‘It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy and creative expression and knowledge’ – Albert Einstein.Whilst I have been staying in the town of Phetchabun, I have been allowed to visit Wittayanukulnaree School where my boyfriend, Josh, and his friend, Sam, have been teaching for the past two months. The secondary school’s here are significantly more relaxed in comparison to Britain’s, teachers do not expect students to sit quietly therefore classes will appear rowdy and loud. However when a teacher feels the need to discipline a student, they are willing to clip them round the ear if needs be, something Josh was encouraged but refuses to do.
Josh teaches 10 classes of 15 year olds ‘Speaking and Listening’ whilst Sam teaches 10 classes of 16 year olds. They have both specifically noted how respectful and friendly their Thai students are. Thailand has a non-confrontational ethos, it is a taboo to show aggression and you can see in the locals that this takes no effort. This lack of aggression is demonstrated at an early age as Josh and Sam receive no back chat and the teenagers keep the lessons enjoyable. I particularly noticed- as a newcomer- how excitable they are. When I arrived to each new class, the students clamoured to find out my name and who I was in relation to Josh. Josh was in his element introducing me as ‘Betty’, ‘Betsy’ and ‘Bettany’ as Thai people struggle to pronounce the ‘th’ sound.
However excitable teens and a new job does come with its challenges, particularly in an unfamiliar country. It is always difficult to engage students with bad attitude, and the language barrier only causes non-Thai speakers a further issue. In addition, Josh and Sam have found themselves creating mid-term tests, being advised to tell students who achieve less than 60% will need to re-sit a replica of the original exam. The Thai government does not allow students to fail and this rule does not help in terms of motivating learning. Despite these difficulties, which are guaranteed with any teaching job, being a teacher is rewarding. Their favourite aspect is watching their students grasp, understand and put into practice what they have taught – it’s a sense of pride and achievement which they both deserve.I’ve enjoyed observing the differences between British and Thai teenagers, taking any ideas I can from Josh and Sam’s teaching methods and banking them for future reference. Whilst my methods in China will differ as I will be teaching 3-6 year olds – an age range I adore – support from fellow, new, foreign teachers is always appreciated. I admire the patience and efforts Josh and Sam put into their teaching as the students are hard to keep focused. However teaching is consistently a learning curve and rewarding, particularly in terms of the relationship and rapport Josh and Sam are able to build with their students. It only makes me more excited to begin my teaching experience in Beijing.