This article on the teaching of English in Thailand has irritated me – its analysis is so shallow. And it is typical of the colonial aspect of teaching, that western methodology is better.
Firstly the writer cites the case of Khun Dang’s class – students copying from the board. Here are questions connected to that. Did the writer ask Khun Dang if she thought it was good teaching? I would guess not as I suspect she couldn’t speak English. In primary schools the teachers are expected to teach English even though they don’t know it themselves – copying from the board is a compromise. Could the writer teach a Thai class by writing Thai sentences on the board? In an English government secondary school could you get the class to sit quietly and copy from the board? That is those students who hadn’t truanted.
Is formal teaching always wrong? When you listen to western teachers this appears to be the conclusion. Why did formal teaching disappear from British schools? Was it because formal teaching had failed? Now I ask that question fr all the students and nt just the elite. Formal teaching failed the brighter students including those who became the teachers. Such teachers can remember boring lessons in which they tediously fulfilled formal requirements. These teachers became qualified. Did they have questioning minds? Of course not.
Once these teachers started to dominate teaching ethos – starting in the 60s, discipline in the schools went down. Apparently in Thai secondary schools there is too much talking but the discipline is nowhere near as disruptive as UK schools. How can you learn without discipline? How can you begin to teach a questioning mind? And the saddest aspect of this teaching methodology is:-
Can all the students develop a questioning mind?
Show me any evidence that shows that all students can develop a questioning mind. Look at the British population. Since the 60s a more questioning approach has developed in schools, have the population become more questioning? Certainly not, the corporatocracy would never allow it. 40 years later and Tony Blair took the country to war, could that have happened with genuine questioning minds? Not people who bleet because it is expected but genuine questioning minds?
So what are Bill Gates and the others doing when they want critical thinking? They want an elite who will be critical but accept the prevailing paradigm. Is this possible?
So when Thai kids don’t ask questions why do western teachers climb the wall? Quite simple. They don’t understand what education is for. They go to training school and are told education means leading out, and they believe that. Education might mean that but schooling means fitting the school population into society’s status quo. In Thailand that means students cannot be questioning or else why would they accept the social inequalities? But in England it is the same reality that has to be accepted. There are a few who are rich, and mostly those rich inherit it. A few manage to become rich but most spend their time trying to be rich and doing each other down to get there. Maybe Thai business is like that but it appears to be much more pleasant – I don’t know I am retired and never could stomach the business world.
That’s enough, I have vented after the shallow article rattled my cage. It’s going in my Matriellez blog but that’s all. I can’t even be bothered to post it on the facebook-like just to get a Thanks Bill from an apparently equally-shallow analysis.
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