The No Child Left Behind Act and Standardized Testing
Lamplaimat Pathana School: An Early Pioneer of School Autonomy in
Thailand Dr. Wichian Chaiyabang, Director, Lamplaimat Patana Foundation, Thailand
Author Correspondence: email@example.com
The present article provides a case study of a government-dependent private school in Thailand that has had significant impact on education reform in the Thai public school system as this relates to ‘alternate education-focused’ reforms. Indeed, this influence has spread beyond the borders of Thailand and has also seeded the original idea for autonomous public schools in Cambodia, which is now a thriving policy initiative of the Cambodian government. The article explores how the policy environment in Thailand has provided the institutional space to allow the establishment of an independent private school with close links with the public education system. This policy has been highly stimulative of educational innovation and the case study school, known as Lamplaimat Patana, has been able to pioneer a unique education model that exemplifies ‘alternate education.’ This education model has a learning modality that is intensively cooperative in focus and avoids the use of competitive tests and hierarchical relationships between students and teachers. The school has achieved trailblazer status in Thailand and has created a network of ‘node’ schools in the public sector that seek to replicate alternate education reforms that align with the education reform policy of the Thai Ministry of Education. This case study, therefore, demonstrates the huge
potential for educational innovation that can be achieved by providing institutional space for school independence and autonomy.
Keywords Private school, Government-dependent private school, alternate education, independent school
Declaration of Conflict of Interest: The author(s) declare no potential conflictof interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this
article. Funding: The authors received no financial support for the research,authorship, and/or publication of this article.
New Generation Schools International Secretariat Annual Conference Vol. 1 September 2023
© 2023 by Dr.Wichian Chaiyabang. This work is licensed under an Attribution- Noncommercial-No Derivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)
License and is free to copy anddistribute. Citation: Chaiyabang, W., (2023) Lamplaimat Patana School: An Early Pioneer ofSchool Autonomy in
Thailand, Phnom Penh: NGSInternational.
1.1 A Unique Autonomous Network School with Wide-ranging Impact In 2006, a group of Cambodian educators visited Lamplaimat Patana School in the countryside of Buriram Province, Thailand as part of an exposure visit to learn about innovative models of education. Little did anyone realize at the time that this visit would have wide-ranging impact on educational reforms pertaining to autonomous schools in Cambodia and beyond. The school is technically considered to be a private school but receives support from the Thai government both in terms of financial and human resources (e.g., many of the teachers working there are on state salaries but receive a top-up from the school). Based on standard definitions of PPP in the education sector, the school is considered to be a government-dependent private school (see Box 1). Nevertheless, the school has some characteristics of anautonomous public school because it leadsa network of like-minded public schoolsthroughout Thailand to promote alternative models of education (seebelow). In this sense, Lamplaimat PatanaSchool could also be called an autonomousnetwork school (see Chapter 7 of this publication). The school is, therefore, in agrey area – not fully private but not fullypublic either.Lamplaimat Patana School’s autonomous management and ‘alternate education’ approach have had a profound effect on Cambodian educators leading toinvestments that would eventually come together as the New Generation SchoolInitiative, Cambodia’s first autonomouspublic schools (cf. Thai PBS, 2019). Throughits contacts with educators in Lao PDR, NewGeneration Schools may also find fertileground for possible expansion there aswell.
Box 1: Modalities of Public-Private Partnership for Educational Service Provision Private schooling may take one of three forms, namely:government-dependent private schools, independent private schools, or homeschooling. A governmentdependent private school receives 50% or more of its core funding from government agencies or its teachingpersonnel are paid by a government agency. An independent private school receives less than 50% of itscore funding from government agencies and its teaching personnel are not paid by a government agency. The terms ‘government-dependent’ and ‘independent’ refer only to the degree of a private institution’s dependenceon funding from government sources, and not to thedegree of government direction or regulation. Homeschooling involves the education of children at home, typically by parents or tutors, which meet compulsory school requirements.
