A group of Thai teachers have visited Sydney Catholic Schools for a taste of Australian education.
The 24 teachers from Assumption Convent School, Saint Joseph Tipawan School, and Santa Cruz Convent School in Bangkok toured primary and high schools on April 26 and 29 to observe the schools’ routines, technology use and vision in action.
For 15 years Principal of the Santa Cruz Convent School Sr Regina Chompaisal has brought teachers from her school and others in Thailand to Australia to observe the differences in education system and be inspired to use resources in different ways.
She visited Holy Family Catholic Primary Menai, and toured the Science labs at St Patrick’s College Sutherland with Santa Cruz’s Head of Science Miss Rungrapah and Miss Kitsiranut, a Year 2 teacher at Assumption Convent Seelom School which teaches 1,700 students from Kindergarten to Year 6.
I walked in as a visitor and could see the diversity and the vibrance in those classrooms.
They were guided by numeracy cluster coach for primary schools in Sydney’s south Kylie O’Donnell.
“It was terrific, and I got to see the nine schools I work with in a different light,” she said.
“I walked in as a visitor and could see the diversity and the vibrance in those classrooms. We looked at flexible learning spaces, playground areas, and at the structures they had in place to cater to individual differences.
“I was so heartened to see what a wonderful school system we have and feel that real warm culture we have within our schools.
“In Thailand schools the rigour for knowing the content is there, but here the kids are encouraged to think for themselves. They get access to the technology and they get to do with it what they will, to be creative. I think that really touched on a difference.”
Leader of e-learning secondary Phil Hogg demonstrated the many ways teachers in Sydney Catholic schools use technology to enhance learning, and spoke about the possibility of them running future videoconferences with the Thai schools.
“The primary school teachers have been very interested in good apps to use with iPads,” Mr Hogg said.
“STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics] is something they are quite familiar with and that seems to be a bit of a global phenomenon at the moment. We ran a couple of STEM days last year in the inner-west so I shared some of the technologies we used for that.
“They don’t have one to one as we do, so they were quite interested in the notion of every student having their own digital device. We use Google apps here a lot and they are tinkering with them as well.
“I think we’re at a point where the technology is accepted and widespread. We have a good foundation with Google so we can now start looking at those more high-level, creative uses of the technology. I can only imagine that there are different challenges in any country or setting about how easily that happens.”
Miss Rungrapah said she enjoyed being shown through high school Science labs where Chemistry, Biology and Physics are taught. Smaller class sizes and more resources were among the differences she noted to Thailand’s schools, where students study from 7.15am until 4 or 5pm.
“Everything was perfect,” she said.
Miss Kitsiranut said students in Thailand learn within two semesters that are each three months long.
“I had a great time visiting here because I could see many methods of teaching the students,” she said. “I am surprised that students using technology – part iPad, part laptop – can think of a project by themselves. It’s very different to Thailand.”
Sr Regina said she established contact with Sydney Catholic Schools after a visit to Australia last year with a Thai Catholic association. She thanked the organisation for its hospitality.
The Thai school year begins on May 16. Like Catholic schools in Australia, Thai Catholic schools receive far less funding than their government counterparts.
“Each day that we visit a school we work together in groups back at the hotel,” Sr Regina said.
“After dinner we come together to contribute what we’ve seen [to discussion]. After this the teachers really need to make an intention of what they will bring back from their school visits in Australia to apply to their own school.”
The Thai teachers’ areas of expertise ranged from Science, English, Dance, Information Technology, Social Studies and foreign languages and Primary teaching.