Monthly Archives: May 2017

How School Makes Kids Less Intelligent

Deconstruction post of the TEDx video by Eddy Zhong

Recently there have been many talks about the harming effect of contemporary schools on child development. The author of the above-mentioned video Eddy Zhong makes a very bold statement claiming that nowadays schools have an adverse effect on child development and actually make them less intelligent. Definitely, the current education system needs improvements in a number of aspects; however, I would not completely agree with the Zhong’s claim.
Eddy Zhong is a successful technology entrepreneur who found his own company Blanc which produces smart watches when he was a teenager. Also, established a summer camp Leangap where high school students can get professional support on how to open own company.
His main claim is that schools with their programs and certain requirements for all children deprive them of the opportunity to express themselves and kill creativity in them. Schools “preach” that there is only one path to success and it is completing school with good grades, graduating from a college or a university and getting a job somewhere in a bank. Zhong condemns this “ideology” and calls for a different way of thinking in youth.
The speaker supports his claim by narrating about his own life from being a typical kid who didn’t know what to do with his life and entirely relied upon his parents’ advice to becoming an establisher of a company. From the age of 14, he with his friends started to participate in business plan competitions the majority of which they won. He became very passionate about them and understood that he was really enjoying creating things. One distinctive feature of his team was that instead of presenting their business ideas in a primitive power point, they went to stores, bought supplies and built prototypes. During one of those competitions, they were offered to turn those prototypes into real products. Zhong also tells about a curious instance when they presented their idea at their school. While secondary school students accepted their presentation with complete indifference, primary school students became extremely curious and started to ask how they could buy it. Zhong was astonished by how these 5-6-year-old were so interested and full of curiosity, however, those who are 5-6 years older ones had no interest whatsoever. The author believes that school is to blame for this indifference.
Zhong concludes that education system should be tailored in a way to encourage students to be more creative and think out of the box. Students should not be confined to limits but be allowed to express their craziest ideas. Personally, I agree with the author, however, when making this type of claims, people should offer concrete steps on how to reach desired education system. Moreover, I believe the author should have chosen a different title for his speech because intelligence and creativity are different terms.

Liberal Arts vs. STEM: The Right Degrees, The Wrong Debate

Deconstruction of the post with the same title: 

This article was posted on the web page of a well-known journal “Forbes” by its staff member Sergei Klebnikov. He discusses the current debate over the appropriateness of Liberal Arts education in comparison with STEM. The main argument that author makes if that there is no right and no wrong. Liberal Arts education and STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) are both necessary and there is no use of debating over it. I agree with the author’s point that only working in collaboration can these two directions exist without overshadowing one another.

There were many sources, from the words of Barack Obama to the statements of ordinary teachers from small colleges. The author skillfully integrated all of these sources and discussed each of them to support his point. He started with mentioning Barack Obama who claimed that people who choose STEM would earn more that those in Liberal Arts. Also, several public figures and politicians were against liberal arts.  The implication that the debate started because of these words made by the ex-president was proposed: “much of the recent conversation pitting STEM against the liberal arts has arisen out of this current media interest…” (p.1). Then the author questions the appropriateness of this debate referring to various sources and calling this debate a “false dichotomy”. Again, claiming that the debate is wrong.

There is a lack of arguments against Liberal Arts and Stem. I could notice implicit bias in the way the author used sources. The author mostly refers to the sources which discuss what should Liberal Arts do to work effectively in collaboration with STEM. It means that both of them cannot exist without one another, but what if Liberal Arts education is really useless in present time?

In general, I enjoyed reading, and I do think that Liberal Arts is less valuable that STEM these days. It is just people might find Liberal Arts to be elite and high, but STEM to be the for blue-collar workers? What do you think?


Klebnikov, S. (2015).  Liberal art vs. STEM: The right degrees, the wrong debate. Retrived from


“How to learn any language in six months?” – Chris Lonsdale (deconstruction)

Linguist, a psychologist and educator Chris Lonsdale in his TED speech persuades the audience that it is possible to acquire any language in 6 months. His talk would not be as engaging and straightforward if he did not use experiences and examples from his personal life connecting with the well-known inventions in the human development.  He points out that many barriers which hinder us in learning new language are due to limits that take place in our lives as social dislocation, wars and all sorts of things going on.