-OECD, Better Policies for Better Lives, 2023
1.2 Educational Context in Thailand
The Thai education system allows for a diverse array of independent school types ranging from autonomous network schools (e.g., Princess Chulaphorn Science High Schools), self-financing public schools with special academic/international programs (e.g., World Class Schools), and private schools
of various types. Thai law provides for state subsidies to private schools (especially those in rural areas) as long as they can comply with a requirement that they do not charge tuition fees that exceed those allowed in the public sector. Because it charges no tuition fees, private schools like Lamplaimat Patana
qualify for state subsidies as noted above. Despite the observation that Thailand allocates a considerable amount of government resources to education (3.3% of GDP and 18.1% of the national budget,5 MoE of Thailand, 2018), the country’s education system is not short on criticism, with key issues ranging from urban-rural disparities in education; teacher quality; and inadequate focus on 21st Century Skills and competence (Australian
Government, 2018). Thus, there is a real need for schools like Lamplaimat Patana in Thailand. Thailand5 In contrast,Cambodia’s % of GDP for Education is 3.1% while Lao PDR is 2.3% (2020). For comparison, the global average is 4.62%.
has made good progress towards achieving the goal of universal primary and secondary education, with 95% of children attending school. However, quality remains a major problem, particularly in rural areas, as noted above. The Thai Ministry of Education has recently introduced a new national curriculum, which is aligned with modern educational thinking. However, most schools have found it difficult to change their traditional teaching methods to meet the needs of the new curriculum. Traditionally, Thai schools have focused on accumulation of facts through rote learning. But in today’s world, the problem is not one of too little information but one of too much information. The key skills that are needed are critical thinking skills that allow finding and separating out the relatively small amount of relevant, valid, important information from the huge mass of mostly useless information with which we are continually bombarded. Beyond that, it is important to build skills for imaginative and creative thinking, together with the self-confidence to express that thinking. It is also important to develop positive attitudes and feelings towards learning: it is much more important that children acquire a habit for and love of learning than that they master any particular body of knowledge. Of course, all these higher-level skills depend on a mastery of basic foundational skills, such as reading, writing, and arithmetic.
2. EDUCATION FOR COMPLETE HUMAN DEVELOPMENT
2.1 Historical Evolution of Lamplaimat Patana School
Lamplaimat Pattana School was founded with the objective of demonstrating the possibility ofproviding a high-quality education to children in rural areas. It is considered to be an independent private school, but is owned by a non-profit organization, the Lamplaimat Pattana Foundation, which does not charge tuition fees; financial support comes mainly from charitable donations. The school opened in 2002 and has approximately 240 children enrolled at the kindergarten and primary levels. Lamplaimat Patana School does not select children based on ability; instead, a lottery is used whennecessary. The school is located in a rural part of Buriram province in the North-East of Thailand; Buriram is one of the poorest provinces in Thailand, with educational scores in the bottom 10% of provinces.
2.2 A Philosophy for School Development and Learning
In addition to intellectual skills, Lamplaimat Patana School places great deal of emphasis on developing a range of emotional, social and spiritual qualities that help children to lead happy, fulfilling lives and contribute positively to society. It also tries to ensure that children feel connected to and are proud of their local community and its traditions, so as to encourage them to spend their adult lives in the
local community, rather than to migrate to Bangkok. Another key goal of the school is to ensure that all students, without exception, achieve their full potential. Since the school does not practice selective entry, this requires the school to deal with a
broad range of physical, intellectual, and behavioural problems. The school aims not just to provide a quality education to its students, but also to serve as an example that can help other schools improve their quality. The school, therefore, tries to avoid use of resources beyond what could be expected from a government school. We also aim to be consistent with Thailand’s national curriculum.
2.3 Objectives Underlying and Guiding the Establishment of Lamplaimat Patana School
Lamplaimat School started as a private charity school serving a poor rural community in eastern Thailand and continues as such today. The school provides educational services from kindergarten to Mathayom 3 (Grade 9) with two key objectives:
Objective 1: To develop Lamplaimat Patana School into a model school that promotes educational innovation in both teaching and organizational development. The school seeks to support children’sexperimentation during the first four years of learning with following focus:
1) Mental education, which is a learning process for both teachers and students in order to develop inner growth or inner wisdom, such as being aware of one's own emotions, thoughts, and feelings (consciousness), appreciating oneself, others, and things, respecting them. In each other's differences, having discipline and being responsible for oneself and the public. Live in moderation and be easily satisfied. Always being mindful Be aware of your emotions so you know whether you need to stop or continue with what you are doing. Having right concentration to direct effort in learning or completing tasks. Have patience both physically and mentally. See the connection between yourself and things. Respect to all things that support each other. Having a big mind has enormous love and kindness. To live life with purpose and meaning and live together in brotherhood.
