It was very surprising when, during her talk to us here at the EsF Assembly, Dr. Priyanut Dharmapiya said that the king of Thailand had been a Montessori student!  So I talked to her and some of my Thai friends here and found out some very interesting information.

King Bhumibol was born in the USA when his father was attending Harvard. Later he attended a school in Switzerland that followed Montessori principles and it is thought that this experience influenced the rest of his life.

But perhaps even more credit goes to his mother. One of the Thai EsF participants told me that the King’s mother is known as som det yah, or “honored grandmother” by the nation and it is believed that it was she who instilled in him the life purposes of caring about the land (his name means ‘land’ and the Thai people) and valuing good works over wealth and power. For example he lives in a simple environment and prefers simple food. He used only one pencil for a month, or 12 for a year, squeezes the toothpaste tube till no more toothpaste can be got from it, and has worn the same pair of shoes for 30 years. He does not want to ask people to do what he does not do and so tries to be a good model for his country.

How rare it must be to have a Montessori movement in a country supported by the leader of and his family. It is a unique situation and will be very interesting for us to follow.

Here is the link to learn more about King Bhumibol: