I have two young kids – three and four years old – and along with my wife we live in Pattaya. We live a very comfortable life, travel lots and are able to make good savings each month. I often feel I have pretty much cracked it, I love my life and family very much.
Now in recent months schooling fees have become hot topic in our household. To live in Thailand and send your kids to a good international school is very expensive, let’s not beat around the bush. I was quoted around 500k baht per child a year by a number of International Schools. Really, it beggars belief. We are not talking about University fees but young kids education fees.
image: Thailand is rated as expensive for international education in the world
My wife had an idea to send them to a summer school recently at what will remain an unnamed school. To see how our kids fit in and get a feel for everything. It was a middle of the road International school. At the end of the day my kids come back and said one of the teachers shouted at them and they did not want to go back to the school. My wife decided to go into the school and find out what happened. She was alarmed that the teacher in question smelled of alcohol when she spoke to him.
Now I am certainly not suggesting this is the rule of thumb for all teachers, I am quite sure it is not. However I cannot help but think teaching is not one of the main reasons someone comes to live in Pattaya.
I was incensed in this case however, to think I would send my kids to a school where some of the teachers were still hungover from a good party the night before was not acceptable.
It left me with a big problem. Where should I send my kids to school? How can I know the good schools from the bad? Would I be better relocating to Bangkok to help my kids, or did I consider relocating back to the UK for the sake of my kids getting a better education with none of the 500k baht a year fees?
But then I changed my approach
I then had a change of thought. Did my kids really need to go to school in Thailand before, say, 11 years old – why not consider home tutoring? As far as I am concerned schooling in the early years serves two purposes – social interaction and learning the very basics. I cannot value tasks like learning to finger paint or learning how count to ten as worthy of big money school fees. We are not talking rocket science in early years education.
Secondly, and this is one of my gripes with education world over, the school curriculum is dated and not conducive to a child’s success. Why teach history, physics and other subjects that is just teaching how to retain information, after all we have Google now, why not teach something more useful? I always wondered why there was never a lesson on how to use your brain and make better life decisions for example.
Here is why I know it needs to change. When I was back at school studying my ‘A’ levels I decided to take 4 rather than the standard 3 ‘A’ levels. I was just being a bit cocky. Now I was always top sets, but I was far from being the best student in class. I opted to not attend class for Geography for the final year and opted to try a different strategy. My teachers would tell me I was going to fail Geography, but I disagreed. I took the test and I scored an A grade, the highest in the class. My teachers were shocked and said I did not deserve it.
So, how did I achieve the A grade (and this is a true story by the way)? I made a series of assumptions. Firstly that whomever marked my paper would not come from my local region and secondly that they could not penalise me for using the same models for individual questions as they had to mark each question on its own merit. What this meant was I learned only 4 or 5 models and applied 2 or 3 to each question and also all my testimonials were made up and based on case studies from where I lived – I made them up to suit the answer. It paid off and I came top of the class.
This grade, along with my other results, would help me have my pick of the Universities in the UK. So, how important was schooling in this case? Not very is the answer. I played the system because the system is not very good and increasingly dated.
Now I am thinking I am better off finding a decent home tutor and working with them on a curriculum to best serve my children’s interests. I actually think it can make them more advanced than other kids if I get it right, and at a fraction of the cost.
For social interaction they can attend a sporting activity like football and gymnastics each week, so I cover this important side to their development too.
As they approach 10 I can then start to look at International Schools and feel more justified in the expense.
Are Schools Dated Anyway?
Really I don’t write these blogs to antagonise. I could have it wrong, I just want to share my opinions and hope it at least provides food for thought. If you disagree then just take it with a pinch of salt. The problem with having a view out of kin with the system often ostracises people, but it is these different approaches that may help improve how we look at life.
When I look at schools I cannot help but draw some parallels with prisons. It is a very authoritative structure, there is a dress code, emphasis on silence and order and loss of individual autonomy. I am sure there is many more comparisons, but I hope I made my point.
All I want is for the best for my kids. I want them to grow up able to make their own decisions and see beyond the mass global propaganda we are faced with. I want them to be empowered, confident and equipped to get the most from their short time in this world. Hence why I am so passionate about getting the best education for them – and good education is not just about good schooling.
In conclusion, I don’t think – in the early years of school at least – you should let the fees get in the way of your dream. There are other very good options to get your kids off to the best start in life and that does not have to involve a school.