2) Integrated learning units using problems as the basis for developing cognitive skills. (Problem-based Learning: PBL) is the process of learning from problems by finding methodsor innovations to solve them. which students must use knowledge You must search for a variety of knowledge (Multi Knowledge) and a variety of skills (Multi Skills), which will allow students to access the main understanding of the content and develop a variety of skills. It is the development of students into complete human beings in the 21st century, which is in line with the student goals (Learner Aspirations) according to the National Education Plan (2017 - 2036) that aims to develop every student to have characteristics and learning skills in The 21st century (3Rs 8Cs) consists of the following skills and characteristics: 3Rs includes reading, writing, and arithmetic. 8Cs includes critical thinking skills. and problem-solving skills (Critical Thinking and Problem Solving), creativity and innovation skills (Creativity and Innovation), intercultural understanding skills. Different paradigms (Cross-cultural Understanding) Cooperation skills Collaboration, Teamwork and Leadership, communication skills, information and media literacy. (Communications, Information and Media Literacy) Computer skills and Information and communication technology (Computing and ICT Literacy), career skills and learning skills (Career and Learning Skills), and kindness, discipline, morality, and ethics (Compassion).
3) Professional learning community (Professional Learning Community: PLC) is creating anorganization that is a community that is conducive to learning for people in the organization, such as an environment that is safe physically, mentally and spiritually, having good organizational leadership. Creating a new culture and way of life that allows people in the organization to see the value of what they do and see the value of each other, and organizing a collaborative learning process for teachers that results from the work of each teacher until they discover practical wisdom. Then exchange knowledge with each other until shared wisdom arises. Raise teachers' knowledge and understanding of what to teach to children. Provides teachers with teaching and learning management skills Have pride and have the spirit of being a teacher. become a learning organization
The idea of using these 3 innovations is to create learning for teachers and children that will result in students becoming complete human beings. By having both inner wisdom and outer wisdom, one can live a normal, happy life.
Objective 2: To leverage the impact of the good practices developed over the years to more public schools. It is hoped that these efforts will reach more and more children so that finally a critical mass of momentum will have been achieved to accelerate reform within the Thai education system.
Despite its radical break from traditional forms of education, students enrolled at Lamplaimat Patana School still score in the top 10% of the national leaving examination, thereby validating the impact of the model on learning. From 2005 onwards, Lamplaimat Patana School began to expand its outreach to government schools through a wide number of initiatives including teacher training, development and dissemination of educational books and documentation, leadership training, promotion of new teaching methodologies, partnership with the private sector, and participation in global initiatives designed to promote educational innovation such as Harvard’s Project Zero.6
2.4 Creating a Network of ‘Node’ Schools to Extend ‘Alternate Education’ to the Public Education System
In collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Lamplaimat Patana School has sought to build a capacity-building network among public schools throughout Thailand. Each school joining the network must commit to the idea of school modernization and moving towards a hybrid model of what is known as ‘alternate education’ (see Box 2). Lamplaimat Patana has created a practical learning environment that very much matches the description of alternateeducation provided in Box 2. For example, the school is set in a very natural environment with gardens, forest groves, and farmland. Children study with nature. The school has no explicit disciplinary structure because students have internalized selfcontrol and management from a very early age. The school only admits children from age 4 or 5 (kindergarten) because they believe that by Grade 3 or 4, children have already been corrupted by the competitive ethos consisting of tests
and studying for marks that they find in a normal public school. When visiting Cambodian teachers ask about what system the school uses to enforce classroom management,they are told that there is no classroom management system. When visiting teachers ask how they maintain discipline without the use of fear, they are told that fear isan impediment to learning. When they ask what kinds of tests the school uses to assess learning, they are told that there are no tests - learning is cooperative and selfdirected, therefore, no tests are needed. These alternateeducation practices come as a shock to Cambodianteachers as it does to visiting Thai schools. While it is notexpected that Cambodian schools can fully replicate what they see at Lamplaimat School, it does help to roll back the use of fear and externalized discipline in managing their schools, which in turn promotes learning.In terms of the cooperation with the MoE of Thailand,
Lamplaimat School has converted its facilities into a schoolcum training center complete with dormitories, trainingrooms, and an on-site cafeteria. Hundreds of teachers from
6 Project Zero is an initiative started by researchers at Harvard University with a mission is to understand and nurturehuman potentials –such as learning, thinking, ethics, intelligence, and creativity –in all human beings.
