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


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.

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.



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. The Chinese adapted the Teach For America 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.



  • 3 Responses

    1. Thein Thein Htay

      21|Mar|2015 1

      Thank you so much for giving us the logic of Teach for America, followed by Teach for China and now Teach for Thailand. Very inspiring and thought-provoking message and I will also be dreaming for Teach for Myanmar, where we are facing with the same problems. Student centered learning in our setting seems much easier to say than done while the faculty generations themselves have no idea what does it mean. Delighted to learn more on the adaptability into the existing system.

    2. Adam Bodley

      23|Mar|2015 2

      An interesting piece, thanks. As a teacher in an English Program in Bangkok, I wonder if you have any insights regarding the future of EPs in Thailand in relation to the points made about China’s growing influence in Thailand?

    3. Ajarn Bandhit Samtalee

      28|Mar|2015 3

      Hopefully Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha would consider this as one of the most important issues in Thailand.


    Leave a reply


Jian Shi – Xin Wang[1]

 

China now is undergoing speedy changes, and, along with the changes, the progress and development in its higher education is playing a critical role. The changes and progress of Chinese higher education could also reflect exactly the fundamental changes this country has been going through in different historical periods. The higher education in the modern sense in China has only a short history, less than120 years, compared with the higher education in the West. Its role-play, however, has great impact at every step of China’s development. With the history of Sichuan University, one of the leading prestigious universities in Southwest China and in the country, we could have a better understanding of the changes, ups and downs, of Chinese higher education.

Education in China has its unique long history, especially those private schools, normally with a very limited number of students taught by a master, but the modern-sense university only came into being in about one century ago. The forerunners of higher education established in 1890s were the present Tianjin University, Jiaotong University, Peking University and Sichuan University (1896). The birth of public university came in the intellectual historical background of saving the country through education, especially for the reformers who promoted the way, and some earlier history could be traced to Jingshi Tongwen Guan in 1862 and Jingshi Daxue Tang in 1898. Cai Yuanpei would, as the General Director of Education in 1912, be the remembered pioneering intellectual person in Chinese public education. In early 1900s China had its system of colleges and universities quickly established, and as a complement some colleges, especially those of western medicine, were set up by European and North American missionaries. Namely, Sichuan University at present is actually coming from three different historical backgrounds, former Sichuan University (1896), Chengdu University of Science and Technology (1952) and West China University of Medical Science (1910 by missionaries).

 

ChineseUniGate2 ChineseUniGate1

 

 

 

 

 

ChineseUniGateSichuan

ChineseUniGate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Photos of the traditional gates and buildings of the three universities)

 

In the first half of the 20th century, both the public and private universities and colleges in China had been active frontier in the New Culture Movement in since 1910s, introducing and translating new and fresh ideas into China, and encouraging young students to be active in taking social responsibilities and later on in the War of Resistance against Japan. Then in 1949 when Chinese Communist Party took power and the People’s Republic of China was founded, all the universities and colleges were nationalized except a few private colleges such as Lingnan College left the Mainland for Hong Kong. In1952 a reorganization of higher education system in China was carried out along the European and then former Soviet Union lines with a focus on specialized training to meet the needs of the quick industrial and social development in the country. The specialized universities and colleges were run by different government ministries in addition to the Ministry of Education. West China University of Medical Science was an example.

At the early stage of New China, the government’s priority in education was the anti-illiteracy education. In early 1950s only less than 20% of the school age kids could go to school for education, and over 80% of the population were illiterate. If compared with the statistics in 2011, by the year of 2011 all the kinds in China have the 9-year compulsory education, and the illiterate population of the young and middle age were reduced to 1.08%. With this kind of changes, the demanding for higher education has been increasing quickly. But in the first three decades since the founding of P.R. China, the economic condition of the country largely decided the government investment, both from the central and local governments, in public schools and universities and colleges, which was very limited, if we consider the large population, high illiteracy rate and poverty in the 1950s, the natural and man-made disasters in 1960s and early 1970s, which held back the development of education in this country , even the universities and colleges were partly reopened with the students coming from workers, peasants and soldiers since 1972.

