12.11.2012 - 28.11.2012 30 °C
FIRST, BREAKING NEWS: I have today (Nov 29th) launched an exciting new school project which I am hoping you would like to be part of. To find out what my project is all about and how you can become involved please visit...
See you there!!
MONDAY 12th NOVEMBER
Another day, another accident. This time it was Mr Chom, the deputy chief of the Or Bor Dor, the admin office located next to the school. Apparently his wife rang him to ask him to return home quickly because there was a snake in the house. He had been drinking and the road home, not far, twisted around sugar cane fields and turning a blind corner he hit another motorbike and tumbled over cracking open his helmetless head on the road. I can’t say I knew him but he was the MC during the recent 5-Day Community Sports Festival back in September and was, according to other teachers, a very decent man.
TUESDAY 13th NOVEMBER
The funeral for Mr Chom was this evening and it followed the pattern of the previous funerals I have been to. It was held at Mr Chom’s house in Ban Det, one of the villages next to Sai Moon and close family were in a room set aside on the ground floor of the house for the coffin, altar and rituals. The other teachers and I first went to this room, knelt, lit an incense stick, held it while offering a prayer, then planted the stick in a sand-filled urn. We then took seats at one of the many tables set up for guests in the open area around the house where awnings had been erected in case of rain. Each table already had a set of glasses and soft drinks for guests of which there were perhaps one hundred there including family.
In due course three monks arrived and the rituals and chanting in the inner room began which went on for quite a while. Once that was over food was brought out but Sai Moon’s table was in the shadow so it was hard to see what sort of food was in the various dished brought to the table along with small plastic bags of sticky rice. There is a photo in the gallery.
WEDNESDAY 14th NOVEMBER
There was a short teacher’s meeting with the Director after assembly this morning when he said we must all concentrate on preparing the M3 and M6 students for the O-Net because our school had low scores last year and the year before. The Director also said that some people from NIETS, the National Institute of Educational Testing Service, which sets the O-Net exams, will come to Sai Moon to show us how to improve test scores.
There was another mix up over my timetable this morning when the version the students have in the register folder had me teaching M4 but my version had a free morning. It turned out that the M4 class had been moved but the class had not been included in my timetable by mistake.
THURSDAY 15th NOVEMBER
The advent of the new timetable means that I have free time the whole of Thursday morning but I kept myself busy working on my laptop.
FRIDAY 16TH NOVEMBER
All this week I have been using the visit by the Thai P.M., Yingluck Shinawatra, to London and her audience with the Queen as the theme for the word and usage sentence I create every weekday for morning assembly. One word from the daily sentence is picked out as the vocabulary word for the day. This week the words have been Relations, Visited, Visiting, Embassy and Audience but the Director, via the Thai English teacher, told me that he wants the vocabulary word and sentence to be very easy.
The problem with this approach is that the Director also stated on Wednesday this week that he wants to see Sai Moon students get better grades in the upcoming O-Net exam for the M3 and M6 classes. That sounds good but the snag is that the O-Net paper includes many difficult words and sentences. For example, last year’s paper included these words: sociologists, immediate, government, renovating, occupying, species, endangered, blanching, enterprises, manslaughter, reckless...and many others. A lot of the senior boys were missing from school today since rice cutting has begun in earnest.
SATURDAY 17th NOVEMBER
It rained this morning for the first time for ages though it has rained locally in other areas not far from Sai Moon.
I went into Kranuan with Mr Jasper to do some shopping and have something to eat about 1pm but found the Pizza restaurant closed for some reason so we had lunch at a roadside stall. On our way back we called in at J.J. Minimart which is owned and run by an English guy and his partner. While we were there we saw the mechanical train used to dig up and churn the road surface laying it down again as the base for a new asphalt topping. A large water bowser headed the three linked vehicles which not only fed water into the second vehicle, a very large mobile generator, but was also hauled it using a metal tow-bar. The generator, in turn, was linked by tow-bar to a tracked vehicle which had powerful grinders to cut into and mince the road surface into fine sand/gravel, scoop up the result and lay it back onto the road surface. Three steamrollers followed and a grader followed them and in the coming days the new asphalt surface will be laid. I just thought it was interesting to see and there was not a traffic cone in sight and cars still passed by both ways.
Also at the J.J. Minimart, we met someone who was at Sai Moon school about ten years ago when, she said, there were more than 300 students at my school and there were double the number of teachers. Apparently, once other nearby schools were opened some years ago our student numbers began to drop and this term we are down to about 116 students.
SUNDAY 18th NOVEMBER
It was a nice sunny day today so a good opportunity to clear my laundry and do some other chores in my room. Otherwise a quiet and peaceful day and nothing much happened.
It is nice and cool in the evenings and first thing in the morning now which is quite nice. There are some coughs going around which the Thais blame on the change on the weather but hasn’t affected me.
MONDAY 19th NOVEMBER
Many of the boys were away today cutting rice for or with their families. At assembly, Mr Noi urged students to help their families at this time and even asked for students to help him cut rice on his far for which he was willing to pay double the above average rate of 300 baht for a day.
I heard today that Scout Camp next year is going to be at Lam Pao which is on the way to Kalasin city and it was here that the centenary of Scouting in Thailand ceremony was held back in September last year. It should be a nice location for the camp as it has many facilities to keep the students busy.
TUESDAY 20th NOVEMBER
I think I may have given you a rather one-sided impression of Sai Moon students when I have complained about this and that. By far the majority of students are keen to learn and don’t misbehave and the students whose misdeeds I have told you about are a very tiny minority.
