Monthly Archives: January 2015

Studying is not a prison. Oops… I am not sure.

– You’ll be sitting here for 3 hours and reading this book! At 6 p.m. I will check how you know the plot, characters and main idea. If you make more than two mistakes you will stay at home and won’t go for your friend’s birthday! – said a woman to her 11-year old son and closed the door.

The boy looked tired and upset. He opened a book in yellow cover with fear. “If Mom said it in such a strict tone, this means that the book is verkak-zastavit-rebenka-delat-urokiy boring and I would never want to read it”. He thumbed through several pages and stooped his head. He was sitting in such pose for 10 minutes and then he stood up. The boy looked out of a window and saw his friend who walked in the yard. He sighed sadly. But suddenly one idea came to the boy’s mind. He quietly opened the bedroom’s door and on tiptoe wriggled his way into entrance hall. Having opened the door, he ran away. “Anyway, I can’t read it. And I won’t go to the birthday party. So at the very least I will walk today”.

The book which is read by lots of children throughout the world with pleasure and great interest – “The adventure of Tom Sawyer” – was lying lonely on the table.

***

Is it really very difficult not to discourage children to study? Maybe we all born with such a feature: make others do everything, frightening them? Or maybe we exactly know that learning is so boring and complicated thing, which never helps in real life. But there is a rule to be educated, and everybody who are not, will be considered a dreg of society.

If it is not, why do not Kazakhstani children like going to school? Why are they afraid of being punished every day? Why do they love cancelling of lessons and say with sadness “school is tomorrow”? School in their perspective looks much like a prison. In this case, it is not surprising at all that we had so “high” results in, for instance, PISA tests (OECD, 2009).

However, most probably, teachers, principals and MoES were in shock. What are the reasons? Poor pedagogy, school climate or maybe our people too lazy to study? Of course, many research are needed to answer this question. However, I am sure that in order to apply any knowledge a person, first of all, needs to love gaining this knowledge. So trying to achieve a result, it is wrong to forget about a process. And we all should understand that such prisoner’s feelings as discontent, fear and anger can’t lead to the desire of learning.

Fortunately, there is another example in the world. In this country children feel more comfortable going to school, they have better results and most probably don’t suffer from big fear and stress as our students. I am talking about Finland. And now I want to share with you only several facts about secondary education in Finland and then everybody can deduce themselves.

  1. All schools are equal. This means that there are no elite and “weak” schools. All children are considered to be “special” and have the same educational opportunities.
  2. There is no predominance of one group of subjects above others. Arts are taught on the same basis as Math. So there is no division in important and unimportant lessons.
  3. In order to understand and assist a student with his/her future track, in Finland there is a special position – “the teacher of the future”. This specialist finds out child’s interests and potential in order to suggest for him/her an Individual Education Plan.
  4. Usually there is no homework! It’s time for walking in the park.
  5. There are no exams at school, except final one. A child doesn’t have special preparation for it and its results don’t change the opinion about him/her.
  6. If there is an educational film in the class, but a child doesn’t want to watch it, he/she can read a book with the same material. A pupil can decide what is better in his/her case.
  7. In sunny weather, lessons are held in the open-air on the benches.
  8. However, children aren’t allowed to cut school. In case of squandering study time they have to stay for these hours next day (Kireeva, 2015).

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This teaching approach gives students understanding that learning is cornerstone of life, but it is their choice what and how to study. Even grades are not given till 4th form. Of course, Finnish students don’t feel iron chains of “you must pass the UNT, because if not you will fail all your life”. And they pass such tests; especially test of how to apply all this baggage of knowledge to real life. Why? Because learning is so interesting and they know it.

***

The boy came back home, ready to be punished. But Mother, sitting on a sofa and holding a book in the yellow cover, said to him:

– It is so pity that I have to wake up at 7 a.m. tomorrow. I need two more hours to read it till the end… Anyway, have a good night!

The boy was in shock.“If Mom even had forgotten to punish me, this book must be very interesting!”

