Teacher required ... may need their own boat
September 24, 2015 2:35 PM   Subscribe

At first glance there's nothing unusual about the job posting.

Post Title: Primary Teacher
Location: Scoraig Primary School, Dundonnell, Garve
Hours: 35 per week
Duration: Permanent
Salary £21,867 - £34,887 plus a High Remote Allowance of £2,475 per annum

The Highland community has been having trouble filling the position. According to resident Zoe Fothegill, 'Whoever takes on the challenge will be buying into a significant change of lifestyle."

Bonus link: Scoraig in pictures.
posted by kanewai (67 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
They're looking for someone to stuff into a Wickerman, aren't they?
posted by The Whelk at 2:40 PM on September 24, 2015 [35 favorites]


It is reachable by car, according to Google Maps. I'm not saying that's a good idea, but you can get there.

Basically, British fans of Non Non Biyori - this is your chance!
posted by maryr at 2:42 PM on September 24, 2015


I want to do this but only because I long for my life to seem like a 90s British indie movie that's eventually turned into a smash Broadway musical.

"It's like Northern Exposure meets something with a teacher but gay and Scottish."
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:43 PM on September 24, 2015 [27 favorites]


I bet the Chinese food there is terrible.
posted by Mchelly at 2:46 PM on September 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


But the apples at Summerisle are delicious -- or, at least, they were until the harvest failed ...
posted by maxsparber at 2:48 PM on September 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


Oh, this is the posting in the super tiny remote Scottish community that doesn't even have a pub! Tbh, it sounds very interesting, even though I am not a teacher.
posted by Kitteh at 2:50 PM on September 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


I bet the Scottish food there is terrible too, which makes it just average.
posted by doctor_negative at 2:50 PM on September 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


If there's only one teacher (Well, if there's currently no teacher) how can males be under-represented? I mean I guess they are unrepresented, but pretty much everyone is currently under-represented, and once they hire someone, everyone not like them will be under-represented and everyone like them will be over-represented.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 2:51 PM on September 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


I tried to see if I could get a Google Street View of the place. I got this far.
posted by zabuni at 2:56 PM on September 24, 2015 [13 favorites]


Everything about this sounds perfect but my Gaelic is rubbish at best.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:57 PM on September 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


I suspect that males are underrepresented in the educational district for primary level teaching, something which is true of pretty much the whole country.
posted by biffa at 3:02 PM on September 24, 2015


Hell, it's only an hour by car from bustling downtown Ullapool. That's not great, but a 2-hour total commute isn't all that bad, and I'm sure traffic is nonexistent. It is true that in the USA, 100 years is a long time, but in the UK, 100 miles is a long way.
posted by Aizkolari at 3:06 PM on September 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


That's not great, but a 2-hour total commute isn't all that bad, and I'm sure traffic is nonexistent.

Looking at the road from my link, I doubt you will be using that road at anything close to the speed limit. Or at all with a car. It's boat or bust I imagine. Maybe a four wheeler.
posted by zabuni at 3:11 PM on September 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


Oh, but spin around the street view zabuni shared. Is that area gorgeous or what?
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:14 PM on September 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


Yeah, street view looks like this five miles from Scoraig. Driving seems unlikely.
posted by zeptoweasel at 3:14 PM on September 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Ha! On non-preview, that's the same view zabuni linked.
posted by zeptoweasel at 3:15 PM on September 24, 2015


I don't even want to think about what winter would be like there. I remember how early it got dark in Yorkshire and that was too little sunlight for me!
posted by immlass at 3:26 PM on September 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is the first sign I found "traveling" down the Google maps row. The aforementioned screenplay writes itself.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:31 PM on September 24, 2015 [14 favorites]


I thought this was hilarious until I clicked on the link with pictures of the town and started to seriously think about how my CA teaching credential could translate over to Scotland.... I do have experience with that age group....
posted by ruhroh at 3:39 PM on September 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


I spent a lovely two weeks in a remote part of Skye mostly thinking "Holy shit people live out here. That's some hard living." and "How do they not go insane?" and "Fucking midges!".

