All posts by aigerim2016

How to improve critical thinking in HE? Methods from various authors

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Look at the photo. Are the horizontal lines straight or crooked?

Visual illusions, logical tasks, reading a book, writing an argumentative essay, active listening, discussions and debates all contribute for improving critical thinking (CT) skill which has a significant role in successful higher education (HE). CT consists of fundamental learning skills such as remembering and understanding information; analyzing and evaluating materials; knowing how and when to apply the skills; and using it as a basis for further knowledge and creating new things. Currently teaching staff understands the importance of being able to think critically as it allows students to be flexible, quick-witted, rational and creative; as well as to enhance cognitive, language, presentation and self-reflection abilities (What is CT, n.b.). In this case, the role of professors in increasing CT is crucial, and that is why they have some methods and techniques towards developing certain skills.

The first method suggested by King & Kitchener (1994) is going out from the “comfort zone”. When an environment is familiar and a situation is analogous, a person thinks in one way atrophying CT. While building new and unusual conditions, students will think out of a box activating imagination, evaluation, and analyzing abilities. It seems to me an excellent chance to discover some qualities in your personality. For example, imagine, you never consider yourself as a leader. However, one day you will have an unusual situation where you start analyzing, evaluating it, and may be previous knowledge from readings will come up to your mind and you will find out how to apply it in the current situation that will make others follow you. Isn’t it great to have well-developed CT that makes you better?

Meyers (1986) has a similar approach of using paradox performances to deliberate imbalanced facts to change students’ old way of thinking. In another words, creating a risky atmosphere: academia intimidates students when their responses are not correct any more and students should answer to a question quickly and off the beaten track. This way of fostering CT may be a challenge for traditional students; however, making up an extraordinary situation facilitates the brain to find various solutions. Actually, I assume that students must feel that university is a place where they can generate new ideas, analyze, comment on set norms, and suggest logical solutions without any fears.

Moreover, there are some fundamental and significant techniques to foster CT such us listening and writing. The ability to listen to each other is a very important factor as it helps to avoid absolutist thinking; in contrary, analyze and give own constructive answer (Moon, 2005). As I noticed, nowadays not many people are able to listen and hear others. This skill is underestimated; however, the world is giving us answers each day. We just need to learn to listen. What about writing, Moore and Morton (2005) discovered that it is the best way to evaluate CT ability, as it requires comparing advantages and disadvantages, assessing information, finding interrelations, and making a conclusion with concrete arguments. Also, it will delineate ideas and understand deeper what he/she is writing about.

In summary, obviously, there are many methods to improve CT in HE. In my article, I considered some of the techniques such as going out of “comfort zone”, establishing risky situation to facilitate the brain, and pointed out the importance of listening and writing skills. Every teacher can take into account these methods modifying them, and use actively as they have been practicing widely and have had positive results on students.

 

P.S. By the way, the correct answer is the horizontal lines are straight, even though they do not seem straight.  In this illusion, the vertical zigzag patterns disrupt our horizontal perception. (Retrieved from http://sharpbrains.com/blog/2010/10/27/test-your-brain-with-these-top-10-visual-illusions/3/)

 

References:

King, P. M., & Kitchener, K. S. (1994). Developing Reflective Judgment: Understanding and Promoting Intellectual Growth and Critical Thinking in Adolescents and Adults. Jossey-Bass Higher and Adult Education Series and Jossey-Bass Social and Behavioral Science Series. Jossey-Bass, 350 Sansome Street, San Francisco, CA 94104-1310.

Meyers, C. (1986). Teaching Students to Think Critically. A Guide for Faculty in All Disciplines. Jossey-Bass Higher Education Series. Jossey-Bass Inc., Publishers, 433 California Street, Suite 1000, San Francisco, CA 94104-2091.

Moon, J. (2005). Progression in higher education: a study of learning as represented in level descriptors. Enhancing Teaching in Higher Education: New Approaches for Improving Student Learning, 111-120.

Moore, T., & Morton, J. (2005). Dimensions of difference: a comparison of university writing and IELTS writing. Journal of English for Academic Purposes,4(1), 43-66. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1475158504000037

What is Critical Thinking? (n.d.). Critical thinking web. Retrieved from http://philosophy.hku.hk/think/critical/ct.php

 

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Why is Finland #1 in education?

Finland

Until 1990, Finland was not number one in the educational field. What happened since then with the Finnish educational system that turned it into the best in the world?

This “Finnish miracle” happened when the Minister of Education in Finland consulted with her Swedish colleague, as Sweden was the leader in education, how to go about improving the education sphere. After that, Finland set a goal to be ahead of Sweden (Sahlberg, 2012).

Currently, Finnish education shows the highest performance in many international tests for students’ achievements and has top graduate rate compared to other countries. Obviously, various factors contribute to this outstanding result. I would like to look at three main aspects in detail.