The restoring and normalization of higher education after the decade-long of Culture Revolution came in 1977 when the national college entrance examination system was reinstituted, and the Chinese higher education shifted from red (political criteria) to expert (academic achievement). Then we see a quick expanding of the university enrollment from 1978, when only 2.7% gross rate of the graduating high school students could get into universities, to 2013 when about 40% gross rate of the students could have their higher education. In some coastal areas and Beijing and Shanghai their figures are even higher. For the first time the Chinese higher education becomes a socially focused area, and the students and their families shift their attention from having opportunity to go to university to attending universities of good quality. Before the reform, the students were assigned to specific majors and institutions by the government and universities based on their examination scores, and the graduates were assigned to a life-long job position based on their academic performance in school.

Deng Xiaoping at the time acknowledged that China was behind the West by 100 years and the way to catch up was through education and open-door policies. For the first time, educators, professors and scientists were sent abroad by thousands to the developed countries in Europe, America, Canada, Australia and Japan. They had one to three years there for learning and training, and some of them had their master or doctoral degrees from the universities abroad. This bridged the gap in Chinese higher education, since its well-trained senior faculties were mainly coming back to China in early 1950s or former Soviet Union trained or self-trained as well. Since then government-supported visiting scholars and students’ studying abroad has been a national strategy to upgrade the higher education and science research and narrow down the gap between China and the developed countries. And in addition to that, the country in late 1990s opened up the self-financed students’ studying abroad, and since 2000 more and more families even send their talented kids abroad at high school or right after their high school. At a time the going-out and coming-back students and scholars were not even, but now the balance is almost achieved, seeing more students and scholars coming back home for better job opportunities or working environment. This open-door and studying abroad policy really gives Chinese higher education a great leap forward.

Another major reform in 1990s was tuition fee and job market. For decades the universities in China were tuition free, and the students were government supported, and they need not worry about their jobs. In 1990s with the reform, the students have to pay their tuition fee and accommodation annually, at a controlled rate that is not changed for decade, and the government support changes to scholarship to those who perform well in learning and to those who are in poverty. The jobs that were used to be assigned to the graduates now were competed for by the students with their talent and ability in the job market. And the college students’ unemployment upon their graduation becomes a social issue now that draws more and more attention from the governments both central and local. The universities also put their effort to help their graduates to have jobs and even to create opportunities for their students to create job opportunities by financing their practice with their initial innovative ideas.

With the increasing demanding for higher education from the society and the expanding of the enrollment in 8 years since 1994 there had been a reform and reshape of the universities and colleges, and at the same time the private or enterprise sectors started to step in for higher education. Some of the universities in various provincial capital cities and regions merged together into the comprehensive giant universities, and most of the universities had their campuses enlarged in double or even in triple sizes. Sichuan University was then the leading one in the merge, with the former Sichuan University of arts and science merged with Chengdu University of Science and Technology in engineering in 1994 and later further merged with West China University of Medical Science and its four affiliated hospitals in 2000. Then Sichuan University became one of the biggest universities with Jilin University, Shandong University and Zhejiang University in China. It has three major campuses with 30 schools in arts and science, engineering and medical science. Sichuan University now runs 133 undergraduate programs, 443 master programs and 349 doctoral programs with about 1370 professors among 4882 teachers, about 40,000 undergraduate students, over 20,000 graduate students and over 2000 international students. From this size one can imagine the quick increase of the higher education of China in its enrollment, and China has shifted in a short time from elite education to mass education. This explains well the quick increase of the gross enrollment from 7% of 1998 to 15% of 2002 and then to 26.9% of 2012, and now this figure is over 30%. The central government’s investment in education in China in this period has also highly increased from 2.7% of GDP in 2002 to 4% of GDP in 2010. By the year of 2012, the total number of universities, colleges and vocational colleges jumped up to over 2700, and among them 1024 were four-year undergraduate program universities, and this number is over 1200 by the end of 2014.

