Monday, December 08, 2008

Where are Thailand's great political teachers?

Because I teach Social Studies, and because I rant about education, it's understandable that friends and colleagues sometimes joke about me being some kind of "revolutionary" or "Marxist" teacher. My reply to the first charge is "I wish I was good enough" my reply to the second "I'm conservative".

Seriously, it would be most dangerous and inappropriate for any foreign teacher to knock the status quo in Thailand. Surely the American fiasco in Iraq has reminded us that any real changes have to born from within before outsiders can even lend a hand. I'll admit, in my old post were I was a lot closer to the students than my current job, I did have frank discussions with them. I taught about the dangers of credit cards, the importance of never being scared to ask questions and the importance of a sceptical approach to any political system. It went down very well, but I don't think I could ever repeat that performance.

My current job is not such a challenge because I teach about the political systems rather than the political people. This is easy because the system we have in Thailand - a bicameral, constitutional monarchy - is actually a good one. The problem is the people within the House of Representatives and their cronies, but I steer well clear and do not let my own opinions influence my teaching. Sometimes kids do ask me though.

So it boils down to the same old conclusion - we need better people in politics and better education for the next generation to understand them, but where is it coming from? Whoa re eh truly great political teachers in Thailand? It seems that many former TRT members have turned to teaching, is this a good thing? I don't think so.

I know Giles Unpagkorn is a Marxist but at least he fights for free speech and transparency. Who else do we have? Can anyone tell us who is molding the minds of Thailand's young to make things better?

Where are the inspirers? Where are the geniuses? Where are the men and women who make the student so full of will that they want to do like Mr Beale in 'The Network' and yell "I'm not going to take this anymore!".


Anonymous said...

Your experience matches mine - before I came to Thailand, I was a male chauvinist right-winger and yet now I am a staunch feminist and find myself frequently agreeing with a card-carrying Marxist.

Funny thing is, I haven't actually changed any of my views...

Anonymous said...

Where is the Thai Gandhi? or even the Thai Neru?

Not that I think Thailand has quite as many social problems as India or South Africa but where is the one incorruptible person people can rally around to form a political forces for change.

Thailand has had most forms of government, how about one honestly elected by the people?