Don't be discouraged
In reply to the letter from Keith about parent power (Postbox, 17th July) there is little one can say other than it surprises me more and more that these letters are written. I was of the opinion that most teachers in Thailand would be aware of how the education system currently works and shouldn't be surprised when this type of incident happens.
The one thing I think that the teachers concerned should be thankful for is that the day concluded without them being dismissed from their jobs. I know that comment seems harsh but in truth laughing in front of students parents and senior Thai staff is the one action you don't do.
Of course it is difficult for us to understand the point of it all, but at the moment that is how the system functions. I work in Bangkok teaching conversational English in the mainstream part of a government primary school, I have 720 plus students and only see them for one hour each week. Anyone would say this is a waste of time and to a large extent it is, but, I do my best and there are some bright buttons in each class and there are also autistic students and those with other issues. All I can do is try and some of the children benefit there is no doubt. So, I plod on and try to come up with fun things while still trying to get the focus on the academic topic.
The problems of Thai education system are far from simple and the problems of learning English are not free from serious issues. You may talk about the no fail policy, however I feel that is just one part of the bigger picture. Until the Thais get round the idea that they really do need help from westerners not much progress will be made. The Ministry of Education need to employ westerners to help with the preparation of the countrywide tests to prevent the embarrassing situation which I suspect most teachers have experienced where a Thai teacher has asked for guidance about a question and you read it and either it makes no sense, there is more than one answer, there are no correct answers or any answer will do depending on what the exam writer was thinking at the time. If you then move on to the Thai companies that produce educational books, Pailin and the like until they employ westerners to proof read their product the Thai children will continue to be exposed to endless mistakes. I found a spelling mistake only last week in a child's dictionary. Mechanic was spelled Machanic. Where there is one mistake there will be more.
We can then move on to Thai life in general; stores and malls need to take their attempt at English more seriously and that doesn't mean asking the Thai with the English degree unless its from a western university because that just perpetuates the cycle, Big C's sign saying "Weight Food Here" that doesn't help.
This may sound harsh but the problem is Thais are so proud, I respect that but please understand Thailand there is nothing wrong with asking for help. I can assure Thailand there are many people here that want to help you just give them a chance to do that and by giving them that chance you will give your children the chance they need to achieve a better life for themselves.
To all teachers out there please don't be discouraged do your best even if you think "What's the point" there will be those children that do understand what you said and then from that more will pick up little snippets, but if you give up then you have failed not only yourself but the children that where listening to you and wanted to learn.