All posts by katerinajupiter

“In the beginning was the Word” (Bible, John 1:1) or Framing inclusive education in Kazakhstani documents.

policyNaming of any notion plays crucial role in understanding this notion and its future life. According to Sapir-Whorf’s (1956) hypothesis, our language influences our thinking and people’s attitudes are closely connected to the picture or the worldview that language creates. Thus, policy formulations, which frame governmental legislations and instructions, and its selection of words determine people’s thinking about every issue, modeling their perceptions even in the level of under conciousness. In this context, framing notions related to inclusive education influences Kazakhstani people world view on teaching and learning in diverse environment and model the system of inclusive education.

Being one of the main policy documents on education, which implicates its significance for Kazakhstani stake holders, State Programme of Education Development 2011-2020 (MoES, 2010) provides readers with labeling teachers for inclusive environment as teachers – defectologists. Supporting and intensifying this idea, MoES decree “On confirmation of standard qualifications of educators” (2009), describing the role of teacher-defectologist, says that he/she has to take measures focused on maximal correction of students’ abnormality and examine children, defining structure and intensity of their defect. Children themselves are labeled as “children with limited capacity”, “children with disabilities”, “handicapped children” and “invalids” (Law on social and medical, 2002; law on child’s rights, 2002; law on social protection, 2005).

In this policy context, children with special needs in Kazakhstan have no special needs but they have defects, which must be corrected and eliminated by their teachers, in accordance with medical model of education rather than pedagogical one. Therefore, admitting children’s abnormality, school, providing students with rehabilitation (Rouse, Yakavets & Kulahmetova, 2014), has agenda somehow to adapt them to society, which considered being normal.

These negative labeling can be explained by the tribute to the memory of Soviet legacy, but it can’t be excused. Aiming to implement inclusive education, Kazakhstani policy makers need to realize the pivotal effect of terms they use in legislations, due to the reason that these terms architect the system and frame Kazakhstani people’s worldview on the essence of inclusive education and population with special needs.

References

Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan. (2002), № 343-II: On social and medical-pedagogical intervention support of handicapped children (with changes and additions as in 2014).

Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan. (2002). No. 345-II: On child’s rights (with changes and additions as in 2014).

Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan. (2005), № 39-III ЗРК: On social protection of invalids in the Republic of Kazakhstan.

MoES (Ministry of Education and Science) (2009) Decree On confirmation of standard qualifications of educators, Astana: MoES.

MoES (Ministry of Education and Science) (2010). “State Programme of Education Development for 2011-2020, Approved by Presidential order 1118 on December 2010. Astana: MoES.

Rouse M, Yakavets N, Kulahmetova A. (2014). Towards inclusive education: Swimming Against the Tide of Educational Reform, Educational Reform and Internationalization, edited by David Bridges, Cambridge University Press.

Whorf B. L. (1956). Language, thought and reality: Selected writings of Benjamin Lee Whorf. Ed. John B. Carroll, New York: Wiley.

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“Hello! I am robot Nao. I am going to teach you.”

If you lived 50 yeTechTeacher1ars ago and heard the word “robot”, probably you would imagine an iron man with square head from a fantastic fiction. However, today robots evoke much less surprising, because they appear in increasing frequency on TV or in our friends’ house, performing duties of nannies or cleaners. A lot of robots these days also play role of teachers, being a guide between students and a human teacher, sitting on another part of the continent; others work as teacher assistants, presenting independent artificial intellect, which is very similar to human ones. This poses the question: how can we benefit from teacher-robots work?

This certainly depends on a country and its situation in the pool of educational specialists, but teacher-robots can be helpful if there is a scarce of quality human teachers. The example of South Korea, where is a major paucity of English teachers, illustrates that to hire a foreign teacher for a year costs twice more expensive than to create a robot and hire a foreign teacher to work with it remotely (Strother, 2011). This economy of money is related not only to school budget but also to parents’ savings, because many South Korean families need to bring their children to private academies which have English teachers and spend thousands of dollars a year on their education (Strother, 2011).

According to the Lattitude’s study teacher-robots elicit children’s association of having fun in the process of teaching; robots foster children’s motivation to tackle with routine and boring tasks, kindling their interest only with robots’ physical presence. Children, mixing learning and play, see robots as their friends who support them and amuse, which leads to children’s stronger aspiration to gain knowledge.

