Preparing Educational Leaders for the Global Society: Learning from Conversations with Professors in Thailand
Piller, Bonnie, Educational Leadership and Administration
Abstract: This experiential study examines beliefs of Thai professors in educational leadership programs at six Thailand Rajabhat Universities. The research brings broader understanding of preparing educators for rapid globalization. Emerging from the data are ways of thinking that lead to boundless and multi-dimensional environments that prepare students for the global society.
Round table discussions between professors from California State University and professors and administrators from several of Thailand's Rajabhat Universities affirmed that the underlying assumption guiding the direction of their respective educational leadership programs are the same. All agreed that education of all citizens is essential for the social, economic, and cultural development of society and that leadership is a necessary factor in creating quality educational systems. These strongly held beliefs put educational leadership programs in the forefront of academic pursuits at these universities. These conversations that took place in Thailand in the summer of 2006 are reflective of discussions occurring worldwide among educators and national leaders. The global interest in the preparation and development of school leaders continues to be driven by the belief that leadership makes a difference in reform implementation, school improvement, and student learning, which in turn positively impacts society as a whole (Hallinger, 2006). Throughout the world the belief is held that education is a morally-grounded, value-driven enterprise in need of passionate, caring leaders (Leithwood & Jantzi, 1999). The purpose of this article is to provoke more consideration for preparation of educational leaders for the global society. Presented here are perspectives of Thai professors on the importance of preparing school leaders to maximize the potential of all students as they face the challenges of the global society.
A delegation of professors from California State University, San Bernardino visited six Thailand Rajabhat Universities after their respective presidents signed memoranda of understanding during the Fall of 2005, agreeing to exchange students, faculty, and staff. This involved attending classes, teaching classes and holding conferences between two or more universities. While the agreements included all academic areas, the timing was particularly strategic for the Thai universities' educational leadership programs.
As reported in the California State University, San Bernardino, International Newsletter (2006), a Rajabhat President, at the time of the signing, remarked,
We are now at the crossroads to balance the needs of our university. We can't do this alone. Because of the limitations in our country, we realize the need for these agreements; we see this agreement as a means to improving our students' social status as part of our mission to provide them with a good quality education.
The six universities visited are among forty-one Rajabhat Universities in Thailand that serve to educate future teachers and school administrators. These institutions became "Rajabhat Institutes" in 1995 after His Majesty the King Bhumibol Adulyadej, a strong advocate for education, renamed all teacher training colleges. The delegation from California traversed most of Thailand, traveling by van from Bangkok east to Chachoengsao, Surin, and Ubon, then by air back to Bangkok and north to Chiang Mai. To reach the last university the group traveled by van east through the mountains to Uttaradit. According to Makishima & Suksiriserekul (2003), student enrollment in the Rajabhat universities ranges from 10,000 to 35,000 and approximately 200 faculty members serve at each university.
The month-long tour to these six Rajabhat Universities provided numerous opportunities for conversations between professors from California and the Thailand Rajabhat professors. …