My reluctance to send my son to for extra classes outside of normal school hours may mean he ends up with lower grades and receives less attention from his teacher. This has nothing to do with his intelligence or level of knowledge – it is all financially driven. It feels like blackmail, and I kind of resent it because of the implications it could have for my son’s future.
Rian Piset is Another Name for Blackmail
They call these extra classes rian piset (เรียนพิเศษ) or ‘special learning’ here in Thailand. At the end of the normal school day, the teachers charge money for students to stay on for extra tuition. These classes are also available on Saturdays. If children want to do well in school, they are expected to attend these extra classes.
I remember feeling shocked the first time a Thai teacher told me that she always gave higher marks to her rian piset students. I didn’t have my own child back then, but it still seemed incredibly unfair. She didn’t seem to comprehend my concern. This teacher patiently explained that it would be unfair to the students who attended the extra classes to be given lower marks than the students who didn’t pay for this extra tuition.
During my teaching career I got to occasionally facilitate these rian piset classes – always because the regular teacher was off sick. The instructions were usually to just tell the kids to do their homework, and if they got noisy to give them some worksheets. Maybe these were the exception to the rule, but there didn’t seem to be much in way of special learning going on.
My Reasons for Not Wanting to Pay for Extra Classes for My Son
I don’t care about the money, but I don’t want to send my son to any extra classes. He is only six years old, and he already spends eight hours in school as it is. If his teacher can’t fit in enough material during this time, it isn’t saying very much for the quality of lessons.
I’d be more willing to consider sending my son to extra classes if I believed it would actually benefit him. I don’t believe it would. I’ve purchased text books for his age level from Ireland, and I’m using these to help him develop his English skills – I believe this is going to help him more than any rian piset class.
It bugs the shit out of me to think that despite all the effort my wife and I make to help my son to learn while he is at home, he is still likely to end up with lower grades because we are not handing over sufficient blackmail money.
I dislike the way my son’s teacher makes him feel different because he doesn’t attend the special class. When I picked him up from school today, his teacher had told him to talk me into to sending him for extra tuition tomorrow (Saturday). I said “no way”. I worry about his future, and I suppose eventually I’ll need to cave into the blackmail – just like the Thai parents who want their kids to get good grades.
I understand that Thai teachers need to make some extra money, but I think it is wrong for them to be able to recruit students from the schools where they teach. The system is too ripe for abuse, and it is completely unfair.