All posts by arailymadil

EFFECTS OF CULTURE ON CHOICES WE MAKE

Cultural backgrounds of people vary according to different values, beliefs, norms, and expectations, which influence behavior, judgments, and decisions people make.

Decisions and choices may vary even at eating. For instance, a Muslim will not eat pork, because pork is prohibited in Islam. Not only depending on religion, history, and other values, but cultures are distinguished as collectivistic and individualistic as well.

Please, look at the picture below for no more than five seconds. Then try to describe what you saw aloud without looking at the picture.

CaptureN9_1_95

    Image credit: www.annabellaweddings.com

If your description was only about big fish, you are more individualistic. However, if you described the picture in general, as a whole picture, then you are a member of collectivistic culture (Iyengar, 2010, p. 53)

European countries are known as individualist ones; one of the best examples is the USA (Iyengar, 2010, pp. 45-46). Asian countries are collectivistic, for instance Japan (Iyengar, 2010, pp. 45-46). According to Iyengar (2010), habits of choosing are developed in children from their early childhood (p.45). For instance, when we go to a store with our children, provided that we let them make their own choices what kind of chocolate to buy, we practise individualistic culture approach. However, at the same time we need to explain the differences between different types of chocolate. If a member of a collectivistic culture goes to the same store with his or her child, the process will be very different. He or she will tend to explain which chocolate is better and which is better to buy.

According to the research done by Mark Lepper, an adviser of Sheena Iyengar, individualistic culture representatives tend to think faster and make their choices immediately, whereas representatives of collectivistic culture are slow and unsure while making choices (Iyengar, 2010, p. 48). The experiment was done on Anglo American and Asian American children (children of Chinese, Japanese immigrants mostly). Anglo American children, who are individualistic, made their choices themselves and were three times faster than Asian American children. Asian American children were active and motivated only when they were told that their mothers think that it is the best decision, or that their mother would like them to choose this or that item (Iyengar, 2010, pp. 47-49), because for collectivistic societies relationship of them and their families is a part of their identities.

These qualities influence people’s behavior for their whole life. For instance, individualists often want to be different from others and promote themselves, whereas collectivists think of benefits for the workplace in general (Iyengar, 2010, p.60). However, where there is a plus, there is a minus. Both cultures have drawbacks as well, “the first can encourage selfishness, while the second can lead to stagnation” (Iyengar, 2010, p. 60). So, having some of each quality would be the best alternative. Many companies try to build up such employees who have both qualities, but, unfortunately, they are still quite unsuccessful with that.

Finally, what about you? What qualities do you see in yourself – more individualistic or more collectivistic? How could we train both qualities in ourselves?

Reference:

Iyengar, S. (2010). In the Eye of the Beholder. In The art of choosing. New York: Twelve.

Iyengar, S. (2010). Mine, Yours, and Ours. In The art of choosing. New York: Twelve.

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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

TRILINGUAL/MULTILINGUAL POLICY: COMPARISON OF KAZAKHSTAN, SINGAPORE, AND HONG KONG

multilingual

Image credit: http://www.pentagist.com

Kazakhstan is a multiethnic country. In Kazakhstan, no nation’s language is restricted or prohibited to learn, which is noticeable from support of the government that allows learning and teaching those languages even in social minorities.

Today, one of the most important aspects occurring in the Kazakhstani society of economic and social modernization is language policy. The President, Nursultan Nazarbayev, pays much attention to this part of state policy and proposed a unique project initiated – the trinity of languages (President’s Speech, 2004, as cited in Burmistrova). From that moment and on there started a new language policy of independent Kazakhstan, which is still being implemented and needs a lot effort to work on. In order to analyze the current situation in Kazakhstan, I decided to compare our country with 2 more countries – Hong Kong and Singapore that have multilingual policy. Kazakhstan, Singapore, and Hong Kong are post – colonial countries, so there must be some similarities and interconnections of educational policies and post – colonial effects on language policy.

