I’ve been thinking the last couple weeks about the culture of technology. What got me thinking was Kim Cofino’s K12online Pre-Conference Keynote: Going Global: Culture Shock, Convergence and the Future of Education

Flickr ID: Barnesworth Anubis
Flickr ID: Barnesworth Anubis

In her presentation she discusses Third Culture Kids (TCKs) and you hear from many different individuals who live and work internationally. Many of them talk about living in different cultures, learning to adapt, and learning to become part of that culture as you learn and work within it.

I know the Digital Native vs Digital Immigrant debate has been raging for years, but I wonder if it’s not a debate between those who were born into a time with computers and those who were not, but rather those that have adapted to the digital culture.

Age is not a factor when it comes to adapting to a new culture, but rather your willingness to adapt. Your willingness to change, and to appreciate differences. Each individual decides for them self to what degree they are willing to adapt.

For example, here in Thailand I speak enough Thai to get home in a taxi. I took lessons last year but have not kept up with them and am comfortable with that level of adaptiveness to this culture. Could things be easier if I learned more Thai? For sure, but at the moment I have what I need to get by in this culture.

The same would hold true to the technology culture. You learn just enough browsing skills to find information, learn just enough computer skills to get by.

Or we fully adapt, like many that read this blog, we fully adapt to the culture, the culture intrigues us and we want to learn more about it, and become part of that culture.

I encourage you to watch and listen to Kim’s Pre-Conference Keynote. If you’ve already watched it, watch it again and be thinking about technology as a culture and see if you see similarities to how people adapt to this digital age.

(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.


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.