All posts by dinara2018

What is more important for university students: knowledge or a diploma?

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Do you remember the exhilarating moment when you were reading a letter from the university with the decision of the admission committee? Reading an answer not even suspecting whether you were accepted or not was probably breathtaking and unforgettable for you! For me definitely, it was both when I was enrolled and when I failed.

For some people it is vital to enter the university the year they apply, otherwise, they commit a suicide or fall into depression. For others being enrolled at the university is the one and only goal, they do not put the educational interests in the forefront. In other words, most of such students do not worry about further years in the university and the opportunities they could take; they are not interested in learning new things, investigating research or becoming more educated. They just need a “magic” piece of paper that is called a diploma which as they think can guarantee them a good job! Unfortunately, such conviction leads to bribery, corruption in the higher education organizations.

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Students are not the only participants of corruption that takes place in higher education, but they are usually the ones that are judged only after teachers and administration of the university, in spite of the fact that sometimes they turn to be corruption initiators themselves. It should be noted that in reality, namely, the students are the ones who lose the most from the corruption both financially and academically (professionally). Students who bribe do not care a lot about the specialty they are going to study and sometimes even do not know what their major is because their future diploma is their priority goal. So they bribe from the first days. They give money for having better grades, they give money for having a better transcript, and they give money even for their thesis to be written! But why do students act so? It seems that they mis-prioritize or they still think that their future depends on their diploma, yes, on that very “magic” piece of paper. Unfortunately or fortunately, times, when a diploma was highly important, has gone, and now people are given good job places, not due to their diplomas, but due to their knowledge, professionalism and productive work, and it is high time to understand this.

Luckily, there is another part of really smart students, whose aim is not just entering the university, but more – getting a good education, mastering necessary skills for a future career, investigating a research on the problems they are seriously interested in, and obtaining a clear vision of their chosen profession. The last group of young people gives a great hope in eradicating corruption in higher education organizations, and in a bright future!

What is your opinion on this issue? What is more important for university students: knowledge or a diploma? And why?

Should public speaking be taught in school?

Retrieved from https://medium.com/@isabelpoqui/vence-la-glosofobia-c1f7fde4b2de

At all times the ability to speak confidently and persuasively, especially, in front of the people has always been a highly valuable and vital skill. Individuals who can easily give a talk in public usually succeed in their career, in building a social network, encouraging people to act, avoiding conflicts through simple conversations, and even just in expressing their thoughts and ideas in an understandable and clear way. Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “Who does not know how to speak, he will not make a career”, and actually he was right. There is always a need to cooperate with people, our colleagues, customers, or at least with our boss at any workplace. The better and the more confidently we do it, the bigger our achievements are. So there is no doubt that public speaking is one of the significant and necessary life skills.

Unfortunately, many people are afraid of public speaking. School education that has to prepare children for their future does not teach the basic life skill as public speaking. Knowledge given at school does not sometimes respond the reality. Let’s just go back to our childhood when the teacher wanted us to answer some questions and all our classmates were staring at us! How did you feel that moment? Or do you remember yourself when you were given an “opportunity” to give a congratulation speech on your uncle’s birthday? Or even today when you have to make a presentation with already prepared speech, and you forget the words, tremble with fear and mumble something. Have you ever had such failures? Personally, I had. But many years ago 🙂

Lucky for me, I joined the debate club at school and there I learned a lot about public speaking and its importance. Today I do not afraid of asking and answering the questions or giving a talk in front of the audience, but sometimes I still have fear when I am not prepared well. I have to admit that debate training gave me that confidence that I have when I talk to people. Recently, having noticed that the biggest fear of giving a talk that my students and some friends have, I started to believe that public speaking should be taught at school as an obligatory subject or a course.

Public speaking gives confidence that is necessary to everyone at school, at work and especially in business to find reliable partners and have a successful career. It teaches how to adapt different situations through communication or networking. Moreover, in order to be an interesting interlocutor that can reasonably prove his or her point of view it is necessary to read fiction and be aware of some historical or political facts. It means that public speaking encourages us to learn more, explore more and study better. In my opinion, this is the biggest advantage of public speaking for school students.

