Welcome to Student-Centered Learning Thailand
LONG LIVE THE KING!
To provide a center of discussion , information and planning for 21st Century education reform in Thailand that will lead to a unity of purpose and action among Thai and international educators to realize the goals set forth in the National Education Act of B.E. 2542 (1999).
At the heart of this National Education Act B.E. 2542 (1999) is a move toward student-centered learning and a student-centered classroom. Specifically, Section 24 of the Education Act outlines what must be done to improve education performance : 1. arranging learning in line with the students’ interests , aptitudes and individual differences ;2. training students in thinking abilities, especially critical thinking; 3.organizing learning activities that draw from authentic experiences; and 4. promoting situations where learners and teachers learn together.
In addition to addressing these key issues of education reform in Thailand , indeed in international education, we also focus our attention and resources on the goal of promoting Thai teachers to reach their potential as skilled teachers using teaching methods that engage their students with the result that students love to learn through self discovery.
ยินดีต้อนรับสู่ Student-Centered Learning ประเทศไทย
เพื่อสร้างศูนย์ข้อมูล การแลกเปลี่ยนข้อคิดเห็นและวางแผนสำหรับการปฏิรูปการศึกษาของประเทศไทยในศตวรรษที่ 21 อันจะนำไปสู่การปฏิบัติอันเป็นไปในทิศทางเดียวกันของนักการศึกษาไทยและต่างประเทศเพื่อให้บรรลุเป้าหมายที่กำหนดไว้ในพระราชบัญญัติการศึกษาแห่งชาติ พ.ศ. 2542 (1999)
ใจความสำคัญของพระราชบัญญัตินี้คือการมุ่งไปสู่การเรียนรู้และการเรียนการสอนในห้องเรียนโดยมีนักเรียนเป็นศูนย์กลาง โดยเฉพาะอย่างยิ่งมาตรา 24 ที่กำหนดถึงสิ่งที่ต้องทำเพื่อพัฒนาประสิทธิภาพของการศึกษาไทยคือ : 1. จัดการศึกษาให้สอดคล้องกับความสนใจ, ความถนัดที่แตกต่างกันของนักเรียนแต่ละคน; 2. อบรมนักเรียนให้มีความสามารถในการคิดวิเคราะห์ด้วยตนเอง; 3. จัดกิจกรรมการเรียนรู้จากประสบการณ์จริง; และ 4. ส่งเสริมการเรียนการสอนที่ครูและนักเรียนได้เรียนรู้ร่วมกัน
By Dr. Peter J. Foley, editor-in-chief
Tomorrow is the King of Thailand’s birthday. It is altogether fitting that this month’s article is a call to honor Thailand’s diversity and institute wide-spread bilingual education throughout the Kingdom. King Bhumbol Adulyadej, Rama IX, has spent his life promoting and protecting cultural diversity in Thailand, particularly minority rights. What the King has always understood is that in our sameness we connect and in our differences we grow. His Majesty has also understood clearly that the road to peace and prosperity starts with the acceptance and respect for one another’s cultures, religions and languages.
In this month’s article the author is a Moslem whose mother tongue is Jawi. His article is a call for bilingual education for the minorities of Thailand. The author, Ajan Bandhit, makes the telling point that teaching reading awareness in one’s mother tongue at the early ages of 3 to 5 years old makes a huge difference as to whether a child will learn to read well. This fact has been well demonstrated in educational research over the last decade. But less explicitly, the author also makes the subtle point that a lack of formal recognition of the language of minorities causes even more damage than we first might realize. Not just that generation after generations in the south is unable to compete academically as well as Thai native speaking children. Not just that this lack of competitiveness in Thai education limits the role of Muslim youth in the Thai job market and steers thousands to jobs in Malaysia and the Middle East.
No, what I think is implied in Ajan Bandhit’s article but not stated outright is that if we are to see real peace come to the south of Thailand we need to start by honoring the culture, religion and language of the south .We can start with bilingual education in the public schools.
