31st March 2006 at 01:00
Why teach overseas is this week's wind-up on the web, says Bill Hicks

If the TES forums were a school and I were a headteacher, I would have to devote the end-of-term assembly to a stern lecture on how disappointed I am at the decline in standards of behaviour, especially since half-term.

Of course, it's always a minority of ne'er-do-wells who bring disgrace on the institution, and around early March some of our more uppity sixth-formers began to mock the SMT when they (we) temporarily (we hope) lost control of the Personal forum. A gaggle of senior posters were delightedly swapping the information that they had been warned by the web staff, as if it were some sort of mark of honour. I think it was Bauble who first came up with the term "tesbo" - anyway, it stuck.

I can't deny that we attract the sort of poster who goes in for creative winding-up of the worthy. Maybe it's something about teachers; even when they know they are being trolled, they still feel they have to say something constructive. Witness the Teaching Overseas forum, last week. The waspish Nick Fee, having buzzed around various flora, landed in this highly charged area and deposited a question: "Do people who teach overseas do it because they can't hack it in the UK schools? Or is it an extended holiday cloaked as a good deed?"

Surely our overseas teachers would be too worldly-wise to be needled so easily. Yasimum went for a quick kill: "How very eurocentric of you Nick.

Some of us don't come from the UK originally... This is a nice, calm forum - leave it alone."

It didn't work. Minutes later, Nick Fee again: "I take it you lot fancy a cheap holiday..."

Amanda32 spoke for many: "Nick - you are like an annoying fly buzzing at a window and nobody on this forum is even going to bother taking a half-hearted swat at you."

She was wrong. Enter Higgi17, with irony: "Yes dear, that's right. My working overseas for the past three years has been a huge vacation... I spend long hours at the beach or by the pool, visiting the fabulous sights in amazing cities, I shop till I drop... Now, kindly sod off."

Mr Fee lunged back: "Do you have to patronise the locals or is it optional? Cheap beer though, hey?"

Misspitstop couldn't hold back: "I thought everyone knew all overseas teachers do it because they can't hack 'real' teaching in the UK any more.

Oh and of course it's so important to spread those venerable traditions from good old blighty; racism, bigotry and downright small-mindedness."

I had to agree with Little Miss Naughty: "We are all giving Nick Fee what he wants - a reaction." But she couldn't help herself either: "I did hack it for four years in a deprived area of London and I loved it, but after coming to Asia the question is, why should we have to hack it? Teaching is about teaching, not controlling a crowd. Beaches are good here too..."

Last word to Mainwaring : "I hacked it in the UK for 24 years and am the owner of an extensive collection of sharp-edged instruments... Just post your address, Nick, and I'll be happy to pop round and demonstrate my hacking skills."

Steady on, Mainwaring. Leave him to me. Why, if I had any left, I'd give the blighter a tesbo.

Follow these threads at www.tes.co.ukstaffroom

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* English: Using theatre to support English teaching Bill Hicks is editor of the TES website

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