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The Education for the Balance of Body and Mind, True Values, and Holistic Development Learn and Create Value through the Roong Aroon Path ROONG AROON Journal No.1 January - April 2014

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150 Baht

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(Photo cover) We mutually depend on each other. Artist : Patree Arthayukti Concept Idea :To demonstrate an ideal society in which all living beings can coexist; as all of us are parts of one another and rely on one another, we should live together with mutual care. RA Journal Owner : Roong Aroon School Objective : To create a channel for the dissemination of knowledge, acquired from the teaching-learning processes of Roong Aroon School and the alternative schools network, which will initiate communications and learning exchanges among the schools, parents, educators as well as people involved in national education. To promote and enhance intellectual growth leading towards the development of well-rounded human beings. Director Sunisa Chuencharoensok Assistant Director Ajchara Soomboon Headteacher of Kindergarten School Sunisa Chuencharoensok Headteacher of Primary School Sukunee Boonyabuncha Headteacher of Secondary School Assoc.Prof.Prapapat Niyom Editor-in-Chief Assoc.Prof.Prapapat Niyom Editorial Staff Pranee Chaochaiporn Nantiya Tansricharoen Designer Sopon Sooksaengkaew Editorial Office - Roong Aroon School 391 Soi Anamai Ngam Chareon 25, Thakham, Bangkhuntien, Bangkok 10150 Tel. 66 (0) 2840-2501-4, 66 (0) 2870-7512-3, E-mail : school ROONG AROON SCHOOL

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Education in the 21 century that enables students to read, write, and pass examination is not adequate because what’s happening in the society now is not of a normal state. It is war. Every corner of the world fights for oil, food, and natural resources. In this war, military weapons are not used but the economy in which a handful of people are insanely wealthy while a majority of people are insanely poor is significantly adopted. We are living in a state of war; nevertheless, Thai society does not prepare our children to enter it. We do not even realize what’s going on now is war. We are ignorant and living day after day to exploit each other and other beings. For example, from our students’ projects about Udom Bay and

Ban Pakong, we can see that even snappers are deprived from their natural habitat where they can lay their eggs because of humans exploitation of each other and then of nature. This kind of economy eventually leads us to nothing but disaster. In no time, we will not know how to grow rice or produce food. Undoubtedly, we are heading to apocalypse. Hence, our goals in education are not to simply enable our students to read and write, but to enable them know how to apply knowledge to solve problems. They should be able to form their critical thinking skills to analyze the links of causes and effects. They should know what they could act upon this awareness as well as know how they can access all of the knowledge and how to handle it. The first issue of Roong Aroon Journal is an attempt to decode our knowledge management in order to reflect the routes our students take in their development of each stage, starting from the kindergarten school in which parents become learning partners, the primary school in which learning holistically integrates into life, and the secondary school in which our students, as responsible citizens, learn to use their wisdom in finding solutions to real social issues while teachers are no longer teaching persons but the students’ learning partners and facilitators who learn and work with them. I hope that the articles in this journal would ignite and inspire a new education paradigm for Thai society that paves ways for the real roles of education in which social conscience must be constructed and teachers must change their roles from teach-ers to constructors so that students can grow up to be a new generation with a social conscience. Associate Professor Prapapat Niyom

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Education is the cultivation of man. For it would take one’s whole life to learn real life lessons. The Language of Orchids by Professor Rapee Sagarik

Sky flower bloomed at Roong Aroon School artist : Thanyalak Soontornmat

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Learning by solving problems with wisdom, gaining value and ideals KINDERGARTEN


When Parents are Required to Attend Class to Become Professional Parents PRIMARY

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Open Approach: A Learning Process that “Opens” Students and Teachers’ Potential

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Roong Aroon junior Khon: Completed by collective value awareness SECONDARY


Learning the Essence of Subjects, the Essence of Life through a Drama Project LEARNING ACTIVITY


Learning from Works and Overcoming Obstacles in order to Grow with Wisdom VIEW OF THOUGHT


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Critiques to Thai Education : The Challenge of 21 Century Education System


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Diagrams illustrating the way of life of the villagers in Wang Saphung district, Loei province, which relies on natural resources 6

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Learning by solving problems with wisdom, gaining value and ideals

In one of the talks with teachers during the recent school break, Associate Professor Prapapat Niyom, Roong Aroon School founder, stated that the world in this century is no longer the world that we know. What’s going on in society now is not of a normal state: it is wartime. Every nation fights for oil, food, and resources. It is not a war armed with military weapons but with a consumer based economy that makes everyone unable to be a food producer and unable to be self-reliant.Soon,no one will be able to produce rice nor food. Eventually, this kind of economy can only lead us to disaster. “Nowadays, an education that only teaches children to read and write, and then pass tests is not enough. Education must teach children to manage knowledge, see connection of causes-effects, and then realize their roles and know how to acquire and apply knowledge. The role of real education is to build up social ideals for the members of the society to know what it should be and what they should do. The roles of teachers must change. Teachers are not teachers but creators of social ideals

for students who are growing up to be a new generation with a social conscience,” Associate Professor Prapapat said.

Real issues in the society are real issues of education

Resource and environmental crisises are one of the shared global problems of the twenty-first century that get more serious each day and affect people’s lives more and more. Natural resources are decreasing in number and less diverse rapidly. The gap in accessing resources widens. The problems caused by a development policy where both the public and private sectors ignore environmental issues affects people. In every corner of the world, temperatures are rising due to global warming.Finding solutions for all these problems are not the responsibility of a particular person, but of everyone in the world, including students in schools.


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Grade 9 students, organic agriculture and wildfire at Ban Omlong, Samueng District, Chiangmai Province

By the end of 2012, Grade 9 students went out

on a social studies and Thai fieldtrip at Omlong,

Samueng District, Chiangmai Province for one week. They stayed at Wat Phra Barom That Doi Phasom,

a temple that is the center of Ban Omlong, and were divided into groups in order to survey the area and talk with local people. They found out that Ban Yangmuen is an agricultural community that does crop rotation according to the need of the market such as rice, strawberries, chrysanthemum, and marigolds. Most of the villagers still do chemical farming that resulted

in destroying soil, contaminating the air and causing health problems. Many of them were worried that they might be suffering from chemical exposure as they often threw up after they returned from the farm. Many villagers wanted to turn to organic agriculture but they were not confident since they did not have such knowledge. The students were given friendship and a warm welcome from aunts and uncles that were more than willing to answer the students’ questions. They wanted to do something for their aunts and uncles improve in the community to conditions and for everyone to have toxic free strawberries to eat. The community issue became theirs.

organic agriculture in order to share the knowledge with the villagers. They paid a visit and talked to Ajarn Yak Sunyakumthorn at Mab Aueng agricultural center, Chonburi Province. After that, they made a big book titled “Let’s Organicize Strawberries. It Is Easy!” The other action they took is they wanted to warn the villagers the dangers of chemical agriculture. They organized fundraising events for one hundred blood test kits, so they could return to the village to give preliminary blood tests to the villagers. The students also did research based on those substances’ commercial names about the chemical substances with scientific names of the insecticides and herbicides the villagers used. Afterwards, they made posters explaining the dangers of such substances. In March 2013, the students returned to Wat Phra Barom That Doi Phasom to organize a fundraising event and offered the community the big book and posters that explained the researched they had gathered. They hoped that they helped the villagers realize the dangers of chemical farming and see that organic agriculture was not that difficult and could be realistically done. If one day just only one villager makes a change to organic farming, the students will be more than happy.

Wildfire talk through drama

“The god of fire hates to see people nowadays turn to electricity. They did not think he was important anymore. This was different with the case of the god of the forest. The god of the forest was still important to the villagers as their lives still depended on him. The god of fire then tricked the villagers that burning the forest would help them grow better crop. Some villagers were tricked Let’s Organicize Strawberries. It Is Easy! and took the action. As a result, there was no rain, dry soil, Regarding the community issue and the students’ and no water in the streams. The villagers then with the ability , two actions were planned and carried out. First, help of the god of the forest’s henchmen – the god of soil, the students researched and gathered knowledge about the god of water, the god of wind, and the god of trees –


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“The God of the Forest” play performed by Grade 9 students.

fought the Triangle of Fire (Fuel, Oxygen, and Heat), the god of fire’s henchmen. The villagers eventually won the fight and restored the forest back to life.” The villagers from Ban Yangmuen who went to the fundraising event at Wat Phra Barom That Doi Phasom enjoyed this play which a group of Grade 9 students performed. “The God of the Forest” play was a part of the Grade 9 students activity “giving back to the community”. They got the inspiration from their fieldtrip at Ban Yangmuen. Back then, there was a wildfire whose cause was later found out to be by some villagers setting fire, and at the same time there was an incident of water shortage for 3-4 days that the villagers need to use their reserved water. These two incidents were warning signs

that the forest was drying out and had stopped producing water. This led the students to undertake a project of forest and water resources for the hope that they could make the villagers realize the importance of nature and the interdependence of forest, soil, and water. The students had their message but how to get the message across needed to be thought through carefully. After a long discussion, they agreed that drama was the best medium because people of all ages could easily identify with the story and the students did not want to teach or inform the villagers. They just wanted to talk as family members of the villagers who had seen and felt something about the village that was in the area of headwaters, the village that they once had a chance to stay and learn at. 9

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Grade 11 students, Bang Pakong Watershed and Udom Bay

The teacher had brought fried sea bass for the students’ lunch at the beginning of the academic year led Grade 11 students of the arts program, to trace the sea bass’s route back to Bang Pakong Watershed. Once an area that produced rich and abundant food resources for the eastern part and other regions of Thailand. Today the Bang Pakong has Watershed suffered greatly from the government’s development policy.

Giving back knowledge to the community with “HIA-a public forum”

The discovery the students made led to three books of HIA or Health Impact Assessment reports. The three books were done according to the career factors and geographical divisions of the Bang Pakong Watershed area: Book I – Food Resources of the Upstream Ban Pakong and Raw Water Industry, Book II – Food Resources of

Grade 11 students sitting in a circle and talking with village leaders in Bang Pakong district.


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the Middle stream Ban Pakong and Industrial EstateEastern Seaboard Project, Book III - Food Resources of the Downstream Ban Pakong and Industrial Factories. These books presents information about resources, careers, and food product of each area, including effects from industrial development projects that are waste, water pollution and air pollution, all of which result in diminishing the abundant natural and any other resources from the Bang Pakong Watershed area.

The public forum “Questions from Children to Adults: a Case Study on Food Resources and Development in Ban Pakong Watershed Area”

On November 10, 2012, the students organized a public forum to present their HIA reports in an event called “Questions from Children to Adults: a Case Study of Food Sesources and Development in Ban Pakong Watershed Area” at Wat Sanam Chan, Ban Pho district, Chachoengsao Province. In the event, local people, the community leaders, academic researchers, university lecturers and professors, representatives from youths and government representatives, all known as “Ban Pakong people”, attended the forum to hear what the students thought and share their perspectives about the situation in their community. Responding to the questions: how do the potentials of the area decrease when there are intruders in the community? Are there any exits from this problem or support to bring back the abundance of Ban Pakong? The public forum ended with the students giving the HIA reports to the village head, so he could distribute the reports to each area. The students hoped that

the information in the report and the public forum they organized would make Ban Pakong people realize the ongoing problems and then help one another preserving their local food resources and saving snappers’ home in Ban Pakong.