He drank a cup of tea, took a shower and sat to read…

References

Kireeva, N. (2015)Seven principles of Finnish education. Retrieved from http://www.adme.ru/zhizn-nauka/7-principov-finskogo-obrazovaniya-838510.

OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) (2014). Secondary Education in Kazakhstan. Paris: OECD.

A word on reforming teacher status

Currently, a teaching profession is unlikely to be prestigious among Kazakhstani population; however, teacher’s status is seen as one of the factors influencing the main purpose of education for stable economic growth (MES, 2010; MES, 2011). In this reason, the started process of reformation of educators’ status (MES, 2010) has appeared up to date. In this article I will display my understanding of this reform by drawing out its main objectives and reviewing the most significant changes that have already been implemented, revealing and solving possible concerns, and defining its practical importance for the future development of Kazakhstani education system.

In the frame of the reform, pre- and in-service preparation of teaching staff is provided by redressing curricula for pedagogical institutions and organizing professional development centers supervised by foreign trainers and NIS instructors. In order to motivate educators and school directors, there is a competitive principle of selecting trainees and a different approach to calculating salary based on the results of students’ academic performance (MES, 2010).

Bridges and Sagintayeva (2014) state that “the school is experiencing a transition to a new paradigm of learner-centered approaches” (p.xxviii). This means that a teacher is a supervisor to direct students in the process of acquiring and applying knowledge, but not an announcer of instructions on what to learn. In their action plan research, McLaughlin, McLellan, Fordham, Chandler-Grevatt, and Daubney (2014) stress that Kazakhstani teachers urgently need to be more open to learning themselves and work collaboratively. The issue to consider is that teachers tend to see their colleagues as rivals to compete, rather than peers to share the experiences. Another aspect of teachers’ unwillingness to collaborate is illustrated in the situation that experienced faculty are reluctant to changes, while novices are suffering from the lack of practice and are usually suppressed by the authority of the superior ones.

To sum up, the image of a teacher from the societal perspective will remain underestimated until one realizes own vital role in community life and starts self-development process. On the other hand, policy makers ought to provide mainstream school teachers with necessary conditions for adjusting and evolving their educating techniques. This can be realized by providing a set of qualitative studies within listening to and analyzing educators’ stories (Shamatov, 2013) to see real causes of teachers’ unawareness of modern teaching techniques. When the most problematic spheres are determined, the effective in-service program aimed at professional preparation of academic staff that meets the requirements of the State Program can be designed.

In the process of reforming Kazakhstan education, it is a school teacher who is an active implementer of changes in the schooling process. Consequently, it is fair to admit that any educational reform will be applied to reality only by a teacher whose mission is to educate competitive labor force for the prosperity of the country.

References

Bridges, D. & Sagintayeva, A. Introduction. In D. Bridges (Ed.), Education Reform and Internationalisation: The case of Kazakhstan (pp.xxii-xxxii). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

McLaughlin, C., McLellan, R., Fordham, M., Chandler-Grevatt, A., & Daubney, A. (2014). The role of the teacher in educational reform in Kazakhstan: Teacher enquiry as a vehicle for change. In D. Bridges (Ed.), Education Reform and Internationalisation: The case of Kazakhstan (pp.239-262). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ministry of Education and Science. (2010). State program of education development of Kazakhstan for 2010-2020. Retrieved from http://www.akorda.kz/.

Ministry of Education and Science. (2011). The Strategic Plan of the Kazakh Ministry of Education and Science for 2011-2015. Retrieved from http://www.primeminister.kz/

Shamatov, D. (2013). Everyday realities of a young teacher in post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan: The case of a History teacher from a rural school. In P. Akcali & C.E. Demir (Eds.), Post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan: Political and social challenges (pp. 1-23). London, UK: Routledge.

