Tim Cornwall

Welcome to the Thailand Educators Network (TEN)

What's coming up in our teachers' evenings this year?

In January, TEN welcomed, Dr Mina Eaves who talked about using learning styles effectively in class.

Her comments are below, followed by an overview of our February, March, April, May and June schedule and speakers...

Dr Mina Eaves
Using learning styles effectively in class
12 January 2010

Dr Mina carefully led Thailand Educators Network into and through the world of learning styles in a fascinating and thought provoking journey into her area of expertise and passion.

Beginning with an introduction into learning styles, Dr Eaves began by suggesting that learning style definitions include one or more of following: 1) Habitual information processing style - how learners perceive, store and organize information; 2) Learning strategies - adaptive responses to material and context; or 3) Instructional preferences.

With this in mind, she overwhelmed us with the fact that there are currently over 100 learning style models used widely, and she added with foreboding in her voice, "assumed", she stressed, "assumed to improve learning..."

However, before moving on to this titillating nugget of information to follow, Dr Mina provided a very brief history of learning styles divided into two distinct eras.

The 1970s and 80s, she explained, saw an explosion in learning styles models including wholist-analytical (field independence), verbal-imagery, left-right brain, VAK models with visual, auditory and kinesthetic as key words, Kolb-based models and his ideas about activist, reflector, theorist, pragmatist/concrete learners and the interactionist models dealing with environmental, emotional, sociological, physiological and psychological issues.

The 1990s and up to now see more emphasis on metacognition and the way learners learn in terms of, for example, self-insight and self-regulation of learning.

Returning repeatedly, Dr Mina referred to the Coffield Report (2004) Dr Mina reviewed how the report had studied 100 different learning styles models and then offered some detailed information for the 13 Most Popular Learning Styles Models.

The Coffield Report, Dr Mina went on, recommended the following models for use with higher-education students: Vermunt (Inventory of Learning Styles- ILS) and Entwistle (Approaches and Study Skills Inventory for Students-ASSIST); while for the workplace, Allinson and Hayes (Cognitive Styles Index- CSI) and Apter (Motivational Style Profile- MSP).

Dr Mina was clearly in her field of expertise as she led us through some very convincing arguments against using learning styles.

1. Over-simplistic as learning is a complex interaction
2. Lab findings over-extended and used to label learners inappropriately
3. Learning improvement claims are over-inflated
4. Too many conflicting models as this kind of testing is a lucrative business
5. Problems with validity and reliability of the actual questionnaires
6. Eurocentric in that it is not known if they hold weight in non-Western contexts

Dr Mina went on; however, to suggest that learning styles should not be abandoned completely as it can offer some insights into how to teach and the various ways we tend to learn, or even prefer to learn depending on the subject matter and what we plan to do with acquired knowledge and/or skills.

Among other things, she recommended to

1. Use well-designed, reputable and appropriate questionnaires
2. Be aware of their limits and to avoid labeling learners and stereotyping
3. Integrate ideas into the learning context and just as a one-off session
4. Use to develop learner self-insight and self-regulation into their learning processes (metacognition)
5. Remind teachers to use multiple strategies and monitor learning effectiveness

In conclusion, Dr Mina made it clear that while learning styles is a very controversial and misunderstood area, with the careful selection of a learning styles model and questionnaire carefully based on reliability and validity, we can use these questionnaires to help our students develop metacognition rather than to categorize them which should lead into the use of a wide range of teaching strategies to accommodate all learning styles.

Sound advice from someone who clearly knows her topic, Dr Mina will be back again to share more of her insights into education and in particular, education in Thailand.

 2010 Schedule

Wednesday, 10 March
**Tuesday, 30 March**
Monday, 10 May
Thursday, 10 June
**Monday, 12 July**

Encouraging Observations

Alan S. Mackenzie
East Asia Regional Project Teacher Training Manager
British Council

Wednesday, 10 February 2010
18.00 to 2030

Many teachers are scared of being observed and for good reason! Administrators often use observations to criticize, blame and chastise teachers, which can be demoralizing and even professionally destructive.

Looking at observation as a process of inquiry and as a developmental tool has the potential to turn what is often a traumatic process into a constructive, creative event that teachers request and look forward to rather than fear.

This presentation introduces a simple procedure for non-judgmental observation that can be integrated into any teaching situation to promote reflective teaching, inspire creativity and foster change in teaching practice.