Just imagine what picture we can see after implementing public speaking as a subject at school: students are confident and sociable, they do not afraid of new acquaintances and situations, in the future they enter the interviews without any stress and win best scholarships or get dream jobs – the students are happy, the country is successful! It means that public speaking is not for policymakers only. It is vital for every person. I am deeply convinced that if we include public speaking to school program, it will bring many benefits to our next generation!

What do you think about public speaking as a school subject? Will be there any benefit from including it to the school program or do you have another opinion?

 

Let’s use video to reinvent education | Salman Khan (Deconstruction)

In the century when people are willing and drudgingly trying to change the current education system but still cannot succeed in it, Salman Khan has already started to reinvent education through the use of videos.

Video “Let’s use video to reinvent education” Salman Khan

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Salman Khan is an American educator and entrepreneur who founded the Khan Academy in 2006. It is a non-profit educational organization creating hundreds of elaborately structured series of educational videos that help school students learn and understand math and other school subjects. First steps of such a big project were made in 2004 when Salman was tutoring his cousins in New Orleans. He put his first YouTube videos up as a supplement or refresher for the kids so that they could pause and repeat it anytime. To Mr. Khan’s great surprise his cousins preferred “the automated version of their cousin to their cousin”, and moreover, these videos became very popular on the internet among math learners as well. Producing a short lecture in the form of a video gave an impetus for the start of his noble career. Today thousands of students and even teachers are being educated through Khan Academy’s video lessons and using particular exercises for practice through their website.

At the beginning of his speech, Mr. Khan shows the audience a short montage of his videos. It becomes clear why his lessons are in a demand – Salman has a strong and articulate voice, a wonderful intonation, a good pace, in other words, he sounds like a professional public speaker. Additionally, he seems to know his subject very well; he explains the topics constructively, non-traditionally and confidently so that it is easy to understand him and impossible to get bored due to his style of explanation and relevant jokes.

Salman argues that students get a lot of benefits from these video lessons, especially in situations when they do not understand the topic, get confused, leg behind, or “have to review something that they should have learned a couple of weeks ago, or maybe a couple of years ago”. Students can watch these videos and have some practice doing exercises on the website to succeed without any charge. He claims that the project he does is “more than just a nice-to-have”, but it can also be “of a social value” because even a few students with autism who had had a terrible time with math were able to get through it thanks to Salman’s videos. I imagine the speaker’s videos as a live interesting book that makes no pressure on the learning process and I believe that it is a really effective tool for students to improve their knowledge of math.

Salman Khan created a new format of lessons, he says “I assign the lectures for homework, and what used to be homework, I now have the students doing in the classroom”. In this case, teachers can monitor the rate of videos and exercises completed by students from the website or the number of repeatedly watched topics to identify the weak parts and gaps that students have. In addition, Salman Khan suggests teachers follow this rule because “by removing the one-size-fits-all lecture from the classroom and letting students have a self-paced lecture at home”, teachers will be able to use technology “to humanize the classroom”. In other words, students watching self-paced videos at home, along with their teachers increase classroom time for real human interaction between each other. I really like this project of Mr. Khan and would like to mention that when students communicate more with each other, discuss more with their teachers, their motivation and desire to study, to attend school every day and to solve problems will grow – and this is one of the important issues today in the field of education.

The greatest value of these videos is that children from poor countries, who have to work to help their parents and cannot attend schools, will be able to get access to education, later they even might share their knowledge as well. Observing Mr. Khan’s high interest to this issue, a few pieces of research conducted by him in order to reveal today’s problems in education, statistics he gives, bright emotions and gestures, it is seen that he is really concerned about humanity, about human education, about opportunities to help those kids. He indicates, “you can teach a child in Calcutta or Calcutta kid can teach your child”. It is a notion of a “global one-world classroom” that Khan Academy is trying to build through technology, and that is great.

