Last week I was sat down by my managers (yes, this required all three of them) with minutes to go before the bell for first lesson and was told that my teaching style is not appropriate for the school. I had to clarify exactly what it was that they didn't like and was met with the response, "We don't want TEFL style teaching at our school."
This completely confuses me as I am sure I was employed because I have a TEFL certificate; in fact it is one of the requirements to work at this school. They would much rather I sat at the front of the class with a microphone and a pre-written dialogue of no real life use, dictating to the students and then testing their memory of said conversation. Surely a more engaging, student centred and (dare I say) fun approach to learning would not only encourage the students to take part in the lesson but also in turn boost their learning and further increase their final grades?
Thailand lags behind its ASEAN partner countries when it comes to its education system, curriculum and management. The International Institute for Management Development ranked Thailand at 51 out of 60 countries with regards to its education system as a whole. Despite spending 20% of its annual budget on education (which surely a good chunk of went towards giving every student a tablet in one of their latest ‘keeping up appearances' gimmicks), Thailand is failing in the global stakes educationally.
I may have only been teaching in Thailand for little over a year but its long enough to have a fair insight into the way things work and luckily not long enough to have been brainwashed into thinking that it's a system that works.
Thailand is set to enter the Association of South East Asian Networks (ASEAN) in 2015 where it will promptly fall to the bottom of the pile with regards to many aspects including the English speaking skills of the nation and the success of its education system and the students that are dragged through it.
The minister for education is calling for a revolutionary reform - apparently he has a magic wand that makes this possible to think up and implement in less than 18 months.
In a system where archaic, military inspired regimes are ingrained into practice, it will take a long time to overhaul the whole system - what Thailand needs is a long term solution, not a short term bodge job that will make them appear fit to be part of the ASEAN network alongside its fellow SE Asian neighbours. But then again this is Thailand, where saving face is more important than admitting fault.
Despite employing a system where it is impossible to fail a student, Thailand still manage to come out bottom of the pile globally once again. This may be an idiot-proof way to have a 100% pass rate but unfortunately for Thailand it isn't all about keeping up appearances and as such, Thailand is systematically failing across the board from making students study for too many hours a week, hanging on to military practices of forcing haircuts on students and using old fashioned teaching methods such as rote learning and memorization. And I haven't even touched on the continuing use of corporal punishment and being one of the few countries around the world to make their university students wear a uniform.
The minister for education wants to turn the current education system on its head, to do away with rote learning and memorisation approaches to teaching, encouraging students to improve their critical thinking and problem solving skills. But when we still have schools just like mine who want a western looking teacher but not the western approach to teaching his changes aren't going to get very far, especially not in time for Thailand's entry into ASEAN in 2015. Best get thinking up a flashy new policy... we already gave them all touchscreen tablets... any ideas?