It's an event!
Teachers, are you looking at bare classroom walls and stacks of planning to do? We're here for you! We will be selling professionally printed, extra large scale versions of our posters at very cheap prices. There will also be free stickers, free food (come early if you want some, it will be tasty) and no event would be complete without cheap drinks.
We're quite honored to have been invited to First Friday at Attic Studios, it is an institution in Bangkok. First Friday happens every month at Attic Studios, attracting students of Art, the art-interested and art-curious. This event will be one night only and we will also be unveiling never-before seen poster designs, extra-fancy framed posters and some Thai language versions of our designs. Join us!
The underlying issue in many cases is ignorance of History, however there is antisemitic literature published in Thai as we are researching a book that is currently on sale at Se-Ed bookstore. We will let you know about this book The Truth About The Jews when we know more and please let us know if you have any information on it. We do know that most of this is not malicious, however we support human rights and knowledge over ignorance.
Another issue is that hate speech has only recently been understood as a social problem and mostly in the context of Thai politics and cyber bullying. Thailand is not isolated to the social issues that happen everywhere and many teachers in Thailand have dealt with cyber bulling, as it is also a thing here now. New technology and anonymity can bring out the worst in people at times, and everyone is learning how to deal with changes in the social landscape.
We spend a lot of time pointing out these incidents when they happen and many supporters come to us with breaking news of this type. Thank you to supporters that let us know about news and share photos, we appreciate it greatly. Sadly for some, it still needs to be pointed out, proven to exist and ignoring it will not make it go away. We can only refute the argument against knowing and teaching this part of history with our poster:
Here is our video timeline of the incidents of use of Nazi images in Thailand. Yes, it is a thing, it has been a thing and it still remains a thing.
It's never a good feeling when we have to say that we don't know. Being a part of the Thai culture and responding to the events in Thailand is important to us. We had decided to broaden our mission to do more work about advocating for the Humanities as this was a cause of many cultural misunderstandings and an increase in hate speech.
The events in Thailand over the last three weeks have affected every organization that discusses news, culture and the politics of the internet. Some discussions about the current state of affairs in Thailand have been going on quite openly while other websites now appear in Thailand like this:
We're being cautious in the current political climate. There are internet publications and personalities that share a wide array of opinion, news and updates on the current situation. That has never been our role even though we are responsive to current events in Thailand in order to share and create relevant resources. We will not delete any of our past posts, and we are still working on a video about the value of reasonable discussion in politics and other hot issues. We also do not want our website to look like the picture above.
There is still work to be done, as evidenced by this photo posted on Twitter today (to follow us there, click the little birdie on the top right of the page.) We're interested in guest blogs from people that see these images on the streets in Thailand and speak with those that use them.
Today, Thailand is under martial law and there are a lot of different ideas around about what that means. We're not going to guess nor comment on ongoing political issues as that is not something that we do. We can see a need to talk more about the general value of the Humanities for Thailand, and we'll be revising our mission statement to reflect a broader ideal. We're still campaigning and bringing awareness about the Nazi chic trend and the Holocaust, but it seems that is a symptom of a larger issue.
We're still open for foundation-ness during the ongoing political crisis and we've been working away on new posters. We hope to have a Bangkok event in September to sell the posters directly to teachers and supporters, have a chat and a beverage, we will let you know.
Thailand is well-known as a nation that is welcoming to foreign tourists. Data displayed in the map below from the Washington Post agrees.
Thailand is a great destination for tourists, as it is indeed friendly and it welcomed twenty-two million foreign tourists in 2012 according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand. Twenty-two million people is an especially sizable amount in a country of sixty six million. The impact of tourism is not seen in all places in Thailand equally, as tourists tend to congregate in specific places that are marketed to them.
Does this mean that Thailand is a tolerant nation? Acceptance of visitors is not the same, as this map below shows, with many countries as well as Thailand.
"Another race," is not defined further on this map as 'race' is a difficult thing to define.
What do you think may account for the different information given by these two maps?
History can be a challenging subject to teach in Thailand for a number of reasons. The vocabulary is often about processes that are sometimes hard to make visual or translate for English language learners. Students can also find it difficult to relate to some of the material or understand its value.
Relate Ideas to What Students Know
Student centered teaching methods have been popular in Thailand for some time (even though many educators can't agree on what the term actually means.) It helps to use something familiar or interactive to engage the students on a topic. For example, when discussing slavery a teacher could show a 100 baht bill, something the students have seen many times. Asking the students' Thai Teacher what he/she is doing in class may also help you find material that the students already know.
Some teachers may have a projector or smart board in their classroom which can help to make ideas more visual. Photographing and projecting the back of the 100 baht note will be much more visually compelling and show the image more clearly. Google Earth is free and also works well in teaching Geography, you can start from where your school is and enter the country that you are studying and the globe will spin to show you the location searched. Younger students enjoy pretending that they are 'flying' there. Video is also a great tool but unfortunately some of them are narrated to fast to be understood by English Language Learners. Many free video programs can be used to slow down videos to make them more understandable and YouTube has automatic voice captioning (which will make some mistakes that can be corrected when uploading videos.)
Horrible Histories is both a video series and a book series that students enjoy. There are lots of other ways to try and add humor to lessons whenever possible. Adding humor when the subject is appropriate helps to keep students interested and when the subject is too serious for humor the seriousness is emphasized by the absence of humor. Again, media and video editing are useful in using humor as funny history is easy to find. Below is an example cut from Monty Python's Life of Brian that was used in a PowerPoint to review Roman inventions in a unit. While showing the entire film would not be suitable, this short clip with text added for clarity and review helped students remember.