HIA Public forum “Udom Bay” Udom Bay district, Chonburi Province

The next term, the students extended their study area to Ban Aou Udom, Sriracha district, Chonburi Province that is facing a similar problem as that of Ban Bang Pakong. That is, they suffer from over development that has affected the environment and the local people’s lifestyles. Unhealthy living conditions has led to a conflict between the local people, who are the owners of the area, and the seaboard companies which are the intruders. From the HIA report “The Abundant Udom Bay” that the students produced, the study points out that before the arrival of many seaboards companies and Udom Bay stopping its abundance, Udom Bay was abundant with natural resources, sea animals, and beauty. The local people of Udom Bay had earned their living with traditional fishing handed down from the previous generations. Many people from Udom Bay stated that the bay has changed: the sea water is no longer clear, and the beach is no longer beautiful because of waste deposed on it. Their houses are covered with dust and soot,


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people’s health are in crisis, and sea animals are decreasing rapidly. Even though the students understood and empathized with the people from Udom Bay, there is an undeniable fact that the seaboards have become part of the community. The students then purposed that instead of siding against each other, it might be better if there was a change from ME to WE, and so they organized a talk. The students invited representatives from each concerned sector, the community leaders, leaders of traditional fishermen groups, community academia, senators, the government’s representatives, and representatives from the seaboard companies, to talk and find solutions for this problem at the Laem Cha-bang City Municipality Office, Chonburi Province. The students moderated the talk. Although there was no concrete conclusion from the talk, it was a starting point for every sector to open up and share their concerns and lead to setting up a committee consisting of representatives from each sector to draft an agreement or vision of Udom Bay as well as to find solutions of the community’s problems.

Grade 12 students and gold mine at Loey Province

Gold Mine: Getting Rich or Getting Hurt?

The questions that arose in Matthayom 6 students of Roong Aroon after they had a chance to talk with local people around the gold mine area of Wang Sapung district, Loey Province. They found out a melancholy truth that they had never known before as city kids. Phu Sampabon and Phu Tubfa, two mountains in Wang Sapung district that once were sources of natural resources and food, an area of many rivers and streams that have nurtured their people for a long time, now have lost more than 11,860 acres to become gold mines and gold metallurgical plants. The sources of food and clean water in the mountains disappeared; instead, they were replaced with toxic contaminants which spread into water streams. The contaminants are such as cyanide –

an important chemical substance in extracting gold, and toxic metals such as mercury, lead, and cadmium that


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“I hope that the series of our short film will make people realize whether it is right that some groups of people are happy while another has to suffer for them, whether it is right for some certain groups of people to gain wealth on the bad luck of another group of people. I said ‘bad luck’ because these people actually once had rubber plantations, rice fields that fed them abundantly. Now they cannot do that any longer since the gold mines have invaded their land,” said Suppanat Thanupolpat, a Matthayom 6 students of Roong Aroon School, who is the director of the short film series on the stage of “ordinary people can change the world” forum at the Just&Fair Society Festival, March 2013 at Chulalongkorn University. What happened at Ban Aomlong, Bang Pakong Watershed area, Udom Bay area, and Three Mountains of Lum Nam Huay are only a few examples of environmental and resource crises in many parts of Thailand’s countryside. If these issues are included in the curriculums or lesson plans for students to learn, their learning will be meaningful. The students will grow up to be adults who live their lives harmoniously and live Waking up the society’s conscience with “Short without exploitation of themselves, others and nature. Film” The students created a Facebook page “Gold Behind the success Mine: Getting rich or Getting hurt?” to inform the wider Ms. Prempiti Harnthanong, Head of the Social Studies department, society the information they had gathered and analyzed. Roong Aroon School – Matthayom section Furthermore, they produced four episodes of a short film series to tell the story of the illness of the people in the Connecting the students to the community gold mine area, the story of how contaminated water and its problem The students must study from real people in the affects agricultural crops, and the story of the fight of people in the area for their rights of better living real area where the problems occur if they learn by conditions. These four episodes were posted on YouTube project-based approach in social studies. The topics of while infographic documents were made to present the each study are area based. Although the area the policy statistics and detailed information to accompany the film. of the government, laws, and development projects Their goal was for other people in the society to know the change , the content scope remains the same. On the conscience level, we want the students to realize that truth and together start to make a change. come with gold. People in the area are afraid to use and drink water from those natural water resources as well as to catch animals from the rivers and streams. Moreover, with the coming of the gold mine, people in the area have started to fall ill. They have nasal and throat irritation, skin rash, chronic ulcers, eye sores, and chest congestion. Blood tests of the people in the local area show that many of them have levels of cyanide, mercury, lead, and cadmium higher than safety standards. Self-reliance and a natural way of life are disappearing while the local people’s health is being damaged. The truth that the students discovered made them unable to feel nothing and do nothing. Their social studies projects on the gold mine and the community did not stop at gathering information from the field, analyzing the problems, drawing conclusion and purposing solutions. With the feeling that they were part of the community, and with hope that people in the area could have better health and living conditions, they took action in solving the problems the best that they could do.


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communities in the countryside are their significant resources. As city people, they need to know where their food and everything that makes their lives comfortable come from, and what problems occur due to their consumption. Once they realize this, they should know what they can do to lessen the problems or not to cause more problems.

Practicing knowledge management skills

Before going to any community, we tell our students to set their minds in the right place, that is, they are daughters and sons of the community. They must help their mothers and fathers doing house chores. Then, with respect, they can gradually ask what they are curious about. They must be good listeners. “Listen, ask, jot down.” At this stage, information can be overwhelming and scattering, the teachers must help the students manage the information by asking questions or asking them to share their impression and experience in order to see what’s in the foreground of the students’ minds. After that, the teachers let the students exchange their information, categorize information and summarize their knowledge to determine their comprehension. All of these steps will guide the students to see all the knowledge of the topic. We assist them in forming questions until they can eventually come up with the topic and research questions of their own.

The teachers’roles

The teachers’ roles changes to suit the learning styles of each group of students. However, there are three shared principles. First, the teachers raise questions. By doing so, the students will not miss significant points and have clear insights towards the issue. The questions are such as how the students and their projects are related, why they want to do them, what

the benefit of the project is. Second, the teachers guide or create the learning system. Third, the teachers give moral supports to the students. If the students do not know that what they do is good, they might feel dishearten and want to give up. The teachers’ reflections can help them feel confident and courageous enough to carry on. In conclusion, the roles of the teacher are the facilitators who provide students with inspiration and help when they need it . When problems may arise, the teachers must find ways to let their students face the problems. The teachers might guide them with questions to let them make a decision. The teachers should also monitor the students’ work and their decisions because sometimes when their students face obstacles, they might change their plan. We must talk with them to see why they change, to find out the real causes, so they can learn from their lessons.

Goals in the teachers’ minds

We want them to grow up to be adults who have social conscience, take care of the society that has provided them with life, and know that whatever they do will affect others. And it would be superb if our students go further such as they start to create solutions to relieve the problems. At the same time, they must acquire content and skills that make them distinguished in whatever they do, be it study or profession. Skills such as critical thinking, connecting ideas, gathering information, acquiring and synthesizing first-hand knowledge in order to be smart and modern about the modern world are essential .Project-based learning helps students to achieve these goals easier than by other approaches because while they learn from real issues in the real area, they become part of the community, feel the gain, the lost and then want to create something for their community.


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My portrait :





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When Parents

are Required to Attend Class to Become Professional Parents

“Jump Rope”, a traditional sport in Thailand: joy and quality time with family 16

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“Life is learning. Every student will cultivate contentment and faith in developing their life and mind on the path to becoming a complete human being with help from their parents and teachers acting as their true friends.” This is the main intention of the management of learning on the path of Roong Aroon that was set with the hopes that the students will grow up joyfully in a community of education. Their classrooms should be their home and the teachers will act as their second parents. In cultivating a complete human being, parents and teachers should watch the spiritual and intellectual growth of the child to ensure they are growing healthily and advancing at their age level so that the child has a chance to develop naturally at his own level and is finally able to rely on his own intelligence. Even though parents and teachers have the same goal and the same love for every child, in reality the goal of raising a complete human being is not easy to accomplish without running into some obstacles. But it is not too difficult for the human ability to overcome. The modern day parent’s path seems very easy. There is a wealth of information about everything you would need to know about taking care of your child from books on having a healthy pregnancy, how to parent children at different ages and techniques for improving your child’s EQ as well as IQ. If you need to find any information you can find the answer on the internet.

Web boards also provide a place for people to share their knowledge. There are now many courses teaching about

every aspect of parenting as well as many schools with experts teaching on child development. This is only a small part of what seems to helps boost the confidence of parents. But ready-made knowledge is not the final answer in leading to true knowledge about being a parent a professional and a true friend who will help cultivate the factors for the growth of the child.

How can parents become professional teachers?

For modern day parents the most important role is believing in being parents. They need to be their child’s true friend in order to fulfill their duty. They should not wait for others to mold their children in to what they expect. Taking their children to study music, art and swimming when the parent has no interest in these activities means parents lose the opportunity to be their child’s spiritual leader. Using normal everyday routine as a medium and using the environment to nurture the child has enormous value in helping parents become their child’s true role model. At school, teachers should try to be the child’s true friend as well. Teachers should be ready to develop herself to move forward along with the parents. The teacher needs to set a good example for the child to follow on the path of learning.


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Roong Aroon’s parent’s classroom project was created to help parents become their child’s first teacher. Advice is given so that parents find the path to becoming their child’s true friend. They will have a guide to understanding the child’s nature and way of learning. They will also be instilled with faith in the fact that everyone is capable of learning and developing. They will learn ways to connect with their child appropriately. They will develop their ability to spend quality time with their child. Finally they will be able to understand the educational style of the school that relies on the child’s natural learning methods to lead to building a routine at home that matches that of the school. Aside from the parent’s, the classroom project aims to build a community of learning between parents, students and teachers and to build dependence and support for one another. Prior to the start of the first term of the academic year, all parents of new kindergarten students are required to attend the workshop “Raising in the good ways of Thailand”. The workshop lasts 30 hours which includes the process of active learning to lead to better understanding of the 4 main subjects which are 1. Nature of early childhood learning. Young children are able to learn at their own pace. The first thing parents and teachers should be is a partner in the learning of children. They must understand the nature of each child and accept this fact unconditionally. They should trust, and let the children learn by themselves instead of making hasty decisions to interfere. They allow the child to learn on their own. 2. Appropriate relationships between parents and children. The learning processes of a child includes factors within the child which as a system of thought and mind and external factors which are the goodwill of parents and teachers. The key to driving learning process

At Roong Aroon . . . education starts at the self, teacher and parent

of a child is an attitude and expression and interaction of love. The mercy of the parents and adults which surround them through physical contact, action and tone represent the child’s desire. This allows the child to continuously absorb the natural environment near him until the child can produce his own intent and learn on his own. 3. There is a variety of learning through a variety of materials, activities, and environments that promote learning by playing with these around them. Another factors in the learning of children, such as in real life; art procedures, playing in nature and the natural daily routine of the child’s life. These have much value. Parents should allow children to experience things around them, to see and understand the nature of all things and to learn to always be open to learning. This is a small point but is important for growing into a mature and stable adult. 4. The role of parents in promoting learning. Parents must understand their own internal nature, stop and be able to reflect on themselves. As well, parents must stop, wait and listen to their child with their heart because children have very little language and they try to communicate with us all the time, through body language, facial expression and eyes. And attention to one thing which parents may be unaware of will contribute to the children’s understanding. The adult should reduce persistent high expectations and aspiration to excellence, and come back to understand the nature of the child.


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Parents sewing pillowcases and bedding for their children.

Learning the 4 strands has been designed to integrate into the eight training sessions in a continuous sequence approximately one to two times per month beginning at the period before the school opens which continues through the opening of school. Parents will see the development of children while at school. The last session is for knowledge management. The training of the 8 sessions are as follows All of the learning process are held on Saturday or Sunday for a total of 8 times. The parents are divided into groups of approximately 25 families. In some families both parents attend while in some families the mother and

Play is a child’s learning. Playing with children is the learning of their parents

father switch to allow the other to learn. In some families the grandparents attend or other adults in the family attend or adults in the home with the children attend the event. The kindergarten teachers serve as director of the process of activities (facilitator) while learning from practice.


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Session 1

Natural learning of young children. This first chapter in learning is of great importance. All Parents and children come together in the activities of the classroom routines. Parents have the opportunity to observe the nature of children of the same age and the diverse personalities in different ways while in the context of the classroom routine. They have the opportunity to see the children learning from the interactions of various situations.