Incorporating humor in your lesson

keep-calm-and-pretend-it-s-on-the-lesson-plan-66Of course, it was hard to leave the zone of serious writing (“Everything matters: Globalization and Education”) and start to write about flowers, kids and all that vanilla topics. Nevertheless, I managed to progress. My last post collected only one comment, highly disappointed, in tears, I decided to go to the “dark side”. Now you can surely put my piece of writing on the same shelf with “Are cows more likely to lie down the longer they stand?” (Tolkamp, Haskell, Langford, Roberts, & Morgan, 2010) and “Describing the relationship between cat bites and human depression using data from an electronic health record” (Hanauer, Ramakrishnan, & Seyfried, 2013) (I strongly recommend davidphilip to create a new category and call it “What makes people happy?”). I clearly understand, that from the moment I decided to publish this post I definitely killed myself in future as Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky, but still hope to get at least a good grade by English.

I bet that you will read my post after such effective introduction. The secret is that humor works exactly the same way not only in a written text but in a classroom as well. My second post aims to explore the power of laughter, which effectively promotes students’ learning.

Jonah, 5th grade pupil refuses to read, write and do anything (Karschney, 2012). The team of two teachers starts to spend half of the day with him, teaching Jonah to read. Among a number of techniques used to engage student in a process of reading, Karschney mentions a positive impact of humor, which they incorporated to ruin the barriers of anxiety and fear of struggling student. The teachers started to laugh on themselves, inviting Jonah to do the same and see himself differently, from a different angle. At the same time, they created special literacy jokes understandable only for their students, they read funny books and laughed until they cried. And what was the result? Jonah started to read! The positive atmosphere, a new type of relationships between student and teacher, inspired him to perceive the ordinary activity in a different way.

There are a number of successful examples of humor incorporation; however, we as educators should remember some basic rules of using humor on the lesson. Lynda L. Ivy (2013) states that humor should be appropriate for age and grade level. The differentiation of age plays an important role in the understanding of humor. For instance, children younger than 12 may not understand such abstract ideas as irony and sarcasm. Jokes in a high school are different in a way that students of this age often project everything on themselves. The teacher should be careful in selecting humor; keeping in mind, that joke should not single out any student. At the same time, it is preferable for humor to correspond to the lesson’s content.  College or university professors may use humor to alleviate “hard” lessons, such as university-level math. Students in this group always expect professor to joke, which makes his work even easier.

Coupled with that, we have a huge arsenal of tools such as jokes, stories, cartoons, pictures and videos. They are easily accessible on the Internet; moreover, students themselves may be regarded as resource of funny content (Ivy, 2013). Finally, we should remember that there is a thin edge between misuse and overuse of humor. Use of humor in an appropriate way will make your lesson interesting and will shift your work to enjoyable activity.

 References:

Hanauer, D., Ramakrishnan, N., & Seyfried, L. (2013, August 1). Describing the relationship between cat bites and human depression using data from an electronic health record. PLoS ONE, 8(8). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0070585

Ivy, L. (2013, February – March). Using humor in the classroom. The Journal of Adventist Education, 39-43.

Karschney, K. (2012, March). Inspiring a nonreader. Educational Leadership, 69(6).

Tolkamp, B., Haskell, M., Langford, F., Roberts, D., & Morgan, C. (2010, April). Are cows more likely to lie down the longer they stand? Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 124(1-2), 1–10.

Get married or die trying? The adventures of educated females in and out of marriage through the thorns of gender expectations

I dedicate this post to all the single ladies.

http://www.vectorstock.com/royalty-free-vector/wedding-cartoon-vector-577164
http://www.vectorstock.com/royalty-free-vector/wedding-cartoon-vector-577164

Guess what is the most popular question among my relatives and friends? If your guess is connected to something like “How is it going?”, “How is your study?”, “When do you think the following tenge’s fall will take place?” or “Are you waiting for the next Game of Thrones season?”, I have a bad news for you. They are dying to know just one thing: whether I am going to get married.

I turned 25 this January, and it feels like every year of my life inevitably increases the frequency of asking such questions. From many of my friends, I know I am not the only person experiencing an elevated interest in my personal life. So, I became interested in the issues of education, gender expectations and personal choice for marriage. The post aims to answer these key questions: Why is marriage important? What is the role of woman in education? and What is the link between education and marriage?