Surprisingly, some robots are very successful in helping to teach children with autism. Robot Nao in England has already had such experieSocial-skills-improved-by-robtonce. It assists a class teacher with daily tasks, while providing children with autism special support, such as educational games on verbal and non-verbal interactions, understanding of emotions and gaining basic knowledge. According to several studies (as cited in Falconer, 2013) autists, if Nao is present in class, can increase their social interactions with other children, their parents and therapists on 30 percent. Not feeling inconvenience or awkwardness, Nao teach children unbiased, “without setting off a chain of unsuccessful social interactions” (Powell, 2014).

Nevertheless, because robots are actionpacked creations, they, in my opinion, ideally should work only as teachers’ supporters or assistants. Not the main teachers in class. Robots can help and facilitate teachers’ work but can’t replace their alive colleagues, who can provide real human communication, vivid emotions and leadership features. At the same time robots may turn learning to playing and enliven a familiar lesson, that’s why probably it is time to think about ordering some Naos or any other robot in Kazakhstani schools.

P.S. I am really interested what YOU THINK about having robots in Kazakhstani schools.

References

Falconer, J. (2013). Nao Robot Goes to School to Help Kids With Autism. IEEE SPECTRUM. Retrieved from http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/humanoids/aldebaran-robotics-nao-robot-autism-solution-for-kids

Powell, M. (2014). Robot Teachers in the Classroom. Innovation Everywhere. Retrieved from http://iq.intel.com/robot-teachers-in-the-classroom/

Strother, J. (2011). South Korean Students Learn English from Robot Teacher. Voice of America. Retrieved from http://www.voanews.com/content/south-korean-students-learn-english-from-robot-teacher-117640783/167151.html

Looking inside your Universe..

The myth, beginning from “What is your star sign?”, inevitably divides all the people into twelve categories. However, you might notice how wide a difference can be in appearance and actions of two Arieses or any other people with the same signs. Why? You may say: “Ha-ha! Probably, astrology is pseudoscience, invented by our crazy forefathers while their wives were cooking dinner”. Never agreeing to it, I want to reveal a big secret, saying just several words: The Sun is not the only Planet (of course, Luminary) which can characterize you.solnechnaya_sistema

When you are born and take your first breath, at least ten Planets in the space stand in an inimitable unique picture, mirroring your essence. This picture is your natal chart, which can tell a lot about common rhythm of your life, proclivities, weaknesses and abilities. However, it does not determine the spiritual level of you as a person, exact time of one event or another and, the most important, the choice which you will make (Bukovets, 2005).

When you say: “I am a Scorpio”, you mean that the Sun was in this sign when you were born. This fact is crucial, but what about other Planets and figures of horoscope? All ten Planets, including the Sun, are placed in twelve domes and signs, having hard and easy aspects (connections) with each other. Every dome in its turn shows a sphere of your life, with probable advantages and challenges, with various types of energy, filling your “I am”. Because the natal chart constantly spins, changing places of domes, the exact time and place of your birth is very important.

And now back to the question about differences between two Arieses, answer is: everything is much more difficult than popular magazines often tell. One Aries, for instance, at initial few minutes of acquaintance looks natal chartactive, decisive and confident, while another one prefers standing apart and smiling nicely. “Why?” – you may think. The first impression is usually made not by the Sun. This is work of Ascendant, a sign, which was standing on the horizon at the moment of person’s birth. A person with Aries Sun and Libra on his/her Ascendant will be very polite and even vacillating, especially at first sight. He/she may have difficulties in staying determined, but from time to time his/her Aries’es genuine unrestrained desire to be first externalizes outside.

Taking into account only this little piece of horoscope, you may imagine how complicated and unique we are, in our multiplicity, with differences in things we good and bad at. And asking somebody about his/her star sign, do not forget that any answer reveals only the top of the iceberg.

References

Bukovets A.B. (2005). The course of practical astrology, Moscow: March.

What are you, autism?