On the other hand we were able to order fish from a guy who would then go out and catch what we asked for (and we saw .
posted by srboisvert at 3:45 PM on September 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think I just figured out what I want to be when I grow up.
posted by Ruki at 3:59 PM on September 24, 2015


I wonder how much further that path is paved. Oh wait, from satellite view, looks like might be until about here, where the road just fuckin' drops off.

Anyway, the school?
posted by maryr at 4:04 PM on September 24, 2015


I thought this was hilarious until I clicked on the link with pictures of the town and started to seriously think about how my CA teaching credential could translate over to Scotland.... I do have experience with that age group....

Same... I teach first and second grade, I'm male, and my SO is Scottish... she would absolutely not follow me back over there, though; the weather in Glasgow drove her away, so I'm guessing the highlands are right out.
posted by Huck500 at 4:14 PM on September 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


What they don't tell you is all the kids are the same age, born on the same day, and have white hair and penetrating stares.
posted by The Whelk at 4:21 PM on September 24, 2015 [31 favorites]


Amy Liptrot moved from London to the Orkney Isles, where she grew up, when city living became too hard. Eventually she fixed herself and wrote this amazing essay, so living out there isn't perhaps the end of the world. I'd do it in a heartbeat, although I'm not anywhere near qualified.
posted by The River Ivel at 4:22 PM on September 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


Buy a dirt bike and that hour-long commute on a crumbling hilly path becomes all upside.

At least in the summer...
posted by 256 at 4:26 PM on September 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


OK Scottish, remote, blah blah. You're all missing the point. They're so remote by choice from some ex-hippie utopian commune types..... And yet the kid has a gap sweatshirt. HOAX!
posted by chasles at 4:30 PM on September 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


What the hell is the tarot reader doing all day that s/he couldn't sub in as a damn teacher? Sounds like an easy life to me.
posted by janey47 at 4:43 PM on September 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


okay what is this victims group or whatnot that the applicant has to agree to be a part of.
posted by angrycat at 4:47 PM on September 24, 2015


sorry, Protecting Vulnerable Groups. Is that a Scottish thing? And is the PVG, in this instance, males in this school?
posted by angrycat at 4:48 PM on September 24, 2015


At least in the summer...

When I was drooling over those gorgeous views I thought, yeah but what does it look like in February? I imagine there are some bitter, bitter winds in that area that suck the tears right out of your eyes.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:51 PM on September 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


70 inhabitants of which only 5 are school-age children? They better get busy or they won't need any more teachers.
posted by Justinian at 4:53 PM on September 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that like most very rural areas the majority will be the oldies. Kids grow up and see no economic opportunities and a very hard life so they leave.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:56 PM on September 24, 2015


There are about a dozen buildings visible nearby and on the other side of the Loch. By Australian standards, this place is practically a metropolis. There's even a ferry service from Badluarach to Scorraig, although different sites are a bit equivocal about whether it's regular, by request, and/or seasonal.

Scorraig is part of the old Dundonnell estate. You can read about that, including the resettlement of Scorraig here. The author found a clipping of the report (direct link via Google News) about it in the Glasgow Herald. It's surprisingly old; the story is from 1948.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:16 PM on September 24, 2015


the pay is pretty crappy in Scotland too I see.
posted by shockingbluamp at 5:21 PM on September 24, 2015


Protecting Vulnerable Children is just the usual background checks for anyone working with children.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 5:33 PM on September 24, 2015


There's a mefite whose spouse teaches in a similar community in Alaska. Are the winters there British terrible or American terrible? Because if they're only British terrible, that's not so bad, they ought to be able to import a teacher from rural Minnesota or Alaska or somewhere. Who DOESN'T want to teach in a one-room school on a hippie commune in Scotland? Assuming it comes with a house, I'd probably pay THEM!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:45 PM on September 24, 2015 [6 favorites]


an eldritch summoning has alerted me to this thread
posted by poffin boffin at 6:12 PM on September 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


Ooh, I know someone who lives in Scoraig! Hugh Piggott lives there, and for the first few years, his homebrew wind generators were the only way to get electricity. He's an engineering genius, and has built remote power systems all over the world.
posted by scruss at 6:32 PM on September 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm a little surprised that they are choosing to ferry in a teacher every day instead of ferrying the kids to a school that already has teachers.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:37 PM on September 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


I would do it!
posted by miyabo at 7:48 PM on September 24, 2015


Shame that men (or women) of Letters aren't interested in the role, given that it's only an hour's drive from the place.

