Chai Son, mid 30s, is a former primary school teacher in Thailand. After several years in the classroom, he turned to an academic career. He is now a lecturer in education at a university in a region of Thailand that is home to a diverse range of ethnic groups.
"We are not comfortable with change in Thailand. I was a primary school teacher at a public school for eight years. It was my dream to design a curriculum based on the local context. So, my lessons would include multicultural content. I reached out to the local community, making site visits with the children and inviting speakers to come and talk to my class - local wisdom is important. Sometimes I tried to implement this kind of lesson, but it was not very popular at school. Other teachers feel that I am not teaching the content of the curriculum, that by doing things differently I wasn't being a good teacher. They didn't blame me directly but, you know, I have the sense that they are not happy with me, that they are gossiping about me. I tried to ignore it, but I know very well what their mentality is. For a long time, I have to be silent to stay a teacher - I had to suffer in my own self.
"I felt that I needed to do something different with my career. I started a PhD while I was still a teacher and that was when something changed. I realised that I would not be able to keep to my dream - I would not be able to help the children I was teaching at school and give them a multicultural curriculum - one that would make them feel included. Only at university could I help do this, only this way I could make a difference.
“Right now, as a teacher educator, I feel that I am able to make more of the ideology that I have. I can help the students who will be teachers change their own thinking about a local curriculum. Maybe then they can help make an important change for their community."