The thought provoking question at the beginning of his speech was a kind of technique to catch the audience attention followed by his personal question “How to speed up the learning?” made them even get involved in the topic. In order to assure that normal adults can learn a new language quickly, easily and effectively, he employs his own experience of learning the Chinese language, which is considered to be stereotypically one of the difficult languages in the world.  So this example enabled his speech to obtain more convincing, promising and exciting tone. He also indicated how it is important to observe people who are able to do it and situation where it is working and then determine the principles and utilize them.  To support his claim he includes the examples from history of human progress, which are common and diverse. It was even impressive when he showed the drawing that he learnt in five days. That urged the audience that they also can repeat his achievement if they are focused on something and for that they do not need talent and immersion per se. The principles and actions he stated are systematically connected and concise which make them easy to be remembered.

He impressed me with his strong persuasive presentation and topic which is relevant and popular nowadays since the world is becoming multilingual. And more and more people strive to be plurilingual due to its benefits. More importantly, this video might be valuable for teachers who are willing to learn English, but were afraid to make a first step. The principles and actions suggested by Chris Lonsdale seem truly feasible and effective as they emanated from his personal experience, observation and research.



How can schools promote plurilingualism?

The pertinent and acute content of the article written C. Despagne “Promoting Multilingualism: Majority language in multilingual settings” (2009) convinced to choose this piece of writing for closer investigation in this blogpost. Despagne in her paper gives deployed answers on crucial questions “How can schools promote plurilingualism?” and “How plurilingual students should be treated at schools?”.

Most of the teachers use ‘monolingual paradigm’ while teaching, using only one majority language and neglecting students’ other languages (Igoudin, as cited in Despagne, 2009). This teaching paradigm hinders plurilingualism as a whole, since both minority language users and majority language speakers suffer from this. In order to solve this issue, European centre for modern languages aims to make a shift in teaching and offers to use ‘plurilingual paradigm’, which considers languages and culture of any individual as an important source and knowledge.

Despagne (2009) shows that monolingual teaching approach sees students’ languages as “the sum of separate competences, placing languages in unconnected “boxes” (p. 655), whereas practitioners of pluringual teaching approach believe that an individual’s languages may help him or her in learning a new language. In 1979, Cummins introduced the term “interdependence hypothesis”, which briefly says that all linguistic repertoire of any person is kept in one “box”.

Also, the author explains the project called MARRILE (Majority Language Instruction as a Basis for Plurilingual Education), which focuses on implementing plurilingualism in secondary schools with one medium of instruction. The given project is carefully designed to work with change agents of different levels, starting from school principles and ending by students. Moreover, MARRILE intends to produce the shift in teaching paradigms, school curricula and other documents.

Thorough analysis of linguistic situations given in this article, supported by policy documents, gives a general overview of how step by step the aim of being plurilingual society de jure and de facto may be achieved through changing teaching paradigms in secondary schools. I found this article extremely relevant to the Kazakhstani case, since European Council and Kazakhstan have the same goals of the knowledge of 2 languages additionally to a native language. Thus, the knowledge of reforms and their outcomes in Europe allows seeing the gaps in current schooling of Kazakhstan and making further improvements and changes in Kazakhstani educational system.


Despagne, C. (2009). Promoting plurilingualism: Majority language in multilingual settings.

The research legacy of MA 1 in the spring semester


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This post is dedicated to all students of MA in Multilingual education program who have studied hard this semester to share their knowledge, express their thoughts and advance their language skills through the blog writing. Their blogs merit special attention.

Why are they so important?

They are scholarly but personal.

                                     They concern education and life.

                                                  They demonstrate our accomplishments and future plans.

While reading each post I could see the variety of interests and perspectives of each author. Easy calculations:  thanks to 27 students we have got 189 masterpieces about anything in the world (but mostly about education, of course). They write with passion and joy; address sensitive, controversial and ambiguous topics; add their voice and style to each work. With this post I would like to give credits to all the authors of this semester who opened my eyes to a variety of existing problems and possible solutions; who shared their stories, analyzed speeches and discourses; who searched for engaging pictures and videos; who invented ingenious titles and experimented with design; who did their best to add to the scope of knowledge of other people. Welcome to the temple of knowledge built by amazing students of MA in Multilingual education!

The diversity of topics covered is just incredible. It is impossible to mention all of the blogs in one writing but I would like to synthesize some of them to show how much we can change in the educational system in terms of curriculum, classroom environment, and teaching approach if we just start working together and transmit knowledge and experience to others.

