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Drain the Thai swamp

Re: "PM ruling must end flak", (Editorial, Dec 2).

This is just another example of systemic corruption in the army. Everyone contributes to the country, including garbage collectors, janitors, army generals, physicians, nurses, soldiers, teachers, and many others. Why do retired generals receive free housing when other retirees do not get the same treatment? Unless Thailand is willing to drain the swamp, the country cannot move forward. Unfortunately, the Thai swamp has many creatures wearing green uniforms that turn into parasites and freeloaders.


It's not how you dress

Re: "Minister not swayed by casual attire", (BP, Dec 2).

If Thais got as upset about the English competency of their kids as about their uniforms, we'd put Singapore to shame instead of beating only Cambodia and Myanmar in East Asia in Education First's annual tests of English.

"Put first things first" is one of Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People because by first focusing on the most important aspects of a task, we put our limited resources to where they'll give the most return on resources invested, whether it be time or money.

To be clear, I don't object to uniforms. But I suggest that education's main object is to teach decision-making. This involves questioning, creating and analysing alternatives, and choosing an option; if a school fails in this, all else is secondary -- and I suggest that our international tests, such as Pisa, have consistently shown that overall, we've failed in achieving our education system's most important goal.

It's true that international schools often have uniforms; but I suggest that the average Thai international school's administration spends far more time on achieving academic excellence than on how their students look on stage -- and we should do likewise.

Burin Kantabutra

Learning, not image

I taught for 25 years in some of the best high schools in Asia and America -- some with a required dress code, some without. Both positions, for and against uniforms, have validity. Because it is such a conspicuous and pragmatic issue, it becomes emotional. However, if the school achieves quality teaching and learning, students will develop critical thinking skills regardless of what they are wearing.

The real issue in Thailand is that of "quality of teaching and learning". All valid measurements point toward failure to achieve it for most Thai young people.


Don't take it as read

Re: "Straying from the course", (BP, Dec 2).

I have read some of the "alternative history" published by Thai scholars and some of it is of a high quality and academic standard. However, there is an inherent danger in believing that any alternative history to official history is true and rely only on social media, where someone's alternative history can be someone else's conspiracy theory, as a source of alternative history, and not do your homework.

Take the French Revolution mentioned in the article for example: which alternative history of the Revolution will you adopt? Tocqueville's liberal, Taine's royalist, Michelet's republican, Marx and Lenin's Marxist-revolutionary (the French Revolution as template for a communist revolution), Piyabutr's jacobinist, Onfray's girondinist, or Francois Furet's "revisionist" (the French Revolution's Terror and the Vendee genocide as the template for totalitarian regimes, the gulags, Moscow trials and the Great Leap Forward) version?

Orwell's 1984 should tell you to read a few books, and not trust a priori on social media, just because it is different from official history.

French Reader

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