Monthly Archives: February 2015

Parent-teacher conferences in NurOrda International School

parent           parent 1

Parent-teacher conference is an effective way of building additional cooperation and understanding between home and school (Calatrello, 1961). Involving families in their children’s education does not only facilitate the academic success of the children, it also predicts social and emotional development, and a variety of other positive school outcomes for all children. Individual meeting with parents prevent or diminish “problems of attendance, discipline and drop out” and foster closer home-school affinity (Kroth & Edge, 2007 p. 7). Parent-teacher conference as a resultant benefit to the child for a long time has been recognized worldwide. However, it is a novelty for some of Kazakhstani private schools. NurOrda International School (NIS), where I used to work, can serve as a perfect example of employing parent-teacher conferences as a tool to endorse the relationship and co-operation between home and school.

NurOrda International School pursues the modern trends in education and offers a balanced and integrated curriculum which meets each student’s diverse learning needs. The curriculum integrates the elements of the national curriculum and Cambridge International Program (http://www.nurorda.kz). Providing detailed feedback on students’ performance is crucial in the learning process. In this regard, NIS affords parents with a unique opportunity to talk to each teacher who teaches their child during termly meetings. These talks are conducted in a one-to-one situation, enabling the parent to receive a scrupulous analysis of his/her child’s performance in a private manner (NIS Parent and Student Handbook, 2014). Parent-teacher conferences are fitted to the school program and scheduled at the weekends due to parents’ workload. These meetings, usually only fifteen or twenty minutes in length, do not resolve all the problems of each child; but “may illuminate the source of problem” (Calatrello, 1961, p.259), and can  provide an opportunity for the parent to communicate with the teacher in privacy than that afforded by Soviet legacy – traditional patents’ meeting. The aim of the conference is to establish harmonious rapport with the parents and to involve families in their children’s education. The school staff seeks for reducing achievement gaps and enhancing the academic achievement of all students. Signification of the unity and cooperation among school staff, parents and students is also reflected in the logo of NurOrda (“Shanyrak”).  logo

At the conference, each teacher has all materials needed for the meeting and prepared agenda at hand which make his/her work easier to proceed. Teachers take enough time to listen to the parents and encourage them to bring up questions and comments. After the conference, the teacher should pass along the salient points to the principal and to other school personnel, if needed. Occasionally teachers of NurOrda school deal with hostile or aggressive parents. They respond to such aggressions keeping cool, listening, writing down what the other person says, and eliciting suggestions to eliminate the concerns trying not to become defensive.

To sum up, parent-teacher conferences conducted in NurOrda assert positive associations between parent involvement in the school and academic achievement, as well as character building and mentoring. It is important for public schools to actively seek and increase trenchant forms of parental involvement.

References:

Calatrello, R. L. (1961). Parent-teacher conference.  Peabody Journal of Education, 38(5), 259-264.

Kroth, R. L. and Edge, D. (2007). Parent-teacher conference. Focus on Exceptional Children, 40(2), 1-8.

NIS Parent and Student Handbook for 2014-2015. (2014). Retrieved February 26, 2015 from <https://www.tes.co.uk/jobs/Upload/Attachments/TES/04923E0001/PARENT%20AND%20STUDENT%20HANDBOOK%202014-2015%20[ENG].pdf>

Reflection is a mirror of teachers’ daily work

reflection-model

I was writing reflection on one of our course Professional Identity. I was amazed how revising or rethinking, what I have been learning and raising different kind of questions in my head, helped me to realize the importance of reflection. After all, I decided to investigate significance of reflection in teaching and how teachers can apply for their further improvements.

Majority of authors agree that reflection is a powerful tool in effective teaching to look at their inaccuracy or omission of teaching process from different angle (Johnson & Jay, 2002; Yarbrough & Wade, 1996; Hatton & Smith, 1995). Writing reflection gives some kind of guidance to analyze the action, think better ways to solve the problem, make a relevant decision.  There are number of definitions of reflection which are considered to be justified, however the definition seems metonyms. As an example, Mezirow (1990) stated “Reflection is generally used as a synonym for higher-order mental processes” versus reflection requires thinking mentally (p.5) while Yarbrough&Wade (1996) proposed different aspect  of the same definition “Reflection allows us to draw conclusions about our past experience and develop new insights that we can apply to our future activities” (p.74). Assuming that, reflection is a representative of mediation.

