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Taking the sage off the stage

Obstacles to student-centered instruction on the Thai-Myanmar border

Myanmar is in a time of great educational transition and reform. The education system continues to lag behind in terms of international educational standards and ranks 172nd out of the 173 countries surveyed in the Central Intelligence Agency’s educational expenditure rankings (CIA, 2011). To gain insight into the instructional practices used in Myanmar’s high schools, as well as high schools in the surrounding refugee and migrant schools on the Thai-Myanmar border, participants (N = 19) from Myanmar studying Education as a major at a Thai university responded to a mixed methods survey which asked them to reflect and quantify the common instructional practices that occurred during their high school education. It was found that the methods of learn-all-by-rote and conformity to a set standard were reinforced through the use of narrow instructional and evaluative methods. Participants believed that memorization was necessary to advance in the school system due to the nature of required standardized tests. Inadequate teacher preparation and authoritative power-distance were reported to hinder the introduction of new, student-centered instructional methods. The suppression of independent thought and authoritarian teaching style were identified as common practices in Myanmar, migrant and camp-based high schools. In order for student-centered and critical thinking approaches to be realized, this study concludes that all educational stakeholders must be involved with careful consideration of the culture, traditions and values that influence classroom practice.

Recommended Citation

Tyrosvoutis, G. (2016). Taking the sage off the stage identifying obstacles to student-centered instruction on the Thai-Myanmar border. International Education Journal: Comparative Perspectives, 15(4), 112-132.

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