The work Salman Khan and his team are doing for humanity is priceless. Today it is highly important to get an education in order to find a good job, feed families and simply survive. Khan Academy is creating great opportunities for people to enter the world of knowledge, no matter where they are. But I would not agree with Mr. Khan that the use of the videos can completely reinvent education. It is simply not enough for such a huge transformation. People can find multiple videos in internet teaching math, languages, history or physics with or without teacher participation, but the majority of them do not watch these videos because for some they are not the best learning method. However, I really like liked the idea of Salman Khan’s project and do believe that it can be used as an extra effective tool in the classroom for some subjects.

What makes a good teacher great?

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Teaching is one of the most difficult professions today. It is not only about coming to class, explaining the topic, giving marks, preparing classroom activities all night long and control the discipline among the students, although doing all these things is not that easy as well. Today the occupation of a teacher demands a broad knowledge of the subject he or she is going to teach, it requires being aware of all the school standards, curriculum, and modern teaching techniques. Moreover, it demands enthusiasm, big patience, great love to teach and learn, and a desire to bring something new and positive to students’ lives.

From my experience, I have seen two main types of teachers – the ones that are really loved by their students, and the ones that are simply respected as the representatives of other different occupations. Both types of teachers are really good at their subject, always aware of the latest changes and discoveries in their field of study, very smart, intelligent and creative, can be quite strict when it is necessary to control the classroom discipline. But the only thing that differs these teachers from each other is their attitude to their students.

Some teachers are not very close to students they teach, do not know what is happening in their lives and why they do not want to study. They can punish kids by poor marks for their bad behavior in the classroom or read some extra books during the break instead of building a bridge between them and their students.

The other type of teachers will not immediately punish their kids but will find out the reason first to help them to overcome the problems and continue their study. These teachers are very kind, compassionate and empathetic towards their students. They treat them with all the warmth, care and love they have. They inspire them. A good teacher showing students their hidden treasures and possibilities, evoking students’ desire to do, to dream, to achieve is a great teacher. Good attitude and sincerity make these teachers great. These teachers do not relate to teaching as to a usual job, but they accept this as the biggest part of their life. And these teachers are always loved by students.

What makes a good teacher great in your opinion?

Feedback from students. Is it a tool for growth or a cause of stress?

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When I talk about school or education, I always imagine a teacher standing in front of the blackboard and explaining her class a new topic, taking exams or evaluating assignments. But I have never thought about the opposite – when students evaluate their teachers and give their feedback. This is what comes to my mind last. But today I want to look closer at this part of the picture.

Most of us get goosebumps when we hear the words “assessment”, “examination” or “test”. But to improve the quality or increase the productivity in any field, we need to evaluate first. Teachers’ knowledge and work are also evaluated by their students’ test results, by multiple examine checking the level of teachers’ qualification and, of course, by feedback from students. Mostly, this feedback can be used by the administration to see the professional level of a teacher and decide whether to fire him or elevate his authority.

These evaluations make teachers be quite apprehensive about their job. They do not want to destroy their career because of several negative feedbacks. A threat to lose their job makes teachers be stressful, be under certain pressure. Especially now, in the twenty-first century, there are too many things that influence the psychology of people and that cause stress from forgetting the keys to losing the lottery. Teachers also afraid to get not really honest evaluation just because some students do not like them. This is highly stressful particularly for young teachers who have just graduated.

But what is the initial purpose of these evaluations and feedback? In my understanding, they serve as “paper of advice” where students indicate what is been doing well in the classroom and what is not, what to change and how to improve in a kind manner. It actually helps teachers to improve their professionalism, teaching skills, and other qualities. Evaluations should be effective tools for positive growth of teachers, but not their verdict on discharge because no one is perfect. Teachers also do mistakes especially at the beginning of their career. And I think it would be so great if our students have the ability to evaluate their teachers accepting it as collaboration with teachers in education.

What is your opinion on this question?