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Teaching and Learning in Catholic Schools in Thailand

Paul grew up on a farm where moral virtues such as hard work and honesty were cherished. Each of his classes has a moral lesson.

Second Graders Taking Final Tests in Thailand


Teaching and Learning in a Catholic School in Thailand

In the last week of February 2013, I was assigned to monitor a class of second-grade students sitting for their final exams at Saint Joseph Bangna Catholic school in Thailand. Although it wasn't one of my scheduled taught classes, I spent three days with a Thai teacher proctoring second graders' tests. As I sat in the back of the classroom on the first day watching the students take a test, I noticed on a bulletin board in front of the classroom the guiding principles for students. Five important abilities of student learners were also spelled out in big colored Thai letters. After monitoring the students' tests in all of their subjects during these three days, I became aware of how the curriculum was designed to develop the important abilities of students. In reflecting on the guiding principles for students to follow, it became obvious why all subjects were taught, and all extra-curricular activities were held. This article, therefore, is a summary of the basic teaching and learning that goes on in a Catholic school in Thailand.

ASEAN Display on Second Grade Bulletin Board


Guiding Principles for Students to Follow

The guiding principles for students to follow at Saint Joseph Bangna Catholic School have been translated by me from Thai into English. They include the following five principles:

1. To Become Well-Educated

This is on top of the list in the classroom and is probably the most important. The school provides the resources for students to get a good education through excellent Thai and foreign teachers and school facilities such as libraries, laboratories, resource rooms, computers, and music and art rooms. The school also offers an academic curriculum that includes: courses in languages such as Thai, English, Chinese Mandarin, and French; science courses in 1st-12th grades; health education and physical education; social science courses; religion classes; computer science classes; and art, music, and home economics classes. Also, parents may enroll their children in an English Program in which all English, science, math, and health education classes are taught in English.

2. To Become Disciplined

My school and its teachers instill discipline into the students through daily morning assemblies, assemblies before afternoon classes and dismissal at the end of the day, meditation twice a week, and occasional school trips to a temple. At morning assemblies, for example, students stand with their homeroom class in a formation for announcements, come to attention for the playing and singing of the national anthem, recite the students' code of conduct, pay homage to the King, and then recite religious prayers.

3. To Become Compassionate

As part of the school's morals training, students are taught to become compassionate through weekly mock village experiences and by contributing to flooding victims and other needy people. In the mock village scenarios which are held every Thursday morning before first-period class, students from all grade levels 1-12 are assigned to different villages that have to organize and attend to the welfare of all of its members.

4. To Aspire Toward Moral Virtues and Moral Values

The school and teachers guide students to aspire toward moral virtues with a variety of activities. Every morning before the first-period class, the students' Thai homeroom teacher presents a twenty-minute lesson on moral virtues and values. In addition to this, the students all take a Christian class, and all teachers incorporate the teaching of moral virtues and moral values in their daily lesson plans.

5. Do Excellent School Work

My school and teachers encourage all students to do excellent work both in curricular subjects and extra-curricular activities. Top students in all academic subjects are recognized at morning assemblies and special school assemblies at the beginning and end of the school year. Students who engage in extracurricular activities through interscholastic school competitions in English, science, and math are rewarded with letters of recognition and in some cases cash awards.

Important Abilities of Student Learners

The Thailand Ministry of Education and my school recognize that there are five important abilities of student learning. They include the following:

1. Ability in Communicating

Since Thailand is a newly industrialized country and an important member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), students' communication abilities are so important for the future of Thailand and ASEAN. The school endeavors to develop students' communication skills by providing a curriculum that is rich in language art courses such as Thai, English, Mandarin Chinese, and French. Listening, speaking, reading, and writing activities are emphasized in all language courses. Students further develop communication skills through extra-curricular activities which include speaking, debate, and drama clubs as well as through participation in the interscholastic competition in storytelling, impromptu speeches, and drama skits.

2. Ability in Thinking

Critical thinking skills are emphasized in all classes, especially in math and science courses. As early as the first grade, students are taught logic in math classes, and how to use the scientific method. Thinking skills are also developed in the language and social science courses by encouraging students to use an inductive reasoning method with Socratic questioning.

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3. Ability to Solve Problems

My school encourages students to solve problems in all academic classes. In math classes, students are guided in applying math concepts and formulas in the solving of real-life problems. The same is true in science courses in which all students are expected to participate in a science fair where they apply the scientific method in the creation of an original project. In language and social studies courses, students many times work in small groups to complete projects which apply language and social studies principles in creating something new in the form of a written poster or a clay model.

4. Ability in Utilizing Self-Sufficiency in Life

Economic self-sufficiency in life is one of the King of Thailand's major teachings. In both curricular and extra-curricular activities, students are taught the principles of self-sufficiency. For example, in art and music classes, students are taught how to create their art forms and music and musical instruments.

5. Ability in Utilizing Technology

As a newly industrialized nation, the utilization of technology is extremely important for Thailand's increased sustained economic growth as an ASEAN nation. All students from grade one have computer science classes in which they learn about computers and their role in the information technology world of today. The latest technology is also unveiled in all science and home economics classes.

