Category Archives: Higher Education

The world has changed. The way we educate our children should too.

 

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photo credits to https://www.shutterstock.com/image-illustration/saying-motto-change-difficult-not-changing-111462035?src=liJpSuVV6vqDlMzG-jOKKQ-1-41

 

Just ask yourself: should the education be reshaped? Even though the answer will vary from person to person, it is impossible to respond unless we ask ourselves what kind of world we are going in.

Imagine how the factory looked like in the XIX century and how it looks now. The same for the transport system or the bank. We will see massive changes. The only domain that looks the same as in the XIX century is a school. A class where the children sit in front of the teacher in rows and study the subjects according to the curriculum, which, in its essence, was also created in the XIX century. Obviously, this model is obsolete. But how should it change?

Now we observe and expect that the total number of changes in the world of the near future – technological, political, social – will be so great that we simply cannot understand what we are preparing the current first-graders. Thus, the first thing we have to say to ourselves: guys, we need to prepare a person so that he can react as much as possible to the challenges in a changing world. We are moving towards a period when people will constantly be “scared”. For instance, how should one cope with the news that his/her domain no longer exists, that it was replaced by robots? Or that there have been such political changes that his/her country does not exist anymore. In theory, considering unstable political issues in the global arena, this may happen to many of us when we will suddenly find ourselves nowhere and have to adapt to the changed conditions swiftly.

The problem of the current school is that it was created under the prevailing industrial model of the society of the XIX century. At that time, it was necessary to have a lot of workers who obey the boss, do what they are told, do not go beyond job descriptions and according to the template can perform the prescribed tasks. Preferably highly specialised. And in a world of uncertainty – this is the riskiest thing that you can think of. The school educates discipline, submission, lack of creativity, application of templates. That is directly contradictory to what we are moving to.

So, by being a part of something revolutionary in our country, how do you think how the education and schools, in particular, should be reshaped?

P.S. this blog post is dedicated to my grandfather who used to say that the more schools we have, the brighter future of the country will be. I love you, I remember you, grandpa. Hoping that one day your “dream schools” come true…

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Is it possible not to overload yourself, but CREATE? Calling for MOTIVATION!

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Photo credit to @uaxi

  Wake up, warm up.
  Take a mirror, ‘show up’.
  Breathe in, breathe out.
  You will have a great start!

The poems credit in this blog post to Ayana Mukuzhanova

Have you ever thought that you are overwhelmed with all your assignments and writing thesis? Do you wake up and go to sleep with the only thought: “I must do it!” ? You would better say “I want to do it!”. Now I would like to tell you one important sentence. You are not the only one, YOU CAN DO IT! Is it easy to say? Yes, it is. Is it easy to do? (Silence). By writing this post, which is far from academic writing, I would like to support all education professionals who are struggling to write their thesis and papers. I know, this time will probably hit you one day. I am not an expert to give recommendations, but I am a Master student, who could share some pieces of advice and speak from my own experience.

  Great start, heads up!
  Simply have a try out.
  You are making it up,
  And get rid of that doubt.

Firstly, try to see positive moments in your study, follow your OWN progress, and look back. Do you see the changes? This should MOTIVATE you and bring a positive wave into your studying. Do not try to compare your progress with the progress of another person. You are unique, you are different, and you are great!

  You have done, well done!
  Now let’s visit the town.
  Take some time to relax,
  You deserve to break ice.

Secondly, find your hobby. Do not tell that you do not have time for it. You have. Instead of procrastinating by doing nothing, with your hobby you will not procrastinate anymore, you will get a CREATIVE and relaxing product. For me, it is writing various poems. In this way, you will not be overloaded by studying.

  I love my thesis,
  My thesis loves me.
  Let’s create a big deal
  To support the ideal.

Thirdly, you should remember that a substantial amount of people all around the world write thesis papers, and they did this! Think of it as “It is just another paper” (Montgomery, 2017). You should understand how much you are interested in the topic of your thesis. The principle: The more…, the better. The more you are interested in it, the more you will get a joy. After you add your voice on a particular topic, you will get into this field, and become the part of it.