Thai public schools as well as from Cambodia go to study there every year, thereby establishing Lamplaimat Patana as the core school in an extensive network of alternate education schools. From the time of the expansion until now, there are more than 60 Node model schools linked with Lampaimat Patana as the lead school, as shown in Figure 1.
2.5 Elements of the New Management and Learning Model Promoted by Lamplaimat Patana School The training program at Lamplaimat Patana School begins with a discussion of the causal origins ofthe various educational ‘phenomena’ that one might see at a school. Such phenomena might include the quality of students’ learning,the quality of the teachers, and/or the overall quality of the school. Educators are encouraged to understand that educational phenomena are driven by often unseen factors behind the scenes, such as the behavioral patterns of those involved. The structure or system that results from those behavior patterns comes from stakeholders’ worldviews and beliefs (i.e., Mindset), which drive all phenomena patterns that we might observe in a school setting.
The Concept of Mindset: The concept of fixed and growth mindsets has been around for a while. Ever since the term was first coined by Carol Dweck almost 20 years ago (Dweck, 2006), it has been used in many contexts such as children’s learning, general management, and teacher education among others. This concept figures prominently in the training program developed by Lamplaimath Patana School to help public schools in Thailand better understand what factors tend to be associated with fixed mindsets and which go with a growth mindset (see Figure 2 above) on their journey to an alternate education environment. Systematic school change of this nature will lead to changes in the behavior of those in the system, including students, teachers, administrators, parents, and communities, eventually leading to a changed phenomenon as shown in Figure 2.
Leverage Points Leading to Systemic Change: Important leverage points that cause educational change are linked with important structures and systems within the school, such as changing the teacher development system and creating professional learning communities (PLC). Learning management systems are also a useful tool to help students be fearless learners while active teaching methodologies like Problem-based Learning refocus learning away from the textbook and onto real issues in the local environment of the child. Changing the structure and system in schools will cause teacher behavior to change, transforming their role from an ‘instructor’ into a learning facilitator. As facilitators, teachers can design learning units based on students’ interests and needs and evaluate their understanding through observation and dialogue in the actual conditions of learning. These new modalities of teaching and learning give teachers and students a new way of life, new habits, new skills, and common practices.
School Management Systems: Effective school management systems help to give importance to the goal of achieving improved learning. A school’s working system has many subsystems. If Figure 2: Underlying Causes of Education Phenomena and the Link to Fixed and Growth Mindsets (based on a workshop brainstorm exercise) administrators and teachers are unable to achieve synergies between these various subsystems (e.g., PLC, school administration, parent groups, student groups, etc.), it will undermine goal achievementof the school. From Figure 3, it can be seen that a school’s management system may identify multiple priorities starting from specification of key goals. Correctly identifying the main systems that affect goal achievement and identifying the necessary support systems to achieve synergies among all subsystems will increase the likelihood of goal achievement.
In the example provided in Figure 3, one can see that the school’s central management system focuses on several key educational approaches such as
psycho-emotional education (with a focus on ‘internal intelligence), PBL integration (with a focus on ‘external’ intelligence), electronic learning, and several other
thematic approaches. The support system to make these thematic approaches work compromise the school’s leadership system, teachers’ continuous professional development (e.g., PLC), parental engagement, the creation of environments conducive to learning, etc. Inter-school workshops focusing on this approach to alternate education have so far been wellreceived and have resulted in incremental changes that are leading to greater focus on active rather than passive learning.
3. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION The present article demonstrates how an independent private school in Thailand, named Lamplaimat Patana School, has
managed to have major impact on seeding ideas for ‘alternate education’ across the public school system, not only in Thailand but also in neighboring countries such as Cambodia and even Lao PDR. Although Lamplaimat Patana School is not a publicschool per se, the Thai education system policy environment has been flexible enough to create institutional space for what is known as government-dependent private schools (such as Lamplaimat) that can build very close and influential links with the public-school sector while maintaining their own independence to innovate. In this respect, Lamplaimat Patana was able to use its independence from the public school system to pioneer a uniquely Thai model of education thatdoes not use tests, promotes intensive forms of cooperative study (rather than competition) to promote learning, and uses internalized discipline as a way to replace external forms of school discipline. While Cambodian educators have not fully replicated the Lamplaimat Patana model, it planted the seeds of what is possible when a school, whether public or private, has the freedom to promote innovation. In Cambodia, this meant working with the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sport to create a policy framework that could accommodate the need for such independence within the public-school sector. Much like the MoEYS in Cambodia has sought to turn one of its premiere autonomous schools (known as Preah Sisovath HS) into a Center of Excellence, the Thai education system has converted Lamplaimat Patana School into a major training center that helps to coordinate educational reform through a network of over 60 public schools. This case study, therefore, demonstrates the huge potential for educational innovation that can be achieved by providing institutional space for school independence and autonomy.