As I observed second graders take tests in Thai, English, Chinese, math, science, health, social studies, computer science, Christianity, and art and music during my three days of monitoring tests, I gained a much better appreciation of what teaching and learning in a Catholic school entail. I also gained a better understanding of how the school was utilizing the academic curriculum and extra-curricular activities to achieve its student guiding principles and to develop the important abilities of student learners.

My sixth grade students at Saint Joseph Bangna School in Thailand.  Picture taken in 2009.

My sixth grade students at Saint Joseph Bangna School in Thailand. Picture taken in 2009.

My Students Practicing a Drama Skit


English Day 2014 at Saint Joseph Bangna School

Teaching and Learning in Catholic Schools

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2013 Paul Richard Kuehn


Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on October 08, 2013:


Thank you very much for your comments. Yes, I also believe our public schools need to take lessons from the Thai Catholic schools. Thanks for the votes, sharing, pinning, and posting on fb.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on October 07, 2013:

This is an amazing hub Paul, our public schools need to take lessons from the Thai Catholic schools, especially on teaching empathy, I think our children here in the U.S. are losing that, and our children see adults behaving like children. What an example!

Voted-up, UAI shared, pinned and posted on fb.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on August 24, 2013:


Thank you very much for commenting on this hub and sharing your Catholic school education. What I like about the school is that instruction in moral values is built into all of the lessons. Thanks for your great evaluation of this hub. I also appreciate you sharing and pinning it.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on August 24, 2013:

I attended a Catholic parochial school from the 3rd grade through the 7th grade in Wisconsin after the school had been built. My entire 8th grade in public school in Texas was just about a repeat of what I had already learned. I truly enjoyed those parochial school years. It sounds as though the school you observed is a really good one! Up and interesting votes, sharing and pinning.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on May 11, 2013:


Thank you very much for reading and commenting on this hub. My school is interesting to the kids who really want to get out of it as much as they can. The kids are especially interested in all of the extra-curricular activities which they have. I appreciate your comments and sharing of this hub!

Don A. Hoglund from Wisconsin Rapids on May 11, 2013:

I'm impressed. I went to both catholic and public schools in Minnesota.Needless to say nobody even dreamed of computers in my day, heck, TV only came about when I was in 6th or 7th grade. Very educated folks back then explained patiently to me why space travel was impossible. The school you describe sounds like it should be interesting for the students. Up,interesting and shared.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on May 03, 2013:


Thanks for reading and commenting on this hub. I went to Catholic schools grades 1-8 up until high school in the 1950s. The only bad thing about the schools was that I never had a science subject! I certainly learned discipline and respect for authority. Thank you very much for sharing this hub.

moonlake from America on May 03, 2013:

Interesting and I wish all schools would teach this way. Our youngest went to Catholic school. Voted up and shared.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on March 13, 2013:


Thank you very much for reading this hub. I really appreciate your comments.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 13, 2013:

Interesting and well informed about Catholic education you have mentioned valuable points here and to the point.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on March 12, 2013:


Thanks for reading this hub. I'm glad you like my article and I really appreciate you sharing it.

Life Under Construction from Neverland on March 12, 2013:

Wow, this is really great. All teachers much read this post. Sharing this

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on March 07, 2013:


Thanks for reading and commenting on this hub. I appreciate your good words.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on March 07, 2013:


Thanks for reading this article. I appreciate your comments.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on March 07, 2013:


Thanks for stopping by again and reading about my school. Unfortunately, it's hard for the school to live up to all of these targets, but it is trying. I appreciate you sharing, pinning, and tweeting this article.

Educateurself on March 06, 2013:

Nice great hub a good way to teach the teachers how to teach your students.

Sreejith k from Kerala, India on March 05, 2013:

Thanks for sharing your ways of teaching and education.

Brett C from Asia on March 05, 2013:

Very interesting. Having worked in Thailand myself, if this school lives up to these targets, they are well ahead of the pack and I can see why you don't want to leave.

Shared, pinned, tweeted, up and interesting.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on March 04, 2013:


Thanks for reading this hub. I always appreciate your great comments.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on March 04, 2013:


Thanks for reading this article. I really appreciate your comments and do hope you can write a hub comparing Asian-American culture with Amish culture regarding education. I really don't know that much about the Amish.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on March 04, 2013:


Thanks for reading this hub, and I really appreciate your comments.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 03, 2013:

It's interesting, Paul, that classrooms like pretty much the same no matter where in the world you teach. Your description of that Catholic school sounds very much like the Catholic schools I taught at.

Marie Alana from Ohio on March 03, 2013:

Wow! Thanks for sharing! I have done some researching and writing on how the Asian-American culture differs from the Amish culture in the belief of how to best educate their students and the educational aspirations. I should put it into an article. I like how you got to witness the teaching a first-hand school first hand.

Michelle Liew from Singapore on March 03, 2013:

It looks like the school is aiming for a holistic education, which is great. Thanks for sharing, Paul, and passing this around!!

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