Last Friday, I was told by a co-teacher that one of my advanced classes was witch-hunted by the administration. The powers that be wanted to know how a stupid foreigner could get specific legal information and Ministry of Education dictates translated into perfectly readable Thai language which I copied off and distributed to several of my classes, writing the pertinent parts on the board in Thai and having the class read them out loud so that (1) the students would be empowered and informed, and (2) the perpetrators outside the classroom could hear perfectly well what the deal was and what the students knew.
One week after a school-funded “training” session, where it was suggested that we teach critical thinking to the students, I initiated a Pro and Con lesson where the topic of corporal punishment came up.
The Pro side was “Social Order” and the Con side was filled from top to bottom with all manner of horrors and terrors that the students had obviously endured themselves personally over the years. I was quite surprised and we talked at length about the school policies and their experience. I went home and did research which produced this document:
In brief the law is very simple. It is illegal for any employee at a school, including teachers and directors, to apply any form of corporal punishment on any child.
The ONLY punishments allowed by law are:
1. Verbal reprimand
2. Exclusion from Class
3. Exclusion from School.
it is NOT possible for
1. Schools to make agreements with students or parents.
2. Individual schools to opt out of the law.
3. To claim flexibility on the law – it is just as illegal to hit soft as it is to hit hard.
In other words the law if there to protect ALL children in ALL schools equally, and this applies to both government and private schools.
The Legal Regulations
Corporal punishment is unlawful in schools under the Ministry of Education Regulation on Student Punishment (2005) and the National Committee on Child Protection Regulation on Working Procedures of Child Protection Officers Involved in Promoting Behavior of Students (2005), pursuant to article 65 of the Child Protection Act. This was further endorsed in January 2011 when the Minister of Education AND the Prime Minister stated clearly, in interview, that striking children for any reason was illegal and unacceptable and that teachers would be punished accordingly if caught.
Ministry of Education Rules also state:
“Any school employee who hits a child should be immediately dismissed and be subject to review of their professional license”
Advice for Parents
If any school employee hits your child you have the right to file a complaint with the police. It is 100% illegal for any school employee to use ANY form of corporal punishment on children.
The next week I received information from a friend regarding notorious “Frank” Netiwit, the now famous 16 year old student who led a campaign at his school to amend the draconian laws on student hair and uniforms, which turned into a national debate, got him on TV and got him elected student body president – a position he was unilaterally dismissed from by his school’s administration. I took this story into my class as a discussion topic, and again, corporal punishment came up, and the general depressive malaise of the students was communicated to me.
The next class I gave a translation assignment of the document above, assigned part by part to the entire class which resulted in this document:
After this, the students resolved to go tell the director, but they chickened out, which given all the circumstances I could hardly blame them.
Once I filmed Ms. SiriKorn caning the boy students at the end of her class, and she went insane with indignation, I gave her a copy of this document. She immediately threatened me: “Who wrote this!” She was not interested in whether the law was correct or not, she just wanted to attack the person who assisted me.
Last Friday, my co-teacher told me that these teachers went to the class and tried to find out by threats who translated the document. It must have been quite embarrassing to find out it was the whole class. I am sure that they wanted to line them all up and viciously cane them all multiple times, but they couldn’t very well do that if the entire content of their lesson was how this was totally illegal.
I worried for a whole day whether or not these students would be physically harmed or kicked out of school for simply doing an assignment that they were very interested in and had all but initiated by themselves.
I finally got the information from some of the students that they were not harmed or hurt, but were told by their Thai teachers that “This is Thailand” and Thai culture means that we have to beat students no matter what the law says.
That response produced the following reply from me which was posted to my FB and seen by numerous 12 and 13 year old students who received it positively:
ครูภาษาไทยกำลังบอกนักเรียนว่าพวกเขาจะต้องตีพวกเขาด้วยไม้เพราะ “ที่นี่ประเทศไทย”, “นี่คือวัฒนธรรมไทย”
ไม่เป็นความจริง นี่คือเหตุผลที่ผิด argumentum populum โฆษณาเป็นปลาชนิดหนึ่งสีแดงและการเข้าใจผิดทางพันธุกรรม มันเป็นเรื่องผิดพลาดเพราะความจริงเท่านั้นที่ความเชื่ออย่างกว้างขวางถือไม่ได้รับประกันว่าความเชื่อที่ถูกต้อง
Thai teachers are now telling the students that they must hit them with a stick because “This is Thailand”, “This is Thai culture”.
Not true. This is a logical fallacy. The argumentum ad populum is a red herring and genetic fallacy. It is fallacious because the mere fact that a belief is widely-held is not a guarantee that the belief is correct.
เหตุผลวิบัติ (เปลี่ยนทางมาจาก ตรรกะวิบัติ)
การอ้างคนหมู่มาก (appeal to the majority; argumentum ad populum) คือการใช้ความคิดเห็นของคนส่วนใหญ่ยืนยันความถูกต้องของประเด็นต่างๆ
การกล่าวอ้าง: การลอกการบ้านไม่ผิด ใครๆก็ทำกันทั้งนั้น
ปัญหาที่เกิด: ความคิดเห็นหรือการกระทำของคนส่วนใหญ่อาจเป็นการกระทำที่ผิดได้ เนื่องจากการวัดว่าอะไรถูกและผิดใช้การคำนวณว่า การกระทำนั้นๆส่งผลดีและผลร้ายต่อตัวเองหรือผู้อื่นอย่างไร
I worked in 4 Thai cities. I had over 2000 Thai people as my students. I traveled in 12 Thai provinces. I can tell you that claiming that beating students to a pulp does not qualify as “Thai culture” – except in the minds of the horribly incompetent people who do it.
It is an embarrassment to the country and the people and the culture to make this kind of ridiculous claim. It is a horrible disgrace to use it as an excuse to abuse children.
ผมทำงานในสี่เมืองของประเทศไทย. 2000 + คนไทยเป็นนักเรียนของผม. ผมเดินทางใน 12 จังหวัดไทย. การลงโทษทางร่างกายไม่ได้เป็น “วัฒนธรรมไทย”
มันเป็นเรื่องน่าอาย. นี้จะใช้เป็นข้ออ้างในการทำผิดกฎเกี่ยวกับเด็ก ๆ
There is really no hiding it now that the senior English teachers have a genuine track record of behaving like witch-hunting thugs.