Learning Reform

Learning reform is regarded as the most important aspects of the education reform (learner-center approach) (Atagi, 2002: 3, 28; Fry, 2002: 3; Piya-Ajariya, 2002: 3).

Learning reform, in accord with the National Education Act B.E. 2542, is consistent with a student-centered approach that is under an umbrella of the constructivist paradigm (Pillay, 2002: 14).

It is accepted that a major rethinking of Thai approach to learning reflected in the NEA is students-centered approach (Fry, 2002: 3).

Knowledge is:

  • actively constructed by learners, not transmitted to learners (Pillay, 2002: 14);
  • is best constructed through authentic learning (Pillay, 2002: 14);
  • is best constructed when the tasks are within the zone of proximal development (Vygotsky, 1962 cited by Pillay, 2002: 14);
  • is best constructed when a new concept is linked to a number of different concepts using an integrated approach (Pillay, 2002: 14).

However, it must be cautioned that the student-centered approach is just one of many approaches (Pillay, 2002: 15). Moreover, the concept of distributed learning is recommended (Pillay, 2002: 14).

Moreover, any of teaching and learning processes that are used should concentrate on encouraging learners to construct personal knowledge and meanings and at the same time integrate the new knowledge to socially accepted values and behaviors (Pillay, 2002: 25).

To implement learning reform, teachers need to:

  • change their fundamental philosophy and beliefs about the nature of knowledge and how children learn (Pillay, 2002: 15);
  • appreciate the complex multidimensional nature of knowledge and know how to break down the subject content and process to make it simple and enjoyable for children to learn (Pillay, 2002: 15) (implying PCK);
  • provide an environment that is most conductive to learning and encourage students to experiment, discover, and take risks through the environment (Pillay, 2002: 15);
  • change their role from ones who have a hierarchical power to ones who are students' partners in learning (Pillay, 2002: 15);
  • use diverse sources of knowledge (Pillay, 2002: 16);
  • promote group working among students (Pillay, 2002: 16);
  • collaborate with other teachers in order to promote integration among many subjects (Pillay, 2002: 16);
  • recognize students' prior knowledge and promote students to link their prior knowledge with new concepts (Pillay, 2002: 16);
  • promote students' thinking skills such as reasoning, decision making, reflecting, making inferences, and problem solving (Pillay, 2002: 16).

Understanding and internalizing learning reform concept is a long process that needs time and nurturing (Atagi, 2002: 4).

Application of the learner-centered approach is one of the central themes to learning reform in Thailand (ONEC, 2000c cited in Atagi, 2002: 51).

Constructivist approach assumes that learning occurs as students actively assimilate new information and experiences and conduct their own meanings. Classroom activities such as group work and discussion are emphasized so that students can develop capabilities for applying knowledge, reasoning, and conceptual understanding. Memorization of facts and master of routine skills are considered less important (Atagi, 2002: 52).

Understanding and internalizing learning reform concepts is a long process that needs time and nurturing (Atagi, 2002: 64).

Leaning reform is essentially a shift from focusing on subject matter to focusing on human being or learners. Learner-centered approach becomes imperative (Khemmani, 2006: 118).

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