NHE Seminar at Baan Unrak School, Sangklaburi, Thailand

Learning through Stories

Report by Didi Anandarama

The third of six NHE seminars was held at the Baan Unrak School in Sangklaburi from March 24th to April 5th.
After two NHE seminars there is a visible change among the staff of the Baan Unrak School. There is a stronger bond and coherence between teachers and administration. The seminars have stirred much reflection amongst the teachers as to how the content from the seminars could actually be implemented into the classrooms, and many changes have been
made. The kindergarten adopted a rotation of children groups in its three large rooms that were set up last seminar with different learning corners. According to the teachers, who were first apprehensive about the change, the transition was smooth and the children are enjoying the learning corners.
As for the Primary School there is a visible improvement in the teacher’s flexibility and creativity yet various elements from the seminars still need to be included concretely into the curriculum. Therefore this third seminar was set up to have one week for workshops and one week for teachers to work on systematically incorporating the material into the curriculum. Thus the seminars are becoming more practical.Another change is that the school recently welcomed Janaki back into its administration, and she is helping with curriculum development.
“If you want your children to be smart, tell them stories. If you want them to be really smart, tell them more stories. If you want your children to be brilliant, tell them even more stories.”
— Albert Einstein
The main focus of this seminar was the use of stories and storytelling in the curriculum and its broad application as a method for teaching almost anything from math, science and language to values, discipline etc. Xana and Palavi, two story tellers from Portugal who were passing through Thailand, inspired the teachers through their well-mastered skill. They showed
various ways of dramatizing stories using lots of props, dolls and music to accompany the story.
The teachers proposed collecting at least 50 existing popular or neohumanistic stories to use to teach certain needed values in their class. They also proposed creating their own stories for any situation as needed. Finally each teacher started making a picture book of 24 pages with their own original story and own illustrations. The seminar turned into a lively discussion as the teachers read their stories and invited feedback. The critical reviewers looked out for child appropriateness, child development applicability, conveyance of neohumanist principles and if the stories were interesting enough for children or not.
We discussed the advantages of choosing well-written literature with neohumanist values for each grade. Children would be exposed to well-written language and this literature could be the focus of further educational extensions and activities. This literature could be used be adapted for story telling.The fairy tale “The Golden Lotus of the Blue Sea” by Shrii P.R. Sarkar was added into their curriculum and Didi Candrima will translate it into Thai.
School Management
And finally we had discussions about management with the school management team. Didi Ananda Jaya visiting from Brazil gave valuable tips for school management.
NHE Diploma Programme Seminar – fourth session
October 27- November 1, 2008 ThailandThe next NHE seminar in Baan Unrak School, Sangklaburi, Thailand will be withAbha on the topic of “Integrating Creative Montessori Mathematics fromKindergarten to Grade 6″Didi Anandarama will conduct observations of theteachers in the classroom later in the month during the school period.