Additionally, single teachers considering a move to Scoraig may wish to note that it can take an hour as well to get [to] Laide.

(Thank you, thank you. Punning possibilities in Scotland are endless; Skye is the limit.)
posted by the cydonian at 8:00 PM on September 24, 2015 [5 favorites]


Dear Scottish (is that what they call people in your part of the world?) Hippies:

I am writing to inquire about the recently posted teaching position. After several minutes of consideration, I believe I may be your ideal candidate.

It is true that I have no teaching credentials, but I am a male. I love children and am quite good with them and would plan to bring my own beautiful boys with me, increasing your total child population by 40%.

I know very little about teaching anyone to read or write, but I am in the midst of a midlife crisis and am weary of the world and I am highly motivated to make this opportunity work. I have lived most of my life in Seattle, USA so the weather would not be a barrier. As an added bonus, you might be interested to know I am trained to deliver babies and could probably take out an appendix without killing anyone.

I have not yet visited your country, but it looks beautiful and I have long enjoyed your fermented barley mash and also The Jesus and Mary Chain.

I have lived and worked on remote islands in the past and have always enjoyed the quirky characters that live in such places. I believe I would be able to be self sufficient with food as I tended several tomato and zucchini plants this summer. I've been to Burning Man three times and can adjust to a lack of plumbing and infrequent bathing.

I am eager to hear back from you regarding this exciting opportunity.

Sincerely,
Your new school-marm,

Mr. Bartfast

Ps. Do you have Internet access? I am passionate about community weblogs and Internet access is a must.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:11 PM on September 24, 2015 [26 favorites]


Psst. Mention the fjords.
posted by Thella at 8:29 PM on September 24, 2015 [5 favorites]


I have a friend who signed up this summer to be a teacher in a small town called Drangsnes in the Westfjords of Iceland, not far south of the Arctic Circle. Though Drangsnes looks to be a fair bit bigger, and nearest town isn't as far away.

My friend had been dreaming of a job like this for ages, and I have other friends who'be either worked in schools like that or are searching for postings of this kind in Iceland. For a certain kind of people jobs like this are lifelong goals. I'm surprised that they've had so much trouble finding people for it.

Though I suspect that the economics of moving to what's likely a temporary posting makes the pay not worth it. Honestly, I think that modern governments undervalue the benefits of making it easy for those who want to live in rural areas. Providing basic services, like schooling, should be a goal that's actively pursued. If it's difficult to fill a teaching position, then it should be reclassified in such a way that the pay is higher. That "high remote allowance" clearly isn't nearly enough to pull in applicants. My friend, even though she's the only teacher, is the principal of her school, and therefore gets a principal's salary.

The Scottish and UK governments should do better for the people of Scoraig.
posted by Kattullus at 8:31 PM on September 24, 2015 [6 favorites]


The fjords: I pine for them.
posted by spacewrench at 8:32 PM on September 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Man, if I wanted to be underpaid and commute forever by ferry to teach a small classroom of kids raised by hippie violin makers and tarot card readers, I could do that in Seattle.
posted by thetortoise at 10:58 PM on September 24, 2015 [11 favorites]


I think the San Juans are full up for teachers ATM, but I can check.

The offer of increasing the number of kids by 40% might be appealing.
posted by wotsac at 11:44 PM on September 24, 2015


On the other hand we were able to order fish from a guy who would then go out and catch what we asked for .

Did you see any strange churches or museums with peculiar golden tiaras when you were there? Because it's not very normal for fishermen to go out on a boat and just ask for specific kinds of fish.
posted by Dr Dracator at 2:10 AM on September 25, 2015 [9 favorites]


> "Are the winters there British terrible or American terrible?"

British terrible. It's not even close to American Terrible standards, very rarely even getting down to freezing. There will be wind and rain, though (a lot of rain -- in the winter, there's some amount of precipitation on about 2 out of every 3 days). And summers are much cooler than American ones, you'd need a sweater, or more likely a jacket, almost every day.