1. Australian Government, Dept. of Education, Skills, and Employment, (2018) School Education –Thailand.
2. Dweck, C., (2006) Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, New York: Random House.
3. Martin, Robin Ann (2000). "An Introduction to Educational Alternatives". Alternative Education Resource Organization. Paths of Learning.
4. MoE (Thailand), (2018) Education in Thailand 2018 Report, Bangkok: Office of the EducationCouncil.
5. OECD (2023) Better Policies for Better Lives in Education GPS. Link: https://gpseducation.oecd.org/revieweducationpolicies/#!node=44129&filter=all
6. Thai PBS, (2019), Citizen Reporters on Lamplaimat Patana School, Buriram. Link:https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Uz9DrDJg1VYdg2iGkQf7IRc7gpLN5J0W/view?fbclid=IwAR163iyTvJ4j3K1lIh4mwDU04CmsfH7IqIm8WweL591APFmmtfdtJbTmiiA
The No Child Left Behind Act and Standardized Testing : by Melissa
I first became aware of Lamplaimat Pattana School (LPMP) while doing research about education systems in several countries in which I was considering doing volunteer work. Having spent the previous thirteen years in American Higher Education as a college instructor of English Composition, I found myself increasingly frustrated working in a system that did not, ultimately, share my vision of the possibilities of education.
My American teaching career spanned the dawning of the 21st-century, and my students represented the global village; I often had students from as many as a dozen countries represented in a single classroom. It became increasingly clear to me that the needs of the 21st century, and of the young people who would be charged with facing and solving the problems inherent to it, were not being addressed as effectively and urgently as necessary.
In June of 2011, I resigned from the American education system and made the decision to go outside of the United States to see if I could find a way to use my skills and experience to make a difference in global education. As I often say, and deeply believe, “Educationanywhere matters everywhere.”
In my research about education in Thailand, I discovered Lamplaimat Pattana. As I began to read about the mission of LPMP, and as I read the extensive analytical report produced by the University of Tasmania about the school, I recognized a pedagogical soul-mate. Conversations with a representative of LPMP further enhanced my sense that LPMP was a school that not only shared my educational vision, but was in fact substantially further down the path in implementing that vision.
Problems in American Education: The No Child Left Behind Act and Standardized Testing
On January 8, 2002, former United States President George W. Bush signed into law the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). I had been teaching for three years at that time, and although I did not doubt that the intentions of the Act were good, I knew that the methodology was exactly the opposite of what we needed to focus on in American education in order to face the increasingly pressing needs of the 21stcentury.
NCLB elevated the results of standardized testing to the position of central, and only, determinant of “success” for students, teachers, and schools. In the past ten years, a generation of American students has been taught “to the test” instead of being taught in authentic ways that truly encourage a love of learning, ways that cultivate critical inquiry and dialogue, and that help students to apply their knowledge to the real-world issues faced by their local and global communities. American teachers are becoming increasingly frustrated at having to assess students based upon an extremely narrow understanding of “knowledge” and by being unable to devote enough class time to helping students nurture a genuine excitement for the learning process (instead, the time is used to relentlessly prepare for testing). In effect, the motivation for “learning” has been thoroughly externalized: the goal is to pass the test, and avoid punishment, which is the end result of not “succeeding” in the NCLB model.
Both “knowledge” and “success” are perilously ill-defined in the NCLB system. Students are considered to “know,” and therefore to have “succeeded,” to the extent that they become successful test-takers; that is, to the extent that they are able to demonstrate that they can reiterate (not necessarily deeply understand) a narrow range of information, which they have been drilled about for the entire school year at the expense of the whole range of knowledge and skills which have been neglected in order to “teach to the test” (many of which skills, of course, simply cannot be assessed in the standardized testing model).
