Forty-seven of our Primary Thai students and their Thai teachers recently made their annual visit to a rice farm in Pathum Thani.
Khru Thani Homchuen, a graduate from the Faculty of Education, Chulalongkorn University, has been providing opportunities for students to visit his farm for twenty-five years. His land is located in Naa Khru Thani, Pathumthani, which is found in the Lat Lum Kaeo District north of Bangkok. His aim is to teach today’s generation of Thai children about the history of rice farming which is such an important part of their heritage and culture.
During the day-long visit, the children learnt so much from both the presentations by Khru Thani and the many hands-on experiences they had. The day was filled with laughter, smiles and chatter as the children immersed themselves in the life of a traditional Thai rice farmer. As educators, we know that learning from first-hand experiences provides the richest, deepest and longest-lasting learning for students, and this visit certainly provided exactly that.
Traditional rice farming techniques
After Khru Thani explained and demonstrated the traditional rice farming techniques, all the students had a go themselves. They began to understand what a hard life rice farmers had and why the skin on Khru Thani’s hands was so tough.
After the work, came other experiences such as riding and feeding buffalo, driving farm wagons, fishing and enjoying time on boats on the small lake. There was not a minute of time wasted!
A highlight of the day for many children was climbing down the steep bank into the rice paddy field and squelching their way knee deep in soft grey mud across the field to plant the new rice crop. What a sight to behold as a long line of children bend down simultaneously to push their plants into the fertile soil.
Before the group headed back to Bangkok, and after changing, we were treated to some Thai deserts, which were devoured by the children and adults alike. Khru Thani’s final words to the children were about his motivation for providing learning days at his farm. He explained to them that he wants young people to always remember their heritage and the special significance of rice farming and the work of the farmers in Thai culture. I am confident that every child who visits his farm and has the experiences that the Bangkok Patana children had will both remember and appreciate the tradition associated with their rice growing heritage.
“We were riding a huge buffalo. The buffalo had really fluffy, soft fur. That buffalo was so cute and it was a girl. We also gave food to them. The food was grass which the buffalo really enjoyed. When I was on top of the buffalo, I felt nervous but it was still so fun. The buffalo even turned to the camera because Mrs Dunford was wearing a bright orange shirt. It even walked when I was riding! I really likedthat part.” Areeya, 4L
“Right before lunch, we went fishing. The fishing rod was made of thin, curved bamboo with string attached and a hook to place the bait. Unfortunately, I lost my bait right in the first shot of casting out my reel. The bait was meat fat and the fish devoured it in seconds.
After planting the rice, we went in a rowing boat. There were between three and five people in each boat. We almost got tangled in the weeds but we quickly tried to get back to shore when we heard that we were going to the mud slide.” Kayla, 4H
“After a delicious lunch of rice and chicken, we changed into our swimming suits so we could go in the mud. We made a long line and paraded along the edge of the paddy field. When we were all in position, we stepped carefully into the muddy water. The mud squelched into our toes and it was so dirty. The texture felt soft, sticky and slimy. The farmer gave us three rice plants to plant into the mud. We placed the first plant in position, then took three steps back before planting the second and the third. We planted the rice plants into straight lines.” Adrina, 4H
“After we planted the rice, we went down the mud slide. It was so fast at the bottom and fun too. We all went down and had loads of fun. We felt very muddy and the water reached my legs. It was always squishy and squelchy.” Punn, 4H