Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Why my job is crap

But Claire, you can't say that kind of stuff of the internet! You never know who's watching!

Sure, I can. Read on and see why...

I'm an ALT - Assistant Language Teacher. Well, actually, I have a more technically correct name, but that's what the majority of the population knows us by. I assist in English class rooms in schools. I used to work for government in kindergarten, primary, and junior high schools. Now I work through a private company in high schools.

So, what makes my job crap. Well...

1. I was not made for schools

A major problem (in my eyes anyway) in most school systems across the world, is the prioritising of testing over learning. I really don't give a salsa monkey what a kid's test scores are. In a way, that kind of works with my current position because test scores are not in my jurisdiction. But testing is more important in high school, and the structure of my current job involves more direction from the Japanese teachers about what I should and shouldn't be doing. So even though I'm not involved in the testing, my lessons are often geared toward it and it drives me crazy.

2. English

I can't explain how much it sucks as a pluralinguist to be constantly forced to exist in your native language, despite being surrounded by a foreign one that you'd much rather be using. I suppose it's still a step above an English-speaking country where I'd never get to use anything else. But I'd still rather be teaching a language that's foreign to me too. I want to grow and learn too.

Also, English is beautiful and all, but I've never been one for technicalities. And a lot of my job involves explaining WHY. I'm not a grammar nazi. In fact, if you're being understood, who cares. And it's not just with English. I feel this way about all my languages. Japanese, the language in which I've had the least formal training, is always broken when I speak it, but I'm never misunderstood. (At least not any more than the natives. Japanese is ridiculously vague.) I think this actually makes me good at languages, the ability to discard why.

3. Climbing the ladder

I just said I want to grow and learn, right? Well apart from using a language that literally comes naturally to me, there's also no scope for growth in my job. My role will never change. I will always be the assistant.

Also, I'm not usually one for practical considerations, but I'm getting a little better about it now that I'm 31. And if I'm not climbing my salary isn't either. Ever. In fact, my old government job was the pinnacle of what you make in this field. I'm capped out.

4. Not really being a part of anything

It's important as a human being to fit in. Not always, but once in a while. In Japan, that importance is magnified a zillion times over. Japan is all about my group versus not my group. As a black girl in an Asian country, I know that I'll never fit completely, but that doesn't mean I always want to stick out like a sore thumb.

At school, I'm very aware that all the other teachers have responsibilities I don't - leading clubs, being form teachers, planning school events. It gives them a sense of camaraderie and makes me feel like Quasimodo in the bell tower.

There are tons and tons of reasons why my job is crap and I could go on and on all day. But I won't. I just wanted to acknowledge the fact that for the first time I am not perfectly happy in a job. Don't get me wrong, I love my pookies to pieces, but this just isn't my calling. So I've made a promise to myself and I'm now declaring it publicly as well. It won't be forever, but I will stick it for the moment.

Did you ever work in a job that didn't work for you?

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