Subject(s) (That) Matter

Subject(s) (That) Matter

Two things that recently happened made me wonder about the definition of education in Thailand. First, a uni professor in Phitsanulok drafted a new course called "My Beloved Country" but the board rejected it, saying its purpose isn't in line with that of a general education course. The professor said his subject encourages students to "understand and appreciate their own values, as well as values of others, society, culture and nature". It sounds fine and dandy until you see his list of 18 guest lecturers consisting of controversial figures, some of whom are seen as aligning themselves with the government. So, if you disagree with them, would you be considered disloyal to Thailand or something? Second, Bangkok Governor Aswin Kwanmuang ordered all schools under BMA to have their students sing the royal anthem after they sing the national anthem before classes every morning to remind them of Thailand's three pillars -- nation, religion and monarchy -- which I humbly think the kids are reminded of plenty already.

While the professor and the governor may have the best intentions, I argue that we ought to introduce subjects that are of real use instead of something that sounds like, well, indoctrination. Here are, in my opinion, subjects that should be taught.

Diversity in Thailand

All students get to discover their genealogy with their spit sample to possibly realise that they're descendent of different races and cultures. And that there's no single version of being Thai. They should be tasked with asking their parents about their family history and present it to the class. They may find out they have more in common with another student who they thought they would have nothing in common with. When a student realises he/she has Laotian blood in him/her or knows a classmate with one, he/she may stop using Lao as a derogatory term. The other topics that should be included are the history of foreign communities in Thailand, how immigrants integrated themselves throughout Thai history and ex-pats who made significant contributions to Thai society.

Thai Dialects

Just like there's no single version of being or looking Thai. The Thai language has different regional dialects that should be officially included in our textbooks to celebrate our cultural diversity. I'm not asking every Thai to excel in every dialect here, but at least know regional words for everyday communication.

Nazi is No-no

The name is self-explanatory. We should dedicate a one-off course to retell the atrocities done by the Nazis against European Jews and its other victims during WWII to stop cycles of Thais ignorantly glorifying them, the German ambassador urging them to learn about the Nazis and embarrassed Thais offering an apology to the Israel ambassador. I've seen it too many times and the latest incident happened only a month ago when two Thai guys dressed in Nazi uniforms were photographed in front of CentralWorld. Good thing there was no photograph of them giving the salute? (you know, that one). Of course, we should break the serious mood with a discussion of the religious meaning of the swastika symbol in Eurasian cultures to understand that it isn't a symbol of evil when used in non-Nazi context. It's the Nazis that ruined it for us.

Thai Etiquettes 4.0

What is usually considered part of casual Thai conversation may not be so nice, given the sensitivities of today's society. Therefore, we need an update to remind ourselves on how to be nice to each other in everyday situations. Comments on changes of complexion or weight shouldn't be an opener of friendly conversation. Also, being older doesn't give you the right to ask a younger neighbour how much money he/she makes in a month.

How to Really Use Google

The students should be taught on how powerful Google is as a search engine but also a huge library for falsity. Let's say you want to find out how many cells are there in a human brain, you can just type; How many brain cells do we have?, How many cells does a human brain have? or something along these lines. So they know that a human brain certainly doesn't have 84,000 cells. On the other hand, they should be taught on how to cross-check a story and gauge the credibility of the sources. For example, they shouldn't take The Onion seriously because it's satire.

Pornchai Sereemongkonpol

Guru section Editor

Guru section Editor

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