Article – In Defense of Thailand2018-04-23T04:23:42+00:00

In Defense of Thailand

A reader responds to: Thailand, the Rest of the Story

The school principal said a confrontation with a school official resulted after he found a teacher “on dope” and demanded the teacher be fired. it seemed clear to me that while it may have been surprising to see this occur, it may have been more proper to have responded differently, or perhaps with a little wider view.

I was shocked to read the story of the Thailand incident. Not only was I shocked by the statements made by the writer in your article entitled Thailand, the Rest of the Story, but also by his rather callous disregard for anything resembling respect for the people and country of Thailand. His initial rant degrading Thailand for a thriving sex trade, human trafficking, non-stop traffic and the increasing rate of crime and murder surprised me. I wonder if this writer has ever been to New York, Miami, Chicago, or even LA? The homicide rate for LA was around 16 a day last year and Washington D.C. topped that at 24.

As I read on, I couldn’t help but wonder about the writer remarking he came to Thailand as a “missionary teacher”. I’m not sure what mission that was, nor what values were learned, but it was clear there must have been a chapter missing on forgiveness and humbling oneself. Thai people and their culture have extreme gratitude for everything they receive in life. The teachings of Buddha and humble attitude that nearly all Thais have are unsurpassed in any of the over forty countries and islands I have lived and worked in.

Of all the places I have been teaching, Thailand is ranked number one for both its private and public schools. I can’t help but believe that the writer’s bad experience at one school may very well wind up being, or already has been, repeated at other schools he may choose to work at. This comes from one’s character. As one of my brightest teachers always tells his students, “Character matters”. Even in the face of adversity and misgivings. When I read about the incident where the author discovered a colleague sleeping on the classroom floor high on dope, it struck me that it may have been more proper to have responded differently, or perhaps had a little wider view, such as understanding that there may be laws or certainly requirements that must be met before dismissing someone. Even in the US and other countries the individual would be afforded counseling, and or an evaluation as to whether or not he had a problem that could be treated instead of just responding to the incident and demanding he be permanently removed from his position.

I had a colleague who came to work drunk more than once, he was taken out of the classroom without a major incident, helped into rehab., came back the following year as an accomplished author and is now regarded as a premier English literature instructor at the high school. With respect to the Keera-Pat Int’l School, I am aware of the school and its opening in BKK. I recognize it as a start up school that certainly must have its challenges and thus be in need of a very strong and creative person in the leadership position. I do feel that that leader should be someone who knows a lot about, and loves the history and culture of the Thai people. Unfortunately it sounds like this individual had neither, moreover, it sounds like he wanted a job, not an adventure in education. I can only imagine what the students thought watching their “farang” school leader confronting everything that he didn’t like at the school.

There are always large boards in Thai schools, it adds an air of prestige to the school and people like to be a part of that air. Thai school boards, although often ceremonial, are in large part the foundation of respect that should be given to an institution. An individual’s character and how they present themselves is of great consideration when working overseas. Even when one feels like screaming at the seemingly injustice that may surround them. Showing respect for the Thai family members and approaching discrepancies in a more peaceful manner would have most likely allowed the problems to become more manageable. Hence, being part of the solution and not the problem.

While there may be some Thai schools that have less than favorable conditions, I would certainly think that anyone choosing to work overseas would have done their homework with respect to paperwork and legal work permits prior to accepting contractual agreements. Or, in a leadership role, perhaps endeavored to find out ways to help the school speed up the documentation they needed from their local government in terms of permits, etc. The Thai people in government are very willing to assist able “farangs”.

The writer also mentions sending a letter to WASC. While on the topic of WASC, I can only imagine the contents of a negative letter being received regarding this incident. In as much as I feel that I know WASC quite well, I also know it wouldn’t be the first time that a disgruntled employee has sent off a letter to them. They are very good at weeding out fact from fiction, and even better at assisting schools with needed direction on how to put programs in place that lead to becoming accredited. WASC has taken some horrendous environments and turned them into shining examples of education. 

On the topic of free speech; which the author claims it is in lacking in Thailand, you might keep in mind that although the US constitution protects it, it does hold those responsible to the abuse of it, and one can also be convicted both ‘civilly and criminally’ for libel in America. Thailand is not really different in that area. In the end of the day, I would just offer to everyone thinking of working in Thailand that it is truly a land of smiles, gracious behavior and gratuity, with an overwhelming sense of peace through the teachings of Buddha. And, although you may not make much money in most government schools the experience to interact with Thai children and staff both in public and private schools is one which will leave a lasting memory that will not fade from the love of teaching others. It’s a wonderful place to live, teach, learn and grow.

All the Best

Craig

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