Make Interactive Displays
While not every school has a projector in the classroom, interactive displays can also be made from paper. Timelines can be hung up as a border around the room with the years that you will study written on them. Once a new event is discussed in class, students can pin it on the timeline making a visual display that they take part in. Maps can also be interactive as borders change and sometimes overlap in history. Kite paper readily available in Thailand is semi transparent which can be cut and tacked to a map marking a place, people or event and blue tack can also be used to move labels, pictures and borders around on a map.
We will be adding more suggestions and resources as we find them. Please let us know if you have things that you would like to add or your own teaching tips to share!
It was bound to happen again. Thursday, in an online 'survey' Thaksin Shinawatra and his sister Yingluck overtook Adolf Hitler as "The World's Worst Leaders," former Thai PM Abisit was also listed at number thirteen. The survey was from the optins.com, an entertainment site that does not claim to be scientific or news based. This has been restated as a reputable source and disseminated into the political discussion. [Link to the Bangkok Post article at the end of this post.]
No, just no.
We are very opposed to these comparisons being made as they spread ignorance and signal the end of reasonable discussion. We are very pro-reasonable and believe that facts, empathy and understanding History are ways forward for all.
Godwin's Law has faded from popular use on the internet, but it was an informed idea that perhaps needs attention again. Godwin's Law is a humorous observation made by Mike Godwin in 1989 which has become an Internet adage. It states: "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1." In other words, Godwin put forth the sarcastic observation that, given enough time, all online discussions—regardless of topic or scope—inevitably end up being about Hitler and the Nazis. Godwin's law is often cited in online discussions as a deterrent against the use of arguments in the widespread Reductio ad Hitlerum form. The rule does not make any statement about whether any particular reference or comparison to Adolf Hitler or the Nazis might be appropriate, but only asserts that the likelihood of such a reference or comparison arising increases as the discussion progresses. It is precisely because such a comparison or reference may sometimes be appropriate, Godwin has argued that overuse of Nazi and Hitler comparisons should be avoided, because it robs the valid comparisons of their impact. [Italicized text from Wikipedia.]
Flip references to Hitler and Nazis also diminish the understanding of the twelve million civilians that died, those that suffered under the Nazis and those that lost their lives on the Western Front during WWII. It is a lesson about the danger of considering any human any less than human and it is one that the World needs to know. Crimes against Humanity still continue today and knowledge is the best and first defense any society has to prevent them.
We are promoting reasonable, empathic discussion and education. Perhaps that isn't as sexy as memes that attract attention or impassioned speeches given to people that already agree. But reasonableness is sugarless, has no trans fats, gluten free and a good value too.
Quick Review: Our Who is Not Hitler video
The 'new' airport in Bangkok was being built when I first arrived in Thailand and a few of my friends from the US and UK here were working on the logistics side of its construction. The project suffered under the Asian financial crisis of 1997 and had numerous problems, and it's not everyday that such a large venture is undertaken.
The people I knew organizing the effort used the traditional plan of working on such a project and came to Thailand uninitiated in Thai culture. First, they planned which phases of construction would take place when, starting with the terminal. The Thai contractors balked at the idea, and the foreign logistics team had no idea why. Working culture in Thailand can also be different than the West as what Westerners may see as giving feedback to a boss may be thought of as disrespectful here. This made it difficult for the foreign team to know what was the objection to starting the project, but eventually it was brought to their attention that the project needed to have a spirit house built first, as the land was believed to be ill-omened. (There are now several spirit houses on the property.)
Once the contractors agreed to build the spirit houses, they also wanted to use standard safety procedures for the workers. Normally many Thais wear open shoes everywhere as the climate is hot and they easily slip off to enter homes and shops where people remove shoes before entering. The safety standards required work boots for the contractors and so the company purchased them. Still, the workers did not wear them. Once again, the people overseeing the project needed feedback to find out why things were not going according to plan. Turns out that the workers (most from rural parts of the North) saw the shoes as formal wear, and did not want to dirty them.
As the project progressed, large numbers of workers were not showing up. The project was already well behind schedule and the logistics people in charge were concerned that people were quitting for unexplained reasons. When the workers that disappeared returned, the bosses were angry and the workers were confused. November is harvest season and in many cases the workers thought it was understood that they would return to help their families, as was done every year. Thankfully at this point the foreigners I know understood that they needed to work within the culture.
When the airport was finally completed, it experienced the normal adjustment period hiccups that are to be expected. This was anticipated... What wasn't was that the airport drew two crowds of tourists. There were the people arriving by plane but a large group of Thais cane to the airport as well. In its early days Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) attracted about 100,000 people coming to picnic. After such a long wait for such a huge project, who can blame them?
The purpose of this story is to illustrate some ways that foreigners need to adjust to the ways of Thailand while here. While we have a clear message to deliver, Thai culture will always prevail in Thailand. It's not to be thought of as an obstacle, but part of the principles of our foundation informing our campaigns. What we seek to do is to bring greater understanding of History and we are in a unique place and position to do so. The World continues to be brought together through the Internet and social media and we would like to see that benefit everyone.
Here's a great video by the No Hate Speech Movement about the World and the Internet:
Twenty six days to go to raise the funds. Even if you can donate a few dollars, that would help greatly and we appreciate if you can share it as well. We want to make the first film of its kind in Thailand!
Right now, our organization has a 0% overhead cost. All funds (aside from the exciting prizes) go directly to making content. No administrative salaries, all of our costs go to the people who professionally translate, film, edit and act. We've been lucky to keep our costs low as we have good years-long relationships with the people involved in our project and the start-up costs are funded by the foundation's creator.
There is only 'us'
We strongly dislike hate. We want to be rid of 'us and them' thinking. So join in and join us!