Every girl has at least once in her life imagined her dream wedding. This happens for a reason. From early childhood, humans are naturally programmed to strive for a peaceful coexistence with the representatives of opposite gender (Blossfeld & Huinink, 1991). Marital union is advantageous in terms of mental and physical well-being – married people live longer and better. Also, they are less likely to experience loneliness and lack of support, especially in their old age. Two common forms of marriage are traditional and egalitarian (Blossfeld, & Huinink, 1991). As can be expected, in traditional marriages the husband takes the role of the main breadwinner and his wife is responsible for household and child rearing, whereas egalitarian unions suggest equal distribution of roles and employment opportunities between the husband and wife.

Throughout the history, gender roles in marriage have shifted dramatically due to cultural, economic, political and educational changes. With these transformations, the issues of providing equal access to education irrespective of gender emerged. Phillips & Schweisfurth (2008) in their book on Comparative and International education maintain that better-educated females increase the share of educated and healthy population, reduce infant and maternal mortality rates, minimize domestic violence and change political situation through active participation. Since education has become a sign of achievement, there appeared to be a positive association between marriage and education.

“Marriage is increasingly becoming the privilege of the better-educated and better-educated marry later”(p.1499) – here is an opening proposition of Kalmijn (2013). In a study of educational gradient in marriage, he discovers that in countries with traditional marriages, the better-educated women are less likely to get married, at least at younger age. The males there prefer to get married early to more religious females, whilst women who pursue study and careers usually have less time for relationships. In contrast, the men in gender-egalitarian countries favor better-educated, more successful women with higher expectations. What is more, the findings demonstrated the wealthiest people in Europe and North America are married to the teachers!

Of course, better-educated females did not escape skeptical attention and criticism. More intelligent women are predisposed to experience more stress because of intrapersonal family-career conflict (England & Farkas, 1986). When education is an essential part of life, later it is often replaced by career. In this sense, education and career impact emotional well-being of women who face challenges in balancing personal and professional lives. Additionally, accomplished education ensures competitive salaries thus making females the main breadwinners, especially with less-educated husbands (Phillips & Schweisfurth, 2008). This scenario of shifting gender expectations with intellectual incongruence typically ends up with divorce and separation. At last, education is argued to devaluate motherhood. Better-educated women are usually accused of having fewer children and spending less time with them (Blossfeld & Huinink, 1991). The children whose mothers are more educated might have better educational opportunities and further career perspectives, yet their mothers’ education may also negatively reflect in their affiliation and relationships. In contrast, other women, who prefer not to continue their education limiting it to school certificates and undergraduate degrees, dedicate most of their free time to upbringing of their children.

Given these points it can be noted that education and pursuit of career seriously reduce marital chances in traditional countries where gender roles are segregated, while in more egalitarian countries education definitely benefits potential brides. Do not despair, though! Of course, I am not the most reliable person to refer to, as I am neither married, nor fully educated yet. Nonetheless, I took the liberty to share my humble opinion in the form of personal recommendations. Here are my propositions:

  1. Study as long as you find it necessary, but do not forget to look around otherwise you risk to miss your well-educated match.
  2. Love when you are ready, not lonely. The same is true about marriage. Look for your other half primarily relying on yourself instead of trying to correspond to social expectations and patterns.
  3. Only you yourself identify your priorities. Whatever you choose to do first, do it consistent with your interests and feelings. If the study happened to come first, do not lose your hope. Perhaps, your millionaire is waiting for you around the corner.

Married and single, males and females, I hope to read you opinions as well: What is marriage for you? How does education affect your vision of relationships? What is your attitude towards hardships of cultural and social expectations?

References

Blossfeld, H. P., & Huinink, J. (1991). Human capital investments or norms of role transition: How women’s schooling and career affect the process of family formation. The American Journal of Sociology, 97, 143–168.