Also virtually ignored in the NCLB system is the inherent diversity in students themselves. Although anyone who has ever taught knows that each and every student is a unique human being with equally unique abilities and aptitudes, NCLB demands the impossible and ultimately, for the 21 century-- the undesirable: that every student be alike-- that they think alike, that they “know” the exact same things in the exact same way, and that they express that “knowledge” in the narrowly conceived way that allows test-makers to easily quantify that “knowledge.” Students are ultimately reduced to numbers in this system, a system that has been a boon for some, such as the standardized testing industry, which has become a multi-billion dollar industry since the inception of NCLB. But at what cost to the students, to America, and to the world?
In order to meet the requirements of “knowledge” in Reading and Math set out by NCLB, teachers and students are increasingly forced to give up time and resources that would otherwise be available for developing a well-rounded, holistic educational experience, one that recognizes the students as human beings, not simply standardized test-taking machines. Time for the Arts, play, sports, and even time to eat a proper nutritionally balanced lunch (all of which have been scientifically proven to enhance children's learning) has been increasingly shifted to test cram sessions. It has gone so far that two 11-year old girls from Minn, Minnesota recently felt compelled to write to their local newspaper to express their concern over being given just 10 – 11 minutes to eat lunch. (Return to discuss relevance/ implications/revise this section).
A decade into this experiment in American education, even formerly enthusiastic advocates of NCLB, such as education historian and once prominent supporter of the federal education policy, Diane Ravitch, have come to understand that, good intentions aside, NCLB is a “disaster.”
The world is changing at a faster pace than ever before in human history. The skills necessary for meeting the challenges of the new millennium are not the same as those that were sufficient to meet the challenges of the past. More than ever before, students need to develop what have come to be known as 21st century skills, authentic thinking and communication skills that include:
· Mental model building - using physical and virtual models to refine understanding
· Internal motivation - identifying and employing positive emotional connections in learning
· Multi-modal learning - applying multiple learning methods for diverse learning styles
· Social learning - using the power of social interaction to improve learning impact
· International learning - using the world around you to improve teaching and learning skills.
In effect, what educators must focus on in order to prepare students to effectively participate in the 21st-centruy global community is the development of “lifelong learners.” In the past, the focus of education has largely been placed on teaching, yet 21st century demands a shift to a focus on learners: helping students learn how to learn, how to reflect on and articulate their growing knowledge, and how to implement that knowledge, together with others, in ways that positively impact the world in which they live, is crucial to authentic education. The problems that have been created by outdated thinking cannot be solved by that same thinking; instead, education must focus on cultivating creative, critical thinking that will enable students to become self-motivated, confident innovators who are able to bring new thinking to the problems faced by the real world in which they live.
LPMP meets (and exceeds) the challenge of providing 21st-century education
Having had the privilege of experiencing LPMP as a guest observer/participant for a five weeks, I have come to know that not only were my initial impressions of the school correct, but that, in fact, the work being done at LPMP is even more transformational and progressive than I could have imagined. Below is a discussion of the ways in which I have observed LPMP meeting, and exceeding, the 21stcentury skills goal that is becoming increasingly recognized globally.
Mental model building - using physical and virtual models to refine understanding
LPMP employs a variety of learning opportunities/methodologies to assist students in developing and refining their understanding/knowledge through the use of physical and virtual models, including mind-mapping and project-based learning.
Mind-mapping allows students to begin to articulate, as well as to visually conceptualize, the framework of key questions, ideas, and language of the particular project they are working on. Mind-mapping inherently encourages complex analytical thinking. Analysis, of course, is the process of breaking down a coherent whole into its parts so as to better understand a) how the parts function in and of themselves and b) how the parts function together to make up the whole. This physical modeling tool encourages students to recognize and represent the complexity and interconnection of ideas, as well as to begin to understand and represent complex structures.
Project-based Learning (PBL)
LPMP's focus on Project-based Learning (PBL) is perhaps its most striking contribution to helping students become engaged life-long learners. Whereas the traditional lecture, drill, test methodology encourages learners to think of knowledge as compartmentalized (limited to the classroom, or to the test, for example), PBL encourages what renowned educational theorist Paulo Freire, in his seminal essay “The 'Banking' Concept of Education” defines as real knowledge. For Freire, as for progressive schools such as LPMP, knowledge is not a static, compartmentalized “thing.” Instead, it is understood to be what it truly is: a process. True knowledge “emerges only through invention and re-invention, through the restless, impatient, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other (Freire ___).” It should be noted that the PBL projects themselves are imagined and constructed by the students in collaboration with their teachers, increasing student engagement and ownership. PBL encourages students to actively engage in the meaning-making process through inquiry, through dialogue, through collaboration with others, and then to apply their growing knowledge in the real world. This is the kind of knowledge, and these are the kinds of learners, crucial to the 21st-centrury.
