All posts by fri_mri_pri

Victor Rios: Help for kids the education system ignores

When I studied at school I had a classmate for whom I had a lot of respect because he had an exceptional talent for playing the dombyra. He also was good at all schools subjects and he was always rewarded for his good behavior. But after the death of his mother, he started to behave many times inappropriately and sometimes criminally. However, the school did not have anything to offer him against his regress. He dropped out of school. But Victor Rios knows how to help children like my classmate who was failed by the education system.

Victor Rios, an educator and the author of the project “Restorative justice”, claims that students who experience poverty, stigma, and social exclusion need to be seen as the assets to the education system. In his speech, he explicates how he, being on welfare and incarcerated in prison three times for three felonies in his 15, could graduate the school successfully. His hero is his teacher Ms. Russ, an educator who managed to tap into his soul and believed in him so much that she tricked him into believing in himself. The speaker offers three strategies to succeed in working with such children.

First – these students are empty containers for us to fill with knowledge.
Getting rid of deficit perspective in education like these people come from a culture of violence, a culture of poverty, these people are at-risk, and these people are truant. Instead, he says, we need to offer solutions for their problems. In order to make his argument effective, the speaker highlights how his teacher Ms. Russ treated him, respected his family, his friends, his community no matter what and turned him from a criminal into a high-achiever. The evidence is pertinent and powerful, especially with the presence of photos before meeting Ms. Russ and after.

Second – value stories that young people bring to the schoolhouse.
Victor Rios says that their stories of overcoming insurmountable odds have already established their character. And he claims that this character is a precursor for the academic achievements. To prove, the speaker gives two stories about hard-work ethic that his community taught to encounter poverty and his student William`s deed to help his classmate that was also learned from his community too. Giving such reliable pieces of evidence from real-life situations of the speaker and his students make his claims strong. The examples provided are impressive that makes the audience believe that welcoming stories of every community is an effective strategy to raise students` academic performance.

Third – provide with adequate resources.
He talks humorously about resources. The strongest point of this argument for me was about the power of believing in students. He takes himself as an example. However, what other things does he mean by saying resources? The point would be much more impressive if he had illustrated more and precisely.

However, the minute detail that is not clear is that Victor Rios talks about educators as the only and primary cause for student dropout. In other words, after his speech, I was left with the opinion that teachers only can help students who experience poverty, stigma, and social exclusion. Maybe his initial aim was to accentuate the role of a teacher to empower students in order to make the successful academically, however, he looks at the issue only from one perspective: from his own perspective as an educator. Perspectives of parents, peers and other stakeholders are worthy to mention too.

In general, I find this talk as the most persuasive and impressive because he presents arguments and ideas not without being underpinned by shreds of evidence. And his pieces of evidence are powerful and reliable because he gives examples from his own experience; he gives examples from what he has encountered. Additionally, the talk is rich with catchy phrases like “when you teach to the heart, the mind will follow”

Geoff Mulgan: A short intro to the Studio School

When I studied at school I used to know about all the mathematical formulae, biological functions, chemical reactions, and physical processes. But now I do not. We were required to learn all about them only for one purpose: to pass an exam. I did not see any relationship between what I learned and my future job. Now I am covetous on some British children who are studying at Studio Schools. Do you know why?

Geoff Mulgan, a director of the Young Foundation, introduces an innovative kind of school where learning and working are integrated: 80% of the curriculum covers real-life practical projects such as working on commission to businesses, NGOs and others. Children are assigned with a coach as well as a teacher. The schools are funded by public money, but run independently. The speaker explicates the effectiveness of Studio Schools.

Geoff Mulgan claims that such Studio Schools address the need of employers who are complaining that children are not prepared for real work and the need of teenagers who are bored with the traditional education. In other words, Studio Schools kill two birds with one stone: it is motivational for learning and these schools prepare children for real-life work. At Studio Schools teenagers learn by working, they work by learning, they learn working in teams, they learn doing things for real. In order to support his claim the author introduces the results of Studio Schools in Luton and Blackpool that after two years those students who had performed poorly obtained dramatic results from the exam.