England, P., & Farkas, G. (1986). Households, employment, and gender: A social, economic, and demographic view. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.

Kalmijn, M. (2013). The Educational Gradient in Marriage: A Comparison of 25 European Countries. Demography, 50(4), 1499-1520. doi:10.1007/s13524-013-0229-x

Phillips, D., & Schweisfurth, M. (2008). Comparative and international education: An introduction to theory, method, and practice. Continuum

Sex roles/gender roles. (2002). In The new dictionary of cultural literacy, Houghton Mifflin. Retrieved from http://literati.credoreference.com/content/entry/hmndcl/sex_roles_gender_roles/0

The Met school – Hogwarts of real education

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid” (Albert Einstein). This quote, which was proclaimed by Albert Einstein almost a century ago, is one of the most appropriate ways to describe our education system today. Indeed, schools force students to learn things they are not good at rather than to “discover” their potential and talents. However, the approach of individualized learning has to be central at schools today if we want to produce highly educated, creative and confident individuals.

Despite the fact that this approach of “individualized learning” or “individualized instruction” has already been discussed by many researchers (Bosco, 1973; Fischer & Fischer, 1969; Miller, 1996) and assured to be an effective way to enhance students’ achievements and acquisition of material, just a scarce number of schools implemented this approach. One of such schools, which is called “Met Center”, is highly popular in the USA. This school is using the principles of Big Picture Learning (One Student at a Time – Personalization) and its main aim is to follow the passion and interests of the students and help them realize their potential through being involved in real life activities. That is why I associate this school with a fictional Hogwarts where all students are learning magic, which is not only their passion and interest, but also a future “profession”. Since I am particularly fond of the idea that the interest is the most powerful “driving force” to do anything in our life (to learn, to teach, to work, to live), I am happy to share with you the information about this school, its success and future directions.

In 1995, Dennis Littky and his colleague Elliot Washor came up with a great idea to establish a unique school where every student would be taught in its own individual style. That is what their explanation was: “We knew we would try to personalize education, take advantage of intrinsic motivation in the youth, and create a design that would match our 21st-century world. And we would engage our students in real work that was important to them” (see more here). These two incredible educators were given a freedom of decisions how to “design” their school. Although many people were suspicious about their non-conventional and ground-breaking ideas, the results were amazing. They have literally changed the school and its way of educating pupils from the scratch. First, they hired passionate teachers who had the roles of advisers for students and directed their ideas and thoughts. Second, they eliminated grades and introduced a new way of evaluating students – through the feedback from their mentors, parents and advisers. Students were involved in different projects connected to their interests. They had the opportunity to see the work inside, to communicate with different employers, companies, representatives from universities. It is not the school who choose the topics for students to learn, but students themselves decide what their interests are and all their study revolves around this particular topic until they learn it deeply. Surprisingly, students at this school do not have to pass any tests, to memorize different facts. On the contrary, they learn how to think, how to find knowledge and use it in real life. What is most unbelievable, while many schools in America are constantly focused on testing and forcing students to memorize “a little of everything”, the students from such schools have worse results on tests rather than students from Met schools even though they never practice for the tests. Do you want to know why? – Because they love learning and they learn much more than students from ordinary schools. (I highly recommend you to watch the following videos so that you will realize how amazing this model of school is – (Video 1); (Video 2).

about-us-header

The success of their first school was just incredible: “The first Met class graduated in 2000 with a 96% graduation rate. Ninety-eight percent of the graduates were admitted to post-secondary institutions” (see more here).

Finally, the founders of Met school were offered to set up 12 schools like The Met around the country. Nowadays, there are more than 60 Big Picture schools within the USA and several around the world (Australia, Israel, the Netherlands), and all of them are flourishing and producing highly-motivated and educated human-beings who are confident in their skills and knowledge. (See more here) In addition, the Big Picture Schools are part of the Deeper Learning Schools network around the world, innovative schools which focus on the idea of the new 21st century model of education. College Unbound: Big Picture College was the next step in this “education revolution” led by Dennis Littky and his team. The principles are the same: less theory, more in-depth real-life experience of work. The curriculum is entirely individual-based and reflects the interests of students (see more here).

