Contributed Story: Teaching at Colombian Colegios (a Warning)

This article was contributed by a British teacher at a wealthy, private high school in Medellin.

Teaching at Colombian Colegios (a Warning)

Many expats go to exotic tropical climates to escape the 9-5 stressful job with bosses who micromanage, only to find themselves doing the same type of job. Teaching at a Colegio in Colombia is worse than customer service from a cubicle.

Classism is an unfortunate part of many cultures. Not everywhere in Colombia is infested with the rich, the cartel families, and the political movers and shakers. To understand corruption in Colombia and its future, look at their private schools. To be fair, not all students are bad. There are always a few exceptions that give you hope for the future. Not all Colegios are bad either. I’m sure there are a few who are modern and adapted to the 21st century.

But not my school.

If you are a licensed teacher go to Brazil, go to Asia or even Europe where the pay is better and they give you the proper status your position deserves. Colombian schools will will treat you more like a niñera (nanny) and punish you if you step out of line.

I never expected schools in Colombia to be so poorly equipped. You will probably be expected to enter grades online with a connection that barely works. You will find yourself teaching subjects you were never good at when you were in school, because they just want you to teach in English. The subject content doesn’t matter. You will teach with books from the 80s or 90s, maybe the ones you used in school.

The lackadaisical attitude towards the technical fields is shocking. At a parent teacher conference the biggest issue of the day wasn’t math or science, but handwriting … in high school. I dare not disdain the noble art of good penmanship, however there is more to education than the ability to write your name nicely.

Most students are barbaric little cretins. These kids are given everything from birth. They’re raised like royalty with maids and toys and all their desires instantly satisfied. My entire 9th grade class owns iPhone 5s.

Because they have a chauffeur to pick them up and a maid to care for them while mom is at the gym making sure the non-plastic parts are kept in good shape, they’re starved like paupers for attention. Students argue and tell me I am wrong, that’s not how their Colombian teacher does it, etc. It makes no difference how many times I write them up. Nothing changes.

In a “typical” school setting teachers are given the title “Mr.” Or “Mrs.” I never cared for students to call me that because I didn’t want to feel old and stodgy. Now I understand that the title is and had always been meant to allocate respect and distance to ensure a proper measure of professionalism. “Professionalism” is sorely lacking in the posh colegios of Colombia. I have students who call me “puta” and “perra” when they yell and argue.

Each grade retains its own individual classroom necessitating that all teachers go to them. The students don’t attend the teacher’s class; the teachers attend to the students’. It seems subtle but it makes a difference. Students treat their classrooms like their bedrooms – a place to relax, hang out, and do whatever regardless of what is destroyed or lost. They write in the textbooks, throw them on the floor, write on the wall, and discard trash anywhere.

The estrato-6 Colombian parents are the rotten source from which these waters of life flow from. I don’t blame the children for being soulless cretins without a conscience; I blame the parents for allowing their behavior to be acceptable. “Spare the rod, spoil the child” isn’t prevailing wisdom in Colombia. The upper-class parents have trained everyone to give their children what they want this instant … or else. And teachers will be blamed!

One child ignored and pushed past me when I tried to stop and talk to him. He called me a dirty name. I gently caught him by his shoulders and held him still until he stopped and listened. Rather than requesting a civilized parent-teacher conference, his mother waved me over after a parent-child event and screamed at me like I was a mass murderer. In the mom’s mind I handcuffed him to the desk and screamed for his attention. I was suspended for a day because the school was afraid of the mother’s threats to report me to the ministry of education.

Do I hate my students or the school where I worked? I have had my days where forgiveness did not come easily after being thrown under the bus by the administration at the whims of the parents. I simply wish to finish my year, leave in peace, and never look back.

My advice for aspiring teachers is to work in the public schools, the institutes, the middle-class colegios even. If a bigger paycheck is desired, go teach the wealthy. Just make sure you have Jesus-sized dose of patience and don’t try to “make a difference” or “raise the bar.” You will only meet resistance and cultural fossilization.

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  1. I’m not a teacher, but having spent more than three years in Medellín, I’ve had a few friends teach here, and nothing in this article surprises me.

    One of my friends even invited me to be interviewed by her English class, which required multiple warnings about what to expect from the students. I watched as it took her 5 minutes for her to calm her 30 students down before we could begin, and I never saw a group of students in their early teens act that way at my schools in the US growing up. They were bouncing off the walls.

