I have beaten around the bush long enough. I think it is finally time that I introduce you to another piece of the little world that I now call home: The King’s College.
In Thailand, education is defined by Primary and Secondary schools. Essentially Primary is grades 1st -6th, in Thai this is call Pathom (prounced Pa-tom). And Secondary is grades 7th -12th, referred to at Mathayom (pronounced Ma-tee-ohm). I teach Mathayom 1 and 2. In America I would be teaching 7th and 8th grade. My school is a mixture of both, ranging from Pathom 5 - Mathayom 6.
Now, let me give you a brief background on my school. The name of the school is The King’s College. There are two King’s Colleges in Thailand, the other is located in Bangkok, but my school is the original. The campus was founded by King Rama V, who is easily one of the most celebrated kings in Thai history for his education reform and progression toward modernity and westernization.
The King’s Colleges are the only two schools that hold the King’s seal of approval for traditional Thai education. And get this; in order to actually graduate from school or university you must receive your diploma directly from the Royal Family. Which means, that you may complete your education but you will not be deemed “graduated” until your province is paid a visit from a member of the monarchy, who will physically distribute degrees. However, at the King’s College every year during commencement ceremonies the King or Crown Prince will come to my campus and “graduate” each student.
My school is technically considered a public institution but tuition fees are mandatory and the application process is rigorous. Not only are academics tested, but also physical endurance and strength are largely taken into account. Suffice it to say, my students come from very privileged backgrounds. Bearing that in mind, the simple prestige that goes along with attending the King’s College, and the fact that English is a no-fail subject in Thailand many of my students don’t give a shit about my class.
And the final, and possibly, most important aspect about my school; it’s an all boys preparatory boarding school. In short, I am surrounded my boys. I literally see them crawling out of the woodwork. Ok, maybe not literally but I can imagine it happening. Prior to moving, all of the research that I had done on Thai culture pointed to a rather un-PDA society. This is quite the contrary to my students. I will find them sprawled out on each other’s laps, heads resting in a variety of positions, and embracing or slapping one-another all day long. I believe that this is largely due to the microcosm in which they live, nevertheless I find myself yelling, “hands to yourself!” more than I’d like to.
I have already grown to enjoy some of my students. A number of them are bright, happy, eager to learn and equally quick to question the grammar of my English. No matter how redundant or simplistic, I love the questions because it shows that the wheels of thought are turning.
Unfortunately, I spend a large portion of my lessons simply focusing on classroom management. Devoting ample time to establish that Teacher M. (Meredith is too difficult for proper pronunciation) has no tolerance for misbehavior. Even if this means calling in the “big guns.” Corporal punishment is openly employed here. One core teacher in particular has informed me that the students “listen better when they are in pain.” I don’t want to get into too much detail on this topic because I understand that this is a cultural difference and I also believe a bit of discretion is ideal when discussing this.
A “pro” of being at an all-boys school: in my recent injured-state I could always find volunteers to carry my books and bag. I would be hobbling down the halls and receive an offer of help. It will come as no surprise that the older boys give their assistance much more freely. And on that note, I must make mention that a fair number of the Mathayom 6’s do not look like Seniors in high school. I don’t know what they put in the water here but many don’t look like boys, rather men instead. I could easily age them at a solid 21. Now, don’t get any weird ideas in your head.
And on that note, it seems that I have nearly run out of space in which to type and with your attention obviously dwindling I will have to resume further discussion on teaching soon. Consider this installment #1.
In the meantime cheers ya’ll! I don’t know why I’ve taken to saying “ya’ll” here… also my English is getting progressively worse. I apologize.