Session 5

Routine learning (More Than Routine) This is to learn the value of daily routine, such as planting trees, arranging pebbles, sifting sand in the sand pit and separating waste. This is work with consciousness by changing the outlook from a routine which we feel is monotonous and boring to something which has value through consciousness.

Session 2

Thai Sports / Thai play and learning (More Than Sport) Thai Sports / Thai play and learning (More Than Sport) This is to bring the traditional wisdom of Thai sports to develop and balance the body and mind through both indoor and outdoor play. Particularly, the fun of playing outdoors can create quality time with their children and can be designed for the learning of children such as pass the parcel, jump rope, piggy back races and acrobatics/ tumbling.

Sessions 6

Setting goals with teachers Parents and teachers work together to set the targets in mind for the education of their children and the growth of the child. Parents make suggestions that help to do so.


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Session 3

(More Than Activity) The activity is “the tea circle”. By having warm pandan tea and a traditional fragrant rice dessert the parents experience a simple activity which leads to introspection. Being with yourself creates a new perspective with a deeper discovery of value and the link to creation. This happens before the parents use their own two hands to sew pillowcases and bedding for their children. It is necessary to learn the simple way of life which will lead us to transcend the limitations of their approach to learning new things.

Session 7

Quality time with children. This is the opportunity to learn from an expert. Prof. Dr. Kingkaew Pajaree is an excellent teacher in the relationship of parents and children and the use of quality time with children (Floor Time) and playing with children with enjoyment. The secret is to adapt oneself so that the child can lead themselves in their learning.

Session 4

Art learning (More Than Art) Learning about mind and body through art includes knitting, clay molding, and watercolor. This is working with mindfulness and concentration and determination. By using mental discipline, the participants go knowingly and look to see their thoughts. Work can be manually adjusted which balances emotion and communication process. This is emotions through art.

Session 8

Collecting the seeds of learning The final activity is for knowledge management of what the parents of every family have learned and experienced, to share and learn. This is in order to bring out the skills and values from the lessons. And to concluded the direction for the relationship of the parents to promote common development.


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Decoding to learn... Flowers bloom

During the past six years through to this year 2013, the Parents Classroom of Roong Aroon School has designed a learning process that continues to be developed.

The project has been assessed in terms of parents

and kindergarten teachers who serve as leaders of

the training. The training process has lead to satisfactory progress. The benefits of learning have blossomed.

The first indication is that the kindergarten 1 students are familiar with the school more quickly than ever before. They can learn with friends of the same age. They are learning through play happily. When the opening day comes, the students have readiness and are able to

adapt to the daily activities at the school within a short period of time. With the parents, it can be noted the parents have the nature of being good friends. They can understand the nature of their child which affects their learning. They can understand the different nature of the learning of each child as well as understand the school’s learning management guidelines. In the relationship among parents or between parents and teachers, they are closely familiar which results in a good relationship leading to trust and cooperation in the care of children who develop happily .

The parents as good friends

After completing eight sessions for a total of 30 hours, in the summary of the assessment of learning by parents participating, it was found that the parents exhibited expertise in parenting and were more conscious. Some features of this were:

“Sitting and molding clay made me feel that I do not know myself at all. And how am I going to know my child? When I was doing it, I thought about this and that and I asked myself what are we going to learn from this activity”

• Parents can understand the nature of learning

in early childhood, the nature of your child’s learning.

You are able to develop the attitude with children that learning is fun. Parents are able to be the fountain of faith and the stability for children to depend on.


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“What should be developed is knowing one’s current condition and knowing quickly enough in order to modify it; your difficulty, your desire in order to listen and observe and really understand your child. Listening to their needs to observe and understand the reality”. Parents group of mixed level classroom.

• Parents can learn their inner nature which effects the raising of your child and the relationship between yourself and your child. You can spend quality time in creating shared learning with children.

“My child was impatient, but after participating in the program, we changed ourselves rather than trying to change our child. Children are like white clothes, How we are, our children reflect that and become like that.” Mother Mixed level Classroom Kg.1/1

“Usually my father would wash the car by himself in order for it to be cleaned quickly. I tried to change and ask my son if he wanted to help me. My son immediately agreed because he wanted to do the same as his father. I gave him the equipment and told him the steps of what we needed to do first. My child was the person who decided who was going to do which part.”

• Parents are able to listen to their children, wait patiently, observe and quell expectations. They do not focus on blame or intervene to require children to do as they expect. While at the same time, they do not overstate their admiration for their children or severely emotionally punish their children. The parents use sense and sensibility in everyday speech with intention and conscious emotions.

• Parents recognize and believe in the potential of children to learn and self-reliance does not rely on knowledge of the external factors alone. There they see the value of lifestyle, routine work and hands on activities in the learning of children. The child is proud and absorbs the example set by his parent.

“After making the mattress cover and pillow case, what I learned is the value of myself and the value of things and concentration in work. I see the value of my own ability to do something unfamiliar. If we try to focus on that, we can learn and access that.” Mr. Arnon Jaitroung- Japan’s father

• Parents have knowledge and understanding about the direction of the school which supports the natural learning of the child. They are able to apply this understanding smoothly in the house hold routine. They are able to make adjustments to facilitate a more open area for their child’s learning to occur. They are parents who are loving and supportive of their child’s learning and take special care of their children together. 23

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The Teachers are Good Friends

The learning in the workshop on the raising of children in the traditional Thai way, apart from the parents, includes the teacher as a partner in the learning who has the common goal of developing their students. The teachers have a great opportunity from the training

in the Parents Classroom. They are able to develop themselves to become teachers as good friends with the following features • teachers’ have skills to arrange and organize the learning process for the by making careful arrangements, before starting work, while working and summarizing to reflect the learning which occurs each time. • Teachers have the skills for systematic thinking in the designing of content for an integrated learning plan including learning activities and assessment. • Teachers have the opportunity to equally share their learning with their parents.

Therefore, learning along with their parents includes fostering a good relationship between teachers and parents. Teachers have the skills to work as a team with unity between fellow teachers. “The process requires us to take action to gain knowledge, to understand and to be able to transfer that knowledge to others. We must listen to the opinions of the group and guide the group together to reach to objectives of the different issues. We must have the acumen to think of a good solution and to exchange ideas with fellow teachers. As we have firsthand knowledge, our skills increase. We feel proud and have more selfconfidence when it comes to the exchange of information and advising parents to support the parents in the development of their children.” Anchalee Kanokkuntrakorn Teacher Kindergarten 1/2

Taking lessons from the parent’s classroom

Flowers bloom. To overcome obstacles and to grow as parents and teachers as good friends above; when analyzing the evaluation of learning, factors which led to success are: 1. The design of the learning process. The workshop involved parents to learn through action and direct experience. Through acting on their own in familiar settings which are in their lifestyle routines is learning which is natural to oneself. This creates the awareness that the development and changes that need to happen start with oneself, not with the child. Parents can create learning through their own wisdom. Learning the wisdom of themselves by using the routine in their home or family environment to raise their children is extremely valuable.


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2. The Learning process where parents have the opportunity to create learning through interaction within the group (Group Learning) By participating with the group, they are able to reflect on their learning and organize their learning periodically. It is being good friends which enables an exchange of learning. It serves as an example that a good relationship reflects in learning and knowledge. Regular periodic sharing of learning establishes a role model and good relationships with the parents on the route to becoming “expert parents” together. 3. Learning which is useful to parents The content is linked in order of the purpose of the learning through listening, introspection and practicing mindfulness which includes the content about learning within oneself, learning things outside of ourselves. This requires us to balance body and mind, and understanding with awareness of the situation and adjust the relationship to oneself, others and the environment. And using the knowledge to understand ones child. To have the manner of being flexible and adjusting between oneself and ones child first. Included with this, learning with the experts enables parents to apply the knowledge which they already have to merge and create new knowledge which brings deep understanding (First Hand Knowledge) which can truly be applied appropriately to one’s own child. 4. Learning from natural materials and materials close to us materials / learning activities which reflect the dimension of value. The preparation for activities, teaching materials and procedures are both careful and methodical. There is a variety of media and activities which are based on activities that occur in everyday life such as art, clay molding, water color painting, creating things from recycled goods and natural materials, games and sports from Thai wisdom, planting trees and making

An example of the worksheet the parents are given to review as homework 1. How did you feel regarding the learning activity; before beginning, while doing the activity and upon completion of the work process? Did you adjust yourself to create balance while working or not and if so, how? .................................................................................. 2. What opportunities can you identify to establish a daily routine as learning for yourself and your child? .................................................................................. 3. What value do you see in the routine tasks which you have done? .................................................................................. useful crafts such as sewing pillowcases and bedding for children. 5. The Learning process allows parents a chance to review themselves and to experiment to apply the knowledge in practical use with their children. By looking back at the previous sessions at the beginning of each new session, the parents can review the lessons learnt, followed by being able to clearly identify the purpose of each lesson. The parents are led to form small groups and towards the end are led to conclude and evaluate their experience in learning each session. As well as having the parents write their experience and understanding which occurred in a questionnaire worksheet after the parents have taken their lessons back home and applied them to their child.

By observing, and continuously reviewing oneself, the parents are led to the further accumulation of “Tacit Knowledge”. 6. There is an atmosphere of learning that encourages interaction between teachers and parents. 25

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Learning occurs in school; both in the child’s classroom and outside of the classroom. The atmosphere is natural and relaxed. By arranging the events on Saturday and Sunday, the parents working time is less interfered with and the entire team of Kindergarten teachers is part of the process. As well, the practitioners who are familiar with the training process which has been arranged several times, are able to practice and become experts and enabled them to have the skills of good processing and a shared understanding of what they are teaching. They have a flexible manner and do not decide and point out to others what is wrong. But rather facilitate the learning and provide the opportunity for the parents to practice by themselves and together with the teacher. 7. The teacher’s process includes all kindergarten teachers of every level. It is a unifies team with a common goal. The teachers do not separate for the parents of one’s own level but recognize that this as an issue which benefits all. Meetings are held to raise creative ideas for activities. There is preparation and a clear allocation of roles and responsibilities. This involves skills such as handling the situation, troubleshooting and managing for a smooth training “ ... It was tiring when I sewed a pillowcase because I had never done it. But at that moment, my mind wandered. Uncharitable thoughts came. I didn’t want to do it. But OK, if they do it, I’ll do it. What I have passed has benefited me. I was able to adapt this because I am calmer. I feel I am a better person. Like when I return home, sometimes I am irritated. I use my temper with people I love. This isn’t correct. This caused me to reflect on myself– Why am I angry? But when I am calm and peaceful, whatever I try to do is easy. Like when we work with concentration. We have intention. Don’t follow the uncharitable thoughts. Be still and look, analyze and

Parents are role models. The child is the exact copy

Professor Amara Sakakorn

observe. It certainly will have good results, just as when we raise our children. …If I am to answer about change, actually change takes time. However, here (at the training) what has been arranged is they have asked us to continuously practice. Since the first meeting, they asked us to begin to let go. Start. We have started to have a new way of thinking as we step into this place. We must change. This school accepts applications since the child is 2 years old. They allow time for the parents. They allow us to come and experience. They allow us to come and learn. They allow us to have a certain level of screening before we make our decision. And regarding the activities, they have said it all. The school is direct with us. What are they doing? We are fathers and mothers. We must have consciousness when we care for our children. Our children are human beings. They want to be treated just as we do. I think the training is not just a half an hour. It has an impact. It enables us to appreciate what the school means and helps us to understand more.”