A lot of discussions were raised about the learning environment and creating comfortable conditions for students. As sashaxxxx mentioned, emotional intelligence plays a crucial role in students’ learning that is why the issues of appropriate class size (uaxi), studying hours (bayanassylbek), and discipline maintenance (chsherbakov) should be considered. The need of school uniform (farihandro) is not always justified when it comes to sustaining the emotional well-being of students but including animals (alinatatiyeva) into the learning process is definitely an effective way to relieve stress and anxiety. It was all about the form but looking at the content of education MA students also suggested some ideas how to improve it.

The curriculum should be renewed to include the development of skills for learners’ future life and keep them mentally strong. Aigulizat and gulzhaina13 emphasized on the positive influence of arts and music on the children’s well-being and argued for the increase of the time devoted to these disciplines in school. Also, as Kazakhstan is multilingual and multicultural country, we can benefit from it using the method of tandem learning (ariyavvv) as well as showing the importance of intercultural competence (danasan13) in the modern world. This could be done by organizing special Multilingual clubs (assema001) which allow to explore other cultures not only in theory but in real communication. Arai4ona and khakimkenzhetayev addressed the reading habits of learners and gave their recommendations both on how to read effectively and use this skill in the classroom to learn through the story-telling. Even such topic as the total spread of fast food was not left without attention. Makha09 shared Japan’s experience of including food education in the school curriculum and its positive outcomes.  Some of these initiatives could be really helpful for children’s development and additional research would induce the Ministry of Education and Science to consider them.

However, it is not only the work of the Ministry to raise healthy and intelligent children. As educators (and parents) we should not restrict our children too much (asselt) because of our fears for their physical and mental health but should teach them that mistakes and failures (asselshmidt) are opportunities for further improvement. We should help them to become responsible, independent individuals who are able to plan their time, cope with deadlines (ayanairis), and choose what disciplines (maira1291) they want to study more. Also, it is necessary to develop a variety of soft skills (aidana17) for their future life such as “social skills, communication, higher-order thinking, self-control and self-concept”. Supporting children we support our future but the teachers’ problems should not be neglected in the process of change.

Many works were devoted to teaching practice and teachers training. Gulnarbakytzhanova created some steps that will help them to learn three languages as part of their preparation to the implementation of trilingual reform. The question of educators’ professionalism (lenerakezlevli), and its connection to teacher-student relationship (akalya77) especially with introverted children (sharapat812) became an important part of students’ discussions. In addition to that, yasawi859 and soothsayer presented innovative approaches of teaching with the use of modern technology such as IPADs and video essays.

In conclusion, I agree with aigerimkazhigalieva who writes about blogs as an effective way to improve language skills and express one’s thoughts. Personally, I enjoyed writing them very much. But I enjoyed reading my groupmates’ works even more. So I want to thank you all for the tremendous work you have done and ask you one question: if we consider all these points raised above, will our educational system become the best example of success in education?

P.S. My answer is that maybe it is too much, I do not know. What I know is that if young researchers choose to put their efforts into the search of the solutions for the better world, they will definitely find them.

Any change is possible with 3R…

I had a course called Managing change during my third year of bachelor’s study. Once, our professor showed us a book and explained the use of the 3R approach. The title of the book captured my attention…Change or Die by Alan Deutschman.

The book starts with various studies showing that 9 out of 10 people don’t change their behaviors and lifestyles. The book focuses on three keys to change at work and in life and explains them giving different case studies, starting with companies and ending with prisoners. The author of the book proposes that an effective change is possible, but most people do not exactly know how to do it. Overall 101 changes are described in the form of case study. However, I will elaborate on one of them using the 3R of change.

The first key: relate

The first step of change forms a new, emotional relationship with a person or community. The leader should try to make an individual believe the ability that he or she can change. The Delancey Street Foundation is one of the top-rated companies (includes in itself a restaurant, bookstore, and print shop) in the US. It is also the place where criminals work and live together. Dr. Silbert, psychologist and criminologist started this program 35 years ago. As for the first step, she divided members into teams, which included new and old members. There were no any professionals in the beginning besides Dr. Silbert, no social workers, no psychologists, no officers. Every member of the team teaches each other to some skills. If one of them knows how to read, then he or she teaches other group members. Also, role-playing games are used so members could repeat the right behavior until it is learned naturally. New members look at old members as role-models, it gives them hope.

The second key: repeat

Member of the group practice and learn things day by day through training. First of all, they learn how to live without drugs, violence and etc.

