Student Centered Learning – Thailand

A Centre for Education Reform in Thailand

Welcome to Student-Centered Learning Thailand

LONG LIVE THE KING!

Long Live Democracy!

Our Mission:

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

ทรงพระเจริญ

พันธกิจ: เพื่อสร้างศูนย์ข้อมูล การแลกเปลี่ยนข้อคิดเห็นและวางแผนสำหรับการปฏิรูปการศึกษาของประเทศไทยในศตวรรษที่ 21 อันจะนำไปสู่การปฏิบัติอันเป็นไปในทิศทางเดียวกันของนักการศึกษาไทยและต่างประเทศเพื่อให้บรรลุเป้าหมายที่กำหนดไว้ในพระราชบัญญัติการศึกษาแห่งชาติ พ.ศ. 2542 (1999) ใจความสำคัญของพระราชบัญญัตินี้คือการมุ่งไปสู่การเรียนรู้และการเรียนการสอนในห้องเรียนโดยมีนักเรียนเป็นศูนย์กลาง โดยเฉพาะอย่างยิ่งมาตรา 24 ที่กำหนดถึงสิ่งที่ต้องทำเพื่อพัฒนาประสิทธิภาพของการศึกษาไทยคือ : 1. จัดการศึกษาให้สอดคล้องกับความสนใจ, ความถนัดที่แตกต่างกันของนักเรียนแต่ละคน; 2. อบรมนักเรียนให้มีความสามารถในการคิดวิเคราะห์ด้วยตนเอง; 3. จัดกิจกรรมการเรียนรู้จากประสบการณ์จริง; และ 4. ส่งเสริมการเรียนการสอนที่ครูและนักเรียนได้เรียนรู้ร่วมกัน นอกจากประเด็นหลักเพื่อการปฏิรูปการศึกษาในประเทศไทยเหล่านี้ แน่นอนว่าในระดับโลกเรายังมุ่งเป้าไปยังการส่งเสริมศักยภาพอาจารย์ชาวไทยในด้านทักษะการสอนโดยอาศัยเทคนิคการสอนที่ให้นักเรียนมีส่วนร่วมในชั้นเรียนเพื่อให้นักเรียนมีความรักที่จะเรียนรู้ด้วยตัวเขาเอง

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Student-Centered Best Practices

By Peter J.Foley, Ed.D. , editor-in-chief
 
Dr. Nancy Sulla’s recent article in SCLThailand advocates effectively the need for teachers to pave the way for students to drive their own learning.  In the author’s words: “the teacher must be able to differentiate instruction such that each student is working on challenging but achievable objectives.”

Coincidentally, as Dr. Sulla’s article appeared in SCLThailand, The Samsung Smart Learning Project was featured in THE NATION ( Monday, November 16, 201). The project, according to staff writer, Pratch Rujivanarom, “has been successfully implemented in Loei to try to encourage students to study what really interests them….”  The NATION newspaper article describes how at Phu Kradung Wittayakom School in Loei teachers teach the skills students will need to research and complete projects.  The project based model  seems to follow at least some of the principles laid down in Professor Sulla article in SCLThailand.  It would be very interesting to see if the Samsung supported project in Loei uses the scaffolding  methods and essential curriculum tools professor Sulla champions.  It is the opinion of SCLThailand that without these essential student centered learning components the Loei  project will be doomed for failure.

There are also caveats on relying too heavily on technology.  As Dr Chanpen Choprapawan, president of the Thailand Research Association for Child and Family Development warned,  too much reliance on technology is “not good for students.” Chanpen said that children should learn about the world around them using their five senses—touching, seeing, hearing, smelling and tasting.”

It would be well-worth investing in Dr. Sculla’s books to learn how to maintain a proper , balanced learning program using the full range of student centered learning teaching best practices. Dr. Sulla’s book : Students Taking Charge: Inside the Learner-active Technology–infused Classroom is particularly recommended.

An education for the 21st Century

IB : An education for the 21st Century by Lister W. Hannah

We realise that we are living in a fast changing, increasingly complex, more interdependent and connected global community. Children entering kindergarten now (2015) will be graduating from high school in 2030 and probably entering the work force in the early to mid 2030s. The daunting challenge schools are facing in meeting parents’ expectations is that schools are having to educate their children for potential jobs that don’t exist now, using technologies that have yet to be created, and solving problems that haven’t been thought about.

 

The critical question then is how can schools best prepare the young to be lifelong learners for the adult world of the late 2020s and early 2030s?

 

“The central task of education is to implant a will and facility for learning: it should produce not learned but learning people….In a time of drastic change, it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.” (Eric Hoffer)

 

We believe that young people need to understand and know how to learn to be able to cope with this challenge of a rapidly changing world.

 

Schools need to engage, enable and empower students to become knowledgeable, independent, open-minded, and confident life-long learners; in short, students need to take ownership of their learning. Their curiosity and cross-cultural understanding of the world they live in and the nature of the change that is happening both in their own countries and globally needs to be cultivated and deeply understood. For this to happen they will need to have developed analytical, critical and creative thinking skills.

