Vint Chavala said it all when he wrote about Thais’ habit of mocking others when they make mistakes: “I tell everyone in our family not to criticise or poke fun at him [his grandson] if he makes mistakes in his English.”
No wonder Thai kids are timid about asking questions or expressing their opinions and ideas, when they risk being scolded or poked fun at if they are wrong. They are taught to always submit to adults and believe everything their seniors say without question. A child who shows self-confidence is branded foolhardy. Before every school play, it is routine for a student leader to apologise to the audience for blunders that may occur during the show. We have an adage: “If you [children] walk behind an elder [phuyai], dogs won’t bite you.”
Had the Wright brothers been born in Siam, they would have been ridiculed and told to leave flying to the birds. They would have been told, better to catch and eat them rather than try and fly like them.