With the quick development and enlargement, China’s higher education is big or huge in scale but still weak in strength. To catch up with the international higher education level, Chinese government has also launched several specially financed projects, namely, “211” University Enhancing Project (100 universities in this project), “985” World-Level University Project (39 universities in this project) and “One-thousand Leading Scholar Project” (to attract Chinese oversea scholars to come back to the universities and research institutes), “One-thousand Young Scholar Project” (to attract the young Chinese oversea PH.Ds to come back to the universities and research institutes and enterprises), and “2011 Research Collaborating Project” (to encourage the universities and institutes to bring together the research resources in the major front academic research areas). On the one hand, Chinese central government and local government give their support to the speedy development of higher education, and on the other hand, more attention is given to the quality control, particularly for the undergraduate education. The teaching methodologies and teacher’s training are stressed. In 2005 there was a nationwide undergraduate program quality-control survey and on-campus inspection. The quality-control now at each school is the priority in teaching work in the undergraduate programs. The classroom teaching is shifting from teacher-centered to student-centered and then to learning centered, in which the students are not offered the “fish” but trained in skills about how “to fish”. Researches are carried out on the learning habits of post 1990s younger generation at the campus, the students are encouraged to have more hand-on practice in learning, and they are encouraged to have their creative and original abilities developed. More attention is given to the students’ ability to learn, ability to innovate and create, and the ability to articulate. In the classrooms less full-time lectures are conducted, and more chances to have the students’ voices and ideas heard. General cultivation in liberal arts, hand-on skill training in various academic majors and innovative and creative talent exploring in and out classroom are the new tendencies in undergraduate education at almost all the campuses of Chinese universities.

To match up with the speedy progress of its economy and the quick changes in social and cultural domains, China’s higher education is now moving on at a faster speed and is trying with the effort to meet the international higher education standards, there is still a long way to go. With the reform of the National College Entrance Examination and with the more independent administrative power for the universities and colleges, we could expect still deeper and quicker changes to come in next five years.

 

References:

1.       《国家中长期教育改革和发展规划纲要(2010-2020)》[Z]. 北京:人民出版社,2010. (The Outline of China’s National Plan for Medium and Long-term Education Reform and Development (2010-2020).

2.       教育部, 2012, “2012教育统计数据”[OL]. (Education Statistic Data of 2012, MOE).

3.       刘延东.“在世界语言大会开幕式上的致辞”[R]. 2014年6月5日,苏州. (“The Opening Remark at the World Language Conference by Vice Premier Liu Yandong”).

4.       四川大学校网 http://www.scu.edu.cn/

5.       四川大学档案馆 http://archives.scu.edu.cn/

6.       《中共中央关于进一步深化改革的重大决定》[Z]. (CCP’s document of important decisions for further deepening reform).

[1] Jian Shi, Professor of English at English Department of Sichuan University, Ph.D. from Lehigh University, U.S.A. and Xin Wang, Professor of English, Chairperson of English Department of Sichuan University, Ph.D. from Sichuan University, China.



  • 2 Responses

    1. lynda

      02|Feb|2015 1

      Thank you for sharing this. It is interesting to understand a little of the background to higher education. The rate of change is really going to impact the future developments.

    2. Jack

      02|Feb|2015 2

      This was an interesting story of the development of Chinese education. That there was
      wide spread illiteracy throughout China in the first half of the 20th century was a surprise.
      China has certainly come a long way. Thank you to Professor Shi Jian and his colleague for presenting such a clear picture of how China has progressed in the field of education.
      Best wishes,
      Jack


    Leave a reply


By Peter J. Foley, Editor-in-Chief

 

Since its declared policy in 1999 to move towards a more student centered system of public education, progress has been slow, especially in rural schools. How can more progress be made in changing teachers’ attitudes and approaches to teaching?

 

Student Centered Learning Thailand, believes that an important part of the answer lies in how teachers are trained at the teacher training colleges in Thailand. Students studying to be teachers in Thailand should receive a thorough grounding in what modern research has discovered about how we learn, then how to apply these findings in a classroom, including best student centered teaching practices. Anecdotal evidence points to large numbers of teachers just entering the classroom who are poorly equipped to teach students to be critical thinkers and problem solvers, keystones of student centered learning. It would be a valuable service to the Thai nation for research to be done on just how much teaching knowledge a new teachers college graduate possesses.

 

One focus of the study might be the student’s knowledge of how people learn. Another part of such a study might be a new teachers college graduate’s understanding and knowledge of the contributions of great educational thinkers from the dawn of civilization starting with Confucius and Socrates through to the beginning of modern times with King Chulalonghorn and Maria Montessori down to the current day thinkers , King Bhumibol Adulyadej and John Dewey.

 

Students should be equipped at the end of their teacher training to answer questions such as: how do we get students to solve problems on their own or in groups with their peers? How do we conduct classes so that individual students’ learning needs are met; where students learn at their own pace; and where learning is individualized rather than standardized?

 

Over the past two decades research has debunked the notion that rote learning is an effective method of learning. We now know that only when learners are actively thinking out ideas in a personalized manner does real understanding happen.