 

But we all know that academic rigour, important as it is, on its own is not enough. Research has shown that EQ, emotional quotient, is a better predictor of a fulfilling life than IQ. Our children also need the social and emotional skills and abilities to develop their capacity to be resilient and deal with the challenges, the stress and the pace of change, especially in the workplace and in their relationships. They need the ability, the empathy, to understand and respect their own and other cultures, and to resolve differences in relationships constructively and peacefully. Above all they need to live with good character, proactively, compassionately, sustainably and with integrity.

 

The International Baccalaureate (IB) Organisation provides outstanding programmes to meet these challenges. The IB offers the Primary Years Programme (PYP) for 3-11 year olds, the Middle Years Programme (MYP) for 12-16 year olds, the Diploma (DP) and also the Career Programme (CP) for 16-18 year olds. These programmes are recognised world-wide and is highly regarded as a preparation for life in the 21st century. The IB has already educated well over 1 million students in 145 countries since it was founded more than 40 years ago. The IB Diploma has become a preferred university entrance qualification to top universities around the world.

 

The appeal of the IB programmes lie in their ability to assimilate best practice from national systems, while not being tied to any national political system, in other words being truly international. They have rigour and challenge students academically; they have a breadth in offerings which educates the whole student; and they have an emphasis on attitudes and values which provide for building social and emotional skills and the capacity to live successfully.

 

Core features of the Programmes are: sustained inquiry into established bodies of knowledge; principled action through learning by doing, experiential education; critical reflection leading to deeper understanding; meaningful assessment, monitoring progress through appropriate feedback to students, and internationally benchmarked. Integral to these features is learning in global contexts and the promotion of cross-cultural awareness and international mindedness.

 

In sum, IB programmes are student-centred, encourage inquiry, collaboration, research, creativity and an understanding of learning how to learn. Further, they provide an emphasis on inclusiveness in an increasingly multi-cultural national and global society and cultivate the experience of how to be of service to others. This is an education for the 21st Century.

 

Lister W Hannah

30.9.15

 

 



  • One Response

    1. jack

      25|Oct|2015 1

      Congrats , Mr Hanna, this article is a must for parents who need a fine explanation of the IB in a nutshell. Thanks!


    Leave a reply

By Peter J. Foley, Ed.D., editor-in-chief

 

This month’s article limns the important innovations in higher education taking place in China. Importantly, this education revolution is based on the principles of student centered learning. Significantly for Thailand, these educational reforms echo the reforms Thai lawmakers set forth in 1999 that, sadly, have not yet been realized.

 

The authors, Shi Jian and Wang xin, explain that a centerpiece of these teaching reforms is problem based learning. Such learning compels the students to think for themselves, to analyze and solve problems. As the authors point out, teaching from a problem based learning model makes changes in the classroom necessary to facilitate this student centered learning approach.

 

For example, at Sichuan University new furniture was ordered to facilitate moving chairs and tables to enable group discussions and small group learning. Class size has been reduced to no more than 30 students in a class. Sichuan University students are learning to create and analyze problems using critical thinking skills. In sum, “teacher centered teaching is replaced by student-centered classroom discussion…..” The long range goal of these changes is to better prepare Chinese students for the needs of the 21st century job market where problem solving using digital technology will be increasingly required.

 

Student Centered Learning Thailand ‘s previous Op Ed noted the recent and powerful political, social and economic influence China is having on Thailand. Some commenters have said that this influence is at the expense of the United States’ traditional influence. SCLThailand sees this point of view as wrong footed.

 

SCLThailand wants to see a different view of international influence where the purpose of other countries’ aid and influence is not competitive but, rather, cooperative. We wish to be part of an international progressive education movement that encourages all countries to exchange and share in the spirit of international cooperation, a spirit of universal love of learning, a spirit of brother and sisterhood.

As we have discussed in our previous paper, Chinese higher education in its development has been closely tied up with China’s political, economic, social and cultural development, and it has played an important role in the changes of China in every aspect. When we moved into the 21st century, China has kept its speedy development in economics and social changes, and with the continuing reform and development the higher education in China has undergone still greater changes.

Full Article Below:

 

Download (DOCX, 1.79MB)



  • 2 Responses

    1. Jack

      31|Aug|2015 1

      Dear Dr. Shi Jian,

      Thank you for this informative and comprehensive essay on Chinese higher education reforms. These reforms will have a positive influence not only in China but throughout the world. Thank you for giving us this valuable profile of the changes in education happening in a country that has changed economically and socially faster than any nation in the history of the world.
      All best wishes,
      Jack

    2. Miss Tan

      28|Sep|2015 2

      石坚,很喜欢你的文章。谢谢!