Johnson& Jay (2002) referred several authors (Schon, 1983; Schon, 1987; Valli, 1992; Zeichner & Liston, 1996) who mentioned the role of reflection for beginning teachers, especially in pre-service trainings. As every of us, who has chosen teaching profession, remember filling out notebooks in order to keep track on daily pre-service trainings. Personally, I was writing the reflection of what I have done each day rather than seeking to develop specifically my teaching skills. Effective reflection is not just realizing critical issues of our action but attempt to make decision on problem solving steps with new understanding and ideas. For the question what might teachers reflect on, Johnson& Jay (2002) explained the possible alternatives such as student learning, instructional processes, and subject matter etc.

Nevertheless, keep reflecting on your daily life by asking questions “What am I doing wrong? How do I do better? What am I thankful for?”; as you are future school leaders who will achieve lots of success by reflecting on your teaching.

refelction-1q1unvu

Reference

  1. Jay, J. K., & Johnson, K. L. (2002). Capturing complexity: A typology of reflective practice for teacher education. Teaching and teacher education,18(1), 73-85.
  2. Wade, R. C., & Yarbrough, D. B. (1996). Portfolios: A tool for reflective thinking in teacher education?. Teaching and teacher education, 12(1), 63-79.
  3. Hatton, N., & Smith, D. (1995). Reflection in teacher education: Towards definition and implementation. Teaching and teacher education, 11(1), 33-49.
  4. Mezirow, J. (1990). How critical reflection triggers transformative learning.Fostering critical reflection in adulthood, 1-20.

Why do “leaders” matter in school culture?

Since my major is school leadership, it is my missionary endeavor to talk about the role of school leaders. School community perceives different attitudes toward school leaders. Some might think that a school leader is a principal, for someone a school leader is associated with inspired teachers. There were plenty of studies conducted to identify and the value of a leader in school culture.

I liked the study conducted by Heck and Marcoulides (1996) where they reported organizational values of school leaders in secondary schools of Singapore. Researchers found that schools, where positive social and professional relationships exists, staff members are highly qualified and student achievements are comparatively higher. More specifically, innovation and risk taking schools encourage teacher participation in decision-making and provide time for collaboration. As Heck and Marcoulides indicate, all these effects of organizational values on performance are likely to be mediated by teachers’ attitudes and to a lesser degree by the school’s organizational climate (Heck, R.H., & Marcoulides, G.A., 1996).  (Maslowski, R., 2001) also supports this idea that school culture is the process of the accumulation of many individuals’ values and norms as it constructs the frame that fulfills “school life.”

On the other hand, nothing goes forward without “people.” Therefore, a particular leader or leaders drive any schooling system. To my mind, every single staff member in a school is defined to be a separate leader, because, they have invisible and pervasive influence each other and learners. When I imagine school leaders, the pictures of school principals and teachers immediately appear in mind. Several authors (Knapp et al., 2003) gave thorough and clear explanations of leaders’ role in and out of schooling as following:

  • Student learning framed in broad terms to include more than “achievement” on single, albeit important, measures such as test scores.
  • Professional learning, including the array of skills, knowledge, and values that teachers and administrators gain from practice itself, formal attempts to develop their professional capacities while on the job, and from initial preparation for their professional positions.
  • “System learning,” conceived of as “insight into the functioning of the system [e.g., school, district system] as a whole to develop and evaluate new policies, practices, and structures that enhance its performance” (Knapp et al., 2003, p. 11).

School leaders face different responsibilities and duties in learning and teaching environment. However, I would like to highlight that if a leader is capable to transform his or her leadership qualities to the other members, then it is a very important priority of a “boss.”

There have been many researches done which tried to explore the roles of schooling concepts. The effect of schooling has been one of the discussing dilemma in educational research over the past centuries and not only. To sum up all the idea before, I do believe, if a nation’s ideology and culture is strong enough and preserved from “globalizing mess”, then it can manage its schooling system effectively.

References

Heck, R.H., & Marcoulides, G.A. (1996). School Culture and Performance: Testing the Invariance of an Organizational Model. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 7 (1), 6-95. In Maslowski, R. (2001). School Culture and School Performance. Twente University Press. Retrieved from: <www.tup.utwente.nl/uk/catalogue/educational/school-culture>

Knapp, M. S., Copland, M. A., & Talbert, J. E. (2003). Leading for learning: Reflective tools for school and district leaders. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Center for Teaching and Policy.

