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Adam Bodley

Adam Bodley

Adam is a high school biology teacher in Bangkok, Thailand. He is interested in inclusive science education, specifically with EALs, and is also a keen advocate of EdTech integration. Originally from the UK, he has worked previously in environmental science research and in public health. Adam obtained his BSc (Hons) in Microbiology and Virology from the University of Warwick, which was followed by an MSc in Environmental Science from Coventry University. After becoming a teacher, Adam studied part-time with the Open University to gain his MAEd, with modules encompassing contemporary science education, curriculum and society, sociocultural learning, & educational research. Follow Adam on Twitter: @Ajarn_Adam

Posted by on in Education Policy

Last week saw the inaugural education conference at my school's parent university, the first Srinakharinwirot University Conference in Education (SWUICE). The theme of the conference was 'Education towards global competence in the 21st century'. 

The keynote speech on the first day was given by Professor Roger Moltzen, Dean of Education at Waikato University, New Zealand. Professor Moltzen gave a very interesting address, outlining what he considered to be the necessary elements for an education that would provide learners with the opportunity to become globally competent citizens. Although there were some other interesting speakers and sessions at the conference, in this post I would like to reflect on Professor Moltzen's keynote address, because he touched on some points that I think are at the heart of a number of debates in education at the moment. 

Professor Moltzen outlined what he considered a globally competent citizen might look like. Some of the attributes of a globally competent citizen which he identified are I suspect attributes which many educators have been instilling in their learners for many years. However I think there are some ideas, especially those relating to globalisation and technological advances, which are going to become increasingly important for learners in the 21st century. Therefore I think it is worth reproducing his ideas here. 

What does a globally competent citizen look like?

- Can understand and appreciate, but also critique, their own culture, language & history

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Posted by on in Teaching Strategies


This post was originally inspired by an email conversation with @GuardianTeach earlier this week, about a high school English teacher who said she no longer wanted to teach Shakespeare because she felt it wasn't relevant to her students. Also, she happened personally not to like Shakespeare. I found this latter point more disturbing; considering what is or isn't relevant for our learners is one thing, but picking and choosing curriculum based on our personal preferences is quite another. The teacher's original comments can be found on the Washington Post's The Answer Sheet blog here. There is a response by the blog's editor here, with which I find myself more in agreement with. 

Any teacher will naturally have some sections of their curriculum that they prefer over others. They will also have opinions as to which aspects of their curriculum are more relevant, and those that are less relevant to learners' lives. These opinions, however, may be based on assumptions about learners which turn out to be incorrect. There are also different preferences among learners from year to year. 

As a biology teacher my curriculum encompasses a wide range of topics. Do I like them all equally? No. Do I feel that they are equally relevant to all of my students? No. For example, the thorny issue of teaching botany. (Who said plants aren't fun!) I personally find plants fascinating, but in my experience many learners don't see plants as being particularly relevant to their daily lives. This is not helped by a curriculum which demands a detailed knowledge of the intricate aspects of the reproductive strategies of the four major plant groups (non-vascular, seedless vascular, gymnosperms, and angiosperms). Then there are the pages and pages of dry details about each of the various plant phyla. In a pre-Google world maybe it was worth memorising these discrete facts - it isn't anymore. These sections of the course could usefully be done away with. Fundamental processes on the other hand, such as photosynthesis and transpiration, play an important role in cultivating an understanding of how the natural world operates, and these should remain as part of a high school biology course. 

Many educators will agree that curricula around the world are in need of, or are already undergoing, change to make them more relevant to the current generation of learners. This is clearly a step in the right direction. I would happily see several chunks removed from my curriculum, even those sections that I prefer, if it would give more time and space to what was really useful and relevant to today's learners. However, I don't think that can necessarily be achieved simply by jettisoning what we ourselves happen not to like.  

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Posted by on in Teaching Strategies


One of the things I frequently experiment with in my classroom is ways to connect what my students are learning with the real world. It is a useful approach since it stimulates engagement and interest from students, it links in with instilling a sense of lifelong learning, and, ideally, helps to make classroom-based work much more relevant to learners’ own interests and passions. Breaking down these barriers between classroom and real-life offers great scope for personalized learning trajectories, since learners can see reflections from their own life, experiences, and interests. It is also a great way to introduce older students to a range of careers that they may not previously have considered.

In this post I will outline a few of the more exciting ways I have been trying out recently in order to break down these classroom-real world barriers.

Bringing in guest speakers is always a great way to focus learners’ minds on how their classroom learning can relate to the wider world. I am a biology teacher who works in a Thai high school in Bangkok, Thailand, where English is the medium of instruction for my learners. Last year I invited a Thai researcher from a local university to come and talk to my Grade 12 students about the evolution of drug resistant malaria on the Thai-Cambodian border. This served a number of purposes. It helped my learners to link their evolutionary theory with real-time evolutionary processes that have a direct impact on human health, it was a public health issue that was geographically close to them (the Thai-Cambodian border is only around 250 kilometres from Bangkok), and the speaker was a Thai scientist with an international research profile, who gave her presentation in English, and was therefore a great role model for my students.

This year we went a step further, and a colleague and myself invited a team of international researchers from the mathematical modelling group of the Mahidol-Oxford Research Unit here in Bangkok to run a day-long mathematical modeling workshop for our Grade 12 students. The workshop included both epidemiological and health economics modeling. Following the workshop, learners’ evaluation feedback suggested that they appreciated gaining insights into the lives of working scientists as well as the opportunity to learn about mathematical modeling.

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