    Leave a reply

By  Peter J. Foley, Ed.D., editor–in-chief

As we start our fifth year of publishing SCLThailand, we reflect on the ingenuity and goodness of the Thai people. Yes, there are struggles in terms of education reform in Thailand, and yes, there are concerns that the results of Pisa and O-Net exams show Thai students’ poor academic performance lagging behind other SE Asian countries. But keep in mind that Thailand remains the second largest economy in SE Asia and also is the most visited.

This having been said, SCLThailand has tried to point out over the last four years specific reforms needed in Thai education. We have pointed out a need to bring more critical thinking learning as part of the Thai curriculum, more emphasis on early childhood education, and greater efforts at leveling out the huge disparity between rural education and urban education in Thailand. We have also emphasized the need for better teacher training, training that should move Thai teachers away from rote learning teaching methods to a more student centered teaching approach that includes regular formative and summative assessments.

The constantly changing political landscape in Thailand has retarded desired changes. Thai progressive educators have called for the realization of a remarkable set of laws the Thai parliament formulated and passed in 1999. SCLThailand and many Thai educators are hoping that the current military government will jump start the process of the 1999 education reforms before turning over the government to a democratically elected government as has been promised.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, as head of the “education superboard” could make two important changes that would start to address two critical issues facing the Thai Kingdom: the lack of academic rigor throughout the system and the widening disparity in educational opportunities between rich and poor. A recent suggestion in an article in the Bangkok Post ( July 23, 2015) to institute the International Baccalaureate (IB) system in leading government schools in each province , providing model curriculums and assessments, would act as a lighthouse for other government schools .

To start to address the inequality between rural schools and urban schools, a crash program the Prime Minister could offer top graduates from Thailand’s leading universities an opportunity to serve the nation as rural school teachers for two years. A similar program, known as Teach for Thailand, has already started at Chulalonghorn University and could be used as a model to build on.

Finally, on this fourth anniversary of the founding of SCLThailand I would like to thank all the editors and our web master for their contributions. I would also like to welcome our newest editor to the board of SCLThailand, Ms. Porntip Kanjananiyot, whose outstanding qualifications can be summed up as follows:
\
Porntip Kanjananiyot (Ms.) worked as Executive Director of Thailand-U.S. Educational Foundation from October 2003-October 2014. Before that, she was Director of the International Cooperation Strategy Bureau and Higher Education Standards Bureau, Commission on Higher Education (formerly known as Ministry of University Affairs). Throughout her career, she has worked in several ministries, including Education, the Prime Minister’s Office (Office of the National Education Commission), and University Affairs

Khun Porntip, is also the author of this month’s featured article. We are very pleased to have this Thai professional educator join the editorial board.



  • One Response

    1. Bandhit Samtalee

      12|Aug|2015 1

      It would be wonderful if any of those people sitting in the parliament read this article.


    Leave a reply

Managing M Exchange

Porntip Kanjananiyot
Chotima Chaitiamwong
Thailand-United States Educational Foundation
(TUSEF/Fulbright Thailand)
Tusef@fulbrightthai.org
Abstract
Student exchange remains an effective mechanism for education cooperation and
networking of higher education institutions, moving toward internationalization. Priorities are,
however, more on the exchange administration rather than the students who are the very
key component of the exchange, not to mention the staff. As today’s students, or the
Millennials (M), are from a different generation from those administering the exchange
programs, this paper aims to urge higher education institutions to seriously consider the
different lifestyles, values, perceptions, and expectations of the Millennials, which call for
different approaches to student exchanges based on the open-mindedness of policy makers
and staff to learn more about the changing needs and characters. The paper also shares
some of Fulbright Thailand’s experiences and observations in grant administration
particularly in the past six years when the Millennials have dominated the pool of our
grantees in our most popular programs.

Focusing on the Millennials
Many higher education institutions are hypnotized by the word “internationalization” and
have been struggling, alone or allied, to integrate international elements into their delivery of
education. As students are the main reason and the end result of higher education
institutions’ missions and their internationalization, students are undoubtedly at the heart of
their thinking and actions. The International Association of University 3rd Global Survey
showed that student-oriented activities, naming, outgoing student mobility, student
exchanges, and international student recruitment, have been made top priority under the
international policy of the universities.2

Here, we focus on student exchanges, which could be the most effective mechanism for
integrating international elements into both host and home institutions. It is with the strong
belief that exchanges not only foster relationships between the two, but they also heighten
desirable qualities from intercultural adjustments in cross-cultural settings and understanding
global issues to critical thinking and teamwork skills. Not surprisingly, the number of
collaborative MOUs is mushrooming. Many of them die young though initially they do help
add impressive figures to university profiles. Many others survive and flourish. There is no
secret for the ‘best practices’ to sustain relationships through mutual agreements as the
success all depends on individual context (leadership, mutual commitment, effective
management, etc). Learning and sharing from others, however, are useful for us to see the
possibilities of doing things better and in some cases, bring about innovations. With decades
of managing the Fulbright grants and observing student exchanges administered by other
institutions, we are aware of the increasing challenges at the core of any exchange – the
students.

