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Teacher dons Thai traditional dance costumes to engage remote learners

Zoom calls while working from home allows us to get away with casual attire — at least from the waist down.

But one teacher in rural Thailand is spicing up her lessons. Vanida Sayawong teaches Thai literature to fifth-grade students in Ang Thong province, central Thailand.

She’s donning Thai classical theater costumes to keep her online students engaged.

Video: Vanida Sayawong/Facebook

Thailand’s Ministry of Education closed schools at the New Year as it tightened measures to control a new wave of the coronavirus pandemic. Vanida’s students at Wat Ton Son Municipal 1 School are now faced with remote learning.

Since COVID-19 lockdown measures disrupted learning in 2020, teachers in the Asia-Pacific region have been going the extra mile to bridge the learning distance. UNESCO, in October 2020, celebrated teachers for their innovation to leave no learners behind.

According to Naewna.com, Vanida’s mother is the head of a Thai theater troupe and her father owns a Thai pipat classical music ensemble. As a child, Vanida performed with the troupe and graduated in the field of Thai dance.

Thailand Online Learning
Vanida Sayawong teaches Thai literature remotely.

While teaching her students online from home, Vanida eyed her mother’s old lakorn chatri Thai classical dance costumes and had the idea to spice up her lessons.

Her unit on the popular Thai dance drama Sang Thong, which was written in the 19th century by Thai King Rama II and his court’s poets, would be perfect for dressing up.

“I can dress up like this because I’m at home. I can’t wear this to school,” Vanida said to her students who could be heard cheering her on via video teleconference. “I need to let it out and wear this.”

Vanida posted a video to her Facebook account, showing her giving a remote lesson to students while changing out character headdresses from the Sang Thong drama.

Teacher Vanida Sayawong poses with Thai traditional theater masks.

“Thai literature may be a subject that you students may think is boring. But is this boring?” Vanida asked her students, referring to her costume. The students responded positively.

“It’s not boring at all. We have lots of costumes to dress up with,” Vanida said.

Vanida gave the class homework assignments to assess what they learned from the costumed lesson. She asked them to send their answers to her using the LINE messaging app.

Giving words of encouragement to her students at the end of the lesson, Vanida said, “Learning Thai isn’t hard. It’s easy. OK? Sawasdee ka, my students!”

LEARNTech Asia
LEARNTech Asia
LEARNTech Asia showcases innovation in learning in Asia. We feature stories and resources in online learning, workplace learning, adult education, EdTech, and creative solutions by teachers and trainers in learning institutions, non-profits, and enterprises that enhance human capacity and inspire communities of lifelong learners.