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CHALK TALK

Education management Gives thai teachers a Thirst for knowledge



Because students are going to school to seek knowledge, it is now time for educational institutions to seriously plan their knowledge management.

Knowledge management is very much about developing an atmosphere conducive to the sharing and exchange of knowledge as well as learning.

Of course, the process must start from the people at the top of the organisation and then members with knowledge must be willing to share and transfer that information.

The United States was one of the first countries to bring the knowledgemanagement concept, which was initially introduced to business organisations, to schools.

At schools where knowledge management is efficient, teachers do not just teach what they already know but continue to thirst for more knowledge. By learning new things, teachers can develop new teaching techniques and improve the curriculum for their students. With active teachers, students are also more likely to become eager learners.

When I interviewed Wichien Chaiyabang, the headmaster of a highflying, newstyle school last year, I noticed that he had provided efficient knowledge management for his Lamplaimat Pattana School even though he did not mention this concept at all.

All the key components of knowledge management are there at Lamplaimat Pattana School where all teachers and students are active, friendly and selfconfident.

Right from when this school was started nearly a decade ago, Wichien has had all teachers attend a meeting every week to share their experiences, talk about their problems and explore solutions together.

As he promotes the right atmosphere, teachers are ready to lead the discussion even when he cannot attend the weekly meetings.

Teachers have also made sure their students, regardless of their classes, have opportunities to interact and exchange their knowledge, learning together in the process.

Indeed, for all members of schools that practice knowledge management, it is necessary that administrators provide channels and time for them to interact and share their opinions. During such interactions, all members should be encouraged to express their views and admit if there is something they have not yet known.

From 20062008, 78 schools took part in a project to improve their efficiency via knowledge management. Their success depended largely on three factors:

lDetermination/readiness to pursue knowledge management of school administrators at all levels

lDetermination/ability to pursue knowledge management of schools' knowledgemanagement teams

lOther staff's openness to and understanding of knowledge management

In its recently published manual on how to manage knowledge within an educational organisation, the Education Council advises administrators to seriously promote knowledge management and motivate their staff to embrace the concept.

The manual recommends training in knowledge management, efficient communications and teamwork.

The teachers who participated in the project saw many pluses about knowledge management.

"When we were in general meetings, we tended to talk about successes alone and kept quiet about our failures or problems. However, now that we have embraced knowledge management, we are more willing to mention the problems we have faced. We are less worried about losing face. We are readier to discuss our weak points and seek help," a Thailanguage teacher at one of the participating schools said.

At another participating school, a science teacher said he was willing to share his teaching techniques with his colleagues during knowledgemanagement activities because it made him proud.

"Sharing is also a beautiful thing. We have shared our knowledge and we have become real friends," this teacher said.

Chularat Saengpassa

Chularat@nationgroup.com






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