A recent article in The Economist entitled “Reformists and traditionalists are at war over Russian schools” paints a adversarial picture of educationalists in Russia. According to the article, the reformists are promoting student-centered pedagogies, hands-on technological skills, and collaboration to prepare graduates for the modern workplace; the traditionalists, on the other hand, are emphasizing vospitaniye and the classics through more standardized direct instruction.
The article raises interesting questions for me about the situation in Kazakhstan, a country which often mirrors Russian models of government, education, management, and policy. With so many Kazakhstani educators on this blog, I would be curious to know how they see Kazakhstan’s education in this dichotomy. I know NIS is seen as a reformist force, with its team teaching, project-based learning, IB courses, and criteria based assessment. Are there traditionalist critics out there? Are mainstream schools caught in a tug-of-war about these approaches?
The first round of our Spring 2018 writing contest series had only three submissions, but they were strong posts which provided critical reviews to two texts about Evidence-Based Policy Making (EBPM). The upside of the low number of posts is that all three contestants won a prize.
Podcasts are to radio what blogs are to newspapers. The democratization of modern media has meant that the barriers to becoming a writer or radio host have been drastically lowered. As the members of this blog know, this medium allows participants to reach a wider audience than one classroom or even one institution.
This month, I would like to try an experiment to integrate these two not-so-new-anymore formats. Below you will find a collection of podcasts on science, language, and education. Choose one, or find your own, and write a response to it as your next post. Be sure to include a link to the episode you listened to, and perhaps a related picture to make the post relevant for a wider audience.
Some potential questions you could address in your post:
What is the episode about? What was the gist? Can you highlight the main ideas?
Are the creators trying to inform, entertain, or persuade you? How do you know?
How does the episode incorporate arguments, reasons, and evidence to achieve its purpose(s)?
Did you learn anything new? Would you recommend this episode to a friend?
How do the ideas presented in the episode correspond with your own thoughts, experiences, or prior knowledge about the topic?
Each show name is followed by episode links and a couple words about the episode.
Social constructivism tells us that knowledge is created through social discourse–communication, sharing ideas, and discussion–in a community. I want to take a minute to show you what I think that means at NUGSE.
Students at NUGSE are creating knowledge together.
From the theses that are currently being added to the NU Repository, to the student run journal NUGSE Research in Education currently working on its fourth issue, to this blog, with 738 original posts–it is clear that we have something worth saying and that we have the means to say it well. NUWG’s most read posts:
Students at NUGSE are collaborating in and out of the classroom.
Students work together in many ways. In the classroom, they complete group projects, solve problems in class discussions, and debate important ideas in education today. Outside the classroom, the interaction continues in course discussions on moodle and here. Just to give you some statistics:
@yasawi859 is the most prolific commentator, replying 26 times to his peers’ posts;
Students at NUGSE are connected to a vast network of international scholars, educators, and students.
It is important to realize that you are not only connected to your peers, but also to many international readers who want to learn about what is going on in Central Asian education. We have readers from all over the world; our students have been noticed in other blogs; and researchers in the US have written in asking for the contact information of our journal article authors.
An academic community requires active participants who are willing to speak up, step out of their comfort bubble, and share their work with the world. This community is clearly alive and well, and ready to continue growing.
With that in mind, welcome to the Nazarbayev University Writers Guild!
I am often asked about the impression Kazakhstani citizens have of US politics these days. Here, from an academic English vocabulary quiz, come two answers to that question. In this task, the students needed to write a paragraph on a topic of their choice, using at least 5 of 9 provided vocab words (in bold).
In the egregious aftermath of the elections, the media are trying to nitpick the obscure ideas espoused by President Trump, who seems to adhere to all of the suggestions made by his advisor Steve Bannon, indicating that the president is malleable to the control of certain people.
In the aftermath of the last presidential elections, the media found itself in a peculiar situation, with previously obscure publications such as Breitbart, adhering to the most extreme-right stance in politics, gaining popularity. In addition, the newly elected president, who espouses this conservative position, turned out to be malleable, often repeating what is said on the conservative channels, not nitpicking the information reported there.
And a third, just a bonus to remind me that my students are learning the big ideas I hope they’ll take with them into the workplace:
Espousing somebody’s obscure point of view without adhering to pertinent evidence may lead to egregiousaftermath. This means that we have to meticulously nitpick every sentence and evidence provided by authors before supporting them.
The NU Writers Guild is ready to start another semester. We are welcoming two new cohorts, the MA 1st year group, and the MSc Inclusive Ed and School Leadership groups. With all the changes going on in the Kazakhstani education system, both in policy and practice, this is an exciting time to be working in research.
Authors should add a category label to each post, based on their cohort or topic of their writing. This allows the reader to find posts based on that category, as you can see in the site’s main menu. All participants are welcome to post in any category, and comment across the cohort groups. The new categories are Multilingual Education, Inclusive Education, School Leadership, and Thesis Writing.
NUGSE Research in Education
This semester we will be launching the first student-run academic journal at Nazarbayev University, NUGSE Research in Education. You can find the blog for the journal here, but you will also see news and updates on NUWG. This journal is a great opportunity for students to become authors, peer reviewers and editors in the publication process. More details will be announced soon.
Alumni and Current Students
This is also the first year we have enrolled users that include alumni and current students. Hopefully, some of our alumni can keep in touch and stay involved by joining the discussions that our current students are having. Their experience in completing the NUGSE program, and then moving to the professional world (or on to a PhD or some other academic program), will be invaluable for our community. Don’t be a stranger!
Happy New Year, and here’s to the beginning of a bright and exciting new semester!