Alan S Mackenzie is East Asia Regional Project Teacher Training Manager for the British Council. Based in Bangkok for the past five years, he has extensive experience working in the East Asia region. Previous to this he lived and worked in Japan for fifteen years as an English Language Instructor in Waseda, Sophia, Obirin and Keisen Universities and was Director of Program for the Japan Association for Language Teachers. He is currently an advisor to the board of Thai TESOL and a graduate of the Teachers College Columbia University MA TESOL program on which he has also been an instructor.

Teaching Tomorrow's Leaders

Pamela Hongsakul
Leadership Educator

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Thailand's youth have witnessed a country in turmoil the past three years and been exposed to different leadership styles. What are they learning from it? Can leadership be taught? Some people have said you must be born with it - yet there are educational programs worldwide. Do they really work?

Pamela, regarded as Thailand's first Leadership Coach, has worked with student leaders and politicians since 2004 - including a governor, six MPs and four ministers. She currently offers customized leadership training classes to international schools to support the development of next generation leaders. Topics include Success, Power and Issues in Society.

Pamela's talk will appeal to anyone interested in programs that improve student leadership skills.

In 2004, Pamela created a groundbreaking Senior Seminar for students at Vajiravudh College, which aired on UBC-TV as ‘Future Leaders'. Taught to teenage slum leaders at the Duang Prateep Foundation in 2009 it is being introduced in international schools in 2010 to help develop multi-cultural youth.

Montessori 101 - A thorough Intro

Patricia Barber
Shalini Dey
Modern Montessori International

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Started by the first female doctor in Italy, Dr. Maria Montessori, Montessori educational methods were developed over 100 years ago. Focusing on whole-child development, the method teaches children to become problem solvers and critical thinkers and since its start has been the educational beginning of many successful people.

During their talk, Patricia and Shalini will discuss Montessori benefits and will touch on the Montessori Philosophy including internal aides for child development, an absorbent mind definition, sensitive periods, laws of natural development and what is meant by a prepared environment, vertical grouping the role of the teacher.

Certain to be an extremely informative evening, their talk is certain to answer a great many questions a great many teachers have about Montessori, its practitioners and its students.

Thai Culture course unraveled

Dr Nikolaus Mische
United Educational Consultants

Monday, 10 May 2010

The 20-hour, Thai Culture & Ethics Course is required by all foreign teachers in Thailand. Why was it created and what can we really learn? How can we connect the dots and use cultural differences to student advantage in the classroom beyond what we already know.

Beginning with a closer look at us first, we will analyze and identify trigger points for frustration and self-improvement. Nik's talk will appeal to anyone interested in understanding important elements of Thai culture and what makes a good, 20-hour course.

Dr Mische, MD, UEC Thailand, an adjunct faculty person represents the State University of New York graduate program for international educators in Bangkok and international conferences. He is also a trainer at the TEFL Institute with an interest in culture and its impact on decision making.

Education in the UK - past, present and future

Chris Thatcher

Thursday, 10 June 2010

The UK education system is one of the oldest in the world and has been recognized as one of the best by standards of the time. Is this still the case?

What are some of the key factors influencing educational developments in the UK? Are they sustainable and realistic and account for the needs of the various societal elements with an interest in a successful education process (indeed what IS a successful process)? What factors influence school success and what is the relationship with teaching and learning?

Is a good teacher in a bad school as effective as a capable teacher in a good school? How do we measure such things efficiently yet still maintain the right balance between assessment and teaching? Indeed what is assessment for?

Chris Thatcher was Head teacher of a large primary school in the UK for 20 years and became National Association of Headteachers President in 1999 working closely with the UK Government.

In 2002, he left teaching to work in the development of the then innovative on-line assessment field and in 2004 became SE Asia Education Development Director of Cambridge Education. In 2008, he set up a small education company in Thailand offering consultancy and support to international schools.

Challenges facing schools and agencies in the current EFL market

Jason Alavi
Managing Director
The American English Language School

Monday, 12 July 2010

Recent changes in the EFL community have made it increasingly difficult for private language schools to make the same profit they enjoyed for the last 15 to 20 years. Why is this? How can language schools combat this trend?

The Teachers Council of Thailand, the government body that controls teacher licensing recently issued strict licensing requirements for those who wish to teach. Why is this and what can schools and agencies do to survive and prosper?

What are school and agencies legally required to do; and what responsibilities do teachers have?

Jason Alavi is MD and owner of The American English Language School, which provides English language instruction from a single student to large organizations. Its focus is recruiting, training and managing Non-Thai teachers in a variety of organizations, especially government schools.

TEN events start at 6.00 pm and our guest speaker starts about 6.45 pm.
For more information, visit our website or contact me directly on 081 834 8982 or e-mail 


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