 

So why is so much rote learning still going on in Thai classrooms? We at Student Centered Learning Thailand think that one of the major reasons is linked to the way new teachers are trained. Would the Ministry of Education consider researching this question?

 



  • 2 Responses

    1. lynda

      20|Jan|2015 1

      Good Points.
      IT would be interesting to follow the project Teacher’s of Excellence that ran a few years ago, to see if the project teachers who participated were able to change their teaching and children’s learning or if timetable constraints, testing that was mandatory and resources available in their schools thwarted their enthusiasm for non-rote learning.

    2. Michel Thibeault

      30|Jan|2015 2

      While I fully agree with the main idea of the article I would like to point out that from a Buddhist perspective memorization is actually an extremely valuable tool. Monks devote a lot of time to it and with good reasons. I’m not taking about replacing critical thinking and true understanding with rote learning. I’m talking about using the skill to collect and keep the data needed to analyse events, thoughts and situations. We actually need this every day without realising it: from the doctor who can give a quick diagnostic from looking at a skin reaction to the teacher who must remember the details of every student’s profile in order to adapt his interventions on a daily basis. Wishing for progress we often tend to overlook what was valuable in the old way of doing things. Let’s not make this mistake again!


    Leave a reply


Op Ed December 2014

In the first 14 years of the 21st Century, has education changed to accommodate the new learning needs of the century?

Greg Cairnduff, M Ed, BA, Dip Ed, MACE, Deputy Managing Editor

14th December 2014

 

At the time of writing we are just 16 days away from the end of 2014, soon we will be into the 15th year of the century ….. How quickly time passes! In 2015 more than one sixth of the 21st Century will be part of history.

GregPictureFor educators, what is significant about this? In the future, educational historians looking at the first 15 years of this century and the last 5 or so years of the 20th Century will read much about what academics, teachers, economists and business people said and wrote about the essential skills needed by students for a successful and fulfilled life in the new era. A quick browse of the literature about curriculum, pedagogy and school leadership, published between 1995 and 2014, will quickly lead the reader of this literature to be able to compile a list of what skills, attitudes and attributes that seem to be common in the literature and is recommended for education in the 21st Century. As well a the hard copy based literature on the topic, there is a mass of digital information on web sites and blogs on the topic.

It could be said that the work of Student Centred Learning Thailand is also part of this mass of information. We were founded to support teachers in Thai schools in changing their pedagogies from content driven, teacher directed methodologies to the student centred practices that are more appropriate for the needs of current times. That is our mission.

When the educational history of the first part of this century is written, I am sure the historians will HangingOuthave no trouble discerning the common view that it was clear in the latter years of the 20th Century and the first years of the 21st that the research said quite clearly that teaching and learning in the new century would have to be different from what had been done in the 20th Century. Mainly because of the exponential expansion of Information and Digital technology.

Have you ever had a photographic drone flying in your vicinity? If you have, it’s a safe bet that you would not have had this happen to you 10 years ago.

Who would have ever imagined the non military impacts of such technology? The same could be said of so many of the new developments in digital and other technologies.

What will history say about the efforts of educators, schools and systems to take the advice given to meet the challenge of technology’s ubiquitous impact on daily life in the first 6th of the 21st Century?

As far as our target audience – Thai classroom teachers and school decision makers, are concerned the question needs to be asked, is there actually much change occurring in Thai schools? We would love to hear some Thai teachers’ views on this.

The social impacts of technology continue to have a huge influence on all facets of life as shown in the photographs below.

In the way we relate to each other.

 ModernAffair

 

 

 

 

How often to you see situations like these?

AroundTheTable

 

 

 

 

These effects are not limited to the Western world, nor are they limited by age or gender

OldFriends

Family life has changed in different periods throughout history, and it continues to change ….is it for the better?

 

 FamilyDinner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Has the meaning of the word friend been weakened by Facebook?

AwesomeIdea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I recently read a book called “A Simpler Time” by the Australian writer, Peter Fitzsimons[1]. In the book, he talked about growing up on the outskirts of Sydney where his father, a soldier in the Second World War, began a new life as a farmer in 1950s, doing the hard physical work of clearing the land and then farming it.

He told the story of family life in Australia in that period where the dinner table discussion, between members of a growing family would have been vibrant and educational as well for the growing children, participating in all sorts of discussions.