Kazakhstan, Hong Kong and Singapore are all post – colonial countries, where Hong Kong and Singapore appeared to be under British Colony, and Kazakhstan is a post – soviet country. Singapore and Kazakhstan could easily get their sovereignty, whereas Hong Kong was recolonized rather than decolonized (Tan, 1997). Singapore and Hong Kong got English as a post – colonial language, which is still present in their language curricula, while Kazakhstan was influenced by Russian language dominance, which also appears in current practice.

Singapore is a trilingual country, where English is the first language of the country (Chua, 2010). In Singapore “English language functions as a meritocracy to provide equal opportunity for all Singaporeans to succeed without being advantaged or disadvantaged by their native languages” (Chua, 2010). And MTL, i.e. Mandarin for Chinese, Malay for Malays, and Tamil for Indians are the other languages of the country. This differentiation and division is the impact or influence of British colonialism – they were divided this way during the colonization period as well (Chua, 2010).

Although the majority of the population of Singapore are Chinese, nowadays the performance of students in Chinese is low, since the demanded language is English (Chua, 2010). So, it is obvious that the role of mother tongue is low in Singapore.

Hong Kong as a state also has a trilingual system of education, which are Cantonese, Putonghua, and English. Cantonese is the mother tongue of the state, and government policy is trying to foster it through primary school education as the medium of instruction (Kirkpatrick & Chau, 2008, as cited in Wang & Kirkpatrick, 2013). Putonghua and Chinese are varieties of Chinese language, but they differ in syntax, lexis, and phonology (Pierson, 1992, as cited in Lai & Byram, 2003).

In spite of having trilingual system of education, Hong Kong, as Kazakhstan, is poor about its policy (Wang & Kirkpatrick, 2013) – they do not have clear policies for the implementation of trilingual policy in the state system of education, and there are no clear guidelines. However, both states’ stakeholders are in favor of implementing trilingual system of education (Wang & Kirkpatrick, 2013).

Kazakhstan, in comparison to Hong Kong, is aimed to practise Kazakh as a state language, Russian as a language of communication, and English as the language to integrate into global community. However, what makes these states similar is the lack of clear policy guidelines, which need to be enhanced.

Having compared and analyzed trilingual policies of Singapore and Hong Kong, it deserves saying that no other country can copy a system of education of another country and implement in its state. Every step and policy must be adopted due to cultural, ethic, geopolitical, sociopolitical contexts of the country.

Singapore and Hong Kong are quite similar in some cases, but not totally. As the recommendation we could enhance mother tongue education in Kazakhstan from the practice of Hong Kong, and let the majority citizens choose what language to study as a medium of instruction. However, Singapore’s example of similar policy for everybody makes us think about the success they achieved through this policy.

I hope that Kazakhstan is already trying to implement the best of practice all over the world. However, the lacking part is clear guidelines, which is again from the practice of Hong Kong may lead to significant problems.

Having assumed the whole literature I came up with several pivotal key points, I think, we have to always keep in mind:

  • policy guidelines;

Policy guidelines of trilingualism must be enhanced and developed for better.

  • the importance of mother tongue and possibility of loss of mother tongue at all;
  • globalization may lead to loss of many languages in the world, cautiousness needed;
  • post – colonial influence is not always a disadvantage.

Reference:

Burmistrova V. PhD, Main features of the project “The trinity of the languages” and its implementation in Kazakhstan, Karaganda State Medical University, Kazakhstan Retrieved from: www.rusnauka.com

Chua, S. (2010). Singapore’s language policy and its globalised concept of Bi(tri)lingualism. Current Issues in Language Planning, 11(4), 413-429.

Lai, P., & Byram, M. (2003). The Politics of Bilingualism: A reproduction analysis of the policy of mother tongue education in Hong Kong after 1997. Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, 33(3), 315-334.

Tan, J. (1997). Education and Colonial Transition in Singapore and Hong Kong: Comparisons and contrasts. Comparative Education, 33(2), 303-312.