    I will say the students who asked me questions had good ones, and the interaction was fun for both sides (or at least my side).

    I’ll never forget that as everyone got ready for the class to end, they began moving over to the door, and instead of a bell ringing, reggaeton music came on over the PA!!!

    This was a private school…. not the most expensive by far, but the point was that the kids were clearly lacking discipline because they weren’t getting it at home, and the teachers were to afraid to give it because the parents might withdraw their kid, and money.


  2. When I taught in Sabaneta I was surprised how the school just passed students along. There were several students with excellent English but others who belonged in the A2 level classes not B2 level. I imagine that the school didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings or their chances at receiving another paycheck.

    I ended up giving lessons in Aranjuez down the street from where I lived and was much happier because the students weren’t pampered and were there to speak English.


  3. I completely lives what this post states. I gre up in NY and went to teach at a very wealthy school in Envigado. WORST EXPERIENCE OF MY LIFE. I had never been treated the way I was in that school. And you’re completely right, I was asked to teach biology, a subject I was terrible at in school, but I just used the book and taught in English. The best thing was getting out of that hell hole and I went to teach at a university’s language center in Medellin. That was a great learning experience. But I pray to God I never have to teach in a rich school in Medellin.


  4. Very biased and narrow minded article. I’ve been living here for 2 years, have taught in a variety of schools (institutes, colegios, university), and currently teach at a “rich private school” where these so called “barbaric little cretins” attend. This article is sad, simple minded, and unprofessional (as a writer) with the type of generalizations that it makes.

    Supposedly taken from the writer’s experience, yet constructed in a way that implies that this is the norm. It’s not. Yes, there are pros and cons to all school/institute/university/private teaching positions, but in no way does this begin to summarize how teaching in Medellín is. Because this writer had a shitty experience, whether it be from their own personal lack of skill, creativity, patience, credentials, personality, or whatever it may be, they decided to throw shade upon the ENTIRE system here, as if this is what the average person will encounter. Absolutely disgraceful.

    Yes, I teach in a private colegio. Yes, many of the kids I currently teach are spoiled (as if that’s not the case anywhere in the world). But in no way, shape, or form, does this describe what I, or many of my colleagues or fellow teacher friends feel about our jobs. I love my job, this city, my colleagues, my students, and I am grateful for the experiences I have had.

    Do yourself a favor, and ignore this article from this negative, ignorant, bitter reject who decided to slander a large part of a school system in a city of near 4 million people, simply based on their experience.

    Medellín is an amazing place to live, and to teach, and the experience will be what you make it, and what you allow it to be.


    1. Typical piece of lying propaganda by a dumb Colombian stooge. They are so thin-skinned about their city’s undeniable history as the world’s drug-Mecca that they cannot take any criticism on board and immediately begin to bad-mouth whoever provides it. So far as creative teaching goes, you will definitely be punished for that here. What you will be rewarded for is creative methods of taking drugs through customs. Most pedagogic methodology employed in Colombian schools (particularly the private sector and particularly a place called The Canadian School in Medellín – don’t go there) would not have done credit to an intelligent man in 1850. This is by no means all the fault of those thin-skinned Colombians. International certification merchants and bogus globalizers abound, and are smart and ruthless liars who live off the gullibility of local people (the people here like to think they are smart and savvy, but most of them are convinced that Pope Francis is a nice person). So far as the student population goes – a lot of the kids are nice: they just don’t want to be in class. Medellín is a great city: come here for culture and romance; just don’t come here to teach.


  5. I work as one of the (arguably) best (or elite) schools in Bogota- CNG. You make more money, overall, than a similar position in the States; however, the author is mostly correct from my experiences. At my school, it’s not quite as bad as he described (our internet/technology is much improved, we have updated materials, etc.), but the majority of the students are spoiled, entitled, and have little respect for teachers. Unfortunately, the gringo Administration enables this disrespect and 95% of the time blindly support parents/students. These 4 Principals and the Head know they must do this to survive. Administrators and teachers have been run out of the school in the past when certain parents weren’t happy about something (no matter how ridiculous) and none of the current Principals have any integrity (with the possible exception of the outgoing Middle School Principal).