Maslowski, R. (2001). School Culture and School Performance. Twente University Press. Retrieved from: <www.tup.utwente.nl/uk/catalogue/educational/school-culture>

Is it WORTH being a TEACHER?

article-2178718-01E93DB500000578-989_634x421

http://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/teacher-blog/2013/may/11/secret-teacher-teaching-climate-fear-ofsted

“Your health and time aren’t worth to bear with what goes on within the four walls of the classroom! In addition there is no career development! ”. This is what my parents used to tell on my idea to become a teacher some years ago. They still consider teaching in secondary schools as a troublesome and complicated job with no prosperous future. Indeed, teaching is a difficult task and has its challenges.

Teachers are precariously intensified. Open-endedness of this profession makes teachers work ten months a year without any break. Great accountability to parents and administration, responsibilities as a social worker, care for students are all part of the teachers’ work. Also, because of the knowledge explosion and students’ high expectations teachers are supposed to be the most skilled and flexible. Innovations and integration of new technology into teaching exacerbate the overload problem as well. Consequently, unconformity of workload and salary (which can be considered as another challenge) leads to superficial performance and poor quality of teaching. Hargreaves (1994) states, “intensification reduces area of discretion, inhibits involvement in and control over longer-term planning” (p.118). Moreover, intensification raises the feeling of guilt in teachers: a sense of having done something badly and being professionally unproductive.

Moreover, traditionally teaching has been a relatively ‘flat’ career (Fullan and Hargreaves, 2010, p.19). The only way to expand teacher’s role in school is to move away from the classroom into administration. However, not every teacher has a chance to become an administrator. Therefore teachers spend many years in a classroom usually without substantial outside stimulation what consequently reduces commitment, motivation and effectiveness. Good ideas and innovations developed by individual teachers are often not supported and refused due to the finance shortage and prescribed curriculum. Thus, spending years preforming the same role may be really diminishing.

To sum up, teaching has its challenges as any other professions do. However, teachers should take initiatives themselves, not just in requiring better conditions and insisting unreasonable demands, but also in making constructive improvements of their own. Only then there will be a lot of great teachers, who despite any problems, will make schools more interesting places to be.

Reference:

Fullan, M. & Hargreaves, A. (2010). What’s Worth Fighting For in Your School? Berkshire: Open University Press

Hargreaves, A. (1995). Changing Teachers, Changing Times. Teachers’ Work and Culture in the Postmodern Age. London: Cassell.

Code Switching

Image credits: grammarlycards.com
Image credits: grammarlycards.com

You are at class, discussing the new educational reforms and talking to the professor in a professional manner; you almost look like a politician. 1:00 PM. The class is over and curtains fall; habitually, you start talking to your friends in a completely different manner. Relaxed and easygoing, you turn on your loud and offstage voice – hitherto undetected by the professors. And here is your professor, who has not left the room yet, taken aback by your transformation. And that transformation is a code switching. Code switching is the alternation of languages (Poplack, 1980) as well as behaviours (Zeller, 2004). But the question here is why we switch codes? Different researchers have identified different reasons and the most common are:

  • To match the situation

The way we talk or behave in front of the employer differs dramatically from the one when with parents. Behavioural code switching is a matter of etiquette here; there is a behaviour that is appropriate at home but inappropriate in public (Zeller, 2004).

  • To show solidarity

Janet Holmes (2013) mentions in her book that, ‘a speaker may switch to another language as a signal of group membership. People from different or the same ethnic groups can use code switching to express intercommunity. For example:

Bauyrzhan: Салем (kaz. Hi), Стас! Погоняем мяч (rus. Let’s play football)!

Stas: Жооок (kaz. Nooo)! Я устал (rus. I am tired)!

Bauyrzhan: Ну, давай (rus. Come on)! Қызық будет (kaz. rus. It will be fun)!

In the example, it can be clearly found that the Bauyrzhan uses the Russian to cut through the barrier; to establish solidarity.

  • To express affection

Some feelings and attitudes are not that easy to be expressed. Speakers may switch codes to express amazement, frustration, sadness, happiness and many other feelings.

Janet Holmes (2013) says, “A language switch . . . is often used to express disapproval. So a person may code switch because they are angry.” Let me give you a good example about code-switching to express affection.