In Kazakhstan there are approximately 10000 children who suffer from autistic spectrum disorder and this number is growing rapidly (Markova & Sulnataliyeva, 2013). Children with autism are often the most isolated, because this disease is poorly understood these days. In addition, medical specialists usually could not determine this diagnosis and, making a mistake, say parents that their child suffers from mental deficiency or even schizophrenia.    Treating a child from non-existent disease, parents lose time to cope with a real problem. On the contrary, early intervention, provided for a child with autism, may improve the situation considerably (Rogers, 1996). In order to determine autism in early stages parents need to know several common features of behavior of a child with autistic spectrum disorder.

eye contactFirst and the most transparent feature is lack of interest in connection with other people and poor eye contact. Children with autism may simply do not notice othersor perceive them as objects. It often seems that a child is inside himself/herself and do not want to go out. If mother of a child with autism calls him/her, a child may simply not respond to his/her name (“What Are the Symptoms”, 2015).  Autistic-boy-2

Second hallmark of autism is communication difficulties. A child does not understand non-verbal expressions and emotions of others (Mundy, Sigman, Ungerer & Sherman, 1986). He/she often has repetitive or rigid speech and problems in keeping the conversation up. However, a child with autism can know many words of area that is interested to him/her. Problems appear when a child does not shift from one theme and continue it even when another person asks or tells him/her different thing (“Communication Problems”, 2002).

carsThird striking feature of children suffering from autism is problems with behavior. Children may behave themselves with aggression and express negative feelings with no apparent cause. In addition, their behavior may be repetitive, including lingering hand-flapping, rearranging things and twirling at one place. Such activities decrease their stress and make them glad. Usually, playing with toys, a child with autism pays attention on the separate parts of a toy, as he/she plays not with a toy-car but with its wheel (“What Are the Symptoms”, 2015). Thus, having aspiration to see everything stable, a child with autism may burst into tears if toys stand in a different order (“Diagnosis of autism”, 2013).cuny_0

To sum up, parent of children with autism usually do not understand that this particular problem exists until a child goes to school. They may notice that a child is less communicative than others, but often think that it will finish with aging. The most important thing is to realize the problem earlier and help a child to overcome these difficulties. Despite the fact that autism is considered to be incurable disease, various therapies (Goin-Kochel, Myers & Mackintosh, 2007), provided especially in early ages, show the examples of improvement.

References

Communication Problems in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. (2002). Retrived from http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/voice/pages/communication-problems-in-children-with-autism-spectrum-disorder.aspx#3

Diagnosis of autism. (2013). Retrieved from  http://ladyvenus.ru/articles/zdorove-i-dolgoletie/fizicheskoe-zdorove/diagnostika-autizma-kak-raspoznat-sindrom-rannego-

Goin-Kochel, R. P., Myers, B. J., & Mackintosh, V. H. (2007). Parental reports on the use of treatments and therapies for children with autism spectrum disorders. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders1(3), 195-209.

Markova, M., & Sulnataliyeva, D. (2013). Parent activism in Kazakhstan: the promotion of Autistic Children’s Educational Rights by the Ashyc Alem foundation. The journal of social policy studies, 11(4), 4.

Mundy, P., Sigman, M., Ungerer, J., & Sherman, T. (1986). Defining the social deficits of autism: The contribution of non‐verbal communication measures.Journal of child psychology and psychiatry27(5), 657-669. Autism: features of behavior (table)

Rogers, S. J. (1996). Brief report: Early intervention in autism. Journal of autism and developmental disorders26(2), 243-246.

What are the symptoms of autism? (2015). Retrieved from https://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism/symptoms

“Earth without art is just “Eh”; child without art is not a child.

Art lessons at public Kazakhstan schools are usually held till seven-eight grades. Absence of them in higher forms is easily explained by overloading of Math, which is considered to be one of the most important subjects on UNT. However, being in primary and secondary school, children have an art lesson only once a week, which may be not sufficient for their development.

First of all, arts are better taught in childhood because children’s brain as distinct from adults’ is not bound “by established solutions to challenges” (Sylwester, 2010, p. 131) and that is why is more open for creativity (Sousa, 2009). Secondly, in order to enable their creative thinking from a very beginning children need to be involved “in alternate reality of arts” (Sylwester, 2010, p. 151). Finally, self-expression, provided by involving in making arts, assists a child to cognize world and him/herself (Potebnya, 1976).75

Watching a child who is sitting at the table and drawing a giraffe with gusto and pleasure it is easy to understand why he/she is so open for creativity. This process has totally “swallowed” him/her up and now a child is in his bright cloud-cuckoo-land, not afraid of being mistaken with chosen paint. He is enjoying “now”. Becoming adults, most of us lose the childish spontaneity and think all the time how others will evaluate our work. Maybe, overestimating the meaning of a result, we forget about a process even in creating arts.

