Head Teacher Kru Dokmai and School Director Kru Neil welcomed new students back to school in this morning’s assembly. They asked old students how they can make their new friends feel welcome. ‘Ask them their name,’ suggested one Prathom 2 (P2) student. ‘Show them around the school’ proposed another from P5. ‘Do exercise with them!’ piped up one 6-year old girl from P1.
New teachers then introduced themselves, followed by some guidelines about where to play and keeping safe on our new climbing frame.
“We are very excited to see you all again and we are looking forward to a great year of learning ahead,” said Kru Neil.
Prathom 1 homeroom teacher, Kru Heather, School Director, Kru Neil and students from P1-6 today took the donations from our New Year appeal to Santisook Dog and Cat Rescue centre. Parents and teachers kindly donated dog and cat food, medicine and blankets plus 11,400 baht in cash, while students auctioned artwork and sold handmade postcards made specially for the appeal. The students who auctioned their paintings also made the trip to present the school’s donations, which were gratefully received by Santisook co-ordinator, Khun Chuanchuen Ratanasen. Thank you everyone for your generosity!
Why it is so difficult to get your child’s attention
by Neil Amas, Panyaden International School Director
“Do I have to repeat myself three times?’’ Ever said that to your children? They are engrossed in a book, or watching the TV and despite your attempts to get their attention – including turning up the volume of your voice, waving, dancing, holding up a bar of chocolate – all you get is…blank!
But experts in neuroscience are telling us that our children may not be deliberately ignoring us, in fact they are experiencing ‘inattentional blindness’. Knowing this may not only help parents to be more patient with their glazed-over little ones, but also helps raise our awareness of important safety issues.
Inattentional blindness is the difference between hearing and listening, or seeing something and actually registering its presence. An article featured on the BBC draws on research by Professor Nilli Lavie of University College London which demonstrates that children have a limited ability for awareness outside of the focus of attention.
“Parents and carers should know that even focusing on something simple will make children less aware of their surroundings, compared to adults. For example, a child trying to zip up their coat while crossing the road may not be able to notice oncoming traffic, whereas a developed adult mind would have no problem with this. The capacity for awareness outside the focus of attention develops with age, so younger children are at higher risk of inattentional blindness.”
The reason for this is that the primary visual cortex, which is the part of the brain responsible for perceiving things, is less developed in children. They simply have less peripheral awareness than adults.
However, we adults do also tend to miss the ‘blindingly obvious’. The now infamous ‘selective attention test’ has shown that adults focusing intently on one thing can totally miss another object that very obviously comes into view. (Click on the link and try it for yourself!) Even experts in observation can miss what’s in front of their very eyes. One study found that 80% of radiologists from the Harvard Medical School did not spot the image of a gorilla that had been photoshopped on some of the 239 chest scans they had been asked to scrutinize for signs of lung cancer.
We are all prone to inattentional blindness it seems, but it is worth remembering that while parents may be more aware of what is going on around them, when we get zero response from our spellbound child, it does not necessarily mean they are ignoring us. Patient understanding and a gentle touch on the shoulder is likely to get us a lot further than yelling across the room while also lowering the frustration levels for everyone!
A very warm welcome to new and returning parents. We are very excited to see the school growing and developing. We will open new music and dance/drama rooms this year and have added an English language support teacher and additional PE teacher.
Having new faces around the school always helps me to appreciate how much our old teachers have grown and taken on the Panyaden way of learning. As one of those recalled to me last year, ‘’When you offered me a position here I had to think carefully. I realised that working here would not be just a job, but a commitment to a way of life.” I was pleased to hear this. Our goal is to build a new way of thinking about contemporary education.
Advances in information technology, an increasingly mobile global workforce and growing ASEAN harmonisation put into focus the need for a new generation of bilingual, internationally-minded young people. But this does not mitigate the equally strong need to preserve the traditional Thai customs and manners that preserve the spirit of our local communities. With Buddhist values as core building blocks, we look to build a future society that venerates trust, forgiveness and social responsibility instead of material gain and self-interest.
Sounds a bit utopian? Maybe. But this is not really new, and the methods are certainly not unfounded. 2,500 years ago the Buddha taught that that if we practise moral conduct and train the mind to be resilient, the wisdom that follows will lead us to a happy and successful life. Modern education research also backs up this approach. The focus of the new educationalists is now on emotional intelligence, social skills and resilience, not only the cognitive skills for so long valued through IQ tests. Progress in these areas are now seen to indicate later success in the world of work, study and family life.
So thank you for choosing this path – there will be a few pot holes, puddles, grazed knees and tears along the way, but if we walk it together I am sure we will get there. And let’s have lots of fun trying!
On behalf of all of us at Panyaden, I would like to thank you for choosing to walk this path together. This path, we truly believe, will give our children the opportunity to create a life so much deeper and richer than working in order to consume.
I wish you and your children a happy and successful school year.
What an exhilarating day of fun and games! As School Director, Kru Neil said at the start of our annual Sports Day, the three most important things to remember were to have fun, try your best and follow the rules. We ran races, delicately balanced eggs on spoons, ate bananas with one hand, knocked down targets with tennis balls and even walked on bamboo planks. Our parents and teachers also joined in the fun (some ended up with flour on their faces during the ‘crazy race’!). We had so much fun and laughter….and a few tears of course! But we reminded ourselves that sportsmanship is the golden rule. Win gracefully, lose gracefully!
