In My OPINION
After reading an article in an International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language ELT (English Language Teaching) management and special interest group newsletter, written by George Pickering, an established English language coach and trainer, I am left wondering whether the idea of a "learning organisation" can work in Thailand.
Mr Sa-neh Boonsaeng, the director of Bantatprachanukoon School in Ban Phue district, Udon Thani province, prides himself in attempting to provide a learning organisation for his staff. STEVE GRAHAM
Commitment to learn
I found the article particularly interesting as the author quoted many gurus on the subject and supplied a comprehensive list of references. He includes many examples of what comprises a learning organisation. Andy Hockley, a renowned ELT consultant and author, explains in detail the benefits of learning organisations.
It needs to provide professional development for its entire staff and engage in team-driven work, such as projects. Time and space is required for reflection on practice and to encourage people to engage in systems thinking, to challenge the way things are done. Finally, they must be open to change.
I would suggest that the majority of us are working in organisations that have the opposite characteristics. How many of our schools and universities have a true commitment to staff development? I don't mean the need to have a quota of PhDs on the faculty; I am referring to a real strategy to develop the people in their organisation.
Of course, not all teachers and administrators want to continuously develop themselves. I would like to suggest that those who do, do so for the good and benefit of their educational institution, and their students are rewarded in some way. I appreciate that it is difficult to do this where power is centralised and parochialism is the order of the day.
Shared vision and purpose
Pickering explains very simply in four stages how to develop a learning organisation. First, you have to identify where you want to get to. Then, you need to know where you are now. Next, you have to decide how you are going to get there, and finally, you need to confirm that you are moving in the right direction.
We are told that what is needed is a sustained effort of a committed group of individuals with a shared vision and purpose. There is also a warning that it is easier to write about something - as I'm doing here - than to actually do it, so we must be careful not to just make an industry out of it.
In Thailand, we do not have a shared vision and purpose of what a learning organisation should be. Once again, it is going to be small groups of individuals working from the bottom up that will be able to experiment by developing organisations with democratic management styles committed to a learning culture with a policy of learning for all.
Resources and training development need to be made available to allow for comprehensive inductions and staff development for all for the appropriately selected staff of an organisation. There needs to be focus on coaching and mentoring, the development of personal learning plans and the use of individual and team reviews.
Courses need to be reviewed with staff and stakeholder mechanisms allowing for cross-functional teamwork, developmental observations and peer reviews. Action research is to be encouraged, and the use of best practice benchmarking will set the required standards.
Graham is an English-language teacher at the Language Centre, Udon Thani Rajabhat University in northeast Thailand. If you want to discuss matters related to this article, you may write to 'In My Opinion' at
Graham is an English-language teacher at the Language Centre, Udon Thani Rajabhat University in northeast Thailand. If you want to discuss matters related to this article, you may write to 'In My Opinion' email@example.com.