  Time passes by,
  Sometimes I don’t mind.
  If I had another chance,
  I would think of this twice.

Next point to share with you is time value. Do not think of the result and end of the process. Otherwise, you will miss the precious time and all the positive moments which you will never face the second time. In the case of academic writing, write everything step by step. Do not write for the sake of writing, do your best, and you will be okay.

  Never think of some feedback,
  Like it is a huge mistake.
  It is just a third hand
  That will help you till the end.

The last, but not the least piece of advice is to look at feedback that you get from your Professors as a great help, and not a punishment. At first, it was difficult for me to accept some feedback, and I got upset. Now I understand that I am in the process of getting knowledge, and I will learn my whole life. There will always be feedback, both positive and negative. The only think is to LEARN from them.

To conclude, I would like to thank my MA NUGSE id2016 group mates. You are fantastic! All of you will do their best to overcome some difficulties and take out of it only POSITIVE outcomes. I hope that this post would support you and all education professionals.

Learning languages for the sake of…?

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Photo credit: http://www.returnofkings.com

The episode of the podcast “Is Learning a Foreign Language Really Worth It?” was dedicated to the issues of learning foreign languages in terms of psychological and economic (ROI)  pros and cons. It was clear that the creator did not try to persuade us, because he just had been asking diverse questions upon this topic from experts in psychology and economics to inform the listeners about this issue. It is a very tough question to discuss. By listening to and taking some notes of the experts’ viewpoints, voices of children, I also would like to add some ideas of my own.

The presented information by Boaz Keysar, Albert Saiz, Bryan Caplan was supported by researches. Each of them gave a particular argument supporting it by introducing to us evidence and examples. For instance, Albert Saiz conducted a study with 9000 graduates in the USA. He highlighted that there is a low financial return if graduates know the second language. The speaker states that “If you speak the second language, you get only 2% more wage premium”, it is compared to Turkey, Russia, Israel contexts, where knowing English as a foreign language gives an opportunity to get a salary from 10 to 20% more. I think that there is similar tendency in Kazakhstan as well. People who know English would get a chance to be employed to a well-paid and prestigious job. Adding to this point, the proficiency in the Kazakh language is also essential while getting a job.

Many psychological insights about bilingual people were mentioned by another interviewee. I would like to describe only one of them. Boaz Keysar suggests that learners are ready to take risks and think of dilemmas in a foreign language frequently. From my own experience, I support this point. It may be because of the mentality, but I am not adapted to take risks in the Kazakh or Russian languages. For instance, I would never be as honest and brave as while speaking English; and I cannot elaborate on the reasons for now. While listening, I have heard the voices of children talking about the benefits of learning a foreign language. It was shocking for me that many of them, in the beginning of the episode, told about the prestige. I consider it as ‘worrying moment’, because they think of only material benefits. On the other side, they mentioned the opportunity of communicating with people all around the world. Thus, I found the balance, and the ‘worrying moment’ subsided. Overall, these constructive talks gave me food for thoughts.

I got to know a lot of new information, and I would do a further research on this topic. I would definitely recommend listening to this episode to everyone, because it discloses the topic of being bilingual from diverse perspectives. Find some time to listen to the podcast, it is worth it. If you listen to this episode, what will you agree and argue with most?

Organization of a literature review section

To date, I have almost finished writing a literature review part of my thesis proposal, but, of course, it may need revising and editing. After reading a number of materials, in my thesis work, I have made a lot of changes with respect to which direction I should go in, and what I need to concentrate while writing the literature review. In my previous blog post, I wrote that teacher-centred learning, which makes students be oppressed, was/is practised in education systems of post-Soviet countries. However, having read various articles on teaching, I came to a conclusion that this style of teaching dominates in other countries as well, such as Turkey, Indonesia, and Qatar. Therefore, it can be wrong to state that such a way of teaching and learning exists only in post-Soviet contexts. Instead, I wrote that ‘teacher-centered learning’ continues to be used in many parts of the world.

