A quick chat with Sonthaya Chutisacha, the Program Leader
A little about yourself…
I have been in the field of education for the past 15 years - as a counseling psychologist, classroom teacher, as a mother and as a professional development coordinator. Gaining and sharing knowledge energises me.
What prompted you to open this learning center?
The seed was sown around 12 years ago when I visited Rishi Valley School in India, a successful ‘alternative’ education school based on the philosophy of Krishnamurthi an Indian philosopher. That was the first time I saw self-directed learning in action. The awareness that education can happen differently was planted there.
The second aha! moment for me was seeing the Montessori philosophy in action. Montessori showed me that education does not have to follow a rigid format. All aspects of it can be creatively designed.
So how is education designed at KSI?
To answer this I would have to begin with the observations and reflections that set the foundation for the design. There were two main ones.
The first being that the current education system does not encourage a proactive/creative mindset. All decisions regarding learning are made centrally. When students graduate very few are equipped with the mindset and skills to find their direction in the ‘real world’.
The second one is to do with the world we are living in today. 21st century learning places importance on developing soft skills like the 4Cs. Soft skills are intangible. In the past, in the times of philosophers like Confucius and Socrates, skills like these were developed in small group settings with a wise teacher/guide.
Keeping the above two in mind, our learning experience involves small class sizes, where students set their own goals, plan their day, go at their own pace with the teacher working along side as a guide. We also get ‘real world artists’ to share their knowledge and wisdom with kids.
Our design for learning will evolve continually to suit the need of the hour. The way we are set up allows for these updates.
What makes a teacher a wise guide?
In my opinion, self-awareness and discipline are two skills that all educators should fine tune. As an educator I continually strive to better myself at both.
Knowing yourself very well means being aware of every thought and emotion - being above them not subject to them. Once this skill is developed in an educator, applying differentiation in the classroom becomes easier. The teacher has the ability to tune in better and is better equipped to become an effective guide.
How can self-awareness be developed?
Meditation is an obvious answer. I am however working on a more specific pedagogy for educators. I hope to share it soon.