Nothing at all like the family dinner scene depicted above.

In this century, educators – teachers and parents, face challenges in educating their children which are different from those challenges faced by teachers and parents in previous generations.

The digital screen can be a powerful educator but, it can also be a harmful one. Parents of young children today are faced with the paradox of allowing their children to be “digital natives” and start using digital devices as soon a possible, while others resist this use of screens at a young age by limiting or refusing access to TV and other digital media – the paradox bring that the children can learn so much from this media, but they can also develop unhealthy dependence on such media at the expense of free play and interaction with others.

The 21st Century skills lists referred to above, commonly list the following skills and attributes as essential to the current century:

  • Critical thinking and problem solving
  • Effective oral and written communication
  • Initiative
  • Curiosity and imagination
  • Self management and self regulation
  • Vision
  • Hope, optimism and resilience
  • Grit [determination, perseverance]
  • Adaptability
  • Empathy
  • Environmental awareness
  • Collaboration

Below is a useful diagram on critical thinking that some out readers may not have seen.

This and other ideas for developing critical thinking can be found at https://www.mentoringminds.com/

PathToCriticalThinking

The book, “Making Thinking Visible: How to Promote Engagement, Understanding, and Independence for all Learners” by Ron Ritchhart, Mark Church, and Karin Morrison[2] is a highly influential work directly related to advising teachers on how to nurture the development of these skills.

This year, I have had the great pleasure of watching an outstanding Primary Year 2 teacher, use the techniques advocated in the book. I go into her class most days, what I see is that when questions are asked, by the teacher, or someone in the class, up go the hands and the responses invariably begin with I think ……

This shows that these children are on the road to developing their own critical thinking, and it shows these techniques can be developed at a young age

By starting these techniques early in their education, we are helping children develop habits of mind that enable them to think more deeply, to be better problem solvers problems and to develop their understanding. This teacher’s use of the Thinking Visible techniques has worked really well in just over four months.

Our feature article this month by Dr Don W Jordan and Ms Ellen Cornish is on questioning techniques, an aspect of pedagogy which is essential to the teaching of critical thinking.

Ellen and Don build on, and expand, previous work published by SCLT, with a focus on planning for questions in developing thinking for understanding. I thank them for their regular and practical articles for classroom teachers in Thailand.

Teachers will find their article helpful in appreciating the importance of planning for questions to be asked. As indicated in the Year 2 example above, this teacher has worked steadily and daily with her students in helping them to ask good questions and this is developing the way they view their lessons right across the curriculum.

On behalf of the SCLT team, I wish all of our readers a very happy festive season and I trust that the New Year brings each of you peace, happiness and professional fulfillment.

Warm regards

Greg Cairnduff,

Deputy Managing Editor

December, 2014                      Greg is Director of the Australian International School of Bangkok

[1] A Simpler Time, Fitzsimons, Peter, Harper Collins, Sydney, 2010

[2] Making Thinking Visible: How to Promote Engagement, Understanding, and Independence for all Learners” by Ron Ritchhart, Mark Church, Karin Morrison , Wiley and Sons, 2011

 



  • One Response

    1. jack O'Rielly

      20|Dec|2014 1

      A fine article that really hits the major themes of what should be the focus of Thai and western teachers in Thailand. Thank you!


    Leave a reply

Do You Understand?


DO YOU UNDERSTAND?

Ms Ellen Cornish and Dr Don Jordan

‘The biggest communication problem is we don’t listen to understand, we listen to reply’. (Source unknown)

How often have you given a lecture or lesson and checked for understanding during the session by asking: ‘Any questions?’, ‘Did you get that? ‘Does everybody understand? ‘Does that make sense? Teachers often allow one or two confident students who respond to such questions, to speak for the rest of the class, and accept these responses as evidence that the whole class has understood the concept or idea being developed by the teacher. The teacher will then make a decision about where to move to in the next part of the lesson or series of lessons.. As teachers, even if we select students at random to answer a question, we might select a student for which the question is either too easy or too hard.

We know that less confident students will sit quietly, but we don’t know whether they understand or not, or whether they are too shy to say anything in case they show their lack of understanding in front of their classmates.

Teachers rarely go into a lesson with a plan of the questions they might ask as part of the teaching and learning process, even though questioning and discussion are key aspects of good pedagogy.

Too often, classroom discussion only involves the most confident students, ignores the majority of those not volunteering to participate, and relies on prompts and questions that we don’t plan in advance.