But yeah, if you've spent any winters somewhere like Michigan or Massachusetts or even New Jersey, you'll pretty much be looking around when people complain about the weather in January thinking, "Is this ... supposed to be cold?"
posted by kyrademon at 5:21 AM on September 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm Canadian but the last time I was visiting relatives in Scotland I was looking out over Loch Lomond in January and dayum it was cold. It may not be Alaska but the Scottish highlands can be very cold.
posted by biggreenplant at 6:23 AM on September 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


The west of Scotland does wet cold very well. Down jackets are useless there.

There may be a track that you could get a Landy along to Scoraig, but the price of fuel up in the northwest makes that frowned upon. If they'd have wanted a road, they would have built one by now.
posted by scruss at 6:44 AM on September 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


34 degrees and raining is a different kind of cold than, say, 15 degrees and frozen solid, and in some ways worse.
posted by echo target at 8:02 AM on September 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but much to the chagrin of my spouse, I would much rather have cold and rainy than cold and snowy.
posted by Kitteh at 8:30 AM on September 25, 2015


If there's only one teacher (Well, if there's currently no teacher) how can males be under-represented?

Oh, that's just a typo. It's supposed to be "HUMAN male." The Black Annis was dripping water on the keyboard, so they had to cut the editing short. Anyway, fill the position quickly, OK? The glastig are getting kind of peckish.
posted by happyroach at 8:54 AM on September 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Honestly, I think that modern governments undervalue the benefits of making it easy for those who want to live in rural areas.

What are the benefits of making it easier for people to live in remote areas (the issue here isn't that it's rural, it's that it's remote)? Remote areas cost a tonne to service, both because people like teachers expect to be paid more to move there, and because the government spends a tonne of money getting all sorts of infrastructure in and out (think running power lines, though it looks like they didn't here) and phone lines and getting services to people and people to services, and helicoptering people in and out for things like doctors appointments.

In Canada the government has strong-armed several remote communities into shutting down (resettling) over the years (300 communities, one community, in song 1, 2 ). It costs less to buy houses at far greater than market value so people can afford to move elsewhere than it does to provide services to remote communities.

Now I'm sure I agree with resettlement. I think there's a case to be made that it's the government's job to provide services and if sometimes those services cost more than others, they just have to suck it up and pay. But that's a long way from saying making it easier for people to live there has benefits to the country as a whole or to anyone other than the people who want to live there. After all, the easier it is to live there, the more people will move there and the more it will cost to service those communities.

So what are the benefits to making it easier for people to live remotely?
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 9:15 AM on September 25, 2015


So what are the benefits to making it easier for people to live remotely?

More survivors in the event of the inevitable zombie apocalypse
posted by happyroach at 9:54 AM on September 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Think they need a poet, just for the summer?
I'm not kidding.
posted by tuesdayschild at 9:56 AM on September 25, 2015


> "34 degrees and raining is a different kind of cold than, say, 15 degrees and frozen solid ..."

For me, that is the difference between "oh, I guess I need an umbrella" and "perhaps I can survive on this can of beans until the weather stops trying to kill me rather than go outside to do some shopping".

*shrug* Different people have different tolerances, I guess. People in Scotland are constantly trying to convince me of how cold it is here, and I just smile and nod and feel somewhat baffled as I remember digging myself out from my front door in Michigan feeling like the wind was trying to flense my face off. I felt similarly, in a different way, when I lived in Arizona and people were constantly trying to convince me that the summers weren't really so bad because "it's a dry heat". My stock response was "so's your oven."

Maybe I just like it wet.
posted by kyrademon at 10:02 AM on September 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


> In Canada the government has strong-armed several remote communities into shutting down

Almost as if they got the idea from the Clearances, eh?
posted by scruss at 10:17 AM on September 25, 2015


Almost as if they got the idea from the Clearances, eh?

