Importance of Language in Centering Aims of Education in a Postcolonial World  

Saulat Pervez, International Institute of Islamic Thought

A significant aim of education is to empower individuals with critical and creative thinking skills. In the postcolonial context, an important question to ask is: what role does language play in effectively accomplishing the educative task? While increasingly bilingual and translanguaging studies are emphasizing the need to center the student’s first language in order for him/her to thrive both academically and socially (Helman, 2016; Pacheco & Miller, 2015; Garcia-Mateus & Palmer, 2017; Norton, 2010), many postcolonial countries today are foregrounding foreign languages, especially English. Kachru (1985; 1992) describes the usage of English worldwide in terms of concentric circles: inner, outer, and expanding circles. Inner circle refers to states whose native language is English. Outer circle indicates countries with a colonial past who have institutionalized English. The expanding circle denotes nations where English serves a functional purpose. 

Shatter Zone of the Mind: Education Beyond the Epistemic Boundary of Thainess 

Nopparat Ruankool

Education is often used as a means by the state to reach its political aims, Thailand included. This can be viewed from the state’s attempt to disseminate the hegemonic national identity of ‘Thainess,’ which simultaneously caused the distinction between the Thai and the ‘Other.’ The term the Other in the Thai context refers not only to the countries beyond Thailand’s geographical boundary (e.g. Myanmar, France, Britain, and other countries) but also to the Other from within the boundary, including the ethnic minorities who must assimilate into the dominant Thai culture. Given this context in Thailand, it is questionable whether students genuinely have a free ‘space’ to think independently and meaningfully beyond the state’s political framework of education. Therefore, this research paper wants to analyse this issue philosophically by looking back at what caused the Thai state’s attempt to spread this hegemonic national identity in education.

The research starts with Siam’s encounter with the Imperials (Britain and France), in which Siam learned to adapt its imperialist strategy based on a ‘clear-cut line’ attitude in its governance. The research then traces back to the notion of ‘boundary’ during the European Enlightenment period, which impacted not only the colonial geological expansion but also the knowledge (epistemic) system of difference. Finally, I elaborate on James Scott’s sociological conception of zomia (the highlanders) and propose the so-called ‘the shatter zone of the mine’: a reflective space where students can ‘think’ beyond the clear-cut line way of thinking (e.g. between Thailand and the Other). This shatter zone of the mind, as I argue, involves a threefold quality (introspective, open-minded, and affirmative) that helps students think independently and meaningfully, i.e. the profound meaning of who they are and their relationships with others and the world they share.