Thanatcha (Aor) Manasatienkij

“Roong Aroon is a school of love. Attending the 30-hour training teaches us to love our child, love ourselves, love our family, creates relationships in the family, grandparents and the community. It helps us to completely adjust our life. We can see our own potential and that of our children.“

Eve (mother) Kindergarten 1 room 1


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Eleven attitudes for improving the raising of Thai children 1. Observing well 2. Waiting with stillness 3. Being indulgent and a hard worker; looking at the short term and the long term 4. Allowing children to experience trial and error 5. Communicating at the right moment 6. Accepting the nature of learning which includes differences and ranges 7. Using mental prayer for goodness 8. Managing oneself in a limited time period 9. Having an open mind and listening to one another 10. Being patient with constraints and dissatisfactions 11. Joining others with equality

Role of parents and children with wisdom

These 11 attitudes are behaviors that every parent should practice as their character in order to always be the river of faith for our children. This is another step in From the Parents Classroom project at Roong the path for collaboration between home and school. On Aroon School, it can be summarized as a body of the journey to the goal of life... which is to study to knowledge on the role and attitude of parents raising become a complete human. children with intellect. 27

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The mathematics classroom using the Open-Approach method

Open Approach:

A Learning Process that “Opens” Students and Teachers’ Potential It is a classroom atmosphere in which students are eager to answer questions while a teacher writes each answer on the board, not judging whether whose answers are right or wrong but transforming those answers to be new challenges for the students. No one would have

guessed such a lively classroom in which the teacher and the students are active in learning is a mathematics class. Nevertheless, it is a typical picture of an Open Approach mathematics class.


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Open Opportunities for Students to Acquire Knowledge by Themselves

Open Approach is a Japanese innovative mathematics learning and teaching method in which students’ divergent thinking is given space and appreciated. Students make comprehensive use of their former mathematical knowledge to understand new knowledge on their own from problems of real world situations which the teachers pose and to which there are

The Open Approach of Mathematics Learning Process


Posing open-ended problem situations to make students internalize these problems, which need to be solved, as their own


Students creating solutions to problems by writing down their concepts and methods


Class discussion to compare each individual concept in order to link students’ thinking to mathematical concepts


Summarizing the lesson for students to understand the aimed mathematical concepts

many different solutions. Moreover, in this kind of approach teachers are open to divergent thinking; therefore, students are motivated to present their own thinking without fear of making mistakes even though their methods are different from fellow students. Free, responsive, and supportive learning environment altogether with teachers’ challenging problems makes students able to acquire knowledge by themselves. Mr. Komain Aorchaiyapoom, a math teacher of the Primary Education Division, explains that mathematics is about natural phenomena that students must observe, learn, and understand by themselves. Nonetheless, the observation can occur when teachers assist their students with a process in which questions are posed and later lead students to observe and think. The questions, which come from open-ended problem situations in students’ lives, invite students to observe and think until they understand the mathematical concepts teachers hide in those situations. An Example of the Lesson of Multiplication of Fractions in the Sixth Grade “The students studied how to multiply fractions at the very basic level in the fifth grade. In the sixth grade, the lesson becomes more complex. The students cannot picture how to multiply one fraction with another fraction. The teacher cannot simply tell them to multiply the numerators first and then multiply the denominators. The teacher must devise a situation to stimulate the students to apply their former knowledge to think and create their own learning process. Here is a situation: in a farm, there’s a pigpen whose fence is measured by square meters and there’s a boy who wants to paint this fence. The amount of paint the boy has is one tenth of a paint can or one deciliter. If he uses up the paint, he can paint three fourths square meters of the fence. 29

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While the teacher describes the situation, illustrations are also used. The students will listen, look at the illustrations and imagine. Afterwards the teacher uses the boy’s situation to be a topic for class discussion. What if the boy has more amounts of paint, like three deciliters? How many square meters can he paint then? The students conclude that if there’s more amounts of paint, more space will be painted. The students think, without recognizing it, that this is multiplication. They will see it as a common sense that more amounts of paint, more space covered while less amounts of paint, less space covered. In this ordinary situation, the teacher hides mathematical conditions that require students to apply mathematical knowledge (multiplication of fractions) in their analysis of the relationship between the amounts of paint and the space the paint can cover. Next, the numbers will vary. What if the amount of paint is not one, two, three, but one third of a deciliter? How much space can the boy paint? The students will conclude that one third of a deciliter can paint less. They will start to think how the fraction the teacher has earlier mentioned links to the fraction the teacher has recently mentioned. They will apply their already acquired knowledge to analyze and find the solutions on their own and then explain their methods to the teacher and their fellow students. Some students may explain by drawing pictures and diagrams, some may use number lines while some students who are very good at math may use mathematical symbols to explain. Everybody will see divergent thinking towards solutions springing from the same problem situation. “Such a process goes hand in hand with students’ natural learning process, which usually springs from their immediate environments. The students engage themselves in learning by hand and head and then heart. They engage their hearts in learning when they share

knowledge by explaining their thoughts and listening to others’. In doing so, they will see many different ways of thinking and start to compare and contrast information. They may start to question why one of their friends uses this method while another uses a different one, and then they start to codify, analyze and synthesize knowledge based on their own approaches and their friends’. The teacher’s role now is to provide students with questions to stimulate them to deepen their thinking about the points the teacher raises. For instance, in a few methods the students have shared, are there any similarities? Which solutions are the most effective? The teacher’s questions help the students see the key terms that embody the main concepts of the lesson which already exist in the methods they have presented. “From the problem situation as such, the students will see that division is what those methods have in common. Division could be division of graphics, of number lines or of numerals. In order to solve problems about fractions, the students must be able to operate division and see that a fraction is one unit divided into many parts. This is the main concept of the lesson which every student will understand eventually.”

Space for thinking is Wide-Open. Everyone can Learn Mathematics

What distinguishes an Open-Approach mathematics classroom from other kinds of mathematics classrooms is that it opens space for students’ divergent thinking. Because there is not one rigid approach or one absolute formula, many solutions are possible for one


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problem; mathematics becomes accessible for all students, not only for students who are good at the subject. “In a classroom, usually there are students who are very good at math, who are fairly good and who are not good at all or don’t like math. Teachers must plan ahead of how to facilitate everyone to learn. So, apart from careful planning of the lessons and open-ended problem situations, teachers must create a supportive and friendly learning atmosphere in the classroom, opening up opportunities for everyone to share their knowledge and thoughts, while keeping out a hostile atmosphere that allows students to brag about their thoughts and insult those who make mistakes. For example, if a student who’s weak at math speaks up his or her thought, teachers must take this chance to compliment him or her even though what he or she says is just a short response such as ‘agree’ or ‘disagree’. If there’s a student who dominates the class with his or her opinions, teachers may say, ‘I can see that you must surely know the answer, but let’s see if the others think the same as your answer.’ This strategy will help to open up space to other students, especially the less able, to participate. Even though the very able don’t answer, their knowledge and understanding are still with them. The very-able and the able students will listen to their friends to see if their friends’ opinions match theirs. A classroom in which everyone listens to each other and that belong to everyone occurs,” Mr. Aorchaiyapoom said. Such a learning atmosphere in which students feel they have their space to think and feel they are accepted encourages weak students who have negative attitudes towards mathematics to learn again. The evidence is that weak students in this group have transformed from those who ignore learning and are not

responsible to be those who become more active in expressing their opinions, become responsible in completing assignments and exercises and finally make improvement in math scores. “Listening, accepting differences, neither insulting nor bragging but helping each other to learn and find solutions to the given problem situations are moral development system hidden in Open Approach,” said

Mr. Aorchaiyapoom.

Open Doors to the Twenty-First Century Learning

Ms. Sakunee Bunyabancha, the Principal of Roong Aroon School, Elementary Education Division, explains that Open Approach has transformed the learning process in the classroom. Teachers must be meticulous in engaging students with open-ended problem situations because if students do not want to participate or find solutions, there will be less diversity in problem solving. It is necessary for teachers to make students feel as if the given problem situations are their own. Students thus want to solve the problems. As a result, it will be much easier when it comes to the stage in which mathematical concepts of the lessons are drawn out. In Open Approach, teachers have strategies to make students feel that they are not spoon fed knowledge by teachers but they discover knowledge by themselves. “Open Approach responds to 21st Century Learning. In the 21st century, knowledge and information are plentifully available and can be immediately accessed because we have advanced technology and media. 31

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Hence, the role of school is to foster students’ skills of how to acquire methods and learning processes, so students can seek and understand knowledge by themselves. However, students have limited experience. They don’t really know what they should know and how. Teachers’ processes become essential conditions for them to form their thoughts, understanding, and knowledge on their own. Teaching, then, must change. Teachers are neither the absolute judges nor the sole providers of instant knowledge any longer,” the principal of Roong Aroon School, Elementary Education Division said. The opinion from Ms. Sakunee Bunyabancha concurs with what Asst. Prof. Dr. Maitree Inprasit, Dean of Faculty of Education, Khon Kaen University, who has brought Open Approach innovation to Thailand, once said, “The time in the classroom is not the teachers’ time. The teachers’ time is outside the class, in which teachers prepare their lessons. The limited amount of time in the classroom is the students’ time. The teachers’ role is to facilitate their students’ learning. Their role is not to teach whatever they want.”

Open Teachers’ Perspectives. Every Student Can Learn

In mathematics learning by Open Approach, it can be observed that teachers are the main factor to indicate whether the classroom will be successful or not. Mr. Komain summarizes the characteristics of Open Approach teachers as follows: 1. Teachers must believe in the truth that everyone can learn by themselves. With this belief, teachers will plan their lessons with the clear goal that students must observe and form knowledge by themselves. 2. Teachers must be good listeners and observers. Teachers observe both students and the contents of their lessons. What are the main concepts of the contents? What are the learning styles of each student? Teachers, then, create processes to facilitate students to understand those concepts on their own. Asst. Prof. Dr. Maitree Inprasit once said that teachers must not leave their students behind because every student can learn. It is up to the wisdom of teachers to design learning processes that match students’ learning styles. If students cannot learn, it is not their fault. It is rather a truth that teachers must do something. If teachers are not able to, they must accept the hard truth and start to rethink and relearn. Therefore, in Open Approach, it is necessary for teachers to listen to, observe, and understand their students. 3. Teachers should know how to raise questions due to the fact that, in Open Approach, teachers will not directly tell students knowledge but must invite students to discover knowledge on their own. 4. Teachers must learn from what students think. Teachers must understand what their students communicate, so they will be able to guide students to


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the main concepts of their lessons. Teachers must not be judgmental. They must accept differences in thinking and they must not judge whose thoughts are right or wrong. Instead, they must try to follow each student’s lines of argument to understand his or her thinking. Teachers ask students questions, so students can expand their thinking, communicate more effectively, and connect divergent thinking to the main concepts.

