Saturday, April 24, 2010

My Shot of the Current Bangkok Unrest

For almost four years of living and working here in Thailand, I should say that those years are not enough for people to call me Thai. My physical looks might lure most of the individuals to believe that I am Thai whenever I am with the locals but, still, my knowledge about the kingdom and my practice are very far from those people who are genuinely Thai. However, I do not keep this reality from letting myself to get into the current situation of the country where democracy has been torn apart and anarchy is about to be formed by people who know no respect to the law and the rulings of the kingdom and a government which have been averse in implementing the promulgated laws. Ever since I started teaching in the kingdom, I did not consider myself as an absolute foreigner. I have been working with Thais and have been with my Thai students in the classroom -- these and all which are not yet told are enough reasons for me not to act like an alien who doesn't care of the going-ons of the country.

Although quite tiring, I did not fail to read the news behind the headlines of two of the English newspapers in the country. Not to mention, those English newspapers contain almost the same news everyday -- the casualties of the current demonstration, the location of the mob, the pressure that each party is trying to push, the clash between the pro- and the anti-government protesters, and many other similar stories. The opinion page also contains almost the same but the good thing there is that I am able to examine and compare my point of view with those of the Thais and so I continue to indulge myself in getting the pleasure of getting information (or stress) from reading those newspapers.

A couple of times, I have been asked what is my stand to the current situation of the country but I also failed to share my stance not because I do not know anything about what's happening. Having been here for almost four years, it's very ridiculous to say that I know nothing about what's happening. I should not have been here if I could not show that simple interest towards my host country. I failed to share not because I am afraid that I would be wrong but because I want to spare myself from this current political turmoil. I have had plenty of it in the Philippines and I am fed up! However, knowing that you and other people have been too much affected by the situation, it's so awkward to say that everything is alright and you do not care about it.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Thailand Unrest: An Expatriate's Point of View

Thailand has been my home for almost four years now. Needless to say, this has been my first destination outside my home country and I would always be thankful for it is in this country where I found a home away from home.

I first arrived in this country last September 2006. It was the very time when the military called for a coup which ousted the now-convicted Thaksin Shinawatra. Military government ruled the country for almost or more than one year until a coalition was formed by the People Power Party (PPP) which was said to be an ally of the former premier Shinawatra.

Months after the ruling coalition took its seat in the parliament; the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) started a huge demonstration which led to the dissolution of the parliament and other parties which then paved way to the placement of the current ruling coalition led by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva in the government. However, instead of solving the problem, the situation came to worse when as soon as the new coalition ran the government, supporters of the ousted premier Thaksin formed another rally to defunct the seated parliament. Call for democracy has become endless since then and the political situation of Thailand has become unstable.

Lately, people try to put the blame to some other people (the leaders) for starting this misery. However,I personally believe that it’s neither Thaksin nor Abhisit who started this odd situation in Thailand – it’s the people’s reaction to what has happened that stirred the peace and order situation of the country. Thaksin Shinawatra has been proven guilty of possessing multi-million assets which have been earned by advancing his personal interests during his incumbency as the prime minister of Thailand and he must pay the price of such criminal offense. In all fairness, he (Thaksin) has done a lot of developments for the country but it doesn’t mean that his huge offense could be nullified through the advancements he made during his term. The means do not justify the end in such a way that the end does not justify the means. A criminal should be abducted according to the proceedings of the law. Meanwhile, people should not have called for a snap election just because they believe that Thaksin’s allies were to rule the land. They all have to respect the law which placed the government officials in their seats.

If you would look at the current condition of the country, you would notice how lawless the people had become. Disrespect to public figures and establishments were prevalent in the preceding and the current demonstrations. Public places were seized which caused inconvenience to the entire public and weapons were used to agitate both parties. The people need to realize that in order for democracy to properly work, everybody has to respect both individual and public rights. Democracy is sweet. Democracy is good. However, democracy could also be the worst nightmare a society could ever have if the people would not learn to cooperate.

This time, people call for democracy which they believe has been robbed from them. If democracy has been robbed from people, no one has to be blamed because these very people who yearn for democracy are the very people who bypass the law which is the very important aspect of a democratic society. The law is the defining thread of every democratic nation and anyone who breaks the law should not be allowed to enjoy democracy. I don't think democracy has been too elusive for Thai people. In fact, the government has been too soft in implementing force and the law in punishing those individuals who violated the law for they are still after of benignly resolving the country's crisis.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Online Learning: A New Trend in Education?

Technology is everywhere these days. I remember when I attended a two-day seminar-workshop last 2008 where the participants were asked to think of as many e-prefixed words as they can. The purpose of the activity was for the participants to realize how tremendous are the applications of technology that most of the words nowadays have e- prefixes attached into it. Just think of e-mails, e-portfolios, e-news, e-books, e-magazines and a whole lot of words in the list.I am not wondering anymore if majority or all of my students in the classroom have their own computer and internet connection at home.

There are many speculations that a time would come wherein teachers are not needed anymore. What people would need in order to learn is a personal computer and an internet connection to stay connected with other learners. I have nothing to be afraid of with this trend because I know that if this time would come, they would still need human beings to design learning materials and have them uploaded in different learning websites or even online teachers who could provide support to the students. Every teacher needs to become adoptive and open to these trends which would likely dominate the world of learning in the near future. There are already studies which have been conducted to study the effectiveness of online learning and most of them handed out positive results.

However, if I am asked on the feasibility of online learning in providing holistic development among the learners, I firmly believe that it's far behind compared to face-to-face instruction. We all know how limited the human dimension is in online learning that sometimes, it's absolutely nil. How can we teach values in the cyberspace considering that values is not merely taught by words but through actions? Could someone who is unseen teach people about integrity, enthusiasm, courage and all those virtues? Well, it depends to the level of social and emotional consciousness of the learner but taking into consideration the young kids who just started to go to school and the teenagers who seem to be very aggressive at their stage of development, how can we assure that proper guidance is given among them? Online learning could be possibly implemented in higher education but I don't believe it would have absolute impact in the basic education level.