    To sum it up, if you want to make a very good wage in an interesting city like Bogota, you have very thick skin, and you know how to let things go and play the game, CNG may be for you.


  6. My experiences teaching in a colegio full of wealthy students was similar, if not quite as dismal. The culture shock of how different education is perceived here threw me off big time. Some other pet peeves not mentioned:

    1. Time wasting: useless meeting after useless meeting, endless unnecessary paperwork, lots of activities that interfere with classroom time. All of this subtracts from what I see as the main point of a teaching job: lesson planning, instructing, giving extra help and grading. All the teachers, especially the Colombian ones, cut corners to make sure they didn’t go insane trying to cram everything in.

    2. Improvisation. For a university I worked at, we once had to make up, in two weeks, an entire 6-level English curriculum when students complained that they were forced to buy a book. The administration panicked at students possibly complaining to the education ministry, where compelling students to buy a book is apparently illegal, so we invented a similar series of courses based on the book without having to obligate students to use it. And this was at a very expensive university.

    3. The school owner and their family act tend to act like money-hungry dictators. At the same university, the founder decided that English students thought the language instruction was boring, so he changed the first level class to be based entirely on singing songs in English and watching videos and movies. He saw the university as a business and the students as customers. We complained: we are teachers not clowns! Well, let’s just say you don’t tell the founder what to do, even if he happens to be under house arrest for charges related to money laundering. What he says goes, even if it is stupid.

    4. Overloading with teaching hours. Once at an institute, when they didn’t have enough teachers and I was the only gringo, they had me work 48 teaching hours a week for a couple of months. When was I supposed to grade and plan? I didn’t, and quit soon after. At the colegio, I was once given 40 teaching hours. Eventually I got an understanding department head to bring it down to around 30, but the administration had zero sympathy. The consensus seems to be, you studied how to teach, you can just spontaneously generate lessons and grades out of thin air (or at home).

    I think for me, a part of it is that I was not born to be a teacher. It was the most convenient job that allowed me to stay in Colombia for a while. If you hit hard times, you can find a teaching job here pretty easily, but it’s not easy money. If you don’t really think teaching is your calling, you will get tired of it in Colombia really fast.


  7. I am a colombian citizen living in Medellín, I studied in one of these schools you have been working for, I am a estrato-6 parent that you accused for being the source of all problems in Colombia, I had the oportunity to study abroad in countries such as Canada and Denmark, and also had been traveling a bit. So I can failry say that I am able to give a non-biased opinion of this topic.

    I think the author can divide his/her article in the following points:
    1. The School, University or institution
    2. The colombian culture itself
    3. Classism, corruption and all words you say regarding estrato 6 schools and its students and families.
    4. His/Her ability as a person and as a teacher.

    So let’s talk about it:
    1. The School, University or institution: Well, he/she has to remember that this is not the U.K. or other developed country. This is Colombia. There are huge differences between the investment done in education in Colombia compared to other countries. Not point of comparison at all. And yes, there are some other similar countries with very good education facilities, however, I invite the author to visit schools in Medellin such as the Colegio Aleman, Montessori, Colombus School and otheres, that have the top infrastructure. Check out some schools within similar countries like Ecuador, Perú, Costa Rica, Vietnam and so on. You will find lots of similarities.

    Regarding the way the school teaches, I bet handwriting won’t be the top of the priorities in all rich schools. I never experienced problems with handwriting in the two schools I studied. I know that there are a few schools with old way of thinking that yes, perhaps they are worried about that. I assume that these kind of schools exists in every single country all around the world.

    Regarding the way the author felt treated… not sure if schools prefer to have niñeras compared to teachers. I wouldn’t think it is the rule. Perhaps he/she should consider that there are several points to have into account before writing such a biased article based on just one single experience, not even mentioning that perhaps there is something wrong with him/her in terms of behavior, profesionalism, and so on. Maybe he/she is not the best professional in what he/she does, maybe don’t have the heart and passion and that is why it is so hard for him/her to teach.

    One more point regarding a school, we should have into account that to teach is just like other job. If you work for a company, depending on your position, you have to deal with customers (in this case, students), co-workers, and surely, a boss. There are customers well educated, but not all. There are good bosses… but… and also, there are good employees, but… So in my opinion, it is a bit pretencious to say that to teach in Colombia in “rich” school is the worst experience ever.