By their nature, higher education institutions are a big ‘salad bowl’ of people with different
talents, diverse cultures, and multi-generations. They are worlds within our world. Placing
students across institutions and countries will leave them in complex layers of different
cultures. Although we are more connected today through technological advancement and
the globalization process, being directly exposed to diverse cultures without proper guidance
could become terrifying or meaningless, thus making exchange programs unsuccessful.
In administering an exchange program, higher education institutions tend to pay much
attention to the ‘program’ itself, e.g. timeline, budget, criteria of the candidates, visa
procedure, etc. Facilities also rank highly on the priority list and so it is quite common for
universities to promote their world-class dormitories or libraries as part of the advantages to
attract exchange students. Such physical environment is important. Yet, it is much more
crucial for exchange administrations to focus on ‘students’ themselves who are, in fact, the
targets, beneficiaries, and promoters of educational exchanges. By having a student focus,
we urge universities to consider their actual needs and nature when designing and
managing the exchanges. These, we believe, matter most.
Millennials, not Mars
Ironically, student exchange programs are designed and run by administrators or lecturers
who are not the ones to participate in the programs, not to mention have different values and
needs than other generations. They are mostly Boomers (those born around 1945-1946)
and the Xers (around 1965-1978), who make efforts to provide the best program for the M
(those born after 1979). Therefore, student exchanges are based on the judgments and
standards of older generations, which could work very well…some twenty years ago.
The M, however, are not totally from Mars. In fact, they are the result of an evolution of their
older generations with some similar characteristics. It could be argued that the M inherit the
can-do attitude of Veterans, the teamwork spirit of Boomers, and the technological savvy of
Xers. Nonetheless, they seem to accelerate these characteristics to 3 the extent that the
other generations could really feel uncomfortable.
From such mild negative feelings, misperception, and misunderstanding resulting from
generation gaps could develop into a threat and, to be more relevant, a failure factor for
student exchange. In managing the exchange program, again, we must first try to be in our
students’ shoes.

The M-Factor and the Miscellaneous (Gender)
Literature reviews and Fulbright Thailand’s experiences have pinpointed six characteristics
of the M that call for serious consideration by all those dealing with them and future
generations to come. The following are discussed here as we have found them to be our
rising challenges that are becoming more and more relevant to student exchange programs.
Pampered
Growing up in a time of high security and safety concerns, the M, regardless of how old they
are and what status they assume, are closely supervised and very protected by their
Boomer and Xer parents.4 Too frequently at Fulbright Thailand we receive calls or
unexpected visits from parents, who want to intervene in our working processes, simply to
‘ask something about my kid’. Obviously, because the M are pampered and sheltered, they
somehow lose skills for conflict resolution. Their lives are so directed and structured that
they could feel so lost if they are not provided enough information in advance. As a result,
some cannot even ‘feed’ themselves because they are very much used to being fed!

Entitlement

Evidently, the M have been raised to believe they are special and important people, which
results in their continued craving for attention. Every step of their life 5 is celebrated with a
belief that “the results don’t matter, as long as you did your best”.6 There is no surprise that,
to the older generations, the M are spoiled and always think they can do more than they
actually can. In other words, they have unrealistically high expectations and a strong sense
of entitlement. It is always the case, in which Fulbright grantees or even candidates are
more concerned about their ‘rights’ than their responsibilities.
Speed
Born with Google, Facebook, and many other high-tech innovations, the M adopt technology
naturally and use it to speed up life. They value efficiency and are not limited by the so
called ‘appropriateness’, which can make them look impolite (e.g. texting during a
conference, wearing jeans for an interview), impatient (regardless of the real necessity, they
want everything done now!) and careless in tending to details (focus more on speed rather
than quality of work).7 They are multi-taskers who proudly complete different assignments
within a minute, leaving us at the Fulbright office repeatedly spending hours or days
correcting them.
Social Networking
For the M, technology is about connecting.8 Cell phones, iPhones, and iPads are survival
tools for them to get connected anywhere anytime. They are active networkers through
social media such as Facebook and Twitter in a way that exceeds the six degrees of
separation idea.9 Inside cyberspace, they can do anything within a blink of an eye e.g.
updating news, sending/receiving messages, sharing opinions, and even getting their work
done. Facebook, for Fulbright Thailand, has become an effective tool in reaching long lost/
silent grantees/alumni and in passing along messages to our network. Still, it is a surprise
that sometimes we receive formal messages through Facebook.