I'd never heard of this, but from the link you gave, it sounds like A) these weren't remote communities and the problem wasn't the cost of providing services and B) they didn't actually shut down the communities, they just some of the people leave while others (estate owners) stayed and C) They just said "get out" rather than giving them a couple of hundred thousand dollars to buy a house and get started somewhere else. I'm not sure these are comparable.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 10:23 AM on September 25, 2015


Btw, one of the ways the government strong-armed was by requiring that EVERYONE leave. If one family wouldn't leave then the government wouldn't pay anyone to leave (because if one family stays, they still have to get services out there). The result was animosity within communities where people who wanted to leave would pressure those who wanted to stay.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 10:24 AM on September 25, 2015


the cydonian: "Shame that men (or women) of Letters aren't interested in the role, given that it's only an hour's drive from the place."

Go upthread and check the links posted by Zabuni and Zeptoweasel. The Google Maps commuting time estimate is...somewhat inaccurate.
posted by Bugbread at 3:50 PM on September 25, 2015


If only I had a penguin...: So what are the benefits to making it easier for people to live remotely?

Well, let me first get the human rights part out of the way. I think that society should bear the cost of letting people live in remote areas and get all the services they have by right of citizenship. But that's not my point.

My main point is that communities aren't easy to revive. Once they're gone, that's it. And it takes just a few decades for all the local knowledge that's built up to be gone.

Also, I think it's generally good for it to be an option for people to reside in remote areas because there are always a certain amount of people who prefer living there. It's beneficial for society if that option remains. A happy, content person is a net gain for society.

Finally, small communities are resources in an of themselves. For example, one thing that's happened in Iceland is that when the country's taken in refugees, they've often settled groups of them in small villages. Pretty much every village in Iceland qualifies as remote. It's a lot easier to integrate when you can get to know everyone in the community.ยด

Sorry it took so long to answer. I went traveling right after making the comment.
posted by Kattullus at 1:15 PM on October 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


> I'm not sure these are comparable.

The Clearances were a form of ethnic cleansing. The reason that places like Scoraig were empty was that they'd been cleared, and the economic opportunity to re-populate them never came back. It's a very raw subject in Scotland, especially amongst those with Gaelic-speaking ancestry.
posted by scruss at 4:15 PM on October 1, 2015


Kattulus, thanks for answering at all. I agree with you that there's a human rights, or at least human kindness reason for letting people stay in the places they live and love.

It seems, though like some of the benefits you're talking about are benefits of a) maintaining existing communities (not getting rid of them, but not growing them either) or b) small communities, not necessarily remote communities. It seems like making it easier to live in remote places would both encourage such places to grow, which would interfere with some of the benefits you list, or could just as easily be provided in tiny communities far away that one could drive to. Isolation doesn't really seem like a necessary component, and it's isolation that makes these places difficult to service.

I had no idea Iceland had so many remote communities, though I guess it makes sense*. But wouldn't it be easier to get refugees to small communities they could drive to, rather than boating/snowbiling or bush planing them out there? And wouldn't it be easier for them to access the kinds of things that might make them feel at home if the community were accessible even if small?

I can see why people who live in remote places need to be provided services and should probably be allowed to stay where they are and still get the services they need. I'm not convinced there's a lot of benefit associated with encouraging people to move to places that are near-impossible to reach that couldn't be equally well accrued by small communities in accessible places.

* I think I kind of imagined Iceland outside the Reykjavik area is basically a bunch of communities all along the coast linked by a road that basically ran parallel to the coast all around the island. But Inow that you say that, I guess I can imagine there might be a lot of communities on islands our out on capes that aren't accessible from the road, as is/was the case in Newfoundland.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 4:52 PM on October 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


Probably about 90% of the population of Iceland lives near the Ring Road. But once you're out in the Westfjords and Eastfjords, the communities can get pretty remote. Not remote by Canadian standards, but remote enough for anyone. Iceland's not big enough to make it not worthwhile to at least lay down a dirt road. But in the winter they can get completely isolated for days at a time, if the weather's inclement enough.

And I do think that growing a community and maintaining it are two different problems, though obviously you can't grow a community that's vanished. Ultimately, not many people aren't going to live anywhere where there's no way for them to earn enough to live. And that's part of what makes service cuts so deadly for communities. It takes jobs away, very often jobs done by women more than men (nursing, office work, teaching, social services, postal work), and makes it near impossible to live there.

I think we basically agree, but I suspect our different backgrounds (Canada vs. Iceland) gives us slightly different outlooks.
posted by Kattullus at 3:04 PM on October 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


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