Current Practices and Future Trends
Dr. Penny Lorwatanapongsa
Redeemer International School Thailand
What has been wrong with instruction in Thai schools. Some criticize the
unqualified teaching staff; some accuse the inept curricula, some blame the
inadequate facilities; others condemn frequent changes in the national policy, and
so on. The latest educational reform focuses on making the curricula and
instruction more student-centered, to connect the school to real-life situations,
and to emphasize understanding and thinking rather than memorization, drill and
practice. No one can deny the challenges the Thai teachers are facing. This article
therefore aims to provide some suggestions based on research from diverse fields
that have implications on teaching and learning; namely, educational psychology,
developmental psychology, sociology, cognitive psychology, and neurology.
Student-centered curricula and instruction require active, constructive involvement
of the learners. Learning at school requires students to pay attention, to observe,
to memorize, to understand, to set goals and to assume responsibility for their own
learning. According to the research on educational psychology, these cognitive
activities are not possible without the active involvement or engagement of the learners.
This means that teachers need to:
Avoid situations where the students are passive listeners for long periods of time
Provide students with hands-on activities, such as experiments, observations,
Encourage discussions and other cooperative learning activities
Allow students to make decisions about what and how to learn
Assist students in creating learning goals that are consistent with their interests and
future educational plan.
Unfortunately, many learning activities are not meaningful. Informal interviews with
students from different schools reveal that they do not understand the purpose or the
usefulness of certain class activities or lesson. For example, most students do not know
why they have to study algebraic equations, or what the points of learning about
cave men. Teachers can make their classroom activities more meaningful by situating
them in an authentic context. For example, students can improve their oral language
and communication skills by participating in debates. They can improve their writing
skills by writing articles for school newspaper. Students can learn about science by
participating in a community or school environmental project. The teacher can
arrange a field trip to study about food preservation by visiting a food-processing
Teachers can also do many things to encourage participation in ways that facilitate learning:
Assign students to work in groups and assume the role of a coach / facilitator who
provides guidance and support to the groups.
Create opportunities for students to interact with each other, to express their
opinions and to evaluate other students’ arguments
Encourage students to interact with each other, to express their opinions and to
evaluate other students’ arguments.
Link the school to the community so that students’ opportunities for educational
and social participation are enlarged.
Nonetheless, it is important to note that the ideas presented in this paper are not meant
to serve as simple techniques which individual teachers want to use as they see fit.
Instead, they are presented as the guiding principles from which creative teachers can
develop various techniques and activities that are beneficial within their own