Teamwork
More than other generations, the M tend to be group-oriented, working well as a team. When
given an assignment, they naturally delegate jobs among themselves, based on individual
specific skills and knowledge.10 Obviously, since the M are natural collaborators, they work
faster and more effectively as a team. On the flip side, they would easily hand their own jobs
off so that they could fully focus their talents to something else.11 At Fulbright Thailand, we,
nonetheless, find it very effective to ‘subcontract’ our young grantees to organize parts of our
activities such as study visits, community services, and orientation sessions for the next
batch.
Gender at Will
Along with increasing social openness, the M enjoy freedom of their sexual orientation.
LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning) have been much more
common but are rarely considered by educational institution policy makers. To the M, the
freedom to express their gender and sexuality is another choice of personal preference,
similar to their choice of political party. It is not a crime and is definitely a right. This concept
of thinking is evidently too advanced for older generations and could lead to extreme
reactions. Regardless of increasing LGBTQ-related businesses, Thai society remains
reserved in regard to LGBTQ, particularly in the academic realm. When matching Fulbright
American grantees with Thai provincial schools, we have to consider this factor seriously. It
is not only a matter of school environment but also the community attitude that affect the
lives of the grantees. Likewise, when sending our students to the United States, we do need
to know the nature of the respective communities to ensure that our students will learn how
to behave properly.

These characteristics of the M, with interrelated strengths and weaknesses, give us clues
about not only the needs and the lifestyles of our students, but also the betterment of our
exchange program management.

Dealing with the Millennials: Fulbright Stories
At least two out of Fulbright Thailand’s five core programs target the M,12 e.g. the Open
Competition program (OC) for Thai students to study for master’s degrees in the U.S. and
the English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) program for recent American graduates to teach
English in Thai provinces for one full academic year. Having been in close contact with them
as candidates, grantees, and alumni, we experience countless cases, both positive and
negative, relevant to the aforesaid characteristics of the M. We try to understand their nature
and needs while constantly adjusting our grant management to tackle their challenges and,
at the same time, utilize their strengths. The following are some management mechanisms
we have found very effective.
Cross-culture Focus
Managing M exchange means managing at least two interrelated layers of cross cultures:
those between students and staff/administrators (cross-generation), and those between host
and home countries.
Cross-cultural understanding is, in fact, the founding principle and objective of the Fulbright
Program and became Fulbright Thailand’s embedded vision, missions, and highlight of the
Ten-year Framework (2010-2020). Emphasis is placed on self-understanding and crosscultural
interactions. Through friendly relationship and trust building, outreach activities have
served well as means to promote understanding of one’s own root and context.13 Grantees
can better share and learn from differences in a critical and constructive way when they
have increased appreciation of their own countries and cultures. Consequently, discussions
over host and home countries will become even more meaningful.14 Through cross-program
activities encouraging interactions among Thai and American Fulbrighters, grantees as well
as staff, they are able to learn how they themselves and others develop their intercultural
capabilities, and what management would best meet requirements of each group. A comfort
zone is then formed for all generations and nations within the Fulbright family. Indeed, crosscultural learning is a continuous process and cases are recorded for sharing and analytical
discussions.
Orientation
Different grants have different objectives and conditions thus requiring different kinds of
orientation. For the OCs and the ETAs, however, they receive orientation with a similar
broad structure including ‘must know’ and ‘should know’ issues that combine facts and
experiences. In addition to necessary information on grant administration such as financial
and visa issues, they are provided with tips for maintaining happiness and healthy living in
the host country. The tips vary from current political and economic issues, cross-cultural
management, art appreciation to stress management. The orientation is complemented by
informal/optional activities such as study visits, special talks by renowned guest speakers,
and community services to enrich their self-development while nurturing their sense of social
responsibility as a privileged few.
Tailored-made activities are also organized for various grant programs with different needs.
ETAs, the inbound grantees, benefit from a homestay opportunity plus practical teaching to
get to know a bit more about Thai classes and students while Thai school administrators, the
outbound grantees, are offered sessions to sharpen their presentation skills plus report
writing tips. All along, the emphasis is, certainly, made on an equal balance of requirements
and entitlements.

‘Extracurricular’ Activities
Various non-grant activities are organized in semi-structured style, with a group of grantees
taking charge of some assignments under our guidance and support. For example, OCs are
requested to team up for activities under the annual study visit “Knowing Our Own Roots”
while ETAs are to develop some orientation sessions for their successors and help with
community services every Thanksgiving Day. Group assignments are very successful in
tailoring activities to their needs and fostering close relationships among them. Obviously,
such activities benefit greatly from their teamwork, technological skills, and speedy actions.
In addition to group assignments, grantees and alumni are encouraged to volunteer for tasks
at our Fulbright office, such as graphic designing, article/news writing, being guest speakers,
and pre-screening grant applications. As a Foundation with most of the funding going to
grant administration, volunteers are an asset. The volunteering activities help us maintain
close contacts with grantees/alumni and provide them opportunities to ‘give back’ whether to
us or to the community (through knowledge sharing activities we organize).
Networking
Our attempt to expand and fortify the Fulbright Thailand network is greatly promoted by the
advancement of technologies. Once becoming Fulbrighters, grantees are encouraged to
keep close and active communication with their own batch and with us through e-group,
Facebook and informal gatherings. We also link them up with grantees, both Thais and
Americans, from other grant programs and alumni, particularly those in similar fields, region,
institution, etc. so that they receive support from their peers and their senior Fulbrighters
especially during their grant period. At the same time, experience sharing from alumni helps
our grantees be more realistic about their expectations, have some guidelines of what to
look for during their grant period, and develop a support network in the country.
Open Communication
At Fulbright Thailand, we cultivate family culture and therefore treat our grantees/alumni as
family who are always welcome to the office, physically and virtually. They are encouraged
to call, email, Facebook, Skype, or write us about anything from grant-related matters to
their life progress, their impressions, their personal problems, and even gossip. Often time, it
is we who initiate the communication for them to feel more comfortable and get to know
more of each other. Then, they start converse among themselves. Every message gets an
immediate response even during the weekends and holidays considering their need for
attention and periodic guidance.
On our end, we follow up with them on their safety and well-being. In times of crisis such as
natural disaster and political riots, we call, Skype, or use any other possible means to
connect with them, making sure they are safe and do not feel threatened. In return, such
family culture helps encourage them to keep close and open communication with us. Many
even said they feel comfortable with us and can be their ‘true’ selves. The challenge is to
balance between ‘open communication’ and ‘time management’ as the whole process is time
consuming and requires team members with a great sense of service and ‘Thai hearts’.

