Re: “Thai students can compete with the best – just not in maths”, Have Your Say, yesterday.
I must add to Khon Kaen Paul’s always wise words by saying that Thai students can compete with, and soundly beat, their brattish, self-centred, foul-mannered Western counterparts in terms of social interaction. As one who married into an extended low-to-middle-income rural family that is spread out from Nong Khai to Krabi, I have had the pleasure of watching my nieces and nephews grow up over two decades. The quality of Thai schools may be appalling, but education continues at home where the raising of children tends to be a community activity, and where children from a very early age are involved in household, farm and religious activities, acquiring life skills and social skills that develop them into the nice, smiley Thai people that we all know and love.
During the long Thai New Year breaks, I have the pleasure of an influx of my young family for a month and try to add to their education with activities and topics that they don’t get at school or at home. I have taught them all to swim, for example. Apprehensive at the effect of smartphones and social media on impressionable youth, my last two years have been devoted to teaching them, now in their teens, what’s going on behind the Facebook facade, illustrating the dangers of social media and power of advertising, and in particular, encouraging them to question everything they are told (including from me), listen to all sides of an argument, and think for themselves.
I must exclude the arrogant, smartphone-touting, consumerist offspring of the hi-so Bangkok elite from the above analysis – they belong to a different planet.