    2. Colombian culture: Yes, we have such a hard history and present regarding drug cartels, violence, corruption, and everything you want to say about Colombia. But also, we have lots of good things, and one example is our resiliency, capacity to keep working and being positive no matter how hard is to live here, and so on. There are lots of good people that are working for big corporations all around the world. Ask to your colleagues for their experience with colombian workers and you will hear probably the best recommendations. Of course, there are some colombians that are not the best citizens, but it happens in every single country.

    In my opinion, scandinavian countries are at the very top when talking about quality of life and education, and they have a very advanced society. If you go there, don’t expect to be called Mr or Mrs Last Name. No way, no matter you are a teacher or the CEO of a company. And this is not disrespecful at all. So, I guess for you as an international teacher, I would recommend to adapt to the culture of the country you will work for, or be prepared since you will have a hard time. Again, it is a little bit pretentious to say that a country should accommodate to my culture instead of being open.

    3. Classism, corruption and all words you say regarding estrato 6 schools and its students and families.
    I went to Denmark and within the first month someone stole my bike. Can I say that all Danes are souless barbaric cretins?
    Or if I watched Skins, can I say that all british kids are souless barbaric cretins? Damn! it seems Skins was filmed at the school you worked for.

    Can I say this about the Danes and the Brits? No, not at all, perhaps if I say that I am the one souless barbaric cretin, right? As in every society, there are parents who don’t do the best for their children. Yes… but I could never say that most of families, parents, children are the way you pictured them.

    Sure, there are lots of classism. Perhaps we are in the top 10 countries about that. Yes, and not classism per se is the problem. The real problem is the huge gap between the people who earn the most and the less. It is a reality and our biggest problem. And from here, most of our problems are dependand.

    4. His/Her ability as a person and as a teacher.
    I am a partner at a technology company. I have worked for big colombian companies and for multinationals in other countries. In this particular case, I think the shool you worked for commited a huge mistake and it was to hire a suposed international well prepared teacher with a huge emotional intelligence. Based on the way you wrote this article, I could argue that you don’t have the passion, emotional inteligence, vision, experience and all important factors a shool should have into consideration.

    What you think and what you wrote sounded more to me that you are still teaching books from the 80s or 90s and that you are not open to the 21st century reality.

    With all respect, I would invite you to come again and see the real Colombia you think you now. Then, if you keep thinking the same, I would invite you to go to different countries and start open your mind to different cultures. Also, I Invite you to know the reality of the country you come from. Perhaps, it won´t be that different.


  8. “Nacho” y “A souless barbaric cretin” son los únicos sensatos que han escrito en esta página. Sólo espero que no lleguen más profesores extranjeros incompetentes como quien escribió este artículo a “enseñar” a nuestros hijos. Ya es bastante duro para los padres de familia lidiar con tantas cosas difíciles en nuestra sociedad como para que vengan a encontrarse con docentes tan resentidos, irresponsables e incompetentes. Es extremadamente ignorante quien se atreva a generalizar de esta manera un sistema completo, niños ricos cretinos y mal educados hay en todas partes incluido UK y toda Europa.


  9. Soy de Medellin y viendo los comentarios de “A souless barbaric cretin” y “Angela” veo que les toco la vena por la realidad y la crueldad. Seguramente desde el gym escribieron los comentarios mientras se miraban la teta a ver si se les habia caido un poco la cirugia.

    Lastimosamente, esa es la realidad, colegio como el Montessori, el aleman, el colombus dan lastima de los cretinos y pertados que se estan creando allá. Da risa aun en los mas pequeños que van a las fiestas de sus compañeros acompañados de todas las muchachas del servicio, y supuestamente se preocupan por su educación, cuando ni siguiera estan en la casa nunca.

    Da duro la realidad y sobretodo cuando creen que estan recibiendo muy buena educación solo por el hecho de estar pagando mucho!!!!!


  10. If you are not happy and passionate about your job, in this case teaching, please do not come to Colombia. Stay in your wonderful country, whatever it is!!! Here are wonderful, well prepared, passionate teachers who do an amazing job in our schools. Not all “estrato 6” families are like the author said. It is a very narrow minded opinion, specially coming from a “teacher”. As a parent, who is trying to educate honest and kind human beings, and try to do a hand on hand work with the school, do not want to deal with this kind of cretins in our schools. So please do all of us a favor : DO NOT COME!!! STAY IN YOUR COUNTRY!!!


