK suffering terrible pay and conditions. I also feel bad for colleagues teaching internationally who find themselves on a bad deal.

    I'm constantly badgering former colleagues in Angola to up sticks and start earning a decent salary. But if they're happy earning mediocre pay and living on a guarded compound, more power to them.
  14. miketribe

    miketribe Established commenter

    I suppose work as a teacher in England is a bit like continued constructive dismissal... I left 45 years ago when the head announced at a faculty meeting that me class of 9th Graders would not be taking French in 9th Grade but would be doing Gardening instead. I asked him to elucidate and he said that since this was a B stream (the classes were streamed by ability in maths and English) the children did not have the "intellectual capacity" to study a second language. I asked him why I had been teaching them French for the past year and he said that we had offered the "equality of educational opportunity" and that now they would do gardening. If they wanted to study French further, they could wait until they were 16 and do evening classes...
    In the words of Sir Winston Churchill, "This is the sort of nonsense up with which I will not put..."
    yasf and T0nyGT like this.
  15. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Bulgaria! I hope you are happy now, dumbbells66.
    rideemcowboy, T0nyGT and dumbbells66 like this.
  16. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    House !!!
    yasf, T0nyGT and JL48 like this.
  17. RoadToRags

    RoadToRags New commenter

    It seems that this vague feeling of guilt has passed now. Sometimes it just hits you how good life can be when the choices you make turn out right. Life overseas in China is just great, and I can only encourage others to step outside their comfort zone, or pain zone, as the case may be, and try it out.

    It might be that I have to return to England at some point, but there will be something that forces me back, rather than it being a choice I want to make. If I was back in the same conditions in the UK, I would not be able to forget the amazing working, life and financial conditions that i left behind.
  18. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    The recent hysterical outpouring in the TES about one difficult question in the Maths SATs paper has forever cured me of any desire to teach in the UK.
  19. yasf

    yasf Established commenter

    Have you got a photo of yours too?

    Would that be that he said at a staff meeting that your Year 9 (or Year 10?) would be doing Horticultural Studies? ;)
  20. miketribe

    miketribe Established commenter

    In those days, it was Yr 8 and the subject was actually called gardening... I was trying to be multi-cultural!

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