There are a plenty am378056ount of studies, researching the importance and relevance of art for children’s development. Trying to find any correlation to their academic achievement, authors claim and prove that art lessons are crucial or vice versa that they are not so helpful and consequently don’t fit the curriculum. Regardless of the results, such evidence leads to misunderstanding of the role of art itself (Eisner, 1998). Never asking “does language proficiency help your child in painting?” we, nevertheless, continue to find influence of art lessons on academic achievement.

Art lessons can do more than this: to foster children’s aesthetic and cognitive skills; that is why they are worth to be placed in a curriculum more than once a week. To deduce, as Maria Montessori may say, this practice will provide a child with understanding that he/she “is not the son of a man, but the creator and father of man” (Martin, Jane, 2001).

References

Eisner, E. W. (1998). Does experience in the arts boost academic achievement?. Arts Education Policy Review100(1), 32-40.

Potebnya, A. A. (1976). Aesthetics and poetics, Moscow.

Martin, Jane R. (2001) Maria Montessori. In: A. Palmer, Fifty Major Thinkers on Education. London: Routledge, 224-228.

Sousa, D. A. (Ed.). (2009). How the gifted brain learns. Corwin Press.

Sylwester, R. (2010). A Child’s Brain: The Need for Nurture. Corwin Press.

Studying is not a prison. Oops… I am not sure.

– You’ll be sitting here for 3 hours and reading this book! At 6 p.m. I will check how you know the plot, characters and main idea. If you make more than two mistakes you will stay at home and won’t go for your friend’s birthday! – said a woman to her 11-year old son and closed the door.

The boy looked tired and upset. He opened a book in yellow cover with fear. “If Mom said it in such a strict tone, this means that the book is verkak-zastavit-rebenka-delat-urokiy boring and I would never want to read it”. He thumbed through several pages and stooped his head. He was sitting in such pose for 10 minutes and then he stood up. The boy looked out of a window and saw his friend who walked in the yard. He sighed sadly. But suddenly one idea came to the boy’s mind. He quietly opened the bedroom’s door and on tiptoe wriggled his way into entrance hall. Having opened the door, he ran away. “Anyway, I can’t read it. And I won’t go to the birthday party. So at the very least I will walk today”.

The book which is read by lots of children throughout the world with pleasure and great interest – “The adventure of Tom Sawyer” – was lying lonely on the table.

***

Is it really very difficult not to discourage children to study? Maybe we all born with such a feature: make others do everything, frightening them? Or maybe we exactly know that learning is so boring and complicated thing, which never helps in real life. But there is a rule to be educated, and everybody who are not, will be considered a dreg of society.

If it is not, why do not Kazakhstani children like going to school? Why are they afraid of being punished every day? Why do they love cancelling of lessons and say with sadness “school is tomorrow”? School in their perspective looks much like a prison. In this case, it is not surprising at all that we had so “high” results in, for instance, PISA tests (OECD, 2009).

However, most probably, teachers, principals and MoES were in shock. What are the reasons? Poor pedagogy, school climate or maybe our people too lazy to study? Of course, many research are needed to answer this question. However, I am sure that in order to apply any knowledge a person, first of all, needs to love gaining this knowledge. So trying to achieve a result, it is wrong to forget about a process. And we all should understand that such prisoner’s feelings as discontent, fear and anger can’t lead to the desire of learning.

Fortunately, there is another example in the world. In this country children feel more comfortable going to school, they have better results and most probably don’t suffer from big fear and stress as our students. I am talking about Finland. And now I want to share with you only several facts about secondary education in Finland and then everybody can deduce themselves.