Questions are an important way to check for understanding, so it is important to ensure that questions engage students in deeper thinking, not just prompts for them to recall information that they have read or have been told.

By planning questions, teachers can ensure they are tapping into deep issues of learning. One way to make a question suitable for all students is to ask the question at a number of different levels either orally or written. Well-crafted questions are an important way for teachers to determine what their students know, need to know and understand. [1]

One way to make certain that the questions we ask really engage students in creative and critical thinking is by developing questions that represent the range of knowledge that is taught in classrooms as well as the deeper understanding we are striving to achieve. The way to do this is to plan questions in advance.

Guiding questions to help teachers incorporate checking for understanding in their lesson planning include:

  • How do I provide opportunities in my classroom for students to ask questions?
  • How is discussion used in my classroom as a support for deeper understanding?
  • How will I find out what misconceptions or naïve assumptions my students have about the topic?
  • How do I know what my students understand?
  • What evidence will I accept for this understanding?
  • How will I use their understandings to plan future instruction?

 

There are numerous questioning techniques; the most relevant in any learning setting will depend on the purpose and context of the lesson.

Previous SCLT authors have outlined important techniques that engage students in critical thinking through deep questioning. [2] Melvin Freestone (2012) discusses generative, focus and explorative questions.

Generative questions are gateways to inquiry; focus questions shape learning and explorative questions direct learning. Each type of question has a particular value, role and function in learning. When they are used in combination, they become powerful and empowering beyond words.

By way of analogy – generative questions paint the big picture, focus questions provide the colour and texture, and explorative questions give the detail. An artist looking at or creating a work of art sees the overall picture at the same time as the detail and nuance. (Freestone 2012)

[3] Greg Cairnduff (2014) discusses ‘Five powerful questions a teacher can ask to promote student thinking in the classroom’.

‘Teachers would agree that for inquiry to be alive and well in a classroom, amongst other things, the teacher needs to be expert at asking strategic questions, and not only asking well-designed ones, but ones that will also lead students to ask questions of their own’.

Keeping It Simple

  1. What do you think?
  2. Why do you think that?
  3. How do you know this?
  4. Can you tell me more?
  5. What questions do you still have?

Provide time for them to think, before requiring students to answer.

Fisher and Freya (2007) suggest a series of question stems that require students to reflect on and to explain their understanding. Suggestions include:

  • How is_____________similar to / different from_____________?
  • What are the characteristics / parts of _____________?
  • In what other way might we show / illustrate _____________?
  • What is the big idea / key concept in_____________?
  • How does_____________relate to_______________?
  • Give an example of________________?
  • What is wrong with ________________?
  • What might you infer from________________?
  • What conclusions might be drawn from_______________?
  • What questions are we trying to answer? What problem are we trying to solve?
  • What are you assuming about________________?
  • What might happen if _________________?
  • What criteria might you use to judge / evaluate________________?
  • What evidence supports_________________?
  • How might we prove / confirm________________?
  • How might this be viewed from the perspective of_________________?
  • What alternatives should be considered___________________?
  • What approach / strategy could you use to __________________?

Bloom’s Taxonomy (1956), identified six levels of thinking, from the simple recall or recognition of facts, as the lowest level, through increasingly more complex and abstract mental levels, to the highest order which is classified as evaluation and creating. These levels of thinking are explained in an earlier SCLT article by Cornish / Jordan[4] where we share our experience in using Bloom’s Taxonomy in our classroom teaching

Supporting Bloom’s six levels of learning are questioning stems that enable students to demonstrate their deeper understanding, from the simplest level, remembering, to higher order, creating and evaluating.

Bloom’s Taxonomy; Six levels of questioning.

Remembering

  • What happened after…?
  • How many…?
  • What is…?
  • Who was it that…?
  • Name…
  • Find the definition of…
  • Describe what happened after…
  • Who spoke to…?
  • Which is true or false…?

Understanding

  • Explain why…
  • Write in your own words…
  • How would you explain…?
  • Write a brief outline…
  • What do you think could have happened next…?
  • Who do you think…?
  • What was the main idea…?
  • Clarify…
  • Illustrate…

Applying

  • Explain another instance where…
  • Group by characteristics such as…
  • Which factors would you change if…?
  • What questions would you ask of…?
  • From the information given, develop a set of instructions about…

Analysing

  • Which events could not have happened?
  • If…happened, what might the ending have been?
  • How is…similar to…?
  • What do you see as other possible outcomes?
  • Why did…changes occur?
  • Explain what must have happened when…
  • What are some or the problems of…?
  • Distinguish between…
  • What were some of the motives behind..?
  • What was the turning point?
  • What was the problem with…?