Wang, L., & Kirkpatrick, A. (2013). Trilingual education in Hong Kong primary schools: A case study. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 16(1), 100-116.

Multilingual graduates are more competitive, aren’t they?

Bilingual-Kids

Image credit: http://www.njfamily.com/NJ-Family/September-2012/Eight-Myths-About-Multilingual-Kids/

Now it is the era of creative, open – minded, and competent individuals. Most of the people want prestigious jobs, high salaries, and big opportunities. But what criterion is heavy and one of the strongest in getting and achieving all that?

The answer is being multilingual. Being multilingual means being able to speak two and more languages. And if you think that learning languages is a waste of time, you are mistaken and judging erroneously, just because of one simple reason – because “jobs requiring multilingual employees pay between 5% to 20% more per hour than the base rate” (Papora, 2013). So, why? Is that only because the employee can speak several languages? No, it’s not! Because being multilingual at a workplace you can challenge your employer with a lot of opportunities.

First, being multilingual at a workplace means “being international” (Papora, 2013), it means that you can help engage and attract international clients, investors, and cooperators. Second, you “become an asset” (Papora, 2013) to a company, which means that you will be able to keep the company up – to – date and compare and analyze the status of the company at an international level – sharing ideas of international workplaces and challenging your company to go with the times. Third, knowing other languages means thinking differently, so you become a source of “new perspectives” (Papora, 2013) for a company. You will encourage your company with new ideas and opportunities thinking from different angles and perspectives, with the help of which your company will just win, but not lose. Finally, being multilingual you will be ahead of anyone who is monolingual, because you become a “global workforce” (Papora, 2013) and can get a job anywhere.

So, aren’t we lucky to have the opportunity to speak at least three languages? According to Trent (2013), knowing other languages is challenging, but it worth pursuing, since it is easier to forget a language learnt for years than to acquire it fully.

Reference:

Papora. (2013, April 21). 10 Reasons Why Being Multilingual Is a Key Advantage in the Job Market Retrieved February 10, 2015, from http://www.papora.com/

Trent, E. (2013, October 29). The benefits of multilingual education. The Tech. Retrieved from http://tech.mit.edu/V133/N49/trent.html

“The future of teaching is about the relevance of issues, not just facts”, Sam Fairclough, a history teacher at Le Rosey, Switzerland

critical-thinking

Image credit: http://www.copyblogger.com/critical-thinking/

Long ago lecturing, demanding rote learning, assessing for memorization of certain facts were the techniques teachers used during their classes. BUT time is changing! Nowadays educators seek to develop critical thinking skills in their students.

In “Strategy 2050” the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan mentioned that all developed countries have top quality educational system, which is a key description of the 21st century developed country (State Programme 2011-2020). In order to achieve that, students of schools must acquire critical thinking, self – research and deep analysis of information skills (State Programme 2011-2020). Consequently, development of critical thinking is an at-time criterion for a developed country of the 21st century.

According to Sam Fairclough, a history teacher at Le Rosey, Switzerland, these days it is more exciting, interesting, and challenging to discuss relevant issues during the classes rather than following textbooks (Welham, 2015). He supports his idea by the fact that students are different these days: they know that they have to respect other students’ thoughts, and while giving their own ones support their ideas with reasons – this makes them different. Students do not tend to follow pre –existing thoughts and opinions, but have their ones and reasonable supporting answers for that. He even predicts the future of teaching as making students think broader, but not making memorize facts (Welham, 2015).

In conclusion, critical thinking is not just evaluating the information given, but being able to analyze, interpret, evaluate the given information, and produce your own reasonable position and thoughts. So, how, do you think, the development of critical thinking is progressing in Kazakhstan?

Reference:

MESRK (2010a), State Program for Education Development of the Republic of Kazakhstan 2011-2020, Presidential Decree No. 1118 of 7 December 2010, Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Astana.

Welham, H. (2015, February 8). The future of teaching is about the relevance of issues, not just facts. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/2015/feb/08/student-learning-relevance-information