However, although I support the point that such kind of schools might be appealing as it is more task-based, the author fails by doing a huge assumption considering Studio Schools interesting for learning without giving any pieces of evidence. He views Studio Schools only from one perspective that studying at such schools is motivating. However, it is only about one kind of learning society who enjoy learning by doing thing for real and who wants “get hands dirty”. There are other types of learners who favour learning not in a group, but individually, and not in practice, but theoretically.

Geoff Mulgan says that Studio schools meet the expectations of employers. This statement can be considered strong because the speaker makes a list of supporters of the idea of Studio School: the minister of education in London, business organizations, as well as the head of the Chambers of Commerce. Therefore the number of school is increased from 2 to 10 in a year and other 75 is planned to construct. In addition to this, various types of Studio Schools were introduced. One is focused on creative and media industries. Other ones have a focus on health care, tourism, engineering and other fields. All these shreds of evidence prove that the idea is spreading rapidly and is being supported by much as the number of learners is increasing along with the number of schools.

Although I agree that schools have to build good workers, I reckon that producing work units must not be the only and primary purpose of schools. From Mulgan`s speech, it clear that the sole purpose of Studio Schools is to develop business community. Producing informed and well-adjusted citizens is not considered. To this point, I deem that there should be less control and intrusion into the educational system by commercial interests, and more development of people through philosophy, etiquette, civics, and better presentation of academic information. The studio school seems to be a great polytechnic, especially for those who learn and grow best hands-on, however, in my opinion, it is a mistake to treat workforce training as the major concern of the education system.

Unfortunately, I cannot say that I was convinced by the speech. Maybe the primary aim of the speaker was just to give a general idea about Studio Schools and intrigue listeners to look for detailed information by themselves. Nevertheless, after watching the video I was left with several unanswered questions because the introduction of the idea is at a superficial level without enough supportive examples and evidences. Therefore, Geoff Mulgan could not persuade me to opt for Studio Schools. If the speaker had provided the audience with the information about what kind of projects the students are given, how their learning and working processes are organized, what makes the school interesting to attend and more evidences about the achievements of their learners I would be convinced.

Pen or Pencil

Turnip-letter-extract

“Pen licence” is an educational reform in the USA that was introduced in 2014. According to this system, in the early years of primary schools, children are required to write in pencil. They are not allowed to use a pen until they demonstrate fluent and legible writings. Only then they earn pen licence: a certificate that states that they are now allowed and expected to use ink for both schoolwork and homework. The point of crediting pencil is that pens can be difficult to hold and control, with the potential of the ink smudging, which makes it more complicated for children to master the basic movements of handwriting. However, in my opinion, it is not the basic ideology that lies behind this reform.

Getting pen licence means students need to have a great sense of responsibility for their writing product as writing with an ink is a mark for eternity. In other words, children have to think before they act because what they have already written with an ink is not erasable. But, the question is, what is the point of practicing writing with a pencil in order to master pen? That is because using a pencil is all about change and correction in their writings. It may indicate that mistakes should be put right and should not be ignored not only in their writings but also in their daily life.

In Japan, much of the writing in schools is done with a pencil. A saying in Japan is that “your writing reflects what your heart looks like”. Using a pencil makes it easier to erase mistakes – and to provide a flawless handwriting, even if it is not on the first try. As a result, Japanese have much less bias against pencil and feel much more comfortable using it. Hence, they have no problem with creating documents in pencil. Conversely, in most European countries, especially in Finland where typing is taught instead of handwriting,  pencil seems to have a dirty and uneducated feel, and people are much more hesitant to use pencil for documents someone else can see.

This can even be extended to a wider view of the difference between lean in Japan and lean in the European countries. In Japan, it is absolutely okay to fix, improve, and change until the result is flawless. In the Western world, the goal has to be achieved on the first try, even if there are a few smudges and spots left at the end. Amazing! The whole difference between Japanese and European lean boils down to what we write with at school!

As for Kazakhstan, practicing with pencil before switching to pen might be highly worthwhile, especially with the great number of work that teachers should do and with the less and less amount of time that they have. The reason is illegible handwriting is the primary cause for loss of staff time and prevents them from continuing their work-related task.

 

What do you think if the reform “Pen licence” will be implemented in Kazakhstan too?

