I just read an article by Christine Gross-Loh on the Huffington Post’s website called “Have American Parents Got It All Backwards?”, and it reminded me of my commentary on the laissez-faire style of teaching in Thailand. I mentioned in my last post that despite a lack of obsessive rules to protect children’s safety, kids at my school never seem to get hurt. They light fires at camp and use really big knives, they jump off the top level of the play structure, and they sprint through hallways on slippery tile — and yet, I’ve only heard of one more-than-minor injury, and it was one that could have easily happened while the kid was following a set of an American-style set of rules.
The Huffington Post article is really interesting. The author’s findings about successful parenting (and by extension, teaching) from research all over the world include:
1. We need to let 3-year-olds climb trees and 5-year-olds use knives.
2. Children can go hungry from time-to-time.
3. Instead of keeping children satisfied, we need to fuel their feelings of frustration.
4. Children should spend less time in school.
5. Thou shalt spoil thy baby.
6. Children need to feel obligated.
I think that Thai parents and teachers generally follow #1, #2, and #6, at least from my observations. I love being in a new country where ‘normal’ is different from the ‘normal’ I’m used to. It is so important for teachers to understand as much as possible about their students’ backgrounds and home lives because we have no idea if we are communicating, disciplining, or responding to students’ behavior in completely opposite ways from how their families do. Students, especially ones being taught by people from outside their culture (like mine in both San Jose and Bangkok), are expected to switch mindsets in order to be successful in school, which is a huge challenge! Anyway, that’s a bit of a tangent. I just wanted to share this article because it gave me some great food for thought — as a current educator and eventual parent.
What do you think?