It is the King’s birthday tomorrow. Can we not honor him by accepting one another’s differences and thus grow. Will this not result in the peace and prosperity we all want for Thailand?
Posted by: admin in: Uncategorized
by Bandhit Samtalee, M.Ed
Former Deputy Dean
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Yala Rajabhat University
The local dialects throughout Thailand are rich and beautiful. It is meaningful and precious to people who use the dialect and share a common language bond with their neighbors and friends. Many dialects and even different languages reflect the richness of Thai diversity. These dialects and languages should be celebrated. Unfortunately, all too often the dialects are made fun of and the different languages are ignored or worse, disparaged. In my own case, I have seen my mother tongue, Jawi, ignored in the Thai education system despite research that shows that children who are introduced to reading in their mother tongue learn to read better and are better able to make the transition to reading at a young age in the national language.
A survey by OBEC (The Office of Basic Education Commission) on the language of the students, teachers and community from 21 offices located in 9 provinces along the Thai border in 2008 found that students have been using more than 30 different dialects in 940 schools, with the number of 3,72 schools or 25.26 percent of the students in other dialects in their daily lives. In some schools the students use the same dialect where in some schools the students use 4-5 different dialects. Many of these dialects of course are completely different language such as Hmong, Yao, Musar, Jawi, Burmese and Chinese.
Although children and youth along the border and in outlying areas have the opportunity to attend school, most of these children are more familiar with their local dialects/languages. It is the mode of communication in everyday life. More often than not there problems and difficulties in learning with these children who use their own dialect or language rather than the central Thai language.
A surveys conducted by the Ministry of Education in the past have showed that groups of children with low learning achievement compared with the national standard were the children who live along the border of Thailand and did not speak Thai language in daily life. Family education was not high and the main cohort of low achieving students were from poor families. These studies indicate a weakness in the whole Thailand educational system that has existed throughout the 20th century and continue today. By not providing a bilingual approach to early learning, Thailand is losing valuable human resources that it badly needs to be competitive with other ASEAN countries.
I attended a meeting with many persons from different kinds of institution chaired by Professor Dr. Suwilai Premsrirat from the Institute of Language and Culture at Mahidol University. And I was very glad to know that Dr Suwilai was going to run a pilot project called the Bilingual Project for the Southern Border Provinces of Thailand. Therefore, a few years later there was a pilot project on the implementation of the development of language teaching schools along the border of Thailand namely Yala, Pattanee, Naratiwat and Satul, one school in each province., This pilot project brought together learning the local language and Thai language to ensure that the child has the courage to enjoy learning more and to make the transition to first learning to read in his mother tongue and then transition to learning to read central Thai.
Bilingual programs can provide a teaching process that is sensitive to the child’s cultural and linguistic context. There is an opportunity in this approach to honor the child’s mother tongue and culture. In my own context of Yala, we speak Jawi at home and are proud of our Muslim heritage. It will mean a great deal if Thai policy experts recognize the value of honoring our culture and include our language and culture in our children’s public education curriculum. I am sure the same can be said of the many hill tribe groups located in the north of our country.
Development programs for bilingual schools along the border of Thailand using Bilingual project is a good beginning. It is a different approach from the process used with children who use Thai central language in everyday communication and at home. I believe that children are not able to develop critical thinking skills if not using language that children are familiar at first. It is vitally important to start children learning to read and solve problems first in their mother tongue.
Greg Cairnduff, M Ed, BA, Dip Ed, MACE, Deputy Managing Editor
3 November 2013
I have been involved with education long enough to remember what it was like in the days before the Information Age, the era prior to Information and Communication Technologies becoming pervasive in our lives.
Around the world, people’s daily lives are affected by computer technology in one way or another. I was recently told that the Sherpa guides on the high peaks of the Himalayas are able to keep in touch with their families on a daily basis though the use of satellite phones and it’s not hard to find thousands of seemingly incongruous examples of the IT being part of everyday life. Here in Thailand we see monks on their morning alms walks, using smart phones, or on any visit to the hill tribes of the north, the visitor will the satellite discs dotted throughout the village bringing worldwide television into the lives of the tribesmen.