Working Process of Teachers in Lesson Study System

team working on planning lessons peer observation

peer reflecting for improvement of teaching

Open Teachers’ Hearts for Learning and Self-Improvement

When Open Approach was brought into Roong Aroon mathematics classrooms, the school invited experts from the Center for Research in Mathematics Education, Faculty of Education, Khon Kaen University and Asst. Prof. Dr. Maitree Inprasit, the director of Center for Research in Mathematics Education and Dean of Faculty of Education, Khon Kaen University to observe mathematics classrooms and reflect their observation in order to improve the performance of mathematics teachers as well as to make students better their understanding of mathematical concepts and see mathematics in a new light: math is not all about calculation but about life. Lesson Study is a significant tool to help teachers able to operate Open Approach classrooms. 33

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Ms.Sakunee explains that, in Lesson Study, mathematics teachers collaborate with each other in every stage from analyzing concepts of each unit, planning lessons, peer observing the classroom teaching, and reflecting the observation. The reflection leads to discussion on the topics according to the team’s concerns such as evaluating whether teachers achieve their attainment targets, analyzing what they want to improve and how to do it. Each reflection always helps teachers improve their teaching for the next time. Open Approach and Lesson Study must be done concurrently because sometimes teachers do not truly understand the concepts of the lessons or do not see a complete picture of their classrooms. Peer coaching helps teachers improve their teaching effectively. Nevertheless, teachers are not familiar with Open Approach and Lesson Study. The first step is that Open Approach teachers need to open their hearts. The consequence from teachers attending regular Dhamma practices, which Roong Aroon School organizes both on and off the campus, is that teachers become modest while their minds become open to learn new things. Mr. Komain recounts his experience when he first brought Open Approach to his classroom. “I admit that back then I was worried to have staff and experts, whether it was one or many, coming to observe my classroom because it is human nature that we fear making mistakes and being criticized. These worries came out subconsciously. As time passed by, I started to really take a look at myself. I tried to overcome my fear and worries and really see the intention of the observers. I found that they did not come to find faults or to criticize me, but to help. What Asst. Prof. Dr. Maitree Inprasit, Assoc. Prof. Prapapat Niyom, Ms. Sakunee

Bunyabancha, or my fellow teachers told me was not criticism but truths they saw in the classroom, the insight which helped me achieve my goal. When I overcome this fear, I’m eager to learn. My heart opens and I listen. I contemplate what the others reflect and start to see that I’m not perfect. There’s so much that I don’t understand in this profession whether it is human learning processes or contents of mathematics. When my heart opens, I feel happy and I enjoy designing lessons, teaching, and improving myself every day.” The experience of Mr. Komain is an example reflecting that Open Approach does not only open space for students’ divergent thinking and potential, but also opens teachers’ perspectives. It helps to improve teachers’ intellect, wisdom, heart and soul as they open themselves up and listen. Open Approach does not only improve intellect and wisdom but also spiritual dimension of both teachers and students.


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Roong Aroon junior Khon: Completed by collective value awareness Story by Benjaporn Srisoi, Nantiya Tansricharoen Photo by Ittikun Kanokkantrakorn and parent of primary students

On an evening in March in 2013, the Roong Aroon school football field, as in previous years, was turned into a Khon outdoor stage. This year, primary school students from Khon club held a performance the Ramakien, Chong Tanon episode. Before the show began, the audience, including students, teachers, parents and other family members, who had been waiting for this performance all year long, had come to reserve their seats. The space in

front of the stage was fully occupied. There was a large raw fabric curtain, simply decorated with the episode title, on the stage. When the show began, the performers danced and acted in their roles. It made the audience smile with these lovely little performers. This show, of course, could not be compared with a professional one. Although Khon club students’ dancing skills were not as beautiful as the standard criteria, all of

A performance of Khon drama of the Ramakien (“The Glory of Rama” epic), Episode The Building of the Causeway


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the audience gave a huge round of applause when the show ended. It represented their appreciation of the dedication of the performers, musicians, teachers, parents and the background support who worked hard throughout the year. As a result, the Roong Aroon community could watch Khon, a highly acclaimed Thai performance art, presented by their own children.

Practicing Khon: the value of life training

Khon is an elaborate, highly skilled Thai performing art. It employs many aspects of Thai arts such as dancing, music, literature and fine arts. Each performance requires plenty of time to practice. And it also comes at a high cost. This was such a big challenging to bring Khon to the primary students and expect them to learn and perform it. Mrs. Sakunee Boonyabancha, the principal of Roong Aroon primary school, discussed the reason she supported a junior Khon performance every year. She said she was aware of the value of Khon as a graceful highly skilled Thai performing art. Meanwhile, she saw the possibility that the students could learn and transform themselves through Khon training. Even though they could only partly understand the Ramakien, a literature derived from the Indian epic Ramayana, in Thai language class, they would understand and appreciate the story more deeply when they participated in the performance. At the same time, they could transform themselves along the process of practice. Khon was a hard task that required a lot of time and patience in each step such as standing poses and hand, arm and body bending, dancing and acting. As children these days often had little patience, the Khon training process would help them to become more patient.

However, Mrs. Sakunee said that Khon training was almost cancelled. At first, Khon was a part of the process of learning the Ramakien in Thai subject for the sixth graders. So, all of the students had to practice it. Since the dancing was hard and the students had to practice seriously, some of the unwilling students became unhappy and against the training. Their reaction worried Khon teachers who were invited from outside the school. And these teachers’ comments discouraged Mrs. Sakunee. She almost cancelled the training. However, when she thought about the many students who loved and enjoyed it, she shifted from a compulsory to an optional course as Khon club. As a result, Khon training could be initiated by the student’s self motivation.


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“We opened Khon club in 2011 to offer the students from year 3-6 who loved and really wanted to learn Khon. When they chose to learn by themselves, they could practice patiently and they gradually transformed automatically. Every year, when it came to a final rehearsal day, we found that many students still did not perform well. But when the actual performance began, after they wore the costumes and headdresses given by the teachers, they were energized. They became attentive and tried their best. It was better than any of the rehearsals. Even though their performance was not as graceful as the one by the Department of Fine Arts, we could see how serious, determined and hard-working they were. They all gave their best effort. Although we incurr a high cost to create the show, we continue to provide an opportunity for the students to have such a rare experience like this every year.” said Mrs. Sakunee.

Adjust the training to meet their fit

accumulation from the former dramatic teachers to their descendants, by arranging the training course to fit with the ability level of primary school students. “We taught Khon according to the traditional pattern in the past because we wanted them to know the original style. However, we arranged some necessary and adjustable parts for them to be able to learn it. We tried not to make them think that it was too difficult. We arranged the dance poses from easy to difficult. When it became more difficult, they began to moan. So, we demonstrated the original poses which we had learnt before. In this way, the students could realize that the genuine poses were more elegant so they had motivation to follow the teacher’s poses. Furthermore, Khon consisted of posture and sense, including facial and eye expression, which was quite difficult. It depended on their talent. When we trained, the posture was fixed while the sense was flexible as it required experience from the performers.”

Each year, Roong Aroon junior Khon involves many people both in and outside the school. They all work together. In the early years, the teachers from Joe Louis theatre were invited to train the students. Later, Khon expert teachers from The College of Dramatic Arts (now renamed as Bunditpatanasilpa Institute), led by Dr. Chanai Wannalee and Pradit Silpasombat, were invited. Miss Sasiprapa Ratanawaraha, a Thai classical dancing teacher and Mrs. Acharaporn Sangthong, one of the parents, also became involved. Mrs. Acharaporn has been persuaded by Dr. Chanai, her senior from the College of Dramatic Arts, to train the students since her child was in year 3 through to recently in year 8. She would like to pass traditional Khon, as a cultural 37

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“Over the course of teaching many year groups, no one has been unable to do it. It only depended on how well each one could do. All I all, the students could do well and naturally as they performed with their hearts. When they practiced, I could see that they were really into the role because they wanted to be that character. To evaluate them, we had to be concerned about the duration. For me, it took over ten years to reach this level. They had less than a year to train. So, they were very good at their level.” said Acharaporn. Understanding with an open-minded viewpoint and the flexibility of the Khon training team were the important keys. The primary school students were provided an opportunity to learn this kind of strictly rigid and difficult highly skilled Thai performing art according to their potential. They were not cut out by the standard when compared to their actual ability.

The path is more important than the goal

The key element of Khon was not only the performers. It also included Piphat musicians, a Thai ensemble composed by percussion and wind instruments, who started their practice along with the performers at the beginning of the year. They practiced Na Phat; signaling music for theatrical acts and Song Chan; a second telescopic degree variation song. These songs were arranged by Thai classical music teachers who modified some parts to ensure that the students could play them. Mr. Eakapob Sriraksa, a Thai classical music teacher, explains that each Khon story section has its own specific musicalal pattern according to the traditional

regulation. It is comprised of Song Chan and Na Phat songs. Some parts of the songs had to remain the same while others were adjustable. In the latter part, Thai classical music teachers would sort out and modify them to enable the students to play. “To estimate whether the students could play the music or not, we were not only concerned with how complicated it was. Traditional music regulations which set appropriate qualifications for players were also considered, for example, the player’s ability and maturity. Some songs have been set for only those who have been ordained. So, we had to discuss how to adjust each song. And we also consulted Dr. Sirichaichan Fakchamroon, the Dean of Bunditpatanasilpa Institute, as a Thai classical music expert. In this way, we could ensure that the arranged music suited the requirements precisely. One example was Batsakunee, which was one of Na Phat Chan Soong; sanctified music signaling theatrical acts and paying homage to spirit teachers, which the students could not play. So, we had to simplify it. Some songs had five different patterns of repetition which we broke down to only one repetition. If there were some possibilities to adjust, we did so in order to enable the students to play. But if we could not adjust or the students could not play, for example, Na Phat Chan Soong or playing Ta Pon; a barrel-shaped drum on a stand which had 32 different sounds and was very difficult to play, we played ourselves. We also invited other teachers to help in our ensemble.” Apart from practicing their instruments, Khon musicians had to learn dancing poses, listen to music and know the story’s sequences in order to play according the acting or dancing. They had to be aware of the various accompaniments. For example, some songs had its


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accompaniment at the end while others had it at the beginning and also the end. Or when the performers moved or acted, the musicians had to know the right moment to make accompaniment. This required practice and experience. If we only focused on their music skills as a goal, these students might not get high marks. But if we focused on the value they gained along the training process, they definitely gained more than a hundred percent. “We didn’t have fixed criteria to assess the students such as getting 50 or 100. If they improved, we would give them 100. We considered them individually.

Sometimes the end result might not have been very good; however we focused on their process not their result. It was more important to cultivate their attitude and modify some of their behaviors. For example, they had been very playful at first. They kept practicing until they came to realize how important their role was. They had much effort and determination. I saw they had started reciting the script and observing the dancing poses actively. Before the performance day, they could sing and remember everything because they put care into and saw value in what they did. What we emphasized most was bringing them to appreciate performances; become the 39

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audience. On the other hand, if we had focused on making them become a performer, within this time limit, they could not have done much. By practicing Khon, they gained the value and they became the preserver of

the Khon tradition which was better than becoming

a performer. In my opinion, the reason everyone in our school came to join the Khon performance was we all considered that the process was more important than the goal.” said Eakapob.

Students and teachers learn and improve together

The value that resulted from the students during the training process was discipline and self- responsibility. They had to direct themselves to practice every week both time in class and extra hours with the teachers. They also had additional training with their friends and practiced by themselves at home. They gained more and more patience from the beginning to the day of the performance. “Although we simplified the training course, Khon was still a hard task that required great patience such as dancing poses. On the performance day, they had to be patient with the costumes because each costume weighs more than 4 kilograms. After they put on the dress, they could not drink water as the dress was sewn and fit perfectly with their body. They, however, could tolerate this and this helped them to create the best show. We experienced this before. When we saw that they could make it, we were proud of them.” Acharaporn reflected the students’ mental improvement which gradually grew along the Khon training.

Not only did the students improve from this training, the teachers also developed themselves by participating in this work such as Thai classical music and dance teachers. “Normally, when we taught in class, we didn’t sing Thai classical music seriously. We only sang simple or children songs. Once we taught Khon, it was an opportunity to sing Khon songs which were harmonious and beautiful. Thai classical dance teachers could express their highly trained dancing ability. Thai classical music teachers could play prestigious Pi Phat music.


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Each of us practiced and learnt more from the teachers. Even though we had studied, we were not professional performers. So, this performance was a chance for us to develop ourselves.” said Eakapob. Benjaporn Srisoi, a Thai subject teacher, was another person who worked with the students. She taught

Ramakien and was responsible for Khon club. She was in charge from the very beginning when Khon club began. She took part in directing the practice and coordinating with other departments. Therefore, she was regarded as a head of this performance. She was always there with the students from not knowing at all how to dance up to the performance day when the students put on makeup, dressed and wore the headdresses for the show. “Since I teach the Thai subject, Khon and Ramakien are part of my life. I have had some difficulties but that was alright. However, what worried me was my mind. Because deep down inside, I felt that Khon was a valuable and beautiful high-level performing art. So, this show should be created as best we could. Sometimes, the students couldn’t do it. They were tired while I felt pressure. Anyway, I learnt to let go after everybody had tried their best. On the performance day, what I gradually created and what the students had patiently practiced throughout the year was manifested in front of the audience. I saw the joyful sparkle in the students, the happiness from the Khon teachers, other teachers, parents and the entire audience. It took my tiredness away. I was so proud and happy to have worked on the performance. During the year of Khon training, the students developed their physical growth including muscle strength through dancing practice and mental growth including patience, discipline, responsibility and concentration. These all came from their love to learn Khon. One of the important things was their love of this superior performing art that took root in their hearts. They were provided an opportunity and supported by the adults surrounding them. Roong Aroon junior Khon was a concrete reflection of the learning process and the community of Roong Aroon school. 41

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Learning the Essence of Subjects, the Essence of Life through a Drama Project

The journey of the play went through many obstacles. Since the play was a massive work that contained many people with many roles creating a play that combined the essence and entertainment was not easy. It was more complicated when it became

a historical play which had to have accurate information. This was a difficult work that challenged the abilities of the production team.