As you see, the creation of one exceptional school was just the first step in transforming the whole system of educating teenagers who were willing to study, but not given chance to discover their potential. This is exactly what kind of future schools I have in my mind: schools for creative, passionate individuals and independent thinkers…not just homogenous “robots” we program at schools today. The network of the company Big Picture is expanding every year and now includes not only schools, but also colleges. I personally believe that such way of education is an excellent solution for many problems we have today in our educational system: low motivation of students to learn, gap between secondary school and higher education, education and work mismatch. I hope that one day this “wave” of non-traditional and creative approach to education will finally reach our country and we will embrace the opportunity of educating our children based on their own interests.

I would really appreciate hearing your thoughts on this topic. What do you think? Is it possible to establish such schools and universities in our country? And will it be effective? Why/why not?

P/S: I am sure that this inspirational speech of Dennis Littky will completely remove any of your doubts regarding the effectiveness of Met schools.

References:

Bosco, J. (1973). Individualization – Teachers’ Views. The Elementary School Journal, 72(3), 125-131.

Fischer, B., & Fischer, L. (1969). Toward Individualized Learning. The Elementary School Journal, 69(6), 298-303.

Miller, J. (1996). Individualized Instruction. The Elementary School Journal, 66(7), 393-395.

Dual college education model: the Bridge between students and enterprises

azubi_welding_visual_stage

Dual education model in colleges of Kazakhstan was firstly suggested by President of Republic of Kazakhstan in 2012 at the 2nd meeting of Zhas Otan youth wing of Nur Otan party. Since that time a lot have been done for the purpose of introducing dual education model in Kazakhstani colleges. In this blog I am trying to highlight the results of these actions so far and give my personal opinion toward this reformation of technical and vocational education in Kazakhstan.

The main goal of dual education model is establishment the direct connections between students and enterprises. According to this modal students spend sixty percent of their instructional time at a workplace gaining job skills. After two or three years of studying at class and practicing on enterprises the students are ready to be a professional workers with the experience. The pilot version of this model was implemented at technical college of Almaty and there are already graduates. According to bnews.kz the success of the model was in particularly full employment of graduates on the enterprises where they used to be trainees. Moreover, the benefits that enterprises receive from this program attract more and more of them to collaborate with colleges. It goes without saying, that there is a huge lack of professional staff in such spheres of economy like energetic, IT, construction and welded clusters. As a result, there are already more than two thousands enterprises including such giants KazakhMys, Pavlodar Electrolytic Plant and Samruk-Kazyna Fund are willing to collaborate with colleges. There are 44,000 students studying now by this model and, according to centralasiaonline.com, it is planning to implement the dual education system in one hundred seventy six colleges of the state.

As for me, I think this reformation of technical and vocational education in Kazakhstan is a huge step toward establishing the bridge between students and enterprises for the purpose of increasing the state economic sector. Being a graduate student who was confused in further employment, I strongly support the dual model education and believe that it will bring more positive results rather than negative.

References

http://bnews.kz/ru/news/post/136283/

http://centralasiaonline.com/en_GB/articles/caii/features/main/2014/10/23/feature-01

Knowledge? Not necessary, just diploma, please.

In this post I will try to state some thoughts about the current situation in the Kazakhstani Higher Education system emerged by informal observations. I will discuss the issue of quality of Higher education and particular the problem of “purchasing” diplomas. This problem cannot be justified by official statistics but everybody knows about it.

What is “purchasing” diploma?

By words “purchasing” diploma I mean the notion when a student successfully admitted to the X University in Kazakhstan is not studying at all, but buying or copying almost all required course works and successfully graduating with diploma. Sometimes “with honor” or so called “red diploma”. So that all he needs are some money to spend and some time to be present at X University.