One particularly excellent example of PBL at LPMP is a Primary Grade Six project in which students collaborated in creating a video of a text they had read together (The Alchemist). Not only was the students' understanding of the concepts clear in the excellent artifact they produced, but the joy and engagement of the students was also clear in videos and images that captured the students' creative process. Perhaps Socrates said it best when he said, “Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.” PBL kindles the flames of curiosity, creativity, engagement, and joy necessary to cultivate lifelong learners. We owe students no less as we ask them to face the enormous challenges of a century the problems of which they did not create, but will necessarily be tasked with solving.
The world as a model is also a key component of LPMP pedagogy. Students are encouraged to look to their own natural environment for learning models, and to observe and understand their world as a classroom. Children in Kindergarten Two, for example, studying ants, are encouraged to observe ants on the playground: to recognize their size, their color, their movements and habits. Of course, observation is the first principle of science, and these little investigators practice one of the most important intellectual skills when they observe their own world. They also build physical models as they produce art projects that allow them to demonstrate their growing understanding, for example, of ant morphology. What kindergarten class would be complete without music? Although they are “only” five-years old, they are already being introduced implicitly to linguistics as they sing songs (in their Native language as well as in the English language).
*I will discuss later the implications of these multi-faceted learning activities on learning styles.
Internal motivation - identifying and employing positive emotional connections in learning
One of the most impressive aspects of LPMP's pedagogy and methodology is its focus on student learning as an organic, internal process. At LPMP, punishment and cohersion are avoided in favor of student-focused learning that evokes the natural curiosity and wonder necessary fro the development of life-long learners. The intellectual materials are not “owned” by the teachers” and “given” tot he students; instead, they are the creation of the students facilitated by their teachers, who dilligently strive to ensure that students are
Multi-modal learning - applying multiple learning methods for diverse learning styles
Unlike schools that rely on traditional and outdated methods such as lecture and drill, LPMP teachers employ “multiple learning methods for diverse learning styles” daily. The Primary Six project discussed above provides and excellent example of this. Students employed multiple skill sets in producing their collaborative project, including music, technology, writing, theater, and oral presentation. Visual, auditory, kinetic
(Discuss Learning Styles research -return to ANTS discussion)
Social learning - using the power of social interaction to improve learning impact
In traditional educational settings, which often views learners in isolation, LPMP recognizes that knowledge and meaning-making is an inherently social process. Particularly in the 21-st century, as human beings become increasingly capable through technology of interacting and collaborating globally, it is important to cultivate learners who are not isolated and compartmentalized.
LOVE: Introduce Erich Fromm's definition: to love someone, you must respect them, to respect them you must know them, to know them, you must listen deeply to them. LPMP LOVES their students by this eloquent definition. Deep listening, attention to the issues to he individual student, to individual teachers, sports/games that build social connections (not heirarchical). Bodies, spirits, minds, emotions
(Khru Kloy with upset child on day one: discuss the role of empathy in critical thinking and education) EQ?SQ/IQ: HOLISTIC intertwining.
Home/School synthesis (home visits)
International learning - using the world around you to improve teaching and learning skills.
Real-world learning. Use ASEAN example (Primary Five). Buriram example (_________)?
How does LPMP EXCEED?
· Attention to teachers as students and as human beings.
· Mentoring of younger/less experienced teachers
· Constant self-reflection: as a team, and as individuals
· Regular dialogue (talking with, not AT teachers)
· Problem-solving as a community (child with diabetes-- not HIS problem, OUR problem. Same with View and Boom)
· Attention to environment: exciting, engaging, safe, full of wonder, play, lesson (walkways as classrooms).
· Return to Fromm: LOVE (no physical, emotional barriers, trust)
· respect/love/appreciation for their own (and others') culture (builds self-esteem and other-esteem)
· Dedication of teachers extraordinary
· Involvement of parents crucial: always seeking to improve/reinforce/build upon this crucial connection – HOME VISITS.