From failure to learning in drama camp

From a topic question in Thai-Social Studies class, “Why are industrial factories located in the central plain

of Thailand?” the students in 8th grade presented their final project or Yod Nham- meaning drop of water in Thai, at the end of the first term in 2012 with a play. They chose a play without considering how well they knew the subject. Mrs. Aree Chanyam, the vice principal of secondary school and a Social Studies –Thai teacher, talked about the working atmosphere of her students at that time. Although all of them were determined and tried to participate in the project, they didn’t have any background knowledge about making a play. Some of them sat in front of a computer trying to write a script while their friends stopped by and looked around. Many of them had no idea what to do but they still stayed together in the classroom because they wanted to be a part of the project.

“I could see how determined they were to work as a whole group. However, some of the students who could not fit in with any roles just did nothing and sat in the classroom. For me, this was very strange because normally when they were assigned to work as a whole class, it turned into a chaotic atmosphere. But this time, they were very quiet. I think that they really wanted to work together on this project. They just really had no idea how to create a play.” Due to the lack of background knowledge and understanding, their play was not as fun as they expected. However, Mrs. Aree was aware of their intention and she knew that her students were very interested in the play. As a result, when the students began to study the history of the Ayutthaya period in the second term, she planned to set a final project presentation through a historical play ”Suriyothai” and held a drama workshop for the students according to their request. “In the previous term, the students had asked me to find an acting teacher for them. Some requested

to study play writing. I was so glad to hear that because when the drive comes from the students themselves,

it’s easy for teachers to bring them to learn something.

At the beginning of the 2nd term, I told them about the learning goal of that term; that they would learn the history of the Ayutthaya period. And that they would present what they learned at the end of the term through a play “Suriyothai”. One of my duties was to provide them


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professional acting teachers. When they had this clear goal, they worked to their full capacity. They also had

a sense of ownership. They read the story of Suriyothai and collaboratively planned their field trip to study history based on the Suriyothai novel. They also held a rite to ask for permission from the King’s spirit before they performed the play. They did knowledge management and wrote a play script before they joined a drama workshop. “ The drama camp was held for 5 days at Roong Aroon school. All of the 8th Grade students stayed at school and learnt how to create a play from a professional drama teacher Master Chang- Chonprakan Chanruang and other teachers from Moradokmai drama group. They learnt

each process in drama such as writing a script and acting. One of the most important things was that they understood the value of drama; that it was a connection between performer and audience. The performer had to understand the story and take the essence to change themselves first. Then, they could connect it to the audience. When the performer, audience and story were combined as one, the knowledge will manifest. The failure from the previous term had made the students listen to what the drama teachers taught them. They understood more about drama. They knew how to participate and fit in each role such as script-writer, director, backstage hand, stage designer, costume designer, light and sound director or even actor. Their A scene from the play “King Naresuan”


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working principle was dedication and unity which was according to the main theme of the play, the dedication of Suriyothai. ”At that time, a student who worked as the director was so stressed, that she cried. As a director, she was supposed to teach and lead her friends. But others were self-centered. They didn’t listen to each other. So, I had to be a middle person and point out that working as a director was not an easy job, it required a lot of dedication and leadership. It was very painful when nobody listened to you. When they saw it more clearly, they could realize how dedicated their friend was. They didn’t only focus on their own role anymore. They were in tears while sharing in the group. After that, they adjusted themselves and helped each other to complete the drama project.” In the final presentation or Yod Nham at the end of the 2nd term, Suriyothai received huge applause and the students were complimented by the Moradokmai drama teachers for being able to create such a fun play while also bringing the audience to reach a core value. Theatre camp at Moradokmai Theatre Troupe,Loei province

Practicing life skills at Moradokmai Home School in Loei

As they were enjoying drama, the teachers took this opportunity to bring them to join a drama camp at Moradokmai Home school, Bann Kang Pla Pok, Pak Chom in Loei for 11 days. Moradokmai Home School is located among the nature in a mountainous area. Their amphitheater is an outdoor clay court. Their classrooms are under the trees. The dining hall is very simple. At night time, the brightness comes from the candles since there is no electricity. During the camp, Roong Aroon students studied with Moradokmai Home School students. Each day the program began with waking up very early to practice various skills such as Thai traditional dancing, singing, English, writing and journal reading, practicing drama, cooking and other housework. Then they joined the workshops and rehearsed the play. During the program, they not only improved their skills in drama, Moradokmai lifestyle also shaped them to adjust to deficiency and overcome difficulties. Mrs. Aree, who also spent the 11 days with her students, spoke about the factors that led to the student’s transformation. “Because of master Chang’s authenticity and the strong determination of other Moradokmai teachers and students plus the raw environment, these were real situations for (the students) to confront. It was a great opportunity for them to train themselves. Everybody was happy with learning, playing games, joining the workshops, working, finding food and singing. They had a brother and sister relationship with Master Chang’s students. So, they could unfold themselves from their city


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lifestyles. Eleven days were long enough for them to understand that suffering was a part of their lives. They found love and connection between people. And they also sensed the simplicity and straightforwardness of the place and people there. One of the most obvious changes evident when they came back to school was they were more easygoing. They had fewer problems about eating. Previously, if their friends forgot to order the food materials or that the meal was not tasty, they would blame their friends. But they didn’t do this anymore. They said that they didn’t want to hurt other’s feelings.”

Learning from success

The students joined the drama camp twice.

They had had some knowledge and experience in drama. However, in the 3rd term they studied history through drama again. This time, they worked in the same role. They were evaluated from their own improvement and individual learning.

The working process in historical play of Grade 8, room 1 - 3rd term, 2012

The students were inspired by watching a movie, Khun Rong Pa Lad Shu. After that, they analyzed the ancestors’ spirit who saved the country for their descendants. They composed songs according to the movie theme in order to link their spirit with the ancestors. They searched historical and geographical information from the movie. Then, they went on a study trip related to the historical location and presented the information they gathered. Next, they searched for more information before plotting the story and writing the script. They rehearsed and prepared their play. Finally, they performed the play. The big and challenging project assigned by their teacher this term was a play called “King Naresuan”. The main theme was self-responsibility. They studied the period of the Thai-Burmese war and went on a field trip at King Naresuan monument in Kanchanaburi. Before the outing, Mrs. Aree challenged her students to split-up their groups. “The problem was they hardly listened to each other. They preferred working with their close friends and

they usually worked with the same group. I thought that if they kept working like this, they couldn’t succeed in the King Naresuan play because a play requires teamworking skills. Everyone needed to work together as one team. When I told them, they listened to me. This was very strange because previously, when I talked about their problems, they always came up with excuses. They didn’t really listen. But this time they accepted that they worked separately. And they asked me for the opportunity to sort this problem out by themselves. Finally, they came up with new members in each group and they could explain the reasons of this rearrangement. This change was probably caused by the success of Suriyothai the previous term. Because they had felt that they were not good and that they had even failed, that they were more open-minded and listened to drama teachers about their weaknesses, they had succeeded and were accepted. They were proud that they could finally make it. They had also learned about listening to other’s criticism. 45

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This group rearrangement was a beginning.

It made them step out from their comfort zone and they got to know each other more. The wall between them gradually collapsed. Finally, when a conflict blocked their working process, they decided to solve the problem by speaking together in class. “I told them that I had taught their seniors who were then 12th grade students. We had had a day when we could speak frankly with each other. On that day, we had told other our true feelings straightforwardly. The students talked to each other and the teacher was only there in case there had been a serious situation. The conversation had ended with mutual learning. One day they told me that they wanted to have this kind of discussion among their classmates. They felt that without this, their play would fail. I allowed them to do so. I guided them to agree that they had to listen and accept each other. They had to be honest and compassionate. And that the conversation had to end in that circle. They listened to me. On that day, they came on time and helped each other set up the tables as an administrative meeting. They looked very serious. Each of them had some problems which were kept for a while. When the first student shared, others gradually expressed their feelings. It was an opportunity for them to cope and solve problems directly which were quite difficult to do. It was not easy for them to tell their true feeling frankly such as “I don’t like it when you just play around instead of working or I feel that I’m not accepted or I’m lonely”. They all talked. Some of them cried while they were talking. They had this ‘class talk’ for two days after school. In the end, they decided that they would continue to create a play together.” For the students, this type of talk was a new experience. They knew and understood each other more. Some of them admitted that they dared not speak at first

because they were afraid that their friends would get angry. But when they saw others speak frankly while the rest listened, that nobody fought or blamed others, they felt more relaxed and dared to express their feelings. “I’d never talked like this before. At first when I was told to be open and talk frankly, and that if anyone was not okay, they could speak out how they truly felt, I was still afraid. I dared not speak until I saw each of my friends begin to share and nobody fought. So, I dared to speak, too.” One of the students told about her feeling from the class talks. While another student said “At that time, there were a lot of obstacles. Even though the script was complete, the process was still stuck. There were misunderstandings among us and we fought. So, we thought that we had to tune our understanding in order to continue the working process. On that day,

we opened our hearts to share what we had been through. We talked about our mistakes. We admitted and apologized. I also apologized. I told my sufferings to the others. I told them that I was ready to adjust myself and

I asked them whether they were ready to work as a team or not. We reconciled and united. Even now we still have some different viewpoints however we can share with each other.” The result from the class talk on that day inspired the working process. The students who used to get angry had changed their point of view. They understood that everyone was an important part in completing the play no matter what their roles were such as main characters, minor characters, backstage and area cleaners. If there was only a main character playing alone on the stage,

it would not be fun. If the area was not clean, nobody would come to watch and the play would fail. Therefore, every single role was important.


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Growing up on the drama path

The class talks didn’t only eliminate their attachment and better student relationships; it also made them more aware of the importance of their friends. It led to a classroom working style which had a shift in roles. For those who previously had a minor role, they were placed in charge of a main role in order to train themselves instead of putting the same person on the same job. They would be put in different roles if they were appropriate and had enough potential to do it. These students only lacked the opportunity to unlock their potential. Working in the main role could help them develop their capacity and improve some traits or habits. For example, a student who played King Naresuan, previously always played in a small role because

his friends thought that he rarely focused on his work. But this time, his friends considered him as tough, loud and good at acting. He also had the proper appearance as

a dark boy. So, he could fit very well in the role as

Students busking for charity at Chiang Khan, Loei province

A scene from the play “King Naresua”

Pra-ong-dam (The black king). They decided to put him as the main character, King Naresuan. To work in this important role motivated him to rehearse and memorize the script. He could act well and he was more accepted by his friends especially for his concentration and responsibility. There were other students who developed themselves and became more mature from this play project. Mrs. Aree told that a shy student was more confident. Some students who shifted to work in important roles were more accepted. A student who was always a follower became a leader. Many of them had more responsibility and discipline. A number of them had much better learning results. It seemed that drama could unfold their potential. And the important thing was that the students could link the drama theme to themselves. “The students tried to link the theme of King Naresuan, self-responsibility to themselves. They planned and worked by themselves throughout the process.