  11. Este tipo de escritos hablan más mal de la persona que los escribe que de quien realmente se habla. Afortunadamente esta persona ya no está en Medellín enseñando con su resentimiento a los jovenes de la ciudad. Que bueno que se vaya para su pais TAN civilizado y culto, donde seguramente no hay niños maleducados, ni este tipo de papás de los que habla, que se quede allá y no vuelve a Colombia.


  12. All I can say is that I am currently suffering a similar experience, replies from parents here are shooting the messanger, pay attention, demand better education from those elite schools and pay attention and spend time with you kinds. Stop being blind


  13. this article breaks my heart! It is so not my experience! I loved my time at TCS and found the students to be funny, intelligent and compassionate. Sure, they are spoiled, but so are my Canadian students. Sure, some were rude, guess what my Cannuk kids are too sometimes. Here’s the truth – kids are kids the world over. They want what all kids want – people who are invested in them, people who care about them at home and people who care about their education at school. In no way were my Colombian kids rude like that to me – I remember parent-teacher conferences where the parents biggest concern was whether their sons treated me with respect. It was very important to them. I had only 1 student who was difficult in the time I was there. 1, that’s all. My Colombian co-workers were wonderful, they did everything to make me feel welcome. And I have to say that I had the best principal I’ve ever had while at TCS. And trust me, I’ve had lots of good Principals, none measure up to Cooper. Please don’t believe this article. It sounds like it was written by someone who is bitter, incompetent and disillusioned. Go to Colombia. Teach in Colombia and learn to love the culture and the kids.


  14. Poor guy who wrote the article—“muy de malas!!! ” As a North American and being an educator at all levels (kinder-university) for over 35 years, I can say objectively that the author was an extremely poor example of someone in the teaching profession. My experience in private bilingual schools and universities in Cali, Medellin, Armenia and Santa Marta had its ups and downs, the good and bad frustrations and rewards but never did it lead me off track to bring out the best in the students and I made myself the person to be respected. My three children graduated from these private schools and are independent , hard working citizens of the world and I wasn’t rich but they mingled with the wealthy and got along.. Spoiled kids–of course, parents who defended their kids no matter what they had done–yes but the teacher is in charge of the classroom and my excellent principals and directors backed me up.
    Teaching is difficult all over especially nowadays.–You need to seduce and demand at the same time.(I listen to my daughter who is a Spanish teacher in a public high school) In the states paperwork and testing have gone overboard as well as in other countries but if you have a love for the profession, you manage to reach your students. Colombia is a great place to work in, the schools offer so much and one can be sure to grow both personally and professionally. I did.


  15. I can completely relate to your experience. If you teach in Colombia you either play by their rules or leave with dissapointment. Thanks for sharing. I’m glad I’m not the only one with a similar experience.


  16. I currently work at one of the best private schools in Bogota. Is it hard? You bet! it is not always easy but it is rewarding. In fact, I would describe it as being a roller coaster ride. Some of the children are incredibly driven and hard working. Some of them lack motivation but it is up to the teacher to push their students. Granted it is sometimes difficult. I admit, some of the children are spoiled and I really think they do not realize just how lucky they are, and they are not seizing the amazing opportunity they have. I know my students strengths and weaknesses and change the activities according to preference. It sounds like the author just wanted to extend their UNI years or relive them. But working at a school, one must be responsible and strive to keep an open mind. If one thing does not work, try another.

    I will admit, some of the children just never want to meet you halfway, or they ask you to just “give” them points, never wanting to earn them. But others refuse to be given anything easily and always want to challenge themselves.


  17. Dear All,
    Thank you for the contribution to this thread. I am currently seeking a career in Medellin. Any leads would be helpful. I am actively seeking opportunities in K-20, but would consider related career paths. See my linkedin profile for experience, etc. Thanks, Thomas


  18. I unfortunately have to agree 100 percent with the writer of this article after having been at a private colegio for a year and a half now. My one is just a bit lower down the rankings and therefore not everything that has happened to the writer has happened to me.
    However, from my own experience and that of many other teachers from many different countries and races (so please for those who make comments trying to make it look like the writer only has a problem or people from that country) it is indeed the case that the system in these estrato 6 schools are bad!!