People-to-People Contacts: Policy Makers, Staff and Students
With the changing of students’ needs and characteristics, higher education institutions
cannot manage student exchanges the same way they did decades ago if they still wish to
join the internationalization movement. Before moving forward in advancing questions such
as “How can we help our students gain as much as possible from their exchange program?”,
“How can the institution benefit from the pool of exchange students, both inbound and
outbound?” or “How can we ensure that our student exchanges are not for just individuals
and a one-shot event?”, we propose higher education institutions step back a little to the very basic success factor of student exchanges which is normally overlooked – the
understanding and experiences of policy makers and staff members.
Both groups, though not the subject of student exchanges, are major driving forces for the
success and effectiveness of the internationalization process. Since our inception in 1950,
we have been in contact with senior administrators and staff members of different exchange
programs from other institutions and are certain that they are the ones who determine the
future of student exchanges. Both administrators and staff are generally composed of people
from different generations. Frequently decisions concerning the exchanges are rarely
dependent on the M. A good number of them have no or minimal direct exchange
experiences. These are, in fact, not serious challenges as knowledge can possibly be
gained and learning shared. The real challenge is achieving understanding and openmindedness
of the policy makers and staff members. These key people need to keep pace
with the changing needs and requirements of the M in order for this generation to be guided
properly and therefore gain the self-assessment necessary for maximum learning and
sharing.

If policy makers and staff members do not try to understand different nature and needs of
the students, they will not be able to design and manage exchange programs appropriately
and effectively in order to create environments conducive to the learning of all concerned.

We, therefore, insist that higher education institutions encourage linkages of their policy
makers, staff members, and students, making student exchanges not just a travel
opportunity but a meaningful tool for students to learn about their own selves, to share their
talents and views, and to enhance the learning and sharing process that will benefit most in
the educational institution community.

Fuel Exchanges to Full Power
Having synthesized our accumulated experiences, we consider the following key to getting
exchanges started with full power.
On Mentality
Get started through the understanding by the policy makers and staff that the M have
changed and that management needs to be done in a far different way from what has been
done in the past. The Thai cultural traditions of following top down instructions out of respect
for seniority and authority only lessens the effectiveness of the exchange programs. Openmindedness to the voices and changing needs of students will make the exchange program
management more relevant and effective.
Take cross-cultural issues seriously as they directly affect the means and the ends of
student exchanges. Being culturally sensitive based on understanding and openmindedness
will enhance our own learning for the sake of our students and faculty. Indeed,
cross-cultural understanding based on true open-mindedness is a pre-requisite for being
global citizens, a much broader scope than simply being ASEANers.
Equally significant, establish a good balance between “entitlement” and “responsibility
in order to make the student exchange a meaningful personal development process as well
as allowing your office to be much more valuable than a service center.
On Actions
Manage to become a ‘C’ generation (Connected), by using the digital tools to which the M
group has been attached including everything from Facebook, and Twitter to Instagram and
Pinterest. By doing so, the benefits for the more senior generations will be to realize the M
changes better while getting closer to them in order to give proper support as needed since this generation seems to reveal their feelings and frustration to the social networking world
with ease. It is a beneficial opportunity to jump in as necessary.
Engage students in ‘must attend’ and ‘should attend’ activities while allowing room for them
to initiate and take lead in the planning while senior administrators and staff members render
support and help capture knowledge and experiences. Interview sessions could also be
open to allow M participation as they know their generation better in various ways.

Remember that “one size fits all” support does not work for different student exchange
programs. Though sharing some common core issues, especially logistics like passport, visa
and safety concerns, are vital, orientation and extra-curricular activities must be managed
differently to meet the different types of exchanges, national and local contexts, and
targeted generations.