The third key: reframe

Previously mentioned two steps helps individuals to learn new ways of thinking.  When criminals realize that they have lived without violence, drugs, alcohol for a year, they begin to have real feelings, followed by the sense of guilt. They try to think about the way how they treated people before.

In the end, I would like to say the power of community is important during any type of change. The author tells us to be purposeful in activities and approaches. You might ask me why do we need an example with prisoners and how is it related to education. These keys to change can also be applied in the educational sphere to cope with major changes. What if someone helped us believe in ourselves that trilingual education is possible. Then we could practice and learn new things day by day with the support of a community. In the end, we could acquire a new way of thinking, look back and smile with a positive attitude saying that we achieved it.

P.S. This book is not available in pdf, but if you are interested you can read the review or buy on


“What you’re doing, right now, at this very moment, is killing you…”

Stop by and watch this TED video. I bet it is worthy to waste your precious time on it, since the speaker, Nilofer Merchant, has a work experience of 20 years in leading big companies as Apple, Yahoo, HP and others, helping to grow businesses, consequently her words are trustworthy.

The TED video of Nilofer Merchant “Got a meeting? Have a walk” gives a great insight in leading active life at the workplace. She raises crucial and vital issue of sitting which is occurred to be a precursor of various illnesses. She makes a loud and strong claim calling sitting “a smoking of our generation”.

Merchant starts her speech from a bold statement “What you’re doing, right now, at this very moment, is killing you” which grasps the attention from the very first second. In her very short video, about three minutes with half, she gives very convincing and alarming statistic that people spend 9.3 hours a day sitting, which is even more than sleeping. This, of ‘course, could not be without consequences, especially health consequences. She draws on numbers such ten percent of breast cancer and colon cancer and “six percent for heart disease, seven percent for type 2 diabetes”are caused by sitting. All this leads to the realization of seriousness of the situation we are in and can be the impetus for changing our lifestyles.

Further in her speech, Merchant proposes the optimal solution for the given issue: taking walks instead of holding meeting in conference rooms. This idea came to her after one unpleasant situation: she came to the meeting where she could not fit a regular conference room and she was offered to meet in the open air. Since this time she was taking walk laps with her colleagues and refusing to meet in coffee rooms and other indoor places. This has changed her life significantly. Along with improving her health and losing weight, she transformed the way she thinks. Merchant claims that changing lifestyle is “getting out of the box” which leads to “out-of-the-box thinking”. This in its turn develops problem solving skills, since person starts to generate new ideas and ways of doing things.

So we see that “talk and walk” idea is truly beneficial in several dimensions as your health conditions and work performance, and now it became evident why this idea was often practiced by the business titans as Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs.


Erlan Sagadiyev @ TEDxAlmaty on language education: A deconstruction

Erlan Sagadiyev, the current Minister of Education and Science, is a highly controversial figure in Kazakhstan’s politics.  Most of the heat around him is generated by the Kazakh nationalists who accuse him of systematic efforts to kill the Kazakh language, one of these efforts being the trilingual education policy.  Long before he became a minister, in 2013, Mr. Sagadiyev gave a TEDx talk in Almaty on language in education.  In this talk, he attempted to justify the trilingual policy, whose great challenges would befall him only three years later.  While at first sight Sagadiyev’s argument seems logical and persuasive, a closer look at his main claims reveals several flaws.  These flaws, I believe, are at the heart of the nationalists’ discontent with the policy, and the Minister’s weakness in defending it. Continue reading Erlan Sagadiyev @ TEDxAlmaty on language education: A deconstruction

Is form the new substance?

I have been thinking recently of the importance of packaging.  You go to the supermarket to buy, say, a detergent.  You look at the great variety of products in colourful boxes and, accordingly, the wide range of prices, and think: this is just a detergent, why make so many different kinds?  But on a closer inspection you find out that it is in fact one and the same product, made by the same company, almost certainly at the same factory in Turkey, with slightly varying smells, but sold under different brands, in highly distinctive packages, and for wildly diverging prices.  So what am I buying here?  The box with a brand name?  Continue reading Is form the new substance?

The perils of neoliberalism in education


  “Businessmen are the one group that distinguishes capitalism and the American way of life from the totalitarian statism that is swallowing the rest of the world… Businessmen are the symbol of a free society – the symbol of America.”

Ayn Rand, a novelist, playwright, philosopher, and a “founding mother” of neoliberalism


Are you sure, Ayn? Is this misogynist, racist, and insatiably greedy “dude” really the symbol of freedom who will save your country from totalitarianism?

Continue reading The perils of neoliberalism in education