Now, I would like to demonstrate how I organized my major themes in the literature review part, and some influential phrases or texts used to cite. My major theme relates to the training pre-service teachers receive in pedagogical universities. In order to smoothly go to that specific topic, I decided to begin my literature review with providing some general data on teaching quality as ‘one of the important school variables influencing student achievement’ (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, as cited in Silova, 2009). That is, I write about the necessity of using appropriate teaching methods/pedagogies which develop learners’ skills/talents, empower them for social change, and create an inclusive environment in classrooms/schools in order for every learner to feel accepted.

In the following paragraphs, I gradually turn to discussing on teaching methods utilized to train pre-service teachers in pedagogical universities in both western and post-soviet contexts. For that purpose, for example, I cite the studies of Iveta Silova (2009, 2010) who clearly illustrates the current state of teacher preparation processes in post-Soviet countries. Afterwards, I proceed with discussing specifically three theories of teaching and learning such as behaviourism, constructivist and critical pedagogical approach. To do this, I use research works of Kasey R. Larson (critical pedagogy), Kablan and Kaya (constructivist teaching) amongst others. I believe that these materials will assist me to better understand and analyze what teaching methods teachers at pedagogical universities of the country employ to teach pre-service teachers, and what pedagogies they teach pre-service teachers.

One of the challenges in my research project is a shortage of relevant and reliable data on teacher training in pedagogical universities in Kazakhstan. The country needs to pay much more attention to developing research studies as these may contribute to the improvement of an education system. I hope my research study will be a useful resource for other researchers.

P.S. Dear colleagues, if you have any suggestions/recommendations regarding the organization of my literature review, please, let me know.  Your opinion is important to me, as I am still working on it.

 

References:

Silova, I. (2009). The crisis of the post-soviet teaching profession in the Caucasus and Central Asia. Research in Comparative and International Education, 4, 4.

Silova, I., Moyer, A., Webster, C. & McAllister, S. (2010). Re-conceptualizing professional development of teacher educators in post-Soviet Latvia. Professional development in education, 36:1-2, 357-371, doi: 10.1080/19412550903457596

Kablan, Z. & Kaya, S. (2014). Preservice teachers’ constructivist teaching scores based on their learning styles. Australian Journal of teachers education, 39, 12.

For every researcher, help

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The week 18-22 of September I was lucky to take part in the first in Europe and Central Asia cognitive testing of the module on inclusive education developed by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Washington Group. Students of Nazarbayev University completed training on conducting interviews and tested the module on functional features of development and disability of children. Apart from gaining a huge experience in interviewing people and summarizing the results, we discovered a lot about UNICEF’s activities and programs in Kazakhstan. I want to share some knowledge and sources that will probably be useful for other young researchers.

UNICEF works across 190 countries protecting the rights of children, providing them with opportunities to study, and improving standards of living. The activities vary from country to country depending on the context of the country and living conditions. UNICEF supports children who fall a victim to violence, natural disasters, migrant crises or terroristic acts. In Kazakhstan, UNICEF is mostly involved in actions for the protection of children’s rights and research about children’s wellbeing.

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The unicef.kz is a good source of publications and research studies on children’s living and studying conditions in Kazakhstan. One of the latest publications is “The statistical yearbook “Children of Kazakhstan” (available in 3 languages) which was published in June 2017 on a joint initiative of the Committee on Statistics of the Ministry of National Economy of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Representative Office of UNICEF in Kazakhstan. This yearbook contains all the statistical data about children in the Republic of Kazakhstan and includes such sections as Demographic Characteristics, Health and Healthy Lifestyle, Education, Leisure for Children, Social Protection of Children, Employment of Youth. Many others publications present reports on UNICEF activities in Kazakhstan and data analysis across different regions of the country.

Also, you can watch a series of simple and entertaining videos with the results of UNICEF’s studies (ex. Results of the study “Violence against children in the family” Results of the MICS – Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey in Kazakhstan).

I hope these resources will be useful for those who write about children’s education and their position in the society of Kazakhstan.

P.S. Do not forget to evaluate critically all the information you use in your research!