Lastly, value the stock of experiences in sharing forums that can be recorded as ready
reference and more importantly, utilized to maximize benefits for all stakeholders in the
exchange and university system. This in turn will help the host and home institutions to
improve or innovate programs that can best meet the objectives of the exchanges and the
changing nature of our younger generations.

To gain maximum benefits from energy, efforts, academic and psychological investment we
have exerted while making sure that the objectives of our exchanges are met to
internationalize our own community, each higher education institution needs to review its
own policies and actions in order to formulate appropriate strategies to multiply desirable
outcomes from individual students and the overall investment.

Still not sure where to start? Ask your M Gen!

 

Paper presented at the First Fulbright Internationalization Forum (FIF), November 15, 2012 1 at Pullman Hotel, Bangkok. Thanks to Ms. Gracie Raver (2011 Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) and Fulbright Temporary Program Coordinator) for editing the paper.
2 Gu Qing. (2012).The Impact of study abroad on the student self in University World News Global Edition. Issue 26. Available at www.universityworldnews.com [accessed 11/20/2012]

3 Coates, Julie. (2011). Generational Learning Style. in Generation Y- The Millennial Generation. Available at
www2.honolulu.hawaii.edu/facdev/guidebk/teachtip/GenY.htm [accessed 9/ 28/2011]

4 Ibid and Howe, Neil and Strauss, William. Characteristics of the Millennial Generation. Available at www.lifecourse.com [accessed 9/28/2011]
5 Ibid

6 Lancaster, Lynne C. and Stillman, David. (2010). The M – factor: How the Millennial Generation is Rocking the Workplace. New York. HarperCollins Publisher.
7 Ibid

8 Ibid

9 The six degrees of separation was initiated in 1929 by Hungarian auther Frigyes Karinthy 9 who believed that everyone is on average approximately six steps away through introduction from other person in the world. In other words, we are in a chain of a friend of a friend in which we could be connected to other people in six steps or fewer. More information at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_degrees_of_separation [accessed 10/14/2011]
10 Howe, Neil and Strauss, William. Characteristics of the Millennial Generation. Available at
www.lifecourse.com [accessed 9/28/2011] and Thielfoldt, Diane and Scheef, Devon. Generation X and the Millennials: What You Need to Know About Mentoring the New Generations at
http://apps.americanbar.org/lpm/articles/mgt08044.html [accessed 9/ 28/2011]
11 Lancaster, Lynne C. and Stillman, David. (2010). The M – factor: How the Millennial Generation is Rocking the Workplace. New York. HarperCollins Publisher.
12 There are 21 grant programs administered by Fulbright Thailand with various groups of applicants. More details at www.fulbrightthai.org
13 For example, Fulbright Thailand organized an annual study visit “Knowing Our Roots” in Chiang Mai introducing Thai grantees to Thai cultural heritage and challenges with first-hand experiences.
14 To foster cross-cultural understanding, we believe we must look at the broad picture and how we exist in different layers of cultural context through the inside-out and outside-in analysis. Then, we can see the real values of our own culture as well as complementary and conflicting ideas. In this manner, diversity helps promote personal growth as it challenges any stereotyped preconception, open our horizons, and encourage critical thinking. With these, we can adopt and adapt ourselves appropriately and effectively.
Based on this concept, the Cultural Diversity Capsule (CDC Model) was developed by a group of Thai Fulbright Alumni and Fulbright Thailand in 2006 and used as a tool to promote cross-cultural understanding among Fulbright grantees.



  • One Response

    1. Jack

      10|Jul|2015 1

      An interesting and well-written article. It filled a gap in my education by introduction the M generation in all its complexity. Thank you! Hope to see other articles by these scholars.
      Best, Jack


    Leave a reply

By Peter J. Foley, Ed.D

A number of our readers did not agree that China is increasingly influential in Thai education. There was also some objection to Student Centered Learning Thailand having a story about Chinese education as a feature article. No doubt these same readers will be chagrined to see a follow up article on Chinese education and this follow up editorial on Chinese soft power as exercised on Thai education.

After spending the last three months as a full time Chinese language student at Yunnan University, I eye-witnessed the new Chinese influence on Thai youth. Large groups of Thais were taking intensive Chinese language and culture courses in Kunming. Most of the Thai students I talked to were receiving scholarships from the Chinese government. The handful of Thai and Lao students I am in contact with daily are industrious students who, after only a year of study, already can read and write Chinese on a level normally requiring twice that time. One large group of young Thai students all came from Phyket. They all hoped for jobs in the booming tourist industry on the island.

Most of the Thai students I talked with saw the learning of Chinese as a means to their future livelihoods. It is not surprising that the new, profound influence on Thai youth is tied to economics. The economic benefits of China recently becoming the number one country in terms of numbers of tourists coming to Thailand has been dramatic. And the impact of the current huge number of Chinese tourists is having a significant influence in helping the Thai economy remain stable. For illustration the Chinese News website states that in 2014 there were 5.3 million tourists from mainland China that visited Thailand. These Chinese tourists brought in 702 billion Thai baht. The numbers of Chinese tourists have been expanding dramatically since 2009 when only .8 million Chinese tourists came to Thailand for a visit and brought only 20 billion baht into the country.

