Readers' Submissions

Teachers And Gogo Bars

  • Written by Phil Ross
  • December 2nd, 2004
  • 4 min read


I have been following the recent online debate in the Stickman Readers' Submissions regarding the morality of men who choose to teach English in Thailand to underage students by day and frequent red light districts by night.

I am not an English teacher but from an outside observer's point of view I find the exchanges have been very emotionally driven and this is understandable. But at the same time I think there has been a certain lack of objectivity about the entire debate.

Quite simply, nobody wants a drug dealer or a murderer or a pedophile or a horny sex tourist / sexpat teaching English to their child or in contact with their child in any other possible way. It is only natural that all parents want the best for their children. It goes without saying that even if you are a murderer you still don’t want other murderers teaching your child. It may be the height of hypocrisy but there is no law against being a hypocrite.

There is a certain Stickman reader by the name of the Lonely Professor who has admitted to being a regular patron of Bangkok’s naughty bars but at the same time doesn’t want other patrons sitting next to him to teach his children at an international school during the daytime. This hypocrisy has justifiably infuriated other Stickman readers particularly the ones who are guilty of such “double standards”. However I think that the hypocrisy of the Lonely Professors argument is irrelevant to the argument. The real question is: Do Sexpats have the right to teach English to youngsters?

There is an argument that says that teaching is some kind of virtuous profession that only the most righteous of individuals may engage in. That is a judgment call but personally I do not accept this argument. In particular Thailand does not pay enough money and provide good enough working conditions to attract the most refined members of society to teach within the kingdom.

Again speaking from an outside observer’s point of view I would say that I desire the most pure, virtuous, honorable person of morally sound character teaching my child but the fact is that I live in the real world and in the real world everybody sins and nobody is perfect. Participating in the red light districts of Thailand is not the greatest sin in the world and if we threw out all teachers who were guilty of that sin and sins of equal value then I would guess there would be no more teachers left to teach. So as in all aspects of raising a child some practicality and common sense is required and it is simply impractical to preclude sexpats from teaching your child no matter how much you would like to.

In a letter posted in this week's Stickman Weekly, 28/11/2004, a reader said that what you do in the evenings reflects your day time personality and to some degree that is correct. Our personality is based on the sum of our experiences with a little bit of heredity and pre-natal conditioning thrown in as well. So it can be fairly argued that spending your nights in gogo bars can in some way affect the way you interrelate with students during the day. The author of the letter also went on to mention that teachers should be conservative, presentable, non smokers who do not consume narcotics. These are the kinds of demands I would like to make of the teachers of my children but the problem with this argument is that the working conditions of Thai schools are such that I cannot see how they can find enough virtuous teachers to fill all the teaching positions required. The author suggested that the fact that he was paying high amount of money for his child’s education in an international school (probably hundreds of thousands of baht per year) should be enough to ensure the high standard of the teaching staff. The problem is that not enough of his money actually gets into the pockets of the teachers and it is only a certain type of teacher who will be attracted to leaving the West and going to Thailand to teach for such meager pay rates.

At the end of the day the most important thing is how good the teacher is and there is nothing to say that sexpats do not make excellent teachers. There is also nothing to say that sexpats are automatically predisposed to pedophilia. When it is my turn to choose a school for my kids I will walk through the school grounds, talk with the teachers and principal and watch the behavior of the other kids. I will make my assessment on my gut instincts based on what I see from these areas. I will not preclude the school if I know a certain teacher smokes marijuana or another teacher likes to gamble at cards after school or two married teachers are having an affair behind their spouses backs etc etc etc because all humans sin and this is what it is to be human. The fact is that nobody is perfect and everybody sins in one way or another. I am not suggesting that we should drop our standards toward what we expect for our children but we need to be logical and practical and approach the issue with common sense instead of the emotionally driven opinions that have been written recently in this forum.

Stickman's thoughts:

Fair comment. I think it is fair to say that going to gogo bars or doing other things that society may not look favourably upon do not necessarily make one any less a teacher.