Panyaden School Sports Day 2014 photos on the blog:
Panyaden Schoolmarked one of the holiest days in Thai Buddhism, Visakha Bucha on a cool, cloudy morning by first offering alms to local Chiang Mai monks. We were an international group comprising of Thai and foreign students, parents and teachers from different countries and cultures.
Some of us have never participated in such a ceremony before, so it was helpful when our music teacher, Kru Tee explained the procedure in Thai, and how we should respectfully present our offerings. Kru Neil, our School Director, followed with an explanation in English.
Visakha Bucha Day** commemorates three important days in the Buddha’s life: his birth, enlightenment and passing. Our school joined Buddhists around Thailand to pay homage to the Triple Gems of Buddhism: the Lord Buddha (the great teacher), The Dhamma (his teachings) and The Sangha (the Buddhist clergy).
After the alms offering and blessings from the monks, we were each given beautiful lotus buds, three joss sticks and candles. We proceeded to the school’s eco-friendly bamboo Buddha Sala to begin the final part of today’s ceremony, the ‘wien tien’ which means walking around the temple with a candle (tien)’ in Thai. Led by the monks, we walked clockwise around the sala three times, before laying down our offerings on the table in front of the school’s main Buddha image.
**Visakha Bucha Day is normally celebrated on the full moon day of the sixth lunar month, usually falls in May. In the case of a year with an extra eighth lunar month where there are 13 full moons like this year, Wisakha Bucha Day will fall on 4 June, the full moon day of the seventh lunar month. Panyaden School commemorated this day earlier as 4 June is a public holiday.
We had a busy first day of school as students new and old came together for the first day of the first term of our second ever school year. There were tears and hugs (from parents as well as students!) as brave new pre-schoolers ventured into unfamiliar classrooms. And smiles and chatter from returning students who met up with their friends after the 2-month break. Assembly was a lot fuller than usual as we have almost doubled our student numbers this year. Our School Director reminded our old students of their responsibilities to make their new friends feel welcome and at home. And by the end of the first day, we were all settling in (well, most of us!) and getting to know each other.
Doing the very best that you can in the present moment
by Neil Amas
Panyaden School Director
There is a common misunderstanding that in Buddhism, all desire is ‘bad’ and leads to suffering. In fact the Buddha recognised that there are 2 different kinds of desire. One is desire borne of ignorance, an unwholesome or negative desire (tanha) which gives rise to suffering. The second is wholesome desire, or chanta, which originates from a clear understanding of the way things are. It means doing the very best that you can in the present moment. It’s a basic Buddhist idea of wise effort.
As explained by Ajahn Jayasaro during a talk at Panyaden last year, this is an important principle in the education of children or in the raising of children by parents. We should not be overly obsessed with results, but, rather, look for quality of action in the present moment. There will be disappointments and things will not always work out how you want them to be, and there will be outside influences that you cannot control, so the best you can do is put effort into things that you can. This is right motivation. Ajahn Jayasaro explained, “An over-emphasis on results in the future tends to have a number of negative consequences in the present, such as anxiety, restlessness, boredom, dissatisfaction, or very easily can lead to dishonesty because if you feel that something you do in the present is merely a means to get what you want in the future, the temptation to take short cuts becomes very strong.”
As parents and teachers we all want our children to be healthy and happy. But if this desire is not wise it may lead to us becoming overly protective causing our children to become too dependent on us, or we may become over-controlling and create alienation and rebellion in our children.
Chanta, then, is positive desire and arises from compassion and unconditional love. In the classroom, as well as at home, this means encouraging our children to be enthusiastic in developing their own learning and knowledge, to try hard to succeed no matter the consequences and to maintain and create good behaviour. For example, a sister who helps her younger brother get dressed for school purely out of love and a desire to help him has chanda. A group of students who are enthusiastic about learning a new subject at school solely from their love of learning and desire to work hard at it regardless of the results, are displaying chanda.
We all know how precious a parent’s praise is to a child. If we concentrate on praising effort, we will help them develop chanta, a wise habit for life.
“Rather than an education system which is geared to testing and to competition and to preparing people for a particular livelihood, the emphasis of Buddhist education is on teaching children how to learn, how to enjoy learning, to love wisdom for its own sake.”
– Taan Ajahn Jayasaro
Saturday, 7 May, was Panyaden School’s Orientation Day for new and prospective parents. The day was designed for them to meet our teachers, key staff and spiritual advisor, Taan Ajahn Jayasaro, and to find out more about our curriculum and approach, our policies, school uniform and codes of conduct.
Yodphet Sudsawad, our Founder, welcomed everyone before Neil Amas, our School Director, spoke to parents about how we can all work together as students, teachers and parents to provide our children with a well-rounded education that emphasizes the core Buddhist values of “Mindfulness (Sati), Concentration (Samadhi) and Wisdom (Panya)”. He and Operations and Liaison Manager Jettana Sangchote (‘Kru Boy’) then presented the main contents of the 2011 Panyaden School Handbook which was given out to all parents.
Our Head Teacher, Michel Thibeault, then introduced the school curriculum which is based on the highly acclaimed International Primary Curriculum (IPC; also read blog post by Michel) before opening up the floor to the parents for a question and answer session.
If you would like to know more about the specifics of our school philosophy and education approach or to speak at length with our School Director and Head Teacher, please contact our office at tel: 053-441460 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.