It is the bitter truth. Universities do not care about whether the student got any knowledge as long as he submitted required paper work (assignments, course works) and student do not care about whether he got anything from the study in head.

How to solve this problem?

Well, it is obvious that the system in whole should be changed. At least several solutions came to my head. Firstly, to teach children starting from secondary school to study not for grade but for knowledge. Of course, the grade is the important marker to know about how this student performs but is not the goal itself. The parents should not ask children the question “what grade did you get today?” but “What new did you learn today?” Thus children will know that their aim is to get knowledge not to get the good grade.

Secondly, there should be the strict anti-plagiarism policy everywhere, starting even from the kindergartens. So that the children will know that stating other people’s idea is a worst thing to do while producing own work. This will harm the person who copies even more than the person from whom it was copied. Because nothing is in his head left while he is copying or buying. Only through careful reflecting, analyzing, rethinking processes the knowledge can emerge.

The topic of education quality enhancement in Kazakhstan is too broad to be fitted into the one blog or even one paper frame. Nevertheless, I tried to identify one of thousands problem in contemporary Higher education system and reflect on possible ways to solve it.

Emulating Finnish successful education model?

There is no one-size-fits-all model of education system which all countries can emulate. However, there exist many successfull examples of education model such as Finland, Singapore,Canada, and Japan which other countries with weaker approaches can follow. In this post, I would like to write about the education model of Finland as it is believed to be successfull one having its excellent results in PISA.

Which one is good: preparing school children for life or for exams? Nowadays, in many developing countries as well as in Kazakhstan, schools “qualify” children to pass exams successfully, and in our case for UNT. However, choosing the first seems like one of the main principles of education system of Finland. Despite the fact that Finnish school children reveal compelling mathematics, science, and reading skills in international tests, they spend less time studying. The author Morgan (2014) points out some essential characteristics of this school model, certainly, equity for all, gratuity except education, trust and confidence, and self-dependence of children.

More precisely, Finnish people draw more attention to equity of everything, including: equity of schools which means there are neither elite schools nor powerless schools; equity of all subjects, and it is not believed that mathematics is more important than, for example, art; equity of all parents, students and teachers no matter their social status. Moreover, everything which is needed for school student is free of charge, presumably, food, museums, transportation, books and laptops. There is no understanding of authority approach among teachers, because students choose what is more useful for him or her to do at the lesson. Teachers and parents great the choices of students whether he chooses to learn better or not; taxi driver is also profession for them.

Anyways, it doesn’t mean that learning at schools of Finland is “soft”, because all children are controlled by rules of school regime. The interesting thing is that what makes Finnish schooling the best? Giving voluntariness, freedom and self-depence to school students? Ot other recipes for “success”?

References:

Morgan, H. (2014). Review of Research: The Education System in Finland: A Success Story Other Countries Can Emulate, Childhood Education, 90(6), 453-457

What is a PUBLIC SPEAKING? How important to have public speaking skills for teachers?

https://www.google.com/search?q=public+speaker&client=opera&hs=nk7&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=OOrDVOvXL4KeygOqpILwCA&ved=0CC0QsAQ&biw=1366&bih=660#imgdii=_&imgrc=l6yDHancJz2bUM%253A%3BElUiYdSdJY_AJM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fnsaphiladelphia.org%252Fuploads%252Fimages%252Fslideshow%252Fnsa-aspire.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fnsaphiladelphia.org%252F%3B600%3B304

https://www.google.com/search?q=public+speaker&client

My greetings!

Majority of people and some of their profession more or less requires skills of good public speaker. Public speaking skills, by its engagement per se, foster to enhance critical thinking, personal and civic skills (Jaffe, 2012). Analyzing the concept of public speaking, which has an impact on personality formation, my second post is dedicated to this influential phenomenon in society and what skills are imporatant in this sense.

First of all, it would be essential to define the understanding about public speaking. Verderber and Verderberv (2011) identified public speaking, as “a sustained formal presentation by a speaker to an audience, is simply one form of human communication” (p.2). Any form of presentation in front any audience is public speaking; but they are specific features of every audience,as listeners’ main age group, their possible interests etc.