Evaluating

  • Judge the value of… What do you think about…?
  • Defend your ideas on / about…
  • Do you think…is a good or bad thing?
  • How would you have handled…?
  • What changes to… would you recommend?
  • Do you believe…? How would you feel if…?
  • How effective are…?
  • What are the consequences…?
  • What influence will….have on our lives?
  • What are the pros and cons of….?
  • Why is….of value?
  • What are the alternatives?
  • Who will gain & who will lose?

Creating

  • Design a…to…
  • Devise a possible solution to…
  • If you had access to all resources, how would you deal with…?
  • Devise your own way to…
  • What would happen if…?
  • How many ways can you…?
  • Create new and unusual uses for…
  • Develop a proposal which would…

 


 

ELLEN CORNISH

Ellen Ellen has had 33 years’ experience teaching in Tasmanian schools.

Since March 2011, at the invitation of public and private sector education establishments, Ellen has focused on work with educators, post graduate students and teacher trainees in Thailand and Cambodia.

Since 2012 she has been co presenter been co presenter in an ongoing program to assist the development of skills in classroom strategies and teaching methodologies of staff and education students at Battambang University, Cambodia

Since 2014, she has been working with the Health Sciences Faculty at Puthisastra University, Phnom Penh, helping develop and teach units of work in the Graduate Certificate in Teaching Learning.

In Thailand, in 2011, she was involved as a co evaluator of the Mechai Pattana Secondary School in north eastern Thailand. She has co presented workshops for university staff and senior Education and PhD students in the Faculty of Education at Silpakorn University, since 2012.

Ellen has co-authored a number of articles for Student Centred Learning Thailand.

ellencornish1@bigpond.com

 

 

Dr Don W Jordan

Dr. Don Jordan

Dr Don Jordan is an experienced educator, having taught in a number of schools in Tasmania, Australia. He is currently working with nurse educators at the Health Sciences Faculty, Puthisastra University Phnom Penh Cambodia, teaching units of work focussing on teaching and assessment strategies that promote critical thinking. Don is also working with education students at the University of Battambang, Cambodia, conducting workshops for staff and education students on classroom strategies and methodologies.

donjordan1@bigpond.com        donwjordan@gmail.com

 

References

Fisher, D., & Frey, N. (2007) Checking for Understanding: Formative Assessment Techniques for Your Classroom. ASCD, Virginia, USA.

 

[1] Fisher and Frey 2007

[2] Melvin Freestone. SCLT, Oct. 2012. http://sclthailand.org/2012/10/questions-questions-questions-part-1/

[3] Greg Cairnduff. SCLT, Sept 2014. FIVE POWERFUL QUESTIONS A TEACHER CAN ASK TO PROMOTE STUDENT THINKING IN THE CLASSROOM.   http://sclthailand.org/2014/09/five-powerful-questions/

[4] E Cornish and Don Jordan. SCLT. (August 2013) Student Self-Assessment: what I ask myself. http://sclthailand.org/2013/08/1793/

 



  • 2 Responses

    1. Jack

      23|Dec|2014 1

      The questioning is a wonderful way to have a continuous formative assessment in play. If a teacher follows the guideposts Corrish and Jordon have laid out there will be a continual playback to the teacher what the students are really learning. Brilliant really! Thanks for some really important points. Jack

    2. Michel Thibeault

      30|Jan|2015 2

      Asking questions is an art! Thanks for the reminder. Allowing students time to think before answering is often the hardest part for teachers. It helps to ask students to answer those questions in pairs where hiding behind a group or the outspoken students is impossible. Pair the outspoken students together!


    Leave a reply


Jurgen Zimmer, in this month’s article, “The Situational Approach in Didactics of Higher Education” makes a solid case for progressive education. There are many educational approaches encompassed under the rubric of progressive education and certainly the situational approach is pivotal. At SCLThailand the term student centered  translates into many similar or identical approaches including not only the situational approach but also: brain-based learning; the inquiry method ; the discovery method ; experiential learning and learning by doing.

