Poet Tree in Kanchanaburi

Last month, Poet Tree sponsored a contest to share the most interesting application of ideas from this column. The winner of the contest is Mr. Khajit Foythong, a secondary teacher at Nongreephachanimit School in rural Kanjanaburi province. Mr. Khajit’s teaching style and dedication to his students are very inspiring. He offers useful ways of adapting ideas published in Poet Tree to his own classroom situation.

Rural Children

It must be very difficult to encourage children in rural areas to perceive the value of learning a foreign language. They live far from the city and rarely experience foreign culture, so the teacher must face these obstacles to help students develop. Mr. Khajit says that his students lack motivation to study English. He finds that teaching English by using poetry is the best way to develop their creative skills. Although his students may not immediately need English skills, the creative skills that they learn are important to their personal development.

Symbols in Daily Life

Teacher Khajit wrote to Poet Tree with many examples of how he teaches Symbols in Daily Life, which was published in Poet Tree on 4 May 2004. He uses ideas from that column to guide his students to be more aware of symbols around them. Here are some examples that he uses:

Object

Suggested Meaning
My old shoes Symbolizes end of life, old and useless
An ashtray Symbolizes dirt, ignorance and death
Kitchen table Symbolizes my family

From the Congo to the River Kwai

Mr. Khajit adapted the poem by Langston Hughes, A Negro Speaks of Rivers, to a context that his students could understand. While his students may not know much about the Congo River, they understand the River Kwai that is near home. This helps them compare their own experience to people in other countries. Here are two lines from the poem that he shared with his class:
Line of Poetry Symbolic Interpretation
I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young An innocent and peaceful time in the life of Negroes.
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep Shows down to earth life style, working and resting in native land.

Students’ Poems from Kanjanaburi

The purpose of encouraging students to write poetry at every level is to waken imagination and build confidence in self-expression. Even the simplest poems in basic English have value. These are the basic seeds of helping students discover themselves. Here are a few examples from Nongreephachanimit School, Bouploy District, Kanjanaburi. The first poem is about the student’s younger brother who is sick and unable to walk and help himself. Here, she uses poetry to reveal her feelings and to enjoy using English. My Brother by Miss Rungnapa Sungkird, Grade 10
I am a little girl

I have my mother
We love the river
We will travel with my brother

 

I Like by Miss Wasana Boomroongket
I like flowers
I like to go to the river
I will travel on summer
I will go with my sister
by Miss Wasana Boomroongket This is a gentle poem from 10th grade English class. This is a good start. Now her teacher may encourage her to describe the flowers with specific colours and smells. Then, she can add details about the flow of the river. She could tell where she will travel and how she will get there. Writing poetry is a gradual process that begins with basic lines of description or feeling. With a teacher like Mr. Khajit, these students can develop their observation and description skills.

85 Kilometres to the Learning Post

For those of us living in Bangkok or another large city, getting a copy of the daily newspaper is literally a few steps away. We forget how far away many people are from our so-called convenient urban way of life. Mr. Khajit rides his motorcycle 85 kilometres every Tuesday to purchase the Bangkok Post. This reminds us to see Thailand from a rural perspective that is often forgotten in the traffic jams and pollution of big cities.

A Promise for Siam

Mr. Khajit is a dedicated teacher who is a good model for all teachers through his dedication and creative efforts to help his students. Surely, there are hundreds of teachers like him around the country working hard to help the children. He receives a personally signed copy of my collection of poetry, A Promise for Siam to share with his students in the classroom. Hopefully his students will enjoy the poems and be inspired to write their own poems about their homeland. You can send your poem by email. Mark the subject line: Poet Tree and send to this address: [email protected] Visit Tom's poetry column at http://www.bangkokpost.com/poetry