With this important economic influence, Chinese political influence is also increasingly felt. China’s need for friends in ASEAN is especially acute at this time when there is increasing enmity toward China on the part of the Philippines and Vietnam over territorial claims in the South China Seas. It is perhaps not an accident that Thai, Laos and Cambodian students are being courted to come to China to study and receive scholarships.

The influence of China on Thai education will continue to increase as long as large numbers of Thai students come to China to study and learn Chinese and the Chinese culture. It is also noteworthy that Chinese education is becoming more and more progressive. For example, in my classes at Yunnan University many of the teachers are using student centered learning techniques in the classroom, that is , they are involving the students in the day to day learning exercises. This is a far cry from Chinese recent past where, like Thailand, rote learning was the principal vehicle of classroom learning. If the trend in China to provide a more progressive education experience continues the influence on Thailand is likely to spill over.

By Peter J. Foley, Ed.D., editor-in-chief

Long and close ally to the U.S.A., Thailand is quickly becoming more neutral in global politics. Despite the United States Government‘s declared foreign policy of a pivot back to Asia, there is hardly a better example of the shift in super power influence than that taking place in Thailand. While China is enjoying a new eminence, the American influence is declining.

Student Centered Learning Thailand (SCLThailand) believes China’s influence on Thai education comes at a critical time and China’s influence and aid may help turn around the alarming and continuing erosion of Thai education. Sanitsuda Ekachai describes this decline in her March 17, 2015 Bangkok Post opinion entitled “Bigwigs Try to Pass the Buck on Failing Schools.” She points out that “Thai students consistently fail in both national and international tests. Author Khun Sanitsuda points an accusing finger at the Thai Ministry of Education citing its failure to reform despite receiving 24% of the national budget, making the Thai MoE the “second richest Ministry of Education in the world.”

On university campuses throughout the Thai Kingdom Chinese influence is seen and felt through 12 Confucius Centers and 11 Confucian classrooms(as of 2012) . These Chinese language and cultural centers are jointly run Thai-Chinese NGOs but supported by both governments. These Chinese classrooms welcome 7,000 Chinese volunteers who teach Chinese language and culture, more than any other South East Asian country. These centers of Chinese learning are providing a language and cultural platform for future Thai business and professional persons to interact in the future with Chinese business and academic partners.

The Chinese government has made a decision to concentrate its soft power on Thailand not only because it is a pivotal ASEAN country, but also because of the natural amity with China. Thailand, after all, is the only country in Asia to have successfully assimilated a large Chinese population. An argument can be made, albeit a controversial one, that if the large assimilated Chinese population was not a high proportion of the largest cities in Thailand the current dismal overall education student performance would be a disaster if the big city higher scores of the Chinese-Thai mixed ancestry were excluded. In short, the difference in test scores between the rural areas and the urban areas is significantly higher in urban areas.

Nevertheless, some credit should be given to successive Thai governments in establishing a quota system that gives rural students a chance to attend universities even if their scores cannot compete with their urban counterparts. But really the die is already cast in terms of inequality once a student gets to university since the urban students has, in general, been exposed to better teaching and therefore a better education.

In addition to the Confucian Centers and Classrooms, the other major arm of Chinese soft power is the exchange programs under the tutelage of the China Scholarship Council ( CSC) . These scholarships are given to Thai students to study Chinese language and culture in China. Thailand ranks a surprising fourth in students going to China to study after Korea, the USA and Japan.

China is also influencing Thai education by example. Shanghai student scores on international tests now rival traditional regional education high academic performers, Singaporean students. No wonder, since China has been studying Singapore business and education paradigms for over two decades and followed this small country’s big footsteps. A major key to country academic success is an investment in teachers, something both Singapore and China are paying attention to. So far Thailand has failed to make its ample budget provide the proper training and support for its teachers.

The show piece of China’s soft power is the China Cultural Center in Bangkok, covering 6,400 meters of space and located in front of the Chinese Embassy, not far from the Thai Cultural Center. Chinese art and dance are among the features to be found there. The Center is an apt symbol for the dramatic presence of China as a new, major soft power. Thailand is a favored beneficiary.

The future of Thailand will depend on how well its work force is educated and thus able to compete in the market place with other countries. We can only hope that China will continue to use its soft power to improve the education atmosphere and resources in Thailand. The more other countries are willing to invest their soft power to help Thailand and its education system the better. The influence on Thailand can work in interesting ways. For example, Teach for America, was started to address the lack of good teachers in economically deprived areas of the U.S.A. Talented, top college students volunteers were recruited to be trained and to teach at these poorer schools. From the Teach For America model, the Chinese adapted the model to China and it was successful. Now Teach for China has brought the program to Chulalonghorn  University and started Teach for Thailand. Importantly, the teacher training offered by Teach for America, Teach for China and Teach for Thailand emphasizes student centered learning.

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