    They do not care one bit about actually learning English or any other subject for that matter
    They do care about the show of having a foreign teacher
    They do care about the show of their impressive facilities
    Parents are always ready to go for the teacher as their offspring after all are hardworking, upstanding examples of being a hardworking student
    Parents are not interested in their children actually learning anything, or God forbid, even be excellent at a subject
    If you fail these cretins, you have to give them make up exams upon make up exams. But actually failing them, especially in grade 11 is not allowed by my school (watch this space for a change to this)
    The kids know this and you can be the best teacher in the world, if the kid doesn’t want to work or learn, they know he/she can do so without the consequence of failing the subject

    As for these people who have negatively reacted to the post….
    Yes, it is your country and you can do in your country exactly as you please. However, people like me have decided to leave the country in the longer run for greener academic pastures
    And please just ask yourselves what is going to happen to a country with no academic standards? How does Colombia compare to many other countries where, once you leave school, you can pretty much speak English (Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, France, Germany, South Africa etc. etc) According to the latest rankings I have seen it is number 56 out of 70 countries in level of English.
    And just as important, what is going to happen to a country and its people in the future where the kids currently in high school are being taught no values? In fact, it has been my experience that cheating is not really frowned upon here.

    Lastly, please take into account that I am talking about kids who have everything at their disposal, not poor kids in bad areas. There is absolutely no reason why these kids shouldn’t flourish. However the Colombian parenting have made them rotten apples already at this young age and this will continue until the estrato 6 parents realise that the rest of the world actually expect people to have knowledge too and not just money.


  19. However, it certainly has to be said that I do have a few students with estrato 6 parents who are true gems. Of course it would be unfair to say everybody is the same, there are exceptions and they always make my day.
    However, in the bigger picture, this is a country where you will deal with spoiled brats (mostly) in the private schools, or mostly be expected to keep murderous schedules working for the adult language schools. None of it for really good money in dollar terms.
    So in short, unless you are the type who just wants your pay cheque and are happy to pass out pass grades to kids with low levels of English and who did no work or the type who loves spending 16 hours a day preparing, giving and running around to private classes for adults, give Colombia a huge miss.


  20. It is sad to read some folks are degrading the British teacher who wrote “Teaching at Colombian Colegios (a Warning)”. This teacher is sharing his/her (didn’t quite gather the teacher’s gender from the post) ***personal experience!!!*** There’s nothing wrong with sharing a personal teaching experience. It helps other prospective foreign teachers get a feel for what they may (or may not) encounter in a school of well to do kids. Also, why are some commenters making huge assumptions about what went on in this classroom? Were they in the classroom? Moreover, I absolutely agree with the teacher who is incredulous at the need to focus on handwriting at the high school level–this is a joke! Handwriting is learned and addressed (normally) from K-8. The topic/skill of handwriting shouldn’t even come up in the 9-12 grade levels; this speaks to the lack of learning at the lower levels of Colombian schools, and it has nothing to do with the British teacher. Moreover, the teacher has every right to want to be respected in the classroom (and hopefully he/she did his/her best to respect the students). If the teacher wants the students to call him Mr. Smith or Mrs. Jones, then so be it–there’s no reason why the students cannot follow instructions, and they should be able to communicate in the classroom is such a manner. Respect for the teacher is prime for effective classroom management!!!! Without a respectful classroom environment and, at minimum, good classroom management, it is very difficult for any learning to take place.


  21. Wow- this is discouraging. I’ve been planning to move down to Colombia in the next month to teach English and these reviews are kind of awful.


  22. Having worked in private Colombian schools for a few years, I was shocked to see how similar my experiences were. Medellin is one of the most organized cities in all of Latin America. However, the people are not so friendly. You’re either Paisa or not worth the effort. I have taught almost twenty years, and one year teaching in Medellin was almost enough to make me break contract. The kids didn’t want to work, complained, and argued. Notice that I did not say “worked.” The most spot-on part of the article was the part about classism. Even though the teachers at these schools are probably more educated than the parents of the students, the teacher is still a maid who should clean up their desk. I get that rich people are assholes everywhere, but it’s not all relative. Rich kids in Asia, where I currently teach, are not like this at all. It’s a big world of international teaching out there. If I had to do it all over again, I would never have gone to Medellin.