The teacher was only an advisor. A week before the performance, they asked me to hold a drama camp at school for 3 days and 2 nights. They might have thought 47

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that the last time when they joined the camp, the work was successful. I allowed it and I set a condition that

they had to be the owners of this project. They had to write a formal letter to ask permission from their parents. They were so enthusiastic that they could hold a drama camp for rehearsal by themselves. I was there to see how they worked but only as their advisor.” Wan Thamromdee, a head of the drama camp project, said that his friends had decided to hold a camp because they wanted to rehearse as much as possible. Together they drafted a letter to ask permission from teachers and parents as Mrs. Aree suggested. In the letter, they put purpose, schedule and food budget. They were supported by all of the teachers and parents. This made the project progress more effectively than he had expected. “I was shy before. I always took only a small role. If the role required me to express a lot, I would deny

because I dared not to. But in the 3rd term, Mrs. Aree assigned me to read a book about the Thai-Burma war. So, I bought it and finished the story because I liked history. When my friends knew that I understood the story, they asked me to join in writing, directing, costume designing and acting with more dialogue. This made me participate more in the play. This project helped me to improve. It made me more confident. I had more courage to express my opinion and make a decision. I could improve myself without realizing it. I just found that I’d already changed. I think that it was the result of being given an important role. I was more accepted by my friends. So, I thought I should be more responsible and openminded to listen to others’ opinion. If I could work beyond their expectation, they would be glad and they would believe in me. This made me gradually improve myself. “For me, the drama project helped me to have responsibility, maturity and leadership. First, I had to lead

Drama teacher Master Chang- Chonprakan Chanrung teaching students in Theatre camp at Moradokmai Theatre Troupe, Loei province 48

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myself to think out of the box. I had to move on and continually improved myself. Second, it helped me to have team working skills. Everybody shared responsibility.

We had to do each part as best we could. So, the combination would be the best, too. It was like the citizens who had their own role. In the drama, we had our own responsibility as well. Finally, it was acceptance.

We had to accept the mistakes and improve them the next time.” Kamonmas Jitpramuanboon, one of the students, said that the drama project could unite the classmates. They used to split into small groups before, but in the project they were able to work together. They learnt and shared their opinions. They had more patience, discipline and problem-solving skills. The important result was that this project made her have more self-confidence. “I used to be shy and not confident. The role that I got forced me to speak loudly so that the audience who sat in the back could hear. I was forced to be more confident in the role that my friends had chosen for me. I think that they wanted me to practice this skill. And I also wanted to be more confident, too because I had to do a lot of presentations when I studied. So, I decided to play this role. And it really helped me. Now I feel that I have

Students performing a play for primary school kids while joining the theatre camp at Loei province

more self-confidence. And I have more courage to present.” In the final project or Yod Nham at the end of the academic year 2012, all of the students performed the historical play King Naresuan very well. The acting was great. The scenes were beautiful, the light and music were emotionally supportive. Moreover, it showed their unity as a team. The value of creating a play was not only the performance that was presented to the audiences, but the potential and life skills of the students that developed throughout the working process.

Students can learn because of a teacher’s trust

“As a homeroom teacher, I could be with my students very closely. So, I knew them well. My role was to push their strengths and expand their limitations. It was very important for the teacher to realize their potential and try to motivate them to reach their full capacity. From the class talks, I learnt that if a teacher trusts the students and treats them as a grown-up, they will use their potential practically. If they have problems, they will advice you with trust. It was very obvious that they became more mature from this project. Actually, the students were able to learn from their friends and they already had problem-solving skills. As a teacher, all I needed to need to do was provide the space and opportunity for them. I could give some advice when they needed it and encourage them when they were doing

the right thing. As a result, they were able to continually develop themselves.” Aree Chanyam ,The Vice Principal of Secondary School


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The poster of the play “The Young Gangsters”


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Learning from Works

and Overcoming Obstacles in order to Grow with Wisdom It is neither written in the curriculum nor told by teachers; but it seems to have already become a tradition at Roong Aroon School for all grade 12 students to produce a play before their graduation. In March 2013, the 11th batch of Roong Aroon’s grade 12 students, inspired by two renowned Thai films: The Gangsters and Dang Bireley and the Young Gangsters, chose the story about friendship among a group of teenagers during the 1960s in Bangkok to create a play entitled The Young Gangsters.

were different. However, the stage play was a big group activity in which students from both programs could take part. There were various roles and responsibilities available for us to work with our abilities to create a well run production. Also, it was a great way to practice working as a team, an easy way to convey a message and entertain audiences.” Pommath Piriypatsom, a member of the team focusing on information and scene setting, explained the reasons they chose the stage play as the final project for their high-school lives. However, whether it was because of the rush or over confidence in their duties. They overlooked something crucial.

“Play”: The Stage to Practice Work Performances Right after getting the plot of the play, they divided “Talking the Problem over”: their responsibilities into several functions such as play The Easiest Solution writing, stage design, props arrangement, lighting and sound effects, costume design and casting, etc. in order to finish everything within two weeks’ time before the performance. Students had created plays in previous years; therefore, they knew which kind of activities were suitable for who. “This play was the last collaboration of all Roong Aroon’s 42 grade 12 students, from both science and arts programs. It would be difficult and dull if we presented our ideas in other forms of media since our subjects of study

“We divided all work in the same way we had done before, that is, by personal inclinations, since we were under constraint‘s of time. Everyone worked on the scope of his or her own responsibility. Then one day, we discovered that no one knew what others were doing, and how the work had been going on in the overall sense so far. We lacked proper communication. We had not put someone to look at the big picture. For this reason, we


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gathered together to discuss monitoring work progress and the problems of faced by each team. We tried to find solutions and work them out together.” explained Sirath Intarachote, the cast of Dang Bireley. Holding a meeting and talking problems over was the way of Roong Aroon which these students were accustomed to. They previously had similar experiences and learned how to face problems with others directly in a compassionate and friendly manner. While they had produced stage plays for several times the final project brought a fair amount of pressure on to their shoulders. Thus, the meeting did help solve the problems and worries on everyone’s mind.

Learning through Crisis, Appreciating Co-Workers

According to the schedule, the play would be performed at dusk on the last day of school. It was just one night before the show that everything was ready for the students to rehearse for the first time. Although they had another morning to set up everything before the show, they could not rehearse with lights on during daytime. Therefore, the actual performance became the first time they could see the overall picture of the show along with the audience. It was also when they realized


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that there was a critical problem with the sound equipment as the performers’ voices could not reach the audiences from the middle to the last rows. “We could hear our voices during rehearsals, since there was neither noise from the audience nor from around ten big industrial fans. We hadn’t thought that these factors would affect the sound quality. At first, while on stage we had no idea that our voices didn’t reach the audience in the back rows - not until a humor scene was played and there was no response from the audience as expected. We started to wonder why everyone was silent. They didn’t laugh at all. Or was it because our jokes weren’t funny enough?” described Supanut Tanupolphat, cast of Pu Bottle Bomb . It was a while until the cast and backstage staff realized what was going on. No need to be told, everyone knew how to deal with the problem. It was far too late to start finding more microphones. The only thing they could do was to rely on themselves. In the scenes afterward, the audiences could hear all casts speaking louder, some even shouted to make their voices reach the last rows. Their solution in dealing with the problems at hand paid off with a smooth performance. However, while the play ended with resounding applauses from the audience, in the back of all their minds was disappointment. It was their final project and they had put their full effort into it , so they expected nothing less than perfection. Nevertheless, looking back at the time, there was some blessing in disguise they could smile for. “Previously, there was a hidden conflict about

roles and the importance of each cast. Some got significant roles with a lot of dialogues and appearances while others got only a few. So we were a little bit discontented. However, when everyone was on the

stage and the problem with the sound occurred, it was

apparent that everyone was devoted to the play. No one was concerned with self-importance or the amount of roles anymore. We did our best in the role we were responsible for. That moment, it was not someone’s play; it was everyone’s play. It was our play.” said Pasit Tandaechanurat, revealing his feelings toward the production. “I’m proud and impressed by the production. Although there was definitely a problem with sound, it was only a technical problem. As for the human aspect, I saw that everyone was at the fullest and did a great job. I think this is even more important than having a perfect play.”said Peerada Puaphoomcharoen, who took care of scene setting. Being involved in a collaborative project, students could practice work performances, learn problem solving and discover the true value of teamwork. They realized that it was not only the destination but also the wisdom and feelings of co-workers, who were walking and growing together along the same path, that were equally important. 53

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Critiques to Thai Education : The Challenge of 21 Century Education System

Editor : Assistant Professor Prapapat Niyom Interviewee : Assistant Professor Prapapat Niyom,Vice Dean of Arsom Silp Institute of the Arts, Founder of Roong Aroon School and Arsom Silp Institute of the Arts under Roong Aroon school foundation board Interviewer : Sinee Chaktranon, Suprisara Arayaphong ASHOKA : Innovators for the Public Foundation (Thailand) Date of interview : 26 July, 2013 The commencement: students meeting teacher before graduation ceremony, year 2012


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Inclusive Education

Since 1997, the objective of Roong Aroon school and the Arsom Silp Institute of the Arts has been to create a not-for-profit organization. By offering academic and educational services, we encourage people to learn through practice and experience in real-world situations. The Arsom Silp Institute has occasionally gained financial support from individuals or from originations involved in its projects from which they benefit. However, in some cases, the institute financially supported the projects itself, and used the projects as learning models/ case studies for students. Normally, every program would be sponsored by the institute and serves various social needs. For example, launching a project called “Jomaloluela” which established a learning center at a hill-tribe village called “Bann Sob Lan” in Samerng, Chiang Mai. This project was sponsored by the Roong Aroon School Foundation. The project was aimed to meet local people’s need to educate their children, without depriving them of their traditional culture. This project was also

the thesis work of a graduate student of Holistic Education.

The learning process included researching and developing local curriculum and learning and teaching approaches

that correlated with traditional culture. It was a collaborative

research project involving the institute, Chiang Mai Educational Service Area 2, and Ban Mae Lan Kham school. Another example of projects sponsored by the Roong Aroon School Foundation was the conservation and restoration of the old Chantaboon riverside market community. It was a joint project between the institute and local people to develop the community and enable it

to become a tourist attraction. This project was the thesis work of a graduate student in Architecture for community and environment. Arsom Silp institute has integrated research, learning, teaching and academic services using a workbased learning approach. In addition, to broaden the academic base for social service, we decided to work with the Mahawichalia institute, which is an educational institute for local community leaders and social volunteers, led by Mr. Anek Nakabutri and Dr. Sak Prasandee. The Mahawichalia institute developed the Social Enterprise undergraduate program for people who work in social or community development fields. They share their experiences in standard educational systems in order to spread their knowledge to others. The goal of this program is to create social entrepreneurs who can rely on themselves financially as well as making a profit for their community at the same time. This is different from the previous trend over the last few decades when social workers,volteers and Non government organizations suffered from economic difficulties with earning and selfreliance whilst studying. This Social Enterprise program, initiated by

Mr. Anek Nakabutri and Dr. Sak Prasandee, correlates with Arsom Silp principles. The most important factor being that it’s almost free of charge. Teachers work as volunteers, and students do not have to pay an enrollment fee, they do however pay a small program fee and provide their own food. The institute covers costs associated with premises and overheads such as water and electricity and program administration. 55

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This program is dedicated by volunteer teachers who are truly aware of the importance of human resource development in Thailand. This program was approved by institute board committees and the Office of Higher Education on the 25th of October, 2012. It is four-yearprogram; In year one, the students will learn about themselves, society and the global situation. In year two, the students will present their own practical social enterprise project. They will also study subjects in a learning module format and not as single subject format. In the final year, the students will launch their own business which practically operated to prove and evaluate their performance as a final work. At the moment, apart from Mahavichalai students, there are other groups which send their students to study programs such as this. For example, students from Meechai Pattana school, Pra Tad Doi Pha Som homeschool and Vithidham medical group. These students were trained and have work-based learning backgrounds since they were in secondary school. Some of them studied and earned while they were in secondary school. This is particularly the case with students from Meechai Patana, where Mr. Meechai Weerawaitaya had focused students on work-based learning, management skills and volunteer work. We have discussed the possibility to set up predegree enrollment for the secondary school students so that they can partly transfer their learning experience into undergraduate level studies. Once they finish school, they would only need to enroll in a few more subjects at university level before being able to graduate. They would probably be able to get a degree in only three years, rather than four years time. Offering diverse educational opportunities comes from the idea of a demand-side driven approach. This approach is more accessible to the large numbers of

Thais, including many Thai children. Naturally, those who are seeking to develop their career paths especially in agricultural and local resource based- production sectors also benefit. They are able to increase their education while also increasing levels occupational development and social responsibility. By using this approach, an individual’s skills can be improved and also strengthen self-sufficiency of local communities.

