Ayutthaya Island November, 2005.
Leading My Students Into Hell December, 2005.
The Teaching River January, 2006.
Rebirth of the Old City: How Ayutthaya Survived February, 2006.
Skeletons Splitting the Sky: The pain of teaching students about Thai temples March, 2006.
Unseen Thailand: Klong Takian April, 2006.
Eating Limes in Disneyland May, 2006.
Cheaters and Copycats: Text Messages and Talking Dicks June, 2006.
Where It All Came From July, 2006.
You Will Always Be An Outsider August, 2006.
The End (Sort of) September, 2006.
Archive for the ‘Ajarn Island’ Category
Ayutthaya Island November, 2005.
This is the introductory article to my novella about teaching in Ayutthaya. It first appeared on www.ajarn.com. I start by describing all the ghosts that float around this city and ask if my students can bring the town back to life. (more…)
Dragging my students into Buddhist Hell can lead to an interesting educational experience. In this article, I take them to Wat Muang, an amazing temple in Anthong. The goal is to coax them into using English by explaining the meanings behind all the surrealistic statues and images. (more…)
This article is about my attempt to get students to design three original tours in Sena. We track the the remains of a floating village, visit a flooded homestay, and try to spot a female ghosts that lives in a tree. (more…)
Ayutthaya was destroyed by Burmese invader in 1767. The new capital was moved to Thonburi, and then later to Bangkok. Most Thai textbooks ignore Ayutthaya after 1767, and Western historians too often forget that it is still a thriving city today. I wrote this article to explain the rebirth of Ayutthaya, and how it became repopulated once again. In order to remind my students that history can be found everywhere, I required them to interview their grandparents about how the environment of the city has changed over recent decades. Their data was incorporated into this material. (more…)
This article explores the maddening process of researching temple ruins in Ayutthaya. Maps are full of contradictions, names are spelled 4-5 different ways, and many historical records were destroyed. Despite this fact, I persuade my class of tourism students to visit little-known, countryside, temples in the northern and eastern parts of the city. Together, we try to sort it out. (more…)
A small group of expatriates have developed a fondness for kayaking Ayutthaya’s rivers and canals. This article was inspired by one successful excursion down a remote canal called Klong Takian. This canal passes by the ancient sites of Muslim, Vietnamese, and Portuguese settlers. It is a remarkable fusion of Buddhists, Christians, and Muslims living in peace.
The painsaking research behind this article took months to accomplish. On a sidenote: Bangkok Phil, who operates ajarn.com, where this material was first published, once lectured me that it wasn’t enough about education. He warned me not to write anything like it again for his website. Sod him! this research is about as educational as you can get. (more…)
There is much confusion over difference between American and British English. As a result, Thai students have been developing a style in which various forms are getting mixed together. British punctuation is used to encase American spellings, and so forth. This humorous article was designed to play with mixed “Englishes”, and to raise the question: why can’t a compromise be reached?
This article looks at the various ways that I have caught my students cheating on tests. It also explores how modern tools such as mobile phones and talking dictionaries are making it more tempting for them to take the easy way out.
This article was my first attempt to research the history of education in Thailand. It explores some of the first modern schools in the country, early issues about curriculum development, and the role of English. This material traces the path from the first Western educators in Thailand to the rise of the modern TEFL industry. (more…)
This article showcases the frustrations of being a foreigner in Thailand. As outsiders, we are often expected to pay higher rent, extra admission fees, and additional expenses for basic transportation or food. To make matters worse, there are frequently changing visa rules and policies for obtaining work permit policies. My personal peeve is the 90-day check requirement, which can lead to a fine of 2,000 baht or more. No exception are made for foreigners who have married Thai spouses and raise Thai children.
Of course, there are sophisticated tricks for getting around these practices, but every now and then one’s frustration still hits its peak. This is what triggered this article.
This article was the grand finale for my “Ajarn Island” novella. It began with ghosts and ends with a long string of bureaucratic red tape. This is what ultimately kills the inner spirit of foreigners and drives many highly qualified teachers away from Thailand. Luckily, this chapter marked a new beginning for me. I would soon quit teaching and start a new job as a writer/sub-editor at the Bangkok Post.