Tag Archives: Thai Education

Mechai Bamboo School

By: Tori Stanley & Theresa Dominguez

The Mechai Bamboo School founded in 1974 is a unique learning environment open to the entire community and striving to “Create a generation of honest leaders who will improve rural Thailand.” The aim in creating the school was to help enhance life for all people living in rural Thailand. The school was founded to run around the rice planting and harvesting schedule so that children could help in the fields without missing any school. The school also runs from Thursday to Monday with their “weekend” falling on Tuesday and Wednesday so that people could come and visit the school and learn more about how this unique school set up runs. Students in this school take a very active role in making decisions not only in the school but in their wider communities as well. The teachers act as facilitators of the child’s education and help them come up with and implement projects rather than explicitly teaching. Students are allowed to pick things that interest them and are encouraged to use their creativity and make it into a project and learn from a much more hands on medium of learning. The upper grade students also get to select the incoming students that they feel will do well at this school. This panel of students goes through an interview and selection process for students and take on much of the responsibility of running the school. The students are taught to work collaboratively and value teamwork. Students find a project interesting to them and in groups they use books and the internet to find answers and solutions to problems. The core values of the school are, environmental protection, education, poverty eradication, philanthropy, integrity, and democracy & gender equality. Students learn about all these things and come away with high regards to these and many otherworldly values. Continue reading Mechai Bamboo School

How the education system in America is lacking creativity

By: Leah Jeglum and Sarah Pierson

When visiting Cabbages and Condoms, a restaurant founded by Mechai Viravaidya, we learned about a new concept in education, where creativity is put at the forefront of a child’s education, rather than memorization and repetition of mathematics and sciences.  He first showed us this picture of colored balls in trees which turned out to be painted coconuts.  He asked us why they couldn’t be colorful and I couldn’t think of an answer of why not. He also showed us bathrooms that were painted in rainbows of colors, even in the boy’s bathroom!

Since that day, we have wondered why the school system in America is lacking in this creativity. I (Sarah) have only had art class in elementary and middle school and had to follow the art teachers exact instructions and wasn’t fully able to excess my artistic talent. In middle school we were able to take band or chorus but had to follow the group songs.  I (Leah) grew up in a very musical household, especially with my mother being a music teacher and my father grew up playing the string bass from a very young age.  My sister and I were encouraged to think outside the box, but Mechai’s concept of school blew my mind on how a child should learn and progress through life, especially in those essential years where a child absorbs so much new information.

Now there are many budget cuts and  the funding for the extracurricular classes are being cut first because they are not being seen as a necessity to a child’s education.  We want to ask you all; when your school district plans on cutting funding to those programs, do you want your children to grow up to be a person who can recite various mathematical and scientific facts, or do you want your children to be a well-rounded person who is aware of different concepts and ideas, rather than just various facts?

Mechai’s Bamboo School

By: Devyn Kerr and Katherine Schwei

There are many different types of learning of experiences and types to achive that learning. It can be done formally in the classroom or it can also be effective and achieved outside in the real world, and in the community. Although most countries vary on some level in their educational systeem, whether that be uniforms, age you start school, or length of school year or time of year you go they all have one component that is largely similar, which is rogue memorization. The method is the mainstream method, although there is some individual variation. We (Katherine and Devyn) have both had different experiences in attending public and private schools in the primary and secondary level and both now at a private college. While the first has experienced the majority of schooling in private school, the latter has experienced both public and private with mostly have attended public schools.

How many of us have had plain white classrooms, white toilets, and an emphasis on history, mathmatics, science, and language that we don’t use or remember much of anymore. There have also been increased cuts in arts and music funding which do not allow the students time in the classroom to grow and harbor creativity but also hinders it in the real world. How much does one need to know world history or U.S history, or geography of the world? I know that growing up in the public school system in America there was much emphasis on knowing these things, and little creativity and innovation was found outside the art room. We were not always enouraged to think for ourselves but to just memorize the material, lug heavy textbooks around killing your back at a young age, and go to college to be well-respected and able to contribute to society else you were deemed lazy. There were only a few times that I (Devyn) had a teacher who prefered not to use textbooks much, had more discussion based classes and encouraged me to think of exciting new ways to learn and acheive success, even during college it is still like this to some extent. With required liberal education credits in history, art history, science, math and other subjects it adds to only the last two years of your four years to be focused towards your major.(Katherine)I have gone to private schools mostly my whole life. I really like the fact that I had teachers that cared about me and if I am not doing well in my classes than they would lett me know. When Mechai came up to talk about the education system that he designed, I thought to myself hey I would love this school. I really enjoyed his presentation and I think it would be a lot of fun to take a tour of the school and to see what it is really like.

One man in man in Thailand got a new idea and started a school in order to train students in what is practical and to be well-rounded in today’s society of business, marine, agriculture, rice planting and other useful tools to know for today’s economy where you might not always have a steady job in the same field, might have to change careers mid-life or skills that are useful to the local community. The students paint the buldings, bathrooms including toilets, plant gardens using any materials they can find such as shoes, tires, soda cans and bottles, and paint their buildings bright beautiful colors to spark creativity. The man behind this all, Mecchai, has also lead the fight against HIV/AIDS and family planning in Thailand with great success and started the Mecchai Bamboo School in a rural area of Thailand with the lowest 4% of educational attainment. In his school students are invited and have the responsibility in participating in teacher selection and evaluation. In grades 8 and 9 the students are responsible for selecting the incoming 7th grade students, which helps to promote leadership at an early age. Additionally, students operate businesses with half of the profits going towards primary students scholarships in government run schools. They can participate in various such as the purchasing and auditing committees, and two students are elected to be a member of the school board. Students do not use textbooks and in place use library and internet resources as information is more up to date and they learn technology. They also choose projects, activites and topics they likke to explore and the teachers help facilitate the learning process and encourage self-direction. Finally, team-building is also focused on and students work in small groups to learn more effectively and efficiently.

In conclusion, though the educational systems between Mecchai’s Bamboo School in Thailand and those throughout the world such as in the United States that focus more on rogue memory of math, science, and history using old information in textbooks rather the internet both train students to learn and achieve but they train the students in differents ways in perhaps one is more weell-rounded then the other. Perhaps, one thinks one is better but truly it is up to one’s perspective of what they want in life and truly want their parents want for their children. In most cases, it seems there is still not much choice as the Mecchai way is still the minority but perhaps one day that will change.