By Sumalee Suwannakorn
All 17 students from his Prathom 6 class, who turned up at Na Si Nuan School in Sakon Nakhon province on March 28 to learn about their performance during the past academic year, were pleasantly surprised to know that they had all been honoured.
Pongthep Pongphan, for example, was acknowledged as the best singer and actor in the class while Methawee Supawang won praise for remarkable fishing skills. Another student, Thirapon Donsawang, was named “outstanding volunteer” for handing milk cartons to his classmates every single day.
“I have assessed my students based on their skills, not their academic performance,” Shinnakorn said.
Not surprisingly, all students were thrilled by the recognition from the teacher.
Pictures of the announcement were uploaded on social media, along with the preening faces of the happy children.
The pictures, and the emotions they kindled, have prompted several people to revive the debate on whether schools really need to subject children to gruelling exams, the kind that impose much pressure on students.
“I want to introduce new ways of teaching and assessments. I want to promote active learning. Along the process, teachers will understand more about their students and support their potential development,” Shinnakorn said.
He said he had actively engaged his students in class activities since he started teaching eight years ago in the hope that learning experiences would prove practical in real life.
“Engagement will increase students’ self-value and esteem. It’s a way to make children realise that they are valuable to both themselves and others,” he said.
Shinnakorn said he could organise various kinds of active learning thanks to support from school executives and local communities.
“Communities are important. For example, when there was a project to build check-dams in the area, I could take my students to see the construction. There, I could teach students about the ecological system and environmental protection. My teaching could also cover biodiversity,” he said.
Shinnakorn used to teach Mathayom 5 students, too and some of his students could use class projects to apply for a seat at their chosen university.
This new-generation teacher believes he is now on the right track and hopes others will follow suit.
“Let’s consider empowering children in a fresh, new way. Step out of the box to understand them better. Help them identify their potential and support them,” Shinnakorn said.
Shinnakorn added that his teaching style did not undermine the core essence of the country’s current educational structure, but complemented it.
“Not all children will become doctors in the future. Teachers and schools thus should not press children too hard about their Ordinary National Educational Test,” he said. “Please pay attention to the fact that society needs people to be engaged in various occupations and people who have not excelled in academic affairs may have good life skills.”