A Sad Story

John’s Sad Story

Chapter 1: History
John is a student at big city school. He lives with his father and mother. John’s teacher is Ms. Jones and the head of the department at big city is Mr. James

Chapter 2: The perception
Ms. Jones has been teaching English at big city for several years. Mr James is proud of her because the students always get good grades. This pleases Mr. James and it also pleases John’s father and mother.

Teacher Jones uses text books provided by the Department of Education. Some of the workbooks are new and some have been used. The workbooks come from well respected publishers. There are many examples of vocabulary and grammar. The books are designed so that each student, alone and on his/her own enters answers in the workbook. (This is called the self learning process)

The school system is wonderful. Teacher Jones’ status in the community is high, and she makes sure that all the students pass her course. She is the only one who determines the grades of each student, so it’s easy for her to make sure that everyone passes. The test she gives are multiple choice so they are easy to grade. It doesn’t take much of her time. She also likes it because she can focus on grammar most of the time. Grammar is easy to teach. There is always one correct answer and this is easy for her to explain using the Thai language. Teaching grammar means that she can avoid speaking English most of the time and still teach.

Mr James is pleased with this system too, because he doesn’t have to get involved. When all the students pass, people in the community see him as a good person. If all the students pass, then he is a good departmental head, Big City is a good school and he has many good teachers.

When teacher Jones conducts her English classes, she speaks Thai most of the time. That’s because her English pronunciation is very poor, and she is afraid of teaching her students “poor English”. Some of her students have contact with foreigners and they might laugh at her, so she avoids asking questions in English. But this is a false fear, because she has a big stick and the students know better than to laugh at her. They know they must pretend to understand what she is trying to teach them. And the best way to do this is to say nothing, fall asleep or play with their mobile phones.

Chapter 3: The reality of the situation
Student John was put in a class where the group of students stay together for many years, he has joined a “Group bond” who are his close friends, and that bond may last a lifetime. John makes sure that he does not bring shame to his group bond so he buys a workbook from last year’s student that has already been filled in and shares it amongst his group. If the workbook has been changed, the school system always has some good students in each class that can give him the answers. This is a good because when the teacher asks a question the good student always shouts out the answer first, this is a good thing because the group can then concentrate on doing other more important activities. John has also learned that when the teacher asks him a question directly he doesn’t have to answer the teacher he will first ask another student what the answer is.

Teacher Jones sees the workbooks turned in by her students. It is obvious that some of the workbooks are from last year, because all the exercises are completed. And it is obvious to teacher Jones when one student gets the answer from another student because the wrong answer is identical down to every letter every punctuation mark. It is of little concern to teacher Jones that the answers are “nonsense” English. The main thing is that each student turns in something, right or wrong. After all she is her surrogate mother, and they are her adopted children. She lives in a culture where discipline is avoided, so she is reluctant to scold her “children”.

Teacher Jones sometimes comes up with new ideas for her students, that may help his students understand English better. But if those new ideas mean that the students will no longer use the materials selected by the Department of Education, then she will not do it. Her rejection of the choices made by the Department of Education would be viewed, not in their merits, but as insubordination to higher authority. After all, the executives are higher in status then she is, and she wouldn’t ever consider criticizing their actions.

Chapter 4: the Misperception
John’s mother and father are happy because their son gets good grades. However John’s mother and father also know that he seldom studies. Instead he spends his time playing computer games when he is not visiting his friends. Mother and father know that John copies his homework from other students just like they did when they went to school. It’s called “information sharing”.

Somchais’ mother and father have now decided to “upgrade their status” as well as their sons’ and have decided to enrol John into the English Mini program at Big City. When John takes the performance tests, his scores are low. But that means that there is something wrong with the test, because John is a good student, Teacher Jones is a good person the head of the department is a good person, and John’s mother and father are good people.

After much persuasion John is in the English program. John has already developed a strategy for the English program. Here he will join a new group, the group is his extended family, and he will work hard to help his family members get through their studies, just as they will help him get through with “information sharing”.

John’s new Thai and ferang teachers know John’s system and many go along with it. But “wait” that is not true of all his Thai teachers and ferang teachers who are concerned about the welfare and the future of their students.

Unfortunately John is in one of these classes with a teacher that knows the system and certainly doesn’t agree with it. That’s when John’s fantasy world begins to unravel. John must now learn to learn.

Chapter 5: The conclusion
A dedicated teacher never lies about a student’s grades, it is considered shameful, unethical and punishable by instant dismissal in the western world. The teacher would be charged with unbecoming conduct and blacklisted

Should a student fail his exam, time and a separate classroom should be allocated for a re-test consisting of 2 hrs of study prior to the re-test; this usually takes place during the week after last class or on Saturday mornings.

Should this not be possible then it shows the true character of the Education institute, who are not serious about educating students.

The norm of the student has failed because of a poor teacher, without the proper assessment done, is utter nonsense and encourages a teacher to be unethical and dishonest.

Apso Olivier

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