Does it worth or it is a waste of time to educate writing with a pencil and then with a pen?

What are the other advantageous or disadvantageous points?

 

 

Ainalaiyn!

There are more than 6.000 languages in the world and each of them is unique and beautiful. However, sometimes we are not able to see this uniqueness and beauty of every language because there are some notions that cannot be translated into other languages. Even if we translate it, with one word or even with a sentence, the translation does not deliver the exact meaning of the word or loses its meaning.

Kazakh language is full of such kind of notions. Most of them convey deep meaning. Perhaps, in order to understand its meaning, you need to be Kazakh or live in Kazakhstan for a long time. For example, “береке” it is not just “affluence”, “абырой” it is not just “honor”, “жаным” it is not just “my soul” and this list might be endless. However, the most delicate word that belongs to such kind of words is “айналайын”.

If to translate it directly into English, it means “I circle around you”, but it is not at all. In fact, it is caressing appeal of a mother to her child, a grandmother to her grandchild, or a sister to her little brother or sister and is used when they want to divulge their feeling of love, when they show solicitude and tenderness, or when they want to pass on some advice. In addition, the word reveals indescribable feeling that belongs to Kazakh nation or Kazakhstani people.

On the other hand, existing such a word revels the nature of Kazakhs and people who live in Kazakhstan for a long time. For instance, the usage of “айналайын” among family members indicate that people, to whom the word belongs, highly evaluate the relationship between relatives and highly respect the value of mother love. In other words, such kind of unique words demonstrates to WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE it belongs and WHAT THEY VALUE.

There may be such kind of words that contain feelings, notions, concepts, or phenomena that belong only to a particular nation or county and cannot be translated. And these particular words create the identity of the language. Therefore, we cannot allow even indigenous languages die in order to safe that feelings and notions of those people to whom these languages belong as these words are part of their soul and identity. Without them, these people will also die, spiritually.

Through debate to the strong linguistic intelligence or do we use language effectively

Every five year the World Economic Forum develops a list of “Top Ten Skills” for a successful global citizen. Most common of such skills, for 2015 and 2020, are complex problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, people management, coordinating with others, judgment and decision making, service orientation, and negotiation. However, there is nothing about linguistic intelligence which is not less essential to be a valuable leader or manager.

The contemporary world requires the ability to choose words wisely rather than raising voice while speaking and writing and the ability to listen and read actively. Linguistic intelligence as one of the Nine Multiple Intelligences offered by Howard Gardner refers to not only mastering all four language skills but also to use it effectively so that it persuades people with its effective speech composition and delivery. So, what is the best way to gain linguistic intelligence?

In the USA, debate plays a decisive role for the candidates for the president to win the election. They have to persuade citizens that he is the best candidate for the position of the president, not speaker or lecturer but for the position who deals with political and social problems. But, why does the debate decide?

Most people think that debate is only about the manner in which you deliver your winning speech but does not deal with listening, reading, and writing. However, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Firstly, persuasive speech requires a lot of reading about different topics to approach the problem from different aspects. Second, an ability to hear an idea that was not told by your opponent is also essential to counter-attack. Last, systematically constructed speech is mostly based on note-taking that means the debate is highly important to learn taking notes in a limited amount of time.

Well-planned speech with a good articulation of thoughts always touches your listeners` mind. The speech cannot be attractive if it does not contain balanced arguments with reasoning and evidence based on the deep knowledge. Your word is the mirror of your mind which means it is clear for your listeners how deep is your knowledge by your word choice. Therefore, to produce a great speech analyzing and synthesizing complex information by researching various data is a fundamental skill for a good debater which is a precursor to being a critical thinker. Besides, in debate, the limited time given to prepare facilitates decision-making skills. Also, debate sets different issues to address that demands complex problem solving creatively. In brief, debate is the practice that is essential to have every leader.

So, why linguistic competence is not included in the “Top Ten Skills”?  My personal answer is that because it is the base for all the ten skills because debate is considered a very effective tool to earn linguistic intelligence which is the key for the basic skills for a leader of XXi century.

What do you think about the importance of linguistic intelligence in gaining “Top Ten Skills”?