    1. Good day. Hope you can help me. Could you guide me in the right direction? I’m looking for an English medium school for me daughter in medellín. We are south african. She is turning 6 in October


  23. Seeing the way the country is run, I wouldn’t expect differently from the schools where the so-called “elite” is supposedly educated. The results of that elite’s actions speak for themselves.


  24. Where do I even start? I worked at a very unique private school in the north of Bogota for estrato 5 and 6 kids. First of all, the country and especially Bogota are absolutely oversaturated with these private schools. So much so that the majority are not based on merit as much as they are based on the ability to pay a lot of money. In the end, a lot of these schools end up being playgrounds for lazy, average (and even below average) rich kids. The government should somehow find a way to regulate just how many private schools there are and make sure there are very high, internationally based standards that the students need to meet to remain in the school. Because right now I hear a lot of lovely words but the end result does not reflect an expensive private school. Schools should be required to provide more than just a beautiful campus and high Price tag, don´t you think? We can not forget about the academic! Achieve with a certain set mark or go to public schools (and that is another issue, the country needs to work on public schools, desperately). Any way, I have worked at private schools for three years. There are some amazing kids, hard working and with clever ideas. However, there are just as many (if not more) who will work harder to find ways out of work than just doing the work to begin with. They work harder to find ways to misbehave and exert more effort to go against the teacher than to just meet the teacher half way. Especially the first year I worked in Colombia, I was often told ¨That is not how we do things here¨only to go next door, get a Colombian teacher, tell them what is going on and have them come into my class. Usually they would be very angry and no matter how many times the students were scolded for trying to take advantage of the new teacher (me), they always tried to be sneaky and find other ways to do so. That is because no real consequences exist in these schools. No afterschool detention, suspension, etc. A lot of these kids see school as a party, moaning when the teacher asks them to clean up THEIR classroom. They think their desk is their bedroom, throwing things on the ground and somehow finding it shocking when you ask them to clean up. Most of them, when asked, will raise their hand when you ask them if they have a maid. I work hard to connect with my students but a lot of them just Excel at resisting. Sad.


  25. Usually when there are behavior problems in a classroom, it’s the fault of the teacher. Just because you don’t know how to control your class, doesn’t give you the right to blame that on the whole of Colombia. The students didn’t respect you, therefore you were disrespected. You sound pretty whiney, and the tone of your blog shows that you lack accountability. Your clear lack of classroom management is your problem and not the blame of classism.

    I taught in Colombia for 4 years. My first year was in a public school and the rest at private schools , so I taught the 1% of Colombia’s children. I taught governor’s, diplomat’s, and celebrity’s children. Yes, the parents can be a hassle sometimes, but if their kids like you, and the parents see that you care about their kid, they are not an issue. Again, the students liking you is a huge help.

    I spent a a lot of my time frustrated at last minute schedule changes, disorganization, and other issues with how schools are run , but those issues are completely cultural and are not going to change. Get over it.

    Also, the fact that you think it’s ever ok to put your hands on a student, is the very reason I can’t take you seriously. You sound whiney and entitled. I feel sorry for your students. Your very own words show what you thought of them. That’s probably why they treated you poorly, they can sense those things . I NEVER had one student EVER call me out of my name to my face, EVER.

    My advice to people who want to teach at private schools in Colombia is to go with the flow. The school culture is completely different and more lax than you might be used to. Your students will be out of touch because they were born into wealth. Take the opportunity to educate them about how lucky they are and start community projects, so they can give back. Don’t blame them for being rich, like the author of this blog has. In Colombia, teachers are seen as mother and father figures, so use that to your advantage and establish meaningful relationships with your them.


  26. I worked at Rochester school in the north of Bogota for a year and it was the hardest year of my professenial life of 15 years. I struggled a great deal and found many of the kids to be lazy and so disrespectful. It was not uncommon for teachers to refuse to give class to students until they improved behavior (and that could last a week or more), teachers to ¨run for cover¨to the bathroom or other hidden area to cry because of how they were being treated, female teachers to be shoved or for things go missing from lockers or other common areas. Students were insulted if you told them classes were not for eating despite the rules and often waltzed into class very late. I would not recommend this place.