A mother calls her son “Балам, мында кел” {Son, come here!} When he does not respond quickly enough she switches to Russian: ‘Балам, ты идешь или нет!’ [Are you coming or not!] ”

In the above example, the mother used the Russian language to express her anger of the child’s behaviour.

  • To convey a thought

A perfect bon mot (a witty remark) is needed to convey the certain concepts and to come across effectively. Many people switch languages to express particular ideas, as in the case of Jennifer Monahan:

According to her story, she works in a bilingual school and code switches whenever there is a lexical gap in one of the    languages. E.g when they talk in French and mention about a smart board, she say “le smart board”. The notion of having a designated container to bring your lunch from home is foreign for the French. So they all refer to “le lunchbox”.

Learning the basis of code switching is important in terms of self control. The lessons of acceptable conduct are defined by the family and society in which one was brought up (Zeller, 2004). The decision to code switch in behaviours or languages is up to our judgement. Becoming critical thinkers, behaving according to the context and continuously growing linguistically, regardless of the language in which we prefer to do it, are the most important things here. But if Kazrunglish is a part of who you are and as long as it is appropriate, don’t worry, code-switch away!

Holmes, J. (2013). An introduction to sociolinguistics. Routledge.

Poplack, S. (1980). Sometimes i’ll start a sentence in spanish y termino en espanol: toward a typology of code-switching1. Linguistics, 18(7-8), 581-618.

Zeller, D. L. (2004). Professional Documentaion Journal. Unpublished manuscript.

My reflections on the interview

Interview picture

The Interview project with Professor, Nazarbayev University (NU) was interesting and important experience as we have discussed and learned many crucial issues in the field of education. Professor gave the definition of the notion “Leadership” from own perspective. Speaking about a leader, Professor mentioned attributes and qualities an effective leader should possess. Professor pointed out the connection between leadership and management emphasizing the “family resemblance” between these two notions. Particularly important and interesting to me was Professor’s opinion about leadership skills being inborn or obtained, support of collegial model of leadership and recommendations given in the end of the interview.

According to Professor (“Personal communication”), leadership is a natural ability to implement projects in different levels when a leader and his/her team are equally involved in this process. It was interesting to realize that Professor shares my viewpoint about what attributes and qualities an effective leader should have. In Professor’s point of view, a good leader should know “where you are, where you want to go and how to get there” (“Personal communication”). Moreover, a leader should be able to motivate and lead his/her team members. Much attention Professor paid to strategic vision of a leader saying that a leader should possess an ability to think strategically foreseeing future result of his/her plans. Here, Professor gave a good example of an effective leader in higher education saying, “Tim Raegan, the Dean of Graduate School of Education is someone with a lot of experience, very good leadership skills because he knows exactly what the situation of education is around the world. He also knows what is best, and how to best import education, what kind of reforms we need to put in place” (“Personal Communication”). I quite agree with Professor because we observe that Dr. Reagan is intelligent and possess such important personal qualities for a good leader as openness to students and staff, responsibility and decency.

One thing that was of great interest for me was Professor’s words about inborn or obtained skills of being a leader. Professor believes that “If you are not born a leader, you cannot be a leader. To be a leader takes some specific skills and talents” (“Personal communication”). Interestingly, Professor’s opinion contradicts Dr. Sagintayeva’s, Director of NU GSU opinion who, in her turn, is sure that it is possible to become a leader. The only thing you need is to have some leader skills, be responsible and take professional training courses in Kazakhstan or even abroad to improve your leader skills and enrich knowledge. Here, I would agree with Dr. Sagintayeva as I myself had useful experience of being a leader of a big education department in college. This work helped me to develop my leader skills, work with other people and taught me to be worthy of being called a leader.

What impressed me next, Professor’s focus on collegiality, which in his words, means solving problems and overcoming challenges collectively to make right decisions. From my experience, I can add that only working collaboratively you can achieve success in everything you do.

In the end of the interview, Professor was asked to give some good advice from own experience.  The advice to learn to work in teams, listen to other people’s opinion, respect each member in the team, make any decisions collegially and be ready to accept any changes in working place will be helpful for our future career and the whole life.

In conclusion, although it was not easy to conduct an interview, we felt as real researchers being excited and privileged. This project was unforgettable experience in terms of important in education issues as being an effective leader, connection between leadership and management, idea about inborn and obtained leadership skills and collegial model of leadership.

