Thai Teaching Cert: Module 1 Society and Wisdom

(No, we’re not taking these in order)

Buddhism in Thailand

  • No belief in a god that created the world
  • Buddhist believe do good things, be good person, and you will be rewarded
  • Experience enlightenment to break the cycle of birth, disease, death, rebirth
  • Teach patience and give consideration to everything you do to be a good person
  • Monks believe should not eat solid foods after mid-day.
  • 250,000 monks ask for food each day. Giving of food to a monk is considered being a good person.
  • Meditation is to clear the mind and think clearly so you can become calm and wise
  • Many young men become monks to finish their schooling, then quit being a monk and go back to their villages to live.
  • Some are monks for a few months, others a few years, others a lifetime

Reading: Individual Life Cycles

  • Thai baby becomes “someone” after its name is chosen.
  • By 8 children start to take on their “role”. Girls household chores, boys guarding the family buffalo.
  • Children attend government school taught standard nationwide curriculum. Acquire varying degrees of literacy and study Buddhist and Thia history.
  • Youth of 15 or 16 are already regarded as fully mature adult laborers. Graduation from school and marriage at around 20.
  • Most village males go into the monastery, usually for the duration of one rainy season (about 4 months), to make merit for themselves and their parents; in some areas, a man who has never been a monk is avoided by marriageable girls, who regard him as a “unripe person” (Thia: Khon dip)
  • Girl’s entrance into adolescence is a gentle one.
  • Courtship is extensive and “whirlwind courtships” are exceedingly rare.
  • Most young people select their own marriage partners.
  • In many parts of the country, it is the custom for the groom to move in with the bride’s family, avoiding friction between mother and daughter-in-law.
  • After marriage first child usually comes during the first year.

Reading: The Family

  • Extended family, consisting of several generations living under one roof.
  • Home is usually a simple wooden house raised on posts.
  • There is little privacy, which is not as highly regarded as in Western societies, and the communal life style instills a strong sense of social harmony in which tact, compromise, and tolerance are essential.
  • The father is regarded as the leader, but the mother plays a significant role in the family finances and instruction of the children.
  • Respect  for elders is taught very early
  • Position in the family hierachy is important and carries throught the life of a Thai
  • Sense of responsibiltiy is also inculcated in early childhood.
  • Prime responsibilities placed on children is that of taking care of parents in their old age, a prominent feature of the Thai concept of family.

Reflection:

An interesting day of learning about Thai culture and the family structure. The best part is still the stories from people who have lived here for a long time, and from the Thai teaching staff who’s culture we are trying to understand. Of course these are western Thai so they understand “western ways”.

What we learned today is different than the Thailand that you will see if you come to Bangkok. Bangkok is modern, up-to-date, and feels like any other large city anywhere in the world, but the real culture of Thailand is outside the city, the real Thailand, most people don’t see.

The same was true for China. Shanghai is not China. Yes it’s 23 million people strong, but in a country of over a billion people Shanghai is just a small part and does not represent the true China.

It will be interesting to watch how “flattening” and connectivity plays a role on cultures such as Thailand’s. Most Thai families now have cell phones and as access to information spreads I wonder what affect that will have on the culture and family structure…..only time will tell.

6 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing this! I find it so interesting to learn about other cultures. I’m taking a beginning Mandarin course and we are being taught about the Chinese culture also. I’ve been to Shanghai and Bangkok and agree that they are not the norm to see and understand about the culture of that country. Just like Washington DC, NY city, and Los Angeles doesn’t tell all about the United States.

  2. Great post. I hope you keep them coming and have the entire teaching certificate outlined. Keep up the good work!

  3. First, I have been derelict in not welcoming you to Thailand… I have followed your blog in Shanghai and was happy to see that you have moved to Thailand.

    I am the co-owner/instructor at a small language school in the north part of the country… have been for 16 years…

    My only advice is have a huge grain of salt with some of your “modules” if this first one is any indication…

    Bangkok is not Thailand, I will agree… but, Thailand is not the “Thailand” of the Education and Culture Ministries…

    Enjoy,
    and feel free to contact at the (hidden) address…

    Best wishes

    Andy

  4. These sound a lot like the orientation modules a lot of foreign teachers get in China. I’ll be interested to hear how much of the information — and what kinds of information — are helpful in your actual teaching and interfacing with Thai students, and how much is the Thai equivalent of “you know, China has 5000 years of history, and…”

  5. The “flattening” effect is already visible in the changing value system of the young and question to authority not based on merit.

  6. This is a nice article – moreso in light of the fact that teaching in Thailand now requires a module to be studied in Thai culture. Thanks a bunch!

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