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Should I teach Spanish or should I be a dishwasher at a restaurant?

Somebody recently sent me an ad from a local municipality in the area where I live looking for a Spanish instructor for adults. I do like to teach Spanish to adults, so I decided to take a closer to the ad.

Basically, they were looking for somebody with experience in adult education and specifically in education of senior citizens. The instructor was required to teach all levels of Spanish (from basic to advanced) and all modalities (writing, listening, and speaking).  

In addition, the instructor was responsible for developing the curriculum and for the material. And there was a requirement to coordinate activities at the center and outside the center for the participants to practice Spanish. Of course, it was expected for the instructor to be available for consultations with the students outside the class time.

Despite the long list of requirements and responsibilities (in my opinion, too long), I keep reading because, after all, it is always good to explore opportunities to bring together people from different cultures and languages, hoping the result would be a respectful, creative dialogue.

I read the section about academic degrees and previous experience and I was happy to see I had all those requirements. I could almost see myself helping a group of older adults to learn Spanish, perhaps to talk with their own grandchildren.

Then, it was time to read the paragraph about compensation. I discovered my delusion of assuming the compensation will be based on the experience and education required. That was not the case. They offer $12 per hour and up to only 15 hours per week.

I thought that was the end of the issue, but because I was at the end of the ad, I instinctively read the next ad. In this case, they were looking for a dishwasher to work at a restaurant in the same city. No language requirements. No previous experience needed. Full time job with benefits. And an initial salary of between $14 to $18 per hour.

A question then came to my mind, and it was not about the difference in compensation (both offers are inadequate), but about the attitude causing a local government to offer better compensation to a person with no experience or studies than to a person with the experience and studies needed to get a job that local government is offering.

What kind of message that attitude sends about our present and our future? The message that you better don’t prepare yourself for the future because that won’t help you?

Again, a few dollars more or a few dollars less make no difference in the context of a society where neither education, nor experience, talent, or honesty guarantee a good income. (I said “good,” not “great”.) Yet, it is alarming that dedication and experience are “officially” less valuable than ignorance and inexperience.

Perhaps they want us to be ignorant and inexperienced, forcing us to fight for a few dollars here and there while the real money flows to other hands.

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