Educational Strategies

“Everyone can learn” is the core belief. All humans have an intrinsic motivation to learn. The only thing that varies is the different approaches, these include learning by direct experience, learning by example, learning by doing, learning by listening and reasoning. Methods could also include learning by watching, listening, or reading knowledge of others who have recorded or composed it. The key is that the essence of what is being learnt must be deeply relevant to the individual learner. The learners should be able to define or link the information to their prior experience. In this way, they can understand and realize the “value” and positively apply the knowledge into practice. Education therefore, has to begin with supportive companions who understand learning. They can inspire the learners to gain an appropriate learning attitude of seeing relevance to their lives. The learners can connect themselves to what they learn and become active learners. This is opposite from being passive learners who depend on spoon-fed teaching and are only concerned about exam results. An effective educational system is a relationship between teachers and students, where a teacher can support all students in a classroom to continually develop


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their learning potential. A large classroom is not suitable for an active learning process, it will lead to memorizing, copying and one-way learning. Passive learning cannot create human development. It produces a depersonalized learning system instead. An active learning system must be started by ourselves as the educators. We must have a strong commitment and clear goals. Then, we invite those who have a common vision towards education to collaboratively create the system. With mutual esteem, we can organize a network which is co-operation-oriented management system rather than a fixed linear system.

Policy movement or work extension

Although our educational platform is different from mainstream education, our mission is not. We are only aware of some effects from the mainstream and identify suitable approaches to solve or avoid problems. Roong Aroon school, for example, uses a core curriculum, but we have our own teaching style. We also have our own evaluation methods that can be converted into the standard study report for the Ministry of Education, however our standards are completely in line with the requirements of the Ministry of Education and reporting is completely transparent to reduce the causes of any challenges that may arise from differing methods. The presentation of good practices that we share with those who are interested domestically or internationally is seen as win-win learning opportunity. For us, we get feedback from others so we can see ourselves more clearly. The feedback sometimes leads to modification of teaching methods in order to keep pace with changes in society, media technology or

development of young people. The result from these exchanges is the development of a network among schools with new approaches, approaches that are different from mainstream systems. It is the difference in our approach, to the approach at mainstream schools that classifies us in the category of “Alternative education”. Since a fixed educational approach cannot meet all different demands in a ever changing social context, there’s no doubt that there are other ways of education in the period of borderless knowledge access. By learning exchange and mutual support, we have the opportunity to work with other groups. We also participate in creating a new paradigm of education and evaluation aligned to 21st century learning. Roong Aroon itself is not the only one rigid platform. There are several platforms of alternative education depending on social context and the needs of 57

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each community such as urban, rural and local community or even family, exemplified by the fact that we can see more home-schoolings at present. Moreover, legal mechanisms provide opportunity for setting up learning centers in more various ways. Although governmental services are not smooth, they are no longer an obstacle to the decentralization of educational policies.

Work challenges

The mission of the education system must be to empower individuals in the system to develop core values that make them a positive force for humanityTherefore, the challenging ultimate goal is to create a complete human being, in all respects, beyond the physical, but the spiritual and intellectual aspects. There are three connected dimensions, these are physical strength, intellectual wellness and mental wellness with love, compassion and sense of propriety. The key aspects of the system at Roong Aroon are that the methods and approach are holistic. It requires deep consideration and reflection in the systems development. Humans have hidden potential that waits to be unlocked. Mindfulness, meditation and wisdom are guidelines to achieving this. In the western world, mindfulness training is widely taught and practiced in many educational institutes at the moment. Undoubtedly, Thailand and eastern countries are full of potential to develop mindfulness training for children and people since they have this kind of collective knowledge as part of their cultural heritage. Wisdom development has also become an important key as spiritual immunity. It enables people to deal with critical and complicated current situations

Teachers and parents of Roong Aroon School practicing mindfulness meditation during “mindful Teacher” Dharma course

caused by ignorance. We consumed natural resources and created so much pollution to the world, that it is now off-balance. If people in the 21st century still live their lives with the same old paradigm and keep transferring this viewpoint to the next generation, it seems impossible for us to survive. No one can predict how this planet will change. It is a challenging mission for educational methodologies as to whether they can create people of the future, and not people of yesterday nor today. It must empower people to reach and expand their inner potential to handle the challenges of global decline. Therefore, education for wisdom development is required. It is different from mainstream systems because instead of learning from the provided content which is external knowledge, the students need to improve their skills in order to investigate their inner selves and discover new and fresh knowledge. This kind of genuine and unique knowledge cannot come from any textbooks or other teachings.


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For example, in Bhutan, the policy of GNH (Gross National Happiness) is considered as the goal of education. They held a conference by inviting educators from around the world to work on educational issues for 3-4 days. They brainstormed how to practically apply wisdom development into education. Dr. Aj-ong Chumsai Na Ayudthaya and I also joined this conference. It was a great opportunity when Dr. Aj-ong facilitated meditation training course for all Bhutan teachers and education executive officers. In Thailand, there is no policy about such education at the moment, it does not mean that we are hopeless. We still have spiritual advantage and intellectual capital of mind training in our society. We also have a number of great teachers willingly teach us. Thus, we enthusiastically begin the experimental process of creating new groups of supportive companions by doing research in a mindful teacher program. The mindful teacher program will be supported by Mahachulalongkornrajavidhalai University (MCU). Fortunately, Phrabuddhayanandhabhikhu (The venerable Mahadirek) has kindly taught different groups to develop

the appropriate and applicable course for teachers at all levels, parents, educational organizations, and especially Buddhist-approach schools. The most challenging starting point is to experience contemplative education by ourselves, and whether we can learn at this level or not. We should also consider how much we can contribute something to the next generation as a supportive companion.

The critique of learning in Thai society

Nowadays, media has a considerable influence on society. We are sometimes overwhelmed with tons of information. Instead of using the right media as a tool to expand learning possibilities, we have become media addicts who carelessly absorb any kind of information. We do not concern ourselves with how powerful media can be in influencing our thoughts, attitudes or behavior. There are some thoughtful educators trying to warn parents of the dangers of TV. They tell them “Don’t let the TV babysit your kids”, becauseit will decrease their children’s learning ability because the brain is functioning less while watching TV. It only receives the information in a passive way without thinking or having to make decisions. It’s even worse when children think that everything will appear and respond to them automatically. They don’t need to take any actions and they are unable to wait patiently. In the era of a media-dominated society, the media plays an important role in habit formation, particularly among young Thai people. It’s more powerful than parents, family and school, because they directly and quickly receive the information. So, they unavoidably absorbed it. 59

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In this social situation, former types of education have gradually become meaningless. The role of education as a key agent to develop human beings has become obsolete. The collective social, resource and human capital which used to be the physical, mental and intellectual core of education in the past are now worthless and abandoned. Since modern leaders give priority to economic growth, they; therefore, hurriedly steer Thai society toward consumerism. Everything is valued by its price, even human beings. Our values are dictated by economic conditions instead of the spiritual conditions. We have abandoned former capitals, such as social and intellectual capital, but we cannot practically develop the new ones. The improvement of our existing capitals as essential fundamentals of resource manufacturing and management are dismissed. The current educational system only brings people into industrial and business administration fields. The investment of infrastructure is aimed for marketing more than increasing the potential of sustainable resource management. In the ongoing situation, we have two critical problems in education. First, we skip our existing social capital. Second, we only follow short-term trends of development without long-term planning to develop the whole society holistically. We are restlessly trying to solve educational problems both in the educational system and lifelong learning such as reading campaigns for children which is a great learning culture. However this is difficult to accomplish in the environment where even adults cannot readW. This mean inability to analyze themselves,and analyze society . Everyone everywhere focus on their needs and immediate satisfaction. So they unconsciously refuse to “read”.For this reason, we cannot create a good learning culture or practical learning attitudes.

Parents and family have almost forgotten their role as being those responsible for the intellectual and moral development of their children. They rather send their children to study different subjects outside, such as schools or and tutorial centers. Their children learn most of their knowledge from others even playing, exercising and cooking. All aspects of learning become products, meanwhile families lose their capacity to create young active learners. They put that burden on the schools and universities, which themselves have difficulties in selflearning and knowledge creation. There are twelve questions to check up Thai learning symptoms. To find out the answer might not be difficult. But to find out “who” should answer these questions is the hardest part. If we compare this situation as a social illness, it is necessary to ask “who” will be responsible as a doctor to cure this disease.

Thai health situation in the last ten years

In the last ten years, Thai people have been more interested in health issues. Especially, urban people are seriously concerned about health products and services such as supplementary food, vitamins, and fitness centers. They have been motivated to buy these products and increase their focus on their increasing consumerism. The traders; therefore, were able to set high prices because people have been willing to spend money for their instant health. However, there has been another health trend to take care of your own health and lead a balanced lifestyle. As a result, Thai healthcare and medical treatment has become more recognized. The healthcare system in Thailand is developing. Ministry of public health is more productive and


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Questions for Thai educational leaders

To review the past, consider the present and dream for the future :


What are the valuable and important social capitals that can lead to the development of Thailand?


What is the most important and crucial knowledge for Thai society?

What aspects that regarded as the advantages of Thailand? And what does Thailand lack of?


Which issues that Thailand is in the world’s top list?

Do Thai people have cultural diversity? And how?


Which issues that Thailand is in the world’s bottom list?

How does Thai education reflect or respond to social diversity?

What is the most critical problem that becomes the obstacle to develop the country?

What is the potential role of Thai education in generating a knowledge-based society?

How can education meet the demand of developing Thai people and Thai society in a global level?

What should be the goal of developing Thai people in 21 century?

2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

Can Thai people create our own knowledge?

accessible. The health care system in rural areas has also been developing, health stations have been upgraded to become hospitals. As a result of these upgrades, patient transfer services and healthcare education by volunteers has become more effective. However, Thai people are confronting some threats such as food and medicine safety and security. These issues are caused by production and distribution systems. They are linked by large-scale business at both national and international levels. So, small business is almost gone. The huge transaction system has been weakened Thai food and medicine consumption culture. Even though Thailand has the great potential for food production, it is disadvantaged by this system. Actually, each Thai family could plant some vegetables for their own consumption but are influenced to consume readyto-eat products which are only more convenient but less nutritious.

10. 11. 12.

Thus, the mission of education in Thailand has something to do with health condition issues also. We need to start the learning process by ourselves and link it to our family, community and the society as a whole urgently. Under the health theme, we can integrate modern knowledge in science, geography, history, natural resource, etc. as core subjects in schools and universities. Subjects with a global focus, such as the environment, energy, food, medicine and information technology must also be covered. If these core subjects are better integrated into schools curricula and are covered more in the media, then Thai people are more likely to reach their full capacity. They will not learn purely generally applicable knowledge, but a more holistic approach encompassing the realization of unity with all beings in order to achieve adequate development. 61

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My complacence

Artist : Nichanand Chuwitthaya (Praew), Grade 7 Roong Aroon student


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RA Journal V.1_English  
RA Journal V.1_English  

The Education for the Balance of Body and Mind, True Values, and Holistic Development