Secondly, it would be useful to highlight the reasons explaining the personal need of public speaking skills for successful career development. Many researchers such as Payne and Carlin et al. (as cited in Yu-Chih, 2008) devoted to explore this topic in the broader context. They argued that public speaking skills could increase the social role and self-confidence of a person by devoting more authority in his/her standpoints.  As well as Verderber and Verderberv (2011) pointed out that major benefit that public speaker gain from presentations – is a development of ability to convey complex ideas into understandable concepts. Therefore, it is obvious to see reasonable advantages from developing public speaking skills. In this context, Yu-Chih categorized three main beneficial areas (personal or social, academic and career benefits) from the advanced skills of presentation. Teacher profession challenge all three beneficial areas.

Finally, answering to the main question how it is important to have public speaking skills for teachers? I would answer that it is crucial for every socially active and perspective person to be a good public speaker. Especially for teachers, having a potential of excellent info-presenter and being a pattern of self-confident person and democratic in ideas, is more than preferable.

Some questions for “thoughts”: What do you think about the necessity of having good public speaking skills for every profession in general, and for teachers in particular?

P.S If you have time, watch inspiring commencement speech of Ophra Winfrey for graduates: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NSz4djCNSXA

References

Jaffe, C. (2012). Public speaking: Concepts and skills for a diverse society. Cengage Learning.Verderber, R., Verderber, K., & Sellnow, D. (2011). The challenge of effective speaking. Cengage Learning.

Yu-Chih, S. (2008). The Toastmasters Approach An Innovative Way to Teach Public Speaking to EFL Learners in Taiwan. RELC Journal39(1), 113-130.

Creativity and Education

Creativity just recently appeared in some of our new schools as a subject. There are a few schools in Astana where creativity is taught as a compulsory subject from the first grade. It is interesting to know why some schools decide to include this subject in the curriculum as a main subject whereas mainstream schools are far beyond of understanding and adding creativity as a subject

Growing interest in creativity began in the late 90’s all over the world. In the work of Robina Shaheen (2010), the author implies the new trend was accompanied by criticizing the current system of education for “killing” creativity. It is very obvious that creativity as a subject is the core element in preparing the next generation and are definitely contribution in teaching curriculum. Developing every individual’s creative potential will be one of the crucial factors for leading economies further. There is an overall shift in educational policy in various countries, Kazakhstan is not an exception. However, I keep asking myself why necessity to include creativity in teaching had occurred only in 90’s? Perhaps, people stopped thinking creatively or there are an educational competition among countries or is it a necessity of life?

Creativity is seen more than a subject in developed countries; it is understood as key traits for success.  According to author Cathy N. Davison, “65% of today’s preschoolers will grow up to work in jobs or pursue careers that don’t yet exist.” It means that next generation needs to be prepared to tackle not only the known, but also the unknown problems our world will face. Therefore, we must be forward thinking about how we train and inspire our upcoming generation. It is a very hard task isn’t it? I am pretty sure that in Kazakhstan the opponents of including creativity in the curriculum will be more than advocates. They believe that creativity plays a minor role and there is no connection between creativity, innovation and economy. However, I consider quite the opposite opinion. Let’s take the last PISA results, Kazakhstan’s schoolchildren were far behind of top or middle level of achievement. Data from TIMSS and PISA suggest that the Kazakhstan’s secondary school system is quite effective at imparting theoretical knowledge and ensuring that students remember, recognize and retrieve information. It is relatively weak at enabling students to acquire and practice higher-order thinking skills, such as applying and reasoning in maths, or reflecting on and evaluating texts when reading. It is interesting to note that higher achievers from PISA’s outcome are handling the creativity lessons as a key subject to success. This may explain the reason why nowadays our educational staff is ready to apply and include creativity in the curriculum.

Unfortunately, traditional education gives little room for students to develop their creativity and think out of box, however only including creativity in the curriculum will affect much on achievement.