I don’t think anyone would argue with that assertion.
Universal use of ICTs has changed our world. But what about education in the 21st Century? Has it changed? Have the students changed? Have the teachers changed?
Concomitant questions could be: Has education changed too much? Are changes in students helpful to society and to the students as individuals? Do teachers actually need to change? How can student, school, and national educational performance stand the demands for constant improvement?
These questions make for interesting debate in our society, not just among educators, but among the whole community, interestingly, they are questions that are constantly debated in countries at all levels of economic development.
Here in Thailand educational issues are always evident in the news media, but the same is true of the news media in Australia, and on a recent visit to the United Kingdom, I was an avid follower of the debate about what is being done to lift educational performance …. “ As Ofsted pointed out, if you are a poor child going to school in some parts of Britain, you’re less likely to do well than poor children, here in Tower Hamlets”[i] Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg reported in the Evening Standard on 24th October, talking about the success of the London Challenge, a project to get neighbouring schools to work together to push up standards.
What has this got to do with my opening statement which essentially says “I have been around education long enough to remember what education was like before ICTs changed the world”. In the 1970s educational policy makers knew the advent of the Information Age would irrevocably change education, but they were gazing into a crystal ball when trying to predict what life would be like in the 21st Century. They could not have known or truly understood the challenges of change that ICTs would bring to teaching and learning. I can clearly remember a curriculum innovation of the late 1970s in Australia …. It was called “Leisure Education” the hypothesis being that computer technology would endow society with much more leisure time.
Was the hypothesis right?
It is true that there have been massive changes in the nature of work and ICTs have eliminated many mundane labour intensive jobs, but what people having more leisure? Have ICTs brought shorter working days ? Longer holidays? I would not be too sure about that. But we can be sure that they have changed the nature of the way people work and live in the 21st century.
So what has all of this to do with “going back to Basics” or expressed another way, going back to the three time worn fundamentals of education around the world, commonly and colloquially called the “three Rs” that is, reading, writing and arithmetic.
Among the national education debates referred to above there are calls to “go back to the basics” because children cannot read as well, write as fluently, or calculate as well as in the era prior to the Information Age and ICTs are made the scapegoats for such problems.
We should never go back to the “3 Rs” as the basics of education, we cannot, because the world is not the same as the 70s that I referred to above. The crystal ball did not and could not, convey to educational planners the enormous impact of technologies on people’s lives. The kinds of employment and life opportunities that young people face in the 21st Century are immeasurably different from those of their grandparents and even their parents’ generation. The lamentations heard in the community and the media [in Thailand anyway] are often about the lack of English language among the community, the lack of mental agility with numeracy, the poor grammar and spelling that they have in their native language.
The cries for a return to the “basics” simply do not reflect that the world has moved on.
A large body of research into how changing times and new technologies require new literacies, informs a much broader approach to teaching and learning in schools.
Commentators on this website have praised the Thai government for its “one tablet per child” program. The introduction of such a universal program, recognises the need for education in Thailand to become oriented to the needs of students and the nation in the 21st Century.
This does not mean that reading and writing have been abandoned, it means that reading and writing are expanded beyond the limited literacy of printed books and paper to a more diverse range of texts using ICTS.
The 3 Rs will not help students use computers efficiently, search the internet, access electronic information and then analyse and synthesise that information.
The “back to basics” approach will not help prepare young people for an uncertain changing world where those qualities quoted in Paul Tough’s book, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character[ii] such as adaptability to change, resilience, determination and perseverance , are more important than whether they can use cursive hand writing or recite the times tables.
The back to basics calls are probably as wrong as the 70s calls for “education for leisure “ courses.
None of this is to say that ICTs have made the job of teachers easier – they have made the teacher’s work much more complex.
This month’s article provides an interesting discussion of the impact of ICTs on learning to read. We hope you will find this article stimulating.
Posted by: admin in: Uncategorized
By Peter J. Foley, Ed.D, editor and chief
Student Centered Learning Thailand has always supported giving all Thai school children tablets to help them learn. Let’s look at some of the arguments on both sides.
The tablet is a useful learning tool for teachers; it is not a substitute for a teacher. What we are advocating for is what noted education philanthropist Eli Broad calls blended learning. By blended learning we mean using the best information and communication technology coupled with good teaching. The better the technology we use and the better the teacher is, the better the learning results will be.
There is a strong argument, however, that we really don’t need the latest and best technology in the classroom. A good teacher is enough. And we know from extensive research that the single most important factor by far in getting good learning results rests with the teacher. The problem with this argument is it ignores the 21st century digital world we live in, a world where almost all literate people use digital technology to communicate
and to learn.
Initial learning results in Thailand where the tablet has been handed out to primary students and used by their teachers is good. Measurements of children using the computers has shown marked progress especially in Klong Toey in Bangkok. Nevertheless, the jury is still out. Much depends on how the tablet and other technologies are used, what the content in the tablet is and how well the tablets will be used by the teachers. What we hope is that the tablet will be developed as a personalized learning tool so that the curriculum can be configured with the help of the teacher so each student can go at his or her own learning pace.
The teacher’s job, therefore, is not to dispense knowledge, but rather to help a child learn at his own pace. In sum, how well students will respond to learning using tablets as a tool will depend on how well the teacher is trained to use the tablet and how well the learning material is presented in the tablet
So this speaks to the need to have teachers thoroughly trained in how to use the tablet and use it to meet the individual needs of his or her students. There are many new programs that enable a teacher to monitor each student and also to organize learning activities for students on the same learning levels. Without a teacher training program that is thorough in the use of the tablet, the risk of failure in using the tablet is substantial.
Secondly, we need the best minds designing the programs in order to hold the interest of students and move the students to use critical thinking in solving presented learning challenges and problems. In short the tablet should not be used as just a machine to learn rote facts and figures.
What is exciting is that a well planned programing of the tablet can make the tablet an excellent and exciting guide through Thailand’s core curriculum for teachers, parents and students. Moreover, the programing can be carefully designed so it can be adjusted to fit every child’s need and level of learning.
For those of us who are strong advocates of student centered learning, the tablet can be a powerful tool in giving the teacher immediate feedback as to each individual’s mastery of a particular math or verbal skill. It can enable a teacher to become a coach and mentor. In using the tablets student work can be display on the teacher’s master tablet so that formative assessments of each member of the class can be made quickly and individual or group help on a particular problem in learning can be given. Summative assesments can be quickly organized and calculated too so that scores on quizzes or test can be organized into reports for administrators and parents.
One major concern of those who are wary of bringing tablets into the class room is highlighted in studies conducted by Larry Rosen, a research psychologist at California
State University. His studies show that pre-teenagers and young adults focus for no more than five minutes before becoming distracted. Professor Rosen said that technology tends to overstimulate your brain. This over activation of the brain disturbs sleep cycles that prevent the mind from going into Default Mode Network (DMN) which is the higly creative state that happens between waking and sleep. Simply put, overuse of the tablet can be counterproductive.
There is the counter argument, however. The tablet can be an effective tool that allow for a quick segue to another subject or problem or activity once the students are distracted and no longer concentrating on a particular activity.
Then there are those who decry the cost of the tablets at 3,000 to as much as 6,000 baht per tablet. This argument of too high a cost pales when we measure the printing costs of the Ministry of Education for students throughout the Kingdom of Thailand. Students no longer have to keep track of books for seven different subjects. Suffice to say that over a 1000 books can be kept on one tablet.
The big challenge is for teachers and educators to keep up with technology. Thai youth are already enmeshed in technology to the point where mindless gaming has become a national problem. The challenge for teachers and parents is to move the technology to real learning and making it fun.
