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Why A Freelance Teacher Needs To Ask

How many teachers do you know? How many of them can you say (put your hand on your heart) are enthusiastic about their work? Who love the work they do? Who are highly motivated to do more than everyone else?

Hmmm… Can you count them all on one hand? It wouldn’t surprise me, if it did. And can you think of a reason?

The effect of social culture on freelance teachers

Teachers don't always get the recognition for education

Teachers don’t always get the recognition for education

One of the most gravitating problems that demoralise teachers is the inability to achieve recognition for the work they do. Social constraints set in culture train a certain set of socially acceptable thoughts and behaviour. Look at the contrast between Western and Asian cultures, for example.

Social culture recognises the value of teachers, yet at the same time belittles the value by turning a blind eye to the costs of having teachers. Most businesses today no longer regard education as an investment. Employees have to bring the expertise when they come to the companies.

Commercialism is partly at fault, but also bad news and experience spreads like a fire out of control. Learning is not always easy and not every student finds success despite his efforts. The plain fact is the word “education” is like waving a red flag in front of a bull.

Education in society

The word “education” has developed into a “bad” word in society. Most everything to do with education ends being portrayed in a bad light. Education is negative. Who wants to be associated with education? And so it is, freelance teachers are afraid to ask for a suitable pay for the work they do because of the low standing (value) education has in society.

Social culture and the voice in your head

Culturally ingrained behaviour has a double-sided cutting edge. The one side creates the socially acceptable behaviour. The other, however, creates an invisible voice in your head.

The costs of listening to the voice in your head

The angel on your right…
The devil on your left…
The voices in your head…

Why don’t freelance teachers ask?

Ask who? Your colleagues and of course, your students and customers.
Ask for what? More respect and more acknowledgement for the value teachers bring to society.

Culture and its social values tend to separate and divide respect and values into hierarchical social levels.

Most voices are ingrained from birth onwards and become deeply connected to the roots of emotions and feelings of well-being. The negative side to traditions are manifold. Typical women or male-dominant careers still exist. Glass ceilings and salary differences between men and women still exist. But what happens in the teaching environment?

The long-reaching effects of listening to the voice in your head

In the teaching environment there are areas where the differences level out albeit slightly. Both men and women freelance teachers are struggling against a common prejudice – education value – to the extent they avoid any question that questions their respect and their worth in society.

• Respect is visible in the form of students and customers respecting your time and person by not continually switching or cancelling lesson times at short notice.

• Why is a motivated student and customer incredibly intelligent when he learns quickly yet when a disinterested student takes ages to learn, the “fault” lies with his teacher?

Value measures in how you earn your living; by how much and by what time measurement. For example, why do freelance teachers find it so hard to demand payment for the lost lesson hour or hours?

• Why are freelance teachers expected to accept every student? Why shouldn’t they refuse a student because he expects you to find a magic formula that teaches him in the form of “edutainment” without him (the student) putting in a single drop of sweat to contribute to his learning? Why shouldn’t they be allowed to choose or refuse students without expecting automatic repercussions?

The invisible threat of listening to the voice in your head

The threat the invisible voice poses in a freelance teacher’s head is his lost ability to negotiate. Lost confidence to negotiate the life he needs or wants to produce better conditions that will motivate him to give his best. Regaining the ability to negotiate will open new opportunities for the freelance teacher because he can balance his work-life, produce more, and become more successful.

So which kind of negotiation damages a freelance teacher the most? The answer is: the one he negotiates (and loses) with himself; born and conceived through cultural and social restraints.

The cost of not asking for fair value (by not negotiating with your teaching school or your students and customers) will damage your self-respect and your income.

The gains in asking – by going against the whispering voice

A danger recognised is a danger banished, they say. Once the potential damage is recognised, most freelance teachers can work towards reinstating their ability to negotiate – to work towards solutions where everyone benefits. The real win, however, is the positive energy that will lead to more opportunities, more happiness, and more self-esteem.

Summary + Next Step

Freelance teachers are often suffering from centuries of cultural and commercial influences that have placed education low on the scale of “admirable” achievements. Education is no longer seen as a life-long investment.

When the natural needs of a freelance teacher raises its head to ask for more (respect, better conditions and money) an insidious voice begins to whisper. It judges your standing in society and the truth of your demand. The wish to negotiate a better rate, time, or condition is undermined and becomes dormant. Over the years, even the ability to negotiate becomes “unlearned”.

To go against this trend is uncomfortable – it has taken years of compliance to get as far as it is today. The first conscious effort will be the most strenuous. Rest assured, however, with each new negotiation  it does becomes easier. As teachers, you know practice is the key. You are going to win some and you are going to lose some. Even when you lose the student and customer, you should see the negotiation as a success; a step to raising your self-esteem.


Coming next week…
Look out for another article I have prepared for next week on price resistance. It will talk about why your freelance teaching business must automatically lose a few students and customers and why you should strive to automatically lose a few more students than average.  😯 Because if you aren’t losing them, than you are missing a vital piece of knowledge in setting your prices or hourly rates!

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What Do You Think?

The article is meant to be a little controversial. Do you have something you would like to add or comment about your experiences? How it may relate to cultural and social influences of the country you are living in now, or in which you were brought up? Add your comments and suggestions in Leave A Reply Comment box below…


2 Comments (Add Yours)

  1. Nice article, reminds one to respect one’s own self-esteem and worth for the time and effort in training others.

    How about using “them/their” instead of “him” in your articles, after all, you refer to male/female prejudice in your articles – just a suggestion!

    • True, but on the other hand the everlasting debate on using “person” instead of him or her often leads to construed and inelegant writing. I prefer to write for legibility rather than twist words around only because of conformity for conformity’s sake. The issue of male and female prejudice in working environments is a different kettle of fish!

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