I heard by chance today that a plan has been made for the new Deputy Director to move into my room. No, no, not sharing it but for me to move to Mr Kay’s room next door which he will vacate. I thought about it but cannot see any advantage for me to move so I am going to propose that the DD goes into Mr Kay’s room himself.
I went to Tesco Lotus in Kham Yai this evening and noticed that Christmas has almost arrived with some decorations strung between the three aisles and a couple of small Christmas trees near the entrance. A few cards and some wrapping paper are on display too. Some of the Thai shops along the street in Kham Yai and elsewhere still have their red and gold Merry Christmas or their Happy New Year banners left in place above the door from last year.
WEDNESDAY 21st NOVEMBER
It was announced today that Sai Moon is to join with two other nearby schools next month in a 16-day training session for M3 and M6 students helping them achieve higher scores in the upcoming O-Net exam in all six subjects including English. Two days are to be devoted to each subject so I hope I will get the chance to see what the specialist teachers will do for English. The event takes place at Dong Mool school which is a few miles from Nong Kung Sri.
Ajarn Tuk told me that she is preparing a new timetable for me which will be the third version this term when it arrives.
THURSDAY 22nd NOVEMBER
The new timetable for me still hasn’t been settled so I continue with the old one.
This morning I went into Kalasin city with Mr Noi as I had the whole morning free. It was a pleasant trip the reason for which was for Mr Noi to deliver a set of documents relating to his daughter’s education attainments to a teacher’s insurance company.
In passing, there are about fourteen different ‘high street’ banks in Thailand and there are two different banks purely for teachers. Amongst other perks, Thai teachers get a discounted loan rates which is how they can afford to buy houses, land, farms and cars.
This evening I joined the Director and Jasper for a beer on the ‘golf course’ (aka part of the school’s football field) and afterwards we went to Huai Mek to the Thai/European restaurant where I had Suki which was very nice.
FRIDAY 23rd NOVEMBER
The Extra English textbooks have arrived. There is a set of three books titled Listening Advantage but, unfortunately, they are useless for the purpose in mind because each lesson is dependent on a CD which is not only missing but even if I had the CD Sai Moon doesn’t have any facility for students to listen to it though I suppose I could use my laptop’s speakers.
Ajarn Tuk is the Academic Department this year so I imagine she ordered the books but without thinking to consult me about which book/s would be most suitable. Luckily, books are generally inexpensive her – the three that were bought were only 100 baht each (about £2) – so no great loss.
SATURDAY 24th NOVEMBER
A nice quiet day today and for a change there were no visitors or interruptions leaving me peace to get my chores done and do some more research online.
I went into Kranuan on my Scoopy today and came across the asphalt-laying machines putting down the new road surface. They were laying one lane while the other unsurfaced lane was being used by the traffic. As before, no cones, no lights, just common sense. On my Scoopy there was enough room for me and a car so there was no problem other than the clouds of stinking smoky steam from the asphalt-layer which I had to pass through holding my breath.
SUNDAY 25th NOVEMBER
I went into Kranuan again today this time in Jasper’s car and we had lunch at the Pizza House though we had Thai food rather than pizzas. The owner came to chat with us and invited us to a Christmas Eve party at the restaurant which we plan to attend.
MONDAY 26th NOVEMBER
After assembly this morning the Director spoke to a group of students that had been gathered together by a couple of the other teachers. It soon became obvious what it was all about as the Director doesn’t normally do this sort of thing. The students were from different classes and all had one thing in common: they were often absent.
The Director told them that they must come to school tomorrow with one of their parents and they must all attend a special meeting tomorrow morning.
TUESDAY 27th NOVEMBER
After assembly this morning the students from yesterday’s group, all boys of course, along with a parent filled the meeting room where they were addressed by the Director, Mr Noi and Ajarn Tuk. The upshot was that the student and parent had to sign an agreement promising good future behaviour. They must attend school, attend class, pay attention to classwork and homework and generally behave well in school. After the parent had left each student was given a single stroke of the came by Mr Kay and off they went to class. It remains to be seen how effective the agreement is.
WEDNESDAY 28th NOVEMBER
It was not only Loy Krathong Day today but also the day Sai Moon paid respect to the Father of Thai Scouting, King Rama VI, who began the movement in 1911.
A final rehearsal took place immediately after assembly and then the ceremony proper began. The students, in their regular scout uniforms, formed up into Girl Guide and Boy Scout groups for the senior and junior halves of the school and the male teachers lined up in front in front of them.
The Buddhist ‘altar’ had been set up at the base of the flagpole and at a given moment two students each brought a floral wreath which was placed on a special stand and the candles were lit by the new Deputy Director who knelt and bowed low in respect to the centrepiece statue of King Rama VI. Then the special Scout anthem was sung and the Deputy Director stepped forward to read the commemoration. The students then doffed their headgear and knelt while they sang something akin to a scouting hymn. A few minutes later it was all over. I took some photos for you which are in my gallery.
Loy Krathong is a different annual ceremony. Loy means ‘to float’ while Krathong refers to the specially made floral ‘boat’ which is floated off to rid oneself of one’s ‘anger, hatreds or defilements’. People sometimes cut their hair or fingernails and add them to the krathong as a symbol of letting go of negative thoughts. Many people also use the ceremony to thank the Goddess of Water.
The event in Sai Moon will be quite low key compared to lavish spectacles in places such as Pattaya and Phuklet where many hundreds of giant paper lanterns are floated off into the sky and where colourful and artfully decorated krathongs are floated off on the waters that often partly surround temples. Loy Krathong is also a time which, according to a Thai survey this month, gives rise to an upsurge in teenage sexual intercourse fuelled by alcohol consumption.