The first factor has to do with the status and the prestige of teachers. Educators are admired individuals in Finnish society. There was a survey conducted asking young men to choose a profession that would be preferred for selecting a future spouse. If you think that males see a teacher as a desirable spouse – you are absolutely right! This job is very respectful and is seen as beneficial among the population (Millä, 2008).

The second factor has to do with the professionalism. Every year the smartest and the best candidates apply to universities where approximately 5700 various programs offered for instructors; and as you might expect, the requirements for applicants are comparatively high. For example, to be an educator of primary school, a candidate has to take a two-step exam: a national entrance exam and an interview. While a secondary school teacher is required to have a Master’s degree that makes her/him to receive a license to teach. His/her Master’s thesis is oriented around research on working in complex and changing environment, thinking about educational policies which leads contributions to society (Sahlberg, 2012). In addition, the educational institutes on preparing future teachers pay attention not only to professional development, but also to cultivating personal skills.

The third factor has to do with creating good conditions. From the technical viewpoint, Finnish schools are well equipped and have all the necessary materials. From the ethical viewpoint, every educational institute has its own culture, traditions and rules that build friendly relationships between teachers and students. The thing that surprised me most is Finnish teachers work less and still achieve superior results. Comparing this with OECD countries whose annual teaching hours are 1000, in Finland the number is much lower, about 600 hours. Moreover, in Finland it is not obligatory for instructors to be at school if they do not have lessons to teach (OECD, 2011). Although, Finnish teachers work less, their efficiency is high.

Overall, I considered only some aspects of “the Finnish miracle” that has promoted Finland to the top level. Every detail concerning teachers is kept in mind and solved for the benefit of teachers. Correspondingly, the teachers do their best.

So, are you thinking about moving to Finland and working there as a teacher? I would like to stop you with that idea, and propose to join us in boosting the prestige, teaching qualification, and creating similar conditions for our brilliant educators!

 

References:

Millä ammatilla pääsee naimisiin? [Which profession to marry?]. (2008, February).                      Helsingin Sanomat. Koulutusliite, pp. 4-6.

OECD. (2011). Education at glance: education indicators. Paris: OECD.

Sahlberg, P. (2012). Teachers and teacher education in Finland. In Darling-Hammond, L.            & Lieberman, A. (Eds.), Teacher education around the world. Changing policies and                           practices (pp. 1-21). Location: Routledge.

The secret of being the most successful and richest teacher in the world

Many dedicated teachers have chosen their career because of having a passion for this job. The feeling of being important and useful encourages educators from around the world to work harder and impart as much knowledge as possible. In Kazakhstan majority of school-leavers do not choose teaching profession because of low prestige and salary (Tendenciya, n.d.). However, we have very passionate teachers who try to do their best even though there are no appropriate conditions for that. Unfortunately, in the society their work is only criticized, and teachers lose their motivation. Consequently, we should boost the status of our instructors and show that they can even make a fortune teaching. It depends on a person. Here I am going to talk about the most successful, famous and richest teacher in the modern world.

I guess, everybody heard about Stephen Hawking, a British cosmologist, theoretical physicist, author and Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology (Stephen, 2016). Second “Einstein” showed outstanding results at Oxford and Cambridge Universities where he continued working as a professor. Stephen has made a significant discovery about gravitational singular theorems with Roger Penrose, and prediction about black holes radiation (Stephen, 2016). In spite of being unable to move, he still supervises PhD students and inspires young physicists around the world. Moreover, Hawking has published numerous science papers, books, children’s fictions, and has received many awards and honors. For instance, his renowned book “A Brief History of Time” was a best-seller on the list of London Sunday Times for more than four years where Stephen explained complex physical concepts acceptable to the public. Due to his books and publications, his worst is about $20 million (Capanna, 2014). Isn’t it impressive?

Stephen is an ordinary person who works hard and with heart, dedicating himself to the specific field and showing impressive results. There are so many followers of Hawking who make films, write books about him, and scrutinize his work. Stephen Hawking is a bright, successful and rich professor who could change the world! Why not to take him as an example? Why do people always blame and rely on the government without making any endeavors? So, DO NOT wait for someone to do something for you. Remember Nike’s moto “JUST DO IT!” Love your job, do it in best way, and you will not need any secrets to be successful and rich.

 

 

References:

stephen-hawking-qote-1Tendenciya padeniya prestizha pedagogicheskoi professii sredi molodezhi. [The trend of falling the prestige of teaching profession among young people]. (n.d.). KGKP “Karasuskii selskohozyaistvennyi college” upravleniya obrazovaniya akimata Kostanaiskoi oblasty. Retrieved from http://pl7.kz/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=97:2014-06-06-04-15-57&catid=46:2012-03-02-02-45-01&Itemid=62

Stephen Hawking. (2016). Wikipedia. Retrieved from

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Hawking

Capanna, S. (2014). 5 Richest professors in the world. The richest. Retrieved from

http://www.therichest.com/rich-list/5-richest-professors-in-the-world/