Cultural Learning Processes through Local Wisdom: A Case Study on Adult and Lifelong Learning in Thailand

Cultural Learning Processes through Local Wisdom: A Case Study on Adult and Lifelong Learning in Thailand

Archanya Ratana-Ubol (Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand) and John A. Henschke (School of Education, Lindenwood University, St. Charles, MO, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/ijavet.2015040104


This article provides the background and concept of Thailand Lifelong Learning [LLL], even attempting a definition. The Thai LLL vision encompasses strategies for developing human qualities such as integrity, self-reliance, adaptability, resilience, and spirituality, to name a few. In some regards LLL seeks to recapture a more fully-developed perspective, on what in earlier times and places [1238 AD in Thailand], was called ‘indigenous education', as it now pursues the benefits of a vibrant Learning Society. Progress of LLL in Thailand at times seems to be very slow and methodological rather than dynamic. It stems from developing a policy of learning processes for establishing solid education systems – Formal, Non-Formal, and Informal. LLL also has developed by means of garnering and integrating ‘Local Wisdom' [a Thai term designating important valued human experience] into what has become known as ‘cultural learning processes'. This Local Wisdom is held by ‘Wisdom Teachers' and encompasses nine areas, as follows: agriculture, handicraft/cottage industry, traditional medicine, conservation of natural resources, funding/community economics, fine arts, languages/literatures, philosophy/religion/tradition, and food/nutrition. Government Organizations and Private Non-Governmental Organizations have strongly supported and have been major forces for advancing cultural learning, LLL, and what may be labeled as a ‘Learning Society'. In addition, collaboration between Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok [Thailand's premier university] and Lindenwood University, St. Charles, Missouri, USA, has helped Thai LLL advance immeasurably and move toward becoming a Learning Society from 2010 to 2015. Added to this, and provided a Model of Cultural Learning, with recommendations for improvement at the National and Community levels. It concludes with assurances toward its creating diversity within the constituencies to be served, strengthening a self-sufficient economy, solidifying moral values, and enhancing Thailand's becoming a vibrant and flourishing Lifelong Learning Society.
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2. Background Of Lifelong Learning In Thailand

Lifelong learning in Thailand has been in place since the eras when formal schools had not been established. It can be traced back as early as 1238 AD to the Sukhothai period and early Ratanakosin periods before laws on compulsory education were proclaimed. An early educational/learning system developed in Thailand was called by the name of ‘indigenous education’. The distinctive features of indigenous education [hardly found in the present Thai system] are: learning by doing, learning through authentic experiences, individualized instruction, and happy learning. Thailand’s own indigenous educational/learning system was informal and provided in three institutions; home, temple and palace. Parents taught children family occupation, social values and traditions while monks taught reading, morality and Buddhism. The palace was the place where all kinds of the nation's classical art were developed, preserved and taught. (The Office of the National Education Commission, 2010).

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