In your opinion, what are the attributes and qualities of an effective leader? And do you think leadership skills are inborn or obtained?

Thank you in advance!

Ideology in school environment

Ideology is acknowledged to be sophisticated, at the same time substantial components in an education environment. Specifically, it is a pervasive and an elusive element in school environment as well. This message aims to identify the notion of ideology in school life and explore scientists’ opinion on this concept.

Ideological foundation is alike an engine which forces a country to operate through its educational institutions like kindergartens, schools, colleges or universities. However, schools determine the initial and most valuable attitude toward ideology in the frame of education. Reforming and regulating the governance of schools in any country reflects national ideology of a country. The organization of schooling has involved both changes and challenges in the world education arena: globalization and integration of educational context, prospering new scientific knowledge and technical applications, developing the full potential of young learners and their integration into adult life are common features of those tasks.

Many educators view ideology in schools from different angles. Majority of researches (Apple, 2004; Arum, Beattie, Ford, 2011; Bray, 2007) agree that “school curriculum” has the greatest impact on ideological and moral bases of learners. Other educators (Kamens, Meyer, & Benavot, 1996) support that national policy strategies and educational ideology purposefully formulate curriculum in schools. On the other hand, ideology is also defined to be a map of problematic social reality and format for the creation of collective conscience (Geertz, 1964). Flakser (1971) claims that: “Ideology is a system of belief; a set of values serving mainly as a keyhole through which the outside world is observed” (p.11). Mostly, ideology is identified as a system of beliefs and practices carried by educational institutions. For example, Bowles and Gintis (1976) propose that the function of schooling is to reproduce the class structure that proceeds schooling. However, ideology is not a facet of beliefs; it is the phenomena, which grows out of intentionality and human activity (Giroux, 1981). Thus, we can determine ideology as a system of representations that denotes a set of relationships between people. Fiala (2007) sees ideology in education as a mechanism, which forces the development of an individual as well as the whole country.

To sum up, education itself carries set of values and believes which is reflected within the facet of “ideology.” Ideology in schools plays pivotal role in shaping an individual’s worldview toward policy, society, culture, tradition etc. As it is shared by large number of learners there, policymakers and educators must have a very prudent and farsighted goals.

References:

Apple, M.W. (2004). Ideology and Curriculum. Great Britain: Routledge.

Arum, R., Beattie, I.R., Ford, K. (2011). The structure of schooling. The United States of America: Sage publications.

Bowles, S. & Gintis, H. (1976). Schooling in Capitalist America. New York: Basic Books.

Bray, M. (2007). School Knowledge in Comparative and Historical Perspective. Comparative Education Research Centre, the University of Hong Kong.

Fiala, R. (2007). Educational ideology and the school curriculum. School knowledge in comparative and historical perspective, 15-34. Netherlands: Springer.

Flakser, D. (1971). Marxism, ideology and myths. Philosophical Library.

Geertz, C. (1964). Ideology as a cultural system. In Apter D. E. (ed.). Ideology and Discontent. New York: Free Press.

Giroux, H. A. (1981). Ideology, Culture, and the Process of Schooling. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Kamens, D. H., Meyer, J. W., & Benavot, A. (1996). Worldwide patterns in academic secondary education curricula. Comparative education review, 116-138.

Parent Involvement Matters!

If a student’s academic performance is low, who to blame – educators, parents, or children?

Usually parents send their children to schools and are not engaged in the schooling process of their children. Later students get low grades which is not only the children’s faults, but teachers’ and parents’ as well. There are several barriers parents can not overcome to get involved in studies of their children. First, these days adults are busy with their jobs, and children are under less control and attention (Caplan, 2000, as cited in Project Appleseed). Second, teachers do not try to attract parents to schooling process, because they are already overloaded and working with parents of their students seems to become extra work for them (Caplan, 2000, as cited in Project Appleseed). Moreover, educators misperceive parents’ abilities and think that parents are unable to help their children with their homework, for instance, because they have limited educational backgrounds (Caplan, 2000, as cited in Project Appleseed). Next, some parents, because of their own unpleasant experience t school, have negative attitude towards schools and feel themselves unwelcome and uncomfortable at schools (Jones, 2001; Caplan, 2000; Liontos, 1992, as cited in Project Appleseed). All these barriers result in tension in relationships between parents and teachers; and when children are in upper grades, it becomes more difficult to involve parents.