Professor Zimmer brings into sharp focus what teacher education has missed. The result of “missed lessons” is teachers continuing to rely on the lecture method. Research shows much more long term memory learning when students actually participate in the learning process.   Professor Zimmer is the co-founder of the School for Life in Chiangmai, Thailand. The curriculum purpose of the school is to establish a situational approach to learning that will lead to students being prepared for life after the completion of high school and also make the school and the boarding of the students more and more self-reliant.

Taking inspiration from Professor Zimmer’s situational approach, it might be useful to give an overview of a learning project plan for students at the School for Life who are interested in coffee production and interested in using coffee as a gateway to learning how to be an entrepreneur. At each step in the process of empowering the students who join the coffee club, there will be problem solving based on knowledge gained followed by actual practice and then, reflection followed by action.

The first steps in the process of forming a coffee club at the School for Life have already started. Ms. Praewa, a coffee expert and coffee educator has introduced the art of coffee making to all the students of School for Life in three afternoon sessions during the month of November of 2014. The introduction was a hands- on experience on how to judge coffee bean quality and how to identify and select coffee beans; how coffee is harvested and how it is roasted; and finally how the barista makes the experience of coffee memorable to the end user in a café. Students thus begin to understand the importance of knowing coffee bean quality and what it takes to produce a quality  coffee bean. They also begin to understand the importance of temperature and air flow in the coffee roasting process. And  by the end of  Ms. Praewa’s course the students begin to understand the importance of marketing and presentation of coffee.   In sum, the three sessions Ms. Praewa lead are the hook used to capture the interest and enthusiasm of students who may wish to go on to join the coffee club.

The coffee club will continue to develop coffee making and entrepreneurial skills.   Interested students will register their names with the head of school who, along with a committee of teachers, will choose a group of students, a mix of 25 boys and girls, to be members of the club based on their enthusiasm and grasp of the ideas and skills Ms. Praewa presented through hand-on experiences during the three day sessions on the art of coffee making.   Once the coffee club is formed, advisors will be assigned and the coffee club will begin a mind -mapping exercise to decide what they already know about coffee; what further questions they need to ask about coffee and where they hope to get further information. The club will also do a mind mapping exercise on what they hope to achieve at the coffee club and how they will realize those objectives and what help they might need.

The club members will also have to decide how they will make decisions, how often they will meet, and how meetings will be managed.   Readers of Professor Zimmer’s article may recognize that these mind-mapping exercises may well result in the coffee club students making their own situational analysis. Indeed, that is the hoped for result.   Once the club has formed the questions that need to be answered and the skills they will need, the advisors and students will explore links with the knowledge and skills offered in the Ministry of Education curriculum. These links will probably lead to blended learning. For example, inevitably, the club will decide that they want to mount a small business. They will conclude that they have to have some way of tracking profits and losses. The need to learn certain math skills in order to do the accounting will be evident. Moreover, the students may decide it is worth learning a computer program like EXCEL to help them speed up the process of preparing financial statements.

After the club’s mind-mapping exercises, there will be a need for reflection. Are the objectives coming out of the mind-mapping exercise reasonable? Should the objectives be prioritized? What should be the time-frame? What resources are available? Where and how can other resources be found?   Again, readers of Dr. Jurgen Zimmer’s article may recognize this provision for dialogue as an integral part of the situational approach. Out of the dialogue students will use their knowledge and skills to help “steer” their own development process. The advisors will help guide and coach the coffee club toward a common purpose and goal. The students will be learning in a wide variety of situations, i.e. by going to coffee factories, visiting coffee plantations and visiting cafes. Each experience will be recorded by each the students of the coffee club in  personal student journals  and then discussed in group meetings. What has been learned? How can we apply what we have learning to our situation in the School for Life?

We return now to the purpose of School for Life. The coffee club is in league with the school goal of preparing coffee club members to be innovative entrepreneurs. And the this project also mirrors the second goal of School for Life of self-reliance by establishing a coffee production center at the school where professional coffee experts help bring in revenue through coffee productions and sales. Peter J. Foley, Ed.D. http://www.SCLThailand.org http://www.foleyscoffee.com

Choose Language | เปลี่ยนภาษา

SUBSCRIBE TO SCL THAILAND AND RECEIVE OUR BLOG POSTS AUTOMATICALLY! | สมัครรับข่าวสารจาก SCLThailand

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner