1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Learning Pit

Discussion in 'Classroom' started by Internationalteacher, 10 Nov 2016.

  1. bahn_farang

    bahn_farang Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    21 Feb 2011
    Messages:
    5,431
    Likes Received:
    588
    So for my context working in Thailand with Thai teachers and more importantly Thai students you offer some useful advice from a different culture. No less inspiring, truly, but arguably less applicable to the culture of Thailand
     
  2. Internationalteacher

    Internationalteacher Thread Starter Superwoman

    Joined:
    28 Dec 2010
    Messages:
    709
    Likes Received:
    207
    ^This video is about learning, and if you can be as ignorant as to suggest that because I'm not in Thailand I have no idea what I am talking about, then go ahead. You certainly will hear what you want to hear only. I will say no more.
     
  3. bahn_farang

    bahn_farang Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    21 Feb 2011
    Messages:
    5,431
    Likes Received:
    588
    The post was meant for Sirchai in Thailand
     
  4. bahn_farang

    bahn_farang Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    21 Feb 2011
    Messages:
    5,431
    Likes Received:
    588
    Disappointing cop out to an otherwise healthy debate but I respect your silence. Have a re-read tomorrow, thank you again for the useful video

    If you do not consider the context in which you teach then short of imperialism I can offer no other term than naivety.
     
    Last edited: 13 Nov 2016
  5. Internationalteacher

    Internationalteacher Thread Starter Superwoman

    Joined:
    28 Dec 2010
    Messages:
    709
    Likes Received:
    207
    ^Naive to post this video on a Thai forum. Good luck with that PGCEi. lol
     
  6. bahn_farang

    bahn_farang Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    21 Feb 2011
    Messages:
    5,431
    Likes Received:
    588
    Ok, so you said you would say no more, but you comment further, goodness I love one that continues to fight for what they believe is true. Keep kicking for your views, as I too will keep offering an opinion.

    The PGCEi has been completed nevertheless I thank you for your sincere words of encouragement.

    You say I will hear only what I want to. This is what I hear.

    1)Your post was, for my personal development, useful and inspiring and, although it borders on the banging on the head repetition.... thank you
    2) Your lack of understanding of the Thai student learning in the Thai government system clear.
    3) I will try to create an environment where students question, ask why challenge what I am saying but at the end of the day your context and Thailand's government schools are different.

    but, and here's the point that the agreeing classes struggle with........ thank you for the debate
     
  7. bahn_farang

    bahn_farang Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    21 Feb 2011
    Messages:
    5,431
    Likes Received:
    588
    may i ask why you think it naive to post on a Thai forum.
     
  8. Internationalteacher

    Internationalteacher Thread Starter Superwoman

    Joined:
    28 Dec 2010
    Messages:
    709
    Likes Received:
    207
    ^I said naive because if everyone thought like you (that the system doesn't promote it and there is no chance of it happening), then there wouldn't be too much progress in the Thai educational system. I very much understand that Thai culture and the educational system does not promote critical thinking and still focuses on rote learning, so don't be telling me that I don't understand the context. However, what I have said is that it is not impossible for real learning to take place (I was relating my experience in a closed, rote learning public system).

    I know that some teachers are challenging students to think for themselves in Thailand. I know it happens in international schools and I personally have friends that are gearing towards a more constructivist model of teaching in EP. Plus, it looks like the education minister plans to hire 13,500 more qualified English language teachers before the end of 2018.
    Education Minister says Thai students lack critical thinking and English language skills | Coconuts Bangkok
     
  9. bahn_farang

    bahn_farang Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    21 Feb 2011
    Messages:
    5,431
    Likes Received:
    588
    Have a re-read I was talking about non international

    And I will sleep peacefully now that everything is going to be ok. Seriously are you saying that you believe that a major shake up will result in great change? It's Buddhist day so I'm not going to use the harsh accusational language of the yesterday.

    There are some of us who try to be constructivist in our approach, since the research would suggest that works best. But save a thought for the reality of life in school.

    As a foreigner working in a Thai government school I would offer that to follow any other path than value pluralism would indeed lead either to insanity, redundancy or the next flight back to the country of our birth and quite possible all three combined!

    I can still clearly remember my father telling me to stand up for what I believe, thirty years later the realities of adult life and the responsibilities which it brings govern that my own values are held back stage while I offer the environment where I work a more acceptable front stage.


    Consider my current employment. I work in a government school in Thailand. Government high schools in Thailand are a success. They prepare the students for a life of unquestioning, blind following of a ruling elite (let's not dance around this topic anymore you teach the wealthy elite, who have the power, connections and wealth to maintain their position), which is exactly what is intended. The huge cookie cutter mentality of the industrialized school churning out a uniform product would may well make John Gatto cry. Fifty children crammed into rooms learning nine fifty minute periods a day. the sole focus of are tests: admission to primary school tests, admission to high school tests, the unit tests, the mid term tests, the term end tests, the national tests, the university entrance tests, the government civil service tests. No one fails, no one falls off the conveyor belt line of students slowly progressing to a life of not asking 'why?'.

    The schools are filled with civil servants whose salary, status and benefit package exclude the need for improvement. Hodas could have been talking about Thai schools when he wrote of schools and those working in them as purely concerned with self preservation. Within this environment, I try to engage the students, try to create learning experiences which they can use as best I can given the environment of the school.


    So I am a realist in that I work to provide for my family. That is my front stage now but what of my backstage? I would like not just to press the reset button on the machine that schooling has become but to smash the whole industrialized apparatus to pieces. I would like to connect the young with current realities of a world in trouble and help them equip themselves with the courage to break out of the cycle of materialism. I would like them discover their abilities, interests and support them as they strive towards their dreams within a society that allows them to do it. A society which isn't maintained by the drive of consumption.

    When I first read Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed, I was filled with a passion to change what I saw as the oppressive education system in Thailand. I could see direct parallels between Freire's work and teaching methods used by Thai teachers, didactic methods used to present morsels of knowledge to ever hungry "welfare recipients". This method of teaching, at the school where I work, is still used and there are no signs of change.

    But consider......

    Freire was writing a long way from Thailand on a different continent, within a different culture, and within a different religion. I have found myself questioning the ability to apply the tag 'banking system' with an implicit negative meaning to Thailand without more careful consideration of the particulars of Thai Culture.

    Within the context of Thai Government schools, I do not disagree that the system is anything but the transfer of knowledge from the teacher who knows everything to the student who knows nothing, I find reason for debate based on whether it can be seen as oppressive or a more natural outcome of religion and a wider culture. Does constructivism work in Thailand?

    Cultural difference

    Thai culture places importance on respect for elders. It is not possible on first meeting a class of Thai students to say (but have heard other foreign teachers do so) that the students “have no ideas”, “they are shy”, they can't form an opinion”, “they are so down-trodden”. Thai students do have ideas and have strong opinions but the classroom is not the place for them. Respect should not be mistaken oppression.

    Religious Difference

    The Buddhist faith, which over 90% of Thais practice, speaks of Karma. The current status of an individual, it is believed, is the natural order and is a result of actions in a previous life not as a result of an oppressive majority.

    I have but merely scratched the surface on this issue but your time and patience require me to close an already longwinded post.

    Certainly, my upbringing, culture and religious beliefs lead me to believe that ridged social order based on class is unjust and greater-problem solving child centered practices allow the child to flourish, and challenge and change the status-quo. I reject the banking system as outdated and oppressive.

    But academic imperialism is a real danger when we say constructivism is the only way in country with such a wide power divide between students and teachers. Thats the point I was trying to get across.

    You are right to dream and admire you for doing so, I am sure that our discussion has provided me with much to ponder. Perhaps out disagreement originates in our own current contexts, perhaps not. What I do hold true to is that constructivism held in isolation to a culture offers little.
     
  10. Internationalteacher

    Internationalteacher Thread Starter Superwoman

    Joined:
    28 Dec 2010
    Messages:
    709
    Likes Received:
    207
    ^Thanks for your long post and experience. I agree with a lot of it and have learned some from it as well. Earlier I said in my post, that there is some child centered, constructivist learning going on, but I really can't say how much of it and even how well it is going over. Due to the type of culture (religious, etc), I'm sure it isn't easy. I think that getting children to think for themselves is a necessity in today's world and even the education minister thinks it needs a major re-haul. I don't know if it is possible, but I know that sometimes it starts with small changes in the classroom.

    For me, I had to get out of the public system in Korea after four years, after banging my head against the wall because of the rote learning type of system. I have now come into an international school where I believe real learning is taking place.

    I can't say that rote learning is wrong because that is how they have been taught for eons, but I do know that a doctor who is taught to memorize the dictionary, still has no idea what the words mean. How can they practice on people when all people are different?

    Now, I realize that culture in Thailand is almost third world in the sense that many of the students may not be going to live or study abroad, but perhaps some will. I guess I am hopeful.

    I work in a system where children are taught the meaning of things and how it relates to them. I have children from all over the world and from all religions. They question, think and take meaning from what they learn.
     
  11. bahn_farang

    bahn_farang Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    21 Feb 2011
    Messages:
    5,431
    Likes Received:
    588
    Thank you for your reply. If I may,

    I, in my context and remit, can not allow myself the luxury to teach my students without an eye fixed on the high probability that the students will, like their mothers and fathers, remain local in low paid employment. It sounds like your context is different. No doubt you have colleagues who are role modals for partnering the students to develop. The vast majority of Thai teachers with whom I work are resistant to change.

    It is a very horrid situation, to want to inspire the students to grasp math and language which may enable them to breakout, but then be burdened with the knowledge that such breakout is unlikely. Perhaps I have, post PGCEi, begun to see the impossibilities of applying theory to my practise and am ready for a move.

    The system of rote learning in Thailand isn't really about learning but more so about maintaining a well defined hierarchy. In Thailand the curriculum for the elite and the to be controlled masses is different.

    I wish the minister all the success in the world with improving the quality of teachers, but with my own eyes wide open I realise similar proclamations have been made in the past and will continue to be made in the future. Now, that is not to say that I am committed to negativity. Hopeless optimism and an unhealthy pessimism are of course on the same scale, and no doubt many teachers move between the extremes on a regular basis
     
  12. Internationalteacher

    Internationalteacher Thread Starter Superwoman

    Joined:
    28 Dec 2010
    Messages:
    709
    Likes Received:
    207
    ^Good insight!

    As I was saying before that I had one Korean co-teacher over the four years that really was impressed with the questioning students and getting them to think for themselves after observing me. But, after that he just went back to teaching the listen and repeat to the teacher method. Change is very tough, but it can happen. Back in my parents time, they were also taught where the teacher knew everything and the children were there to listen. They were also given the strap which was abolished over time. Change can happen, but it has to start from the top.

    I didn't post the video to get anyone upset. I am glad it provoked a conversation. Thanks again for your comments and point of view. I still wouldn't consider myself naive, but perhaps inexperienced in Thai government schools would have been a better word to use. ;)
     
  13. Internationalteacher

    Internationalteacher Thread Starter Superwoman

    Joined:
    28 Dec 2010
    Messages:
    709
    Likes Received:
    207
    It seems that perhaps you are. :)
    That is why I said good luck with the PGCEi.

    I personally found that I cared too much about the progress of my students to just sit back and see that my students in Korea were learning to say, 'My father is a pilot' about fifteen times. I was always wondering what they could possibly learn about occupations from repeating that sentence. I understand that it can help with pronunciation, but other than that it was useless.
     
  14. bahn_farang

    bahn_farang Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    21 Feb 2011
    Messages:
    5,431
    Likes Received:
    588
    I wouldn't want to work in an international school, not yet anyway. Perhaps help to build or build a school for the disadvantaged. My views on international schools have permeated the surface of our discussion and as a not so secret marxist I would find it uncomfortable teaching the children of the ruling classes or even worse the aspiring middle class. So I will toil at the coal face a little while longer.

    I will continue to try to find the middle way between the context I am in and the knowledge that I have collected. Although frustrated I am not ready to take the easy route just yet (but never say never).
     
    sirchai likes this.
  15. Internationalteacher

    Internationalteacher Thread Starter Superwoman

    Joined:
    28 Dec 2010
    Messages:
    709
    Likes Received:
    207
    ^Sounds good, keep on keeping on.. I also have a huge passion for education around the world. I sponsor children to attend school in a few poverty stricken countries. Education in general is important.

    ..Just fyi, decent international schools are not easy by any means. Ask anyone that knows me and they know I work hard and often. Decent international schools have high standards and expectations. With teaching 30 or more hours a week, plus many unpaid extra curricular activities, I keep busy. I get formally observed twice a year and many drop in visits by administration. I like what I do and know that I make some sort of impact because once students graduate high school they get a dual diploma and can study in the west.
     
    Last edited: 15 Nov 2016

Share This Page