Nevertheless, what could we gain, if children’s parents were involved in the schooling process? According to Caplan (2000, as cited in Project Appleseed), students’ success at school is directly connected to family involvement in their studies, because if a parent shows interest in his or her child’s studies, the child gets motivated and gets interested in his or her studies as well. Moreover, students who experienced family involvement in their schooling process tend to get higher test scores and are more likely to be enrolled to Higher Education Institutions (Riggins-Newby, 2004; Norton, 2003; Caplan, 2000; Binkley et al., 1998; Funkhouse and Gonzalez, 1997, as cited in Project Appleseed). Undoubtedly, when parents are involved strongly, they get to understand what is being taught and learnt, which overcomes tension between parents and teachers and leads to a strong cooperation between them.

The USA has a non – profit organization which seeks to engage parents in schooling of their children. It is worth mentioning that all parents supporting the project are volunteers and there is no mandatory work done. The project named Project Appleseed focuses on low – income and undersaved families of public schools of America. They attract parents in the schooling process through cooperating, communicating, providing opportunities for parents to formalize their commitment to working with their children, or in other words, Project Appleseed provides parents with needed resources to help their children with their schooling.

So, do you think that this kind of project is applicable to Kazakhstan? Could we organize some special project for the parents of Kazakhstan to get them involved in the schooling process?

Reference:

Project Appleseed Parental Involvement in Public Schools. (2014, January 1). Retrieved February 15, 2015, from http://www.projectappleseed.org

Fostering pluralism in Kazakhstan

скачанные файлы

I have written this post in response to Kazakhstan as an example of intercultural hub post by . I intend to shed light on the process of fostering pluralism through history, culture, and education.

Now, after 24 years of gaining independence, Kazakhstan has managed to unite ethnically, culturally and linguistically heterogeneous populations under one umbrella of the citizenship of an ambitious young state. However, one should be realistic: from the international observers’ position, the level of the democracy development in Kazakhstan leaves much to be desired (Freedom House, 2013). But Kazakhstan enjoys relatively sustainable development in comparison with ethnic tensions in other countries. Via reconsideration of the history distorted in the Soviet times and a combination of cultural and general education, Kazakhstan paves the way to pluralism.

The historical literacy, especially for  a multi-ethnic state, can be “the route for reconciliation” (Boutilier, 2012, p. 13). Kazakhstan shifted from using history for indoctrination as it occurred under the Soviet rule,  to acknowledging the failures of the past. Now the Kazakhstani students study the History of Kazakhstan and the World History as  mandatory subjects at all educational institutions. These courses allow students to get an insight on how the civilization evolved in other countries. This awareness fosters open-mindedness and provides opportunities to analyze the events and processes of the past through  a critical lens. National uprisings for independence, equity and human rights receive another reconsideration different from “nationalistic, racist or chauvinistic” as it used to be. The names of the victims of the repression in 1930-1940s, the national heroes, and those historical personalities are resurrected and released from stigmatizing. The justice for, and appreciation of, the individuals  who  contributed to the development of the national unity and consciousness,  have been restored. Therefore, through the learning and reconsideration of history we are to avoid the mistakes of  past experiences.

Mutuality, tolerance, and intercultural literacy, as Boutilier (2012) mentions, can be fostered through the interplay between education and culture. In Kazakhstan, this process commences  in  early childhood education.  In preschool and kindergarten, different cultural activities are organized to celebrate May  1st (the unity of the peoples of Kazakhstan), March 22nd (Nauryz – the Eastern new year), December 31st (New Year), Maslenitsa (an Eastern Slavic religious and folk holiday).  From the beginning,  children  are exposed to realizing the richness of diversity in Kazakhstan. The Assembly of the Peoples of Kazakhstan, aimed to reinforce the state policy on interethnic dialogue and tolerance, has branches in every region where the locals along with the ethnic minorities can attend cultural centers, heritage/Sunday schools. Pluralism evolves not only by empowering the diasporas, but also by providing the rights  to the mother-tongue education. There are Uzbek, Kyrgyz, Uighur, Korean, German, Ukrainian, and Polish schools, where children pursue education through the mother tongue as the medium of instruction. The moral upbringing at schools, colleges and universities is targeted on building  a civic society where the citizenship is not the privilege of the titular nations but a shared commitment and humanity. Thus, the younger generations grow up being the Kazakhstani citizens without division between Kazakhs and non-Kazakhs.