  1. All schools are equal. This means that there are no elite and “weak” schools. All children are considered to be “special” and have the same educational opportunities.
  2. There is no predominance of one group of subjects above others. Arts are taught on the same basis as Math. So there is no division in important and unimportant lessons.
  3. In order to understand and assist a student with his/her future track, in Finland there is a special position – “the teacher of the future”. This specialist finds out child’s interests and potential in order to suggest for him/her an Individual Education Plan.
  4. Usually there is no homework! It’s time for walking in the park.
  5. There are no exams at school, except final one. A child doesn’t have special preparation for it and its results don’t change the opinion about him/her.
  6. If there is an educational film in the class, but a child doesn’t want to watch it, he/she can read a book with the same material. A pupil can decide what is better in his/her case.
  7. In sunny weather, lessons are held in the open-air on the benches.
  8. However, children aren’t allowed to cut school. In case of squandering study time they have to stay for these hours next day (Kireeva, 2015).

12

This teaching approach gives students understanding that learning is cornerstone of life, but it is their choice what and how to study. Even grades are not given till 4th form. Of course, Finnish students don’t feel iron chains of “you must pass the UNT, because if not you will fail all your life”. And they pass such tests; especially test of how to apply all this baggage of knowledge to real life. Why? Because learning is so interesting and they know it.

***

The boy came back home, ready to be punished. But Mother, sitting on a sofa and holding a book in the yellow cover, said to him:

– It is so pity that I have to wake up at 7 a.m. tomorrow. I need two more hours to read it till the end… Anyway, have a good night!

The boy was in shock.“If Mom even had forgotten to punish me, this book must be very interesting!”

He drank a cup of tea, took a shower and sat to read…

References

Kireeva, N. (2015)Seven principles of Finnish education. Retrieved from http://www.adme.ru/zhizn-nauka/7-principov-finskogo-obrazovaniya-838510.

OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) (2014). Secondary Education in Kazakhstan. Paris: OECD.

Where when why am I?

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This feeling is so habitual, when you come back to the place that was left behind by you for several weeks. The month passed fast and long simultaneously and entering the doors you can’t realize: did you leave for a month or was it just a couple of minutes during the break? All stay the same. Early in the morning, snow is falling down fairily, at the entrance of NU it smells like in swimming-pool and hangers for clothes are still broken. It was seems to me that there were no winter holidays or they were only weekends. Here you can see the people you got used to, you talk to them. And they’ve made new hair-cut or bought a new phone. But!! Does this really mean that time passed? You are not sure.

It is always difficult to admit that the place where you haven’t been for some time still exists, works and develops. Without you! I don’t mean that I wish such places were destroyed after your leaving. NO!)) But in this case I begin to think: “What extent am I important and useful for this particular place, for these people, for the things they do and for myself, who spend time exactly here, not there or there?”

How to answer this question “100%”? It is easy. The secret is that you need to realize your presence every time. Not just exist somewhere, but live here and now. What does it mean? Feel joy in every moment, even if it is pop-up questions or you have to make a presentation after a long tiring day. Absorb knowledge and analyze it, learn, learn and communicate with people!

Imagine the situation: you are in a bus. There is hustle and bustle (or there are J) and finally you’ve got this valuable seat at the end of the bus. But on the next stop a woman with big package gets on the bus. And she is not old, maybe 45-48, and you feel so tired (because you go from the university!!)… So you pretend to be sleeping or surfing the internet in the mobile.

Ask yourself, were you in this bus or no? I would say no. Because nothing has changed. This woman with the package was standing. She never smiled and probably thought that next time she also wouldn’t give a place to somebody. You could change it, but you didn’t. Put it otherwise you did nothing.

That’s why always ask yourself: “Where am I? Why am I here? What am I doing here? How can I make the situation better?”

Don’t be afraid to do things and do them consciously, with open eyes. It won’t restrict your freedom or make less creative. This will help you to understand that you are here for a reason and you are an essential part of a process.

This feeling is so habitual, when you return to the university after long holidays… You are sleepy in the mornings and it is so appealing idea to turn off brain when a professor explains new theme. You probably aren’t too enthusiastic for doing homework and read, read, read… But! Listen to the character of the great book by Dan Millman “Way of the Peaceful Warrior” who said: “The time is now, the place is here. Stay in the present”. And I am sure we should follow his advice, because in this case we will remember the reason why we are here right now. Of course, it is much easier to worry about future or stick in the past, because present will not allow you just to sit and drift. So if you finally decide to be here, be here!