Thailand: Where Culture and the Classroom Collide


  • Philip Nicholls Sakon Nakhon Rajhabat University
  • Phumsit Apiwattanakorn


Paradigm shift, Thai culture, cultural interventions, student centered learning


This paper synthesizes two widely researched contemporary issues in Thai education through an exploration of the extent to which elements embedded in Thai culture impede a much needed paradigm shift from traditional Thai teaching methodologies to greater student-centeredness on campus and in the classroom.

Drawing on archival research, and twenty years of experience the authors as participants and observers in universities in Thailand and overseas, explore the interface between education and culture in Thailand.  The central question is how to preserve the best of Thailand’s unique and defining cultural values while overcoming the negative impact of certain cultural interventions on pedagogic practice.

The aim of this paper is to encourage dialogue rather than propose any single or simple prescription for change. It argues that teachers themselves, properly coached, have the ability to facilitate change by making it possible for students to develop initiative and practice self-reliance rather than foster teacher-dependence. It is suggested that this may be achieved, in part, by raising awareness of those cultural paradigms which on closer analysis will be seen to conceal problematic pedagogic flaws.

KEY WORDS: Thai culture, cultural interventions, student centered learning.


Author Biographies

Philip Nicholls, Sakon Nakhon Rajhabat University

Lecturer and Academic Adviser Sakon Nakhon Rajabhat University

Phumsit Apiwattanakorn

Lecturer and Academic Adviser Sakon Nakhon Rajabhat University






Academic articles