In  a nutshell, history, education,  and culture gradually establish the ethic of pluralism in Kazakhstan by changing attitudes to the events of the past and by appreciating the linguistic and cultural heritages. Yet, Kazakstani democracy is far from being fully achieved. Notwithstanding pluralism’s evolving character, we can be proud of living peacefully. We are the speakers of different languages – we are followers of different religions. For some people it is a great difference; for us it is the sign of our uniqueness. Uniqueness of peoples, diversity of minds. Education and history, culture and history. They help to inculcate the sense of respect. Respect to diversity.

“There are no accidents…” or why do I become a teacher?

The whole my conscious live I thought that I became a teacher because I failed in the Unified National Testing. So banal. However, I have never asked myself why I stayed in this profession. Why I am steel developing my qualifications? Why did I work in educational sphere? May be my professional way did not start from the UNT, but earlier?

To the most fundamental question in my life replied wise tortoise from the cartoon Kung-Fu Panda, he says, “There are no accidents”.

My mother is a teacher; she was the one of the best students in the University who had been receiving the Lenin stipend. She is hard-working and very educated person. From the beginning of my life, she brought up me very strict and elaborately cared about my education. I knew about 15 Kazakh and Russian songs, could count till 100 at age three.  Now, I can say that it is impossible, if my mum did not save audio recorder where I was singing and counting. Today, I joke naming her “tiger mother”.

Few days ago I recall that she used to say, “Diana, no specialist in the world has more power than teachers to influence people’s lives; they bear a tremendous responsibility – the future of a nation”. I remember, I started to dream to become powerful as she was. When I went to school, I tried to teach letters and numbers to my cousins, delineate the marks and words of teachers in my notebooks. I thought that red is the most beautiful and powerful color, that is why teachers use red pens. Now it seems very funny, but there was some philosophy in my childly fantasy.

In the period I studied at school, teacher’s profession impressed unvalued, low-status profession. It was middle of the 90’s when country felt many economic problems and salary of teachers was miserly, from which pupils also was suffered, because we felt their slapdash attitude toward us and our education. Only true, through and through teachers made a difference in our life, for whom my big respect from the bottom of my heart.

When I finished school, UNT was like a Judge, who identify our destiny. I do not want to describe the whole tragicalness of that day for me. Many graduators who “underperformed” considered as unlucky fellows. In order to not weight my parents I went to teachers profession, because the annually payment was little.

The first year of study at University was difficult and challenging. But I had been forgetting about everything, when I talked with the smartest and wisest girl in our faculty – Aliya Akhmetova. She studied in state scholarship and was 18 years old. She was so broad and open minded person and had never get tired to narrate me about the Space, Planets, World History, History of Kazakhstan and many other fields. She knew all khans by chronological order and names of their generation, she knew all reforms and changes that did each of them, she knew by heart all forty words of Abai and famous poems of Kazakh and foreign writers, she retold me many books. I was fan of her. I remember how she shared her dream with me:

“I have a dream. I want a very big room, where I will create quite nice and big library. I want to have many students and followers. I will teach them everything that I know. I want to make a difference in people’s life”. Eighteen years old girl, from the remote rural area had such a dream. Impressive! At that moment I wanted to do my best and study hard to have such library and followers.

The history of my work started from the National Center under the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan. It was such a “deinebriating” experience. I had many business trips to rural areas. I saw so many ungraded schools with even no water and electricity; sometimes it was so hard to find internet for several days. I saw teachers’ fireless eyes, sense of frustration… I was guilt that they were guilt because of the school condition. The first desire to change something came to me during this work place. How can I help them? Even now, I recall these schools, teachers and demotivated students with a bleeding heart… However, I was impressed by their open-heartedness and pure intentions. We have a phrase in Kazakh for such people’s soul “қаймағы бұзылмаған”.

There are so many questions without answers. How much time will be passed before all teachers will realize that “they have power to influence peoples’ lives and have a responsibility to the future of our nation”? How many open-minded youths should be born in order to “make a difference in people’s life”?  How many people will not get this bright day? Can I get this day?

Think, big desire to get this day, keep me staying in educational field and do my best in order to make my own contribution to the general development.