Saturday, March 5, 2016

School's Final Day!

      So here I am...the morning after completing the last day of school.  I believe that this is the first time that it's felt slightly different than any of the previous.  While I'm excited to have reached this point, the level of jubilation is a tad less than what's normally experienced by school children and teachers alike.  Perhaps this is due to the work that I've been required to do over the past few weeks; I've gotten a sincerely in depth view at what the Thai educational system values.  During the process of finalizing grades, I've discovered that the quintessential Thai mantras are boundless and have come into play yet again.  The idea of saving face, "cool heart" (promoting kind-heartedness), and "Mai Bpen Rai" (a 'no worries' / 'it's OK' / 'oh, whatever!' approach and demeanor) can be potentially detrimental to the students' future despite Thais' refusal to acknowledge it.

      This week has been occupied with inputting grades into that user-UNfriendly Thai computer program which calculates the percentage of each students' final grade based on a pretest, many different unit benchmarks, a midterm, and a final exam.  After the student's final grade was calculated, I regrettably had quite a few students who failed (but rightfully so, they simply just do not know English).  However, my grades needed to be submitted to a governing Thai teacher for approval first.  The result was me being asked to raise all of these failing grades to a score high enough to pass these students.  Nothing else required...not a retake of a poor assignment or test, not a summer class, not even a single tutoring session.  Just pass them on to the next grade level.  Also, any final grade (the scale is out of 100) that ended with a four or a nine is to be rounded up to a five or a zero.  The outcome of this is that the students' final grade is elevated into the next tier of scores.  So an 80 to a 100 is a 4 (an "A" by American standards, and a ridiculously large range) and a 50 and below is failing (which they can't receive), so what's left is a 75-79 as a 3.5, a 70-74 as a 3.0, a 65-69 as a 2.5, etc.  Each of the students with a rightful 69 (2.5) actually get a 3.0.  My students with a 74 (3.0) are awarded a 3.5.  So on and so forth.

      Does this promote an atmosphere with a lack of embarrassment?  Sure.  Does this show the students my "cool heart"?  Yep.  Does this do justice to all of the students who will surely fail Matthayom 2 English class because they were absolutely murdered by Matthayom 1 English class?  Nope!  And thus the cycle will continue year after year until they get to college.  It is then, for the first time in their educational journey, that Thai students are held accountable for their scores.  This is when they experience an honest assessment in a class.

      These poor Matthayom 1 students will be in for a rude awakening eventually.  

My four graduating Matthayom 6 classes.
Congratulations!  Best of luck going off to college!

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