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Simple formula could launch Thai education out of rote-learning rut

Oct 17. 2018
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Re: “The hand grenade hidden in the heart of Thai Buddhism” and “Does Thailand have to choose between obedience and critical thinking?”, Have Your Say, October 3 and 12.

Whenever a problem is posed or a question is asked, it should trigger a standard set of “sub-layer” questions – What? How? Why? 

This trigger response is also known as critical thinking, a foundation of education that is extremely weak in Thailand’s mainly rote-learning system. 

Critical thinking is one of the “four Cs” that underpin modern education in developed countries. The others are creative thinking, collaboration and communication.

The four Cs emerged from nationwide research in the US that canvassed business leaders, universities, public-private partnerships and others for their thoughts on what were compulsory 21st-century skills for students. They represent the skills students must master – ie, being able to evaluate, analyse, interpret across multiple sources in an objective and systematic way – when a problem is posed or a question is asked. 

These are the skills students need if they are to succeed in life today.The skills might sound difficult to master, but they can be boiled down to the simple formula of What? How? Why? It is these questions that students must be encouraged to ask about every topic in every subject presented to them, whether its maths, history, chemistry, science or whatever. 

Readers interested in learning more about this habit of “good questioning” might want to check out the work of Thailand-based educator Dr Kevin Colleary. He offers an enlightening explanation in a series of videos titled “Reforming Thailand’s Education System: Where to Start”, available to watch on YouTube. 

Dirk Sumter

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