  27. I worked in the States for 14 years in several states and kinds of schools. I had great experiences and very hard ones too. After all that time, do I dare to think all the schools, all the students, all families are the same? Of course NOT! What I know is that I am a better teacher and person because of those experiences. I do not who this Colin, bloke is or what his qualifications for teaching are but he does not seem to have the maturity, enough knowledge (declarative nor procedural), experience, and vocation to be teaching. Maybe he is one those people who think that because he is a native speaker of a language, he can take teach it, and he is also entitled to some kind of special treatment. Let this be one of the many lessons for schools and school administrators in Colombia who pass on hiring excellent Colombian teachers for the wrongly perceived shine and prestige that having a native speaker they and their institutions achieve. Unless a person has properly graduated with a university teaching degree; they should not be given a job to teach our children. Now, as far as education in the Britain is concerned, I do not know where this individual got his and what level qualifications he might have but I dare to guess (and being generous) he MIGHT have a university degree in another field, could not get a job in that field or got tired of having to work hard for peanuts and decided to go abroad where he could teach English without any qualifications to do so or in the best of cases he got a CELTA in a month or a 10 hr weekend training in the many centres that are offering that here (in the UK, yes, this is where I live now) and knowing that by doing a short stint abroad he can come back home with “international experience” and be paid more. That’s right. People like him use our schools and children to further their career, that’s all. There is neither love nor respect for the profession, no commitment to the children and even less to the country they go to. Colombian schools should respect our own teachers and value their place in the construction of our nation.


  28. As a parent preparing to send my 2 daughters to a bilingual school in Medellin, I am astounded/frightened by this thread. I am an International English Teacher ( currently a Head Teacher) and have lived and worked in several different countries.
    I recommend China to any native English-speaking job seekers who are interested in malleable, respectful students…but certainly NOT for my middle school aged children to attend. Far too much rote learning, long hours and NO imaginative/physical learning.
    As younger girls, they DID learn the meaning of hard work and their fundamentals cannot be bested.
    I was under the impression ( and have past experience with) baccalaureate programs had definite standardizations for graduates. Is this not the case in Colombia? The International/Bilingual schools I have researched all claim to have this accreditation. Someone with children attending or having had attended….please help!


  29. Gringa, you sound like a real bitch. A really dumb bitch, as well. I’m sure those narco-driving Colombian parents loved you to death.

    “Usually when there are behavior problems in a classroom, it’s the fault of the teacher…” You’ve never read a serious book on education, have you? But you are really into the idea of blaming a third party for the behaviour of others. Now that goes down a real treat in Colombia.

    See, the Colombian situation is worrying. In cities like Cali and Medellín, we have a whole generation once more growing up without the least sense of right and wrong, bullying their way through schools and intimidating those teachers who may have some morality to transmit (I obviously except you absolutely completely from this).

    Corruption is truly rampaging in Colombia. There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that it begins in these private schools, where most of these corrupt politicians and business leaders were educated. The moral guilt of it lies partly with the compliant education system with its intrusive numerical assessments but concomitant lack of academic backbone, partly with the school administration in a bunch of institutions (in Medellín, for example: the Columbus School is rotten; the Canadian School is rotten; the Colegio Alemán has been accused by reliable sources, of everything from psychological abuse to paedophilia; the Benedictine School is a failure in critical areas like English; the Montessori School is neither Montessori nor a school, as opposed to a mere money-grubbing business; Cumbres is borderline for criminal brainwashing, and Marymount School is criminally rotten – a well-known issue, that; to name just a few); and partly with compliant, unprincipled, unscrupulous, shameful, time-serving teachers such as yourself, who go along with a deleterious system just to – well – serve your time.

    “…those issues are completely cultural and are not going to change. Get over it.” Yeah, Gringa, you silly, dumb cow. Corruption brings violence and murder, you know. Colombia is filled with both. It takes the lives of innocent people who never attended those luxurious little hell-holes where a total lack of any principle and a real pedigree for faking values was inculcated into Colombia’s future leaders by a corrupt system using conniving time-servers like yourself.

    Corruption hurts. It hurts to death. It impoverishes the majority and takes people’s fathers, husbands, wives and children away. It drives people off their land, breaks up families and ruins lives. It should not be taught in schools.


    1. hi you seem to know thw Medellin school system, I have a little baby girl, and was thinking in Montessori School. Wich school in Medellin do you recommend?


  30. I also worked at Rochester School. What a joke. Kids and administration are the biggest losers on earth. The owner is the biggest fool ever, and the kids are the epitomy of scum. I blame the parents.


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