MOM’S WAY TO SUCCESSFUL STUDENT CENTERED LEARNING: THE PROOF IS IN THE PUDDING AND IN RESEARCH
By Peter J. Foley, Ed.D, editor and chief
My mom, Jackie Turner Foley, was a teacher who collaborated with her students. She taught children from ages 8 to 16 years old who had never learned to read properly and subsequently fell far, far behind their peers in academics. When schools no longer felt they could help such students stay in school and learn something, they called Ms. Jackie, the teacher of last resort. She was remarkably successful in teaching these children—many times labeled “unteachable” by the referring public schools, not only in getting them to read well but in them getting them to love learning.
When going through some of her papers recently, I came across this short piece of writing:
The learning process should be saturated with warmth and empathy. The key (to the successful teaching of reading) lies in allowing the student to reach out for the information he or she needs and develop his/her own ideas. As one youngster put it: ‘Mrs. Foley didn’t teach me a thing; I did it all myself.’
Dated March 1973
Educational Research over the last 40 years since my mom wrote this, has confirmed the wisdom of my mom’s student centered learning approach.
Let’s start with empathy in teaching.
Researchers have found that students who have caring relationships with their teachers are more motivated and perform better academically than students who do not have such relationships (Foster 1995; Gay 2000; Irvine, 1990). The renowned educator, Ted Sizer, had a similar prescription in calling for teachers acting as coaches and guides instead of the all too often, the one way communication of teacher to student.
A decade after my mom’s memo on education that I discovered in her files this week, Ted Sizer started the Coalition of Essential Schools in the United States. This educational movement included more that 1,000 schools and the principles of the schools were the same principles my mom espoused: high expectations; students constructing personalized meaning in their learning; teaching kids first and subjects as second, giving kids a part in the decision making on what was to be learned, and, of course, the teacher acting as a coach and mentor.
This is a good summation of principles of student centered learning.
Where my mom got her inspiration (and perhaps Sizer too) was in the methods of Marie Montessori. Like Montessori, my mom had high expectations for her students, and she made her lesson exercises in learning by doing. She was also influenced by John Dewey and thus believed in using democratic methods in her small groups in making decisions about learning or how the class would be conducted. Mom liked to stimulate conversation with her small groups of students about their thought process in solving a particular problem or having arrived at a particular idea after reading a passage. She was fond of saying to her students: “What shall we do next?”
Again, research has borne out that students’ learning improves with such participatory strategies (Biemiller&Meichenbaum, 1992).
Mom, I recall, insisted that her students concentrate on how they arrived cognitively at their conclusions or answers: “Tell me how you come to that conclusions?”; “Tell me how were you thinking?”; “How did you do that?”. Mom was teaching her students what is frequently referred to as metacognition skills that is, teaching students how to monitor their thinking and using these observations to guide them in strategies for solving problems or completing tasks. Research has shown that these skills boost students’ performance both in the classroom and on tests (Dunlosky, Serra, and Baker, 2007).
Mom also was careful to build on what the child already knew. I am not sure if mom was familiar with Lev Vygotsky’s work that became a base for educational psychology in the 1970’s even though Vygotsky died in the 1930’s. It was Vygotsky who postulated that learners had what he called the zone of proximal development( ZPD), the distance between what children can do by themselves and the next learning that children can be helped to achieve with competent assistance. It is out of Vygotsky’s work that the present day popular teaching method of scaffolding grew. One way of defining scaffolding as a teaching method is when a teacher models a desired learning strategy or task and then gradually shifts the responsibility to the students.
Mom used this technique over and over again, by giving her students help with only the skills that were new or beyond their ability. Research indicates that scaffolding minimizes failure, which decreases frustration, especially with special learning needs children (Van Der Stuyf, R, 2002).
The proof of mom’s methods was shown in the success she had in teaching children with special needs how to read with comprehension. Research 40 years after her note on her methodology shows just how right she was in employing the principles of teaching that have been touched on in this article. They are principles incorporated in the rubric student centered learning. Sadly, both in the United States and in Thailand, many public schools still teach by rote with a one way communication, that is, teachers lecturing to students. Student centered learning in both Thailand and the United States has yet to win the hearts and minds of teachers and administrators.
In the words of folk singer Bob Dylan: “when will we ever learn, when will we ever learn”.