From ENU to NU: My Academic Shock Experience

It is going to be an emotional post perhaps, but I definitely need to pour my heart out to someone. I have been asked several times lately “what do you feel about studying at Nazarbayev University?” and normally my answer is “I am very happy to study here”. It’s true, but who can realize what lies behind this simple answer? I will tell you, guys, that behind this answer lies a year of shock, difficulties and internal struggle. And you know why? This is because the university, where I got my bachelor’s degree, had a totally different system of education, other principles, and even different worldview. It has taken me the whole year just to adapt to a new environment and get used to the new rules and requirements of NU. No, I am not against the Eurasian National University, but all the things that I have experienced here at NU last year prove again that universities like ENU do not provide a sufficient academic knowledge and do not develop academic skills. And let me explain why I think so.

Let’s start with the scariest thing I heard here in the first day I came: PLAGIARISM. I am very happy that it is not a scary word anymore, but it was. And I was surprised that the thing that was so absolutely normal and usual in my previous university has a name and is actually forbidden. No one had ever told me that it was bad. I had to accept it and fortunately, I’ve done it well, because my content and my own unique style of writing have turned out to be more important than just copy pasting someone’s ideas and thoughts. Thank you, NU.

Another thing that had been putting a lot of pressure on me, two things to be more precise, was READING ACADEMIC ARTICLES and WRITING ESSAYS. CONSTANTLY. Stop, stop, stop, let me just take a breath. I mean, are you serious? These articles are so mind-blowing, where do you get them? No one has ever told me that such kind of literature even exists! And these essays (oh my goodness, in ENGLISH). Who in this world cares what an ordinary person like me thinks or writes? Or, why didn’t we write essays at ENU?  What? 500 words? Is it possible?

Yes, these were my thoughts a year ago. And, thank God, I don’t think that way any longer. Reading articles has become an everyday routine that gives me not only a new piece of information but introduces me to the theories, concepts and conceptual frames that I can possibly use in my future research (MY RESEARCH. I can’t believe it). As for writing essays, do you have one more? Great. I’ll write it.

And RESEARCH is another new thing that I have encountered at NU. No comments here.

Finally, APA STYLE. This is what I have been struggling a lot with because even in this blog you can see that I am more a freestyle writer than the one who writes in a perfect academic way. Following certain rules in writing and always making sure that your essay is well-organized, clearly developed, accurately cited, has references and so on and so forth, were not my thing and it had taken me months to realize the importance of APA style formatting. But now, I am actually in love with it. I can see a huge progress and development in my writing style, mostly because of Mr. Montgomery’s lessons.  Thank you, professor.

Honestly, these four points I have mentioned are just the beginning, and they definitely have been the hardest things that I’ve experienced here. But who can imagine how happy I am to study at this wonderful university and face all those difficulties? I am happy indeed because it means that I can become a real researcher, a real educator, a real professional. It means I deserve all these things. We all deserve. That’s why we are here. At Nazarbayev University. Thank you, NU.

My path in the educational research field

Everything comes with practice, but your favourite research topics will always be with you. I believe that a researcher will do his/her best when he/she is keen on the field he/she is conducting a research in. It is not about the perspective, it is about the will. I have a story to tell about my favourite research topic and favourite research author.

The interest in the field of intercultural issues started from Kostanay State Pedagogical Institute. My capstone project was connected with this topic as well. I got to know a lot of nuances with the help of my supervisor – Professor Kudritskaya. In Nazarbayev University Graduate School of Education I decided to broaden the scope of my knowledge, and write a thesis that would be closely linked to my academic interests. My thesis supervisor Dr. Ajodhia-Andrews suggested me to look at the topic of Critical Multicultural Education. Once I started to read articles written by James A. Bank, who is an expert in this field, I understood that it is what I would like to research in Kazakhstan. From that time James A. Bank immediately became one of my favourite research authors.

httpfaculty.washington.edujbankslongbio.htm

Now I am, as an emerging researcher, in particular interested in educational themes related to (critical) multicultural issues. That is why one of my favourite research authors is James A. Bank, who published a substantial amount of books/articles in this field. Visiting Nazarbayev University library is, first of all, visiting the bookshelf with books representing issues in (critical) multicultural education field. The books/articles written by James A. Bank are my favourites. They disclose this theme from the very basics (introduction into this field) continuing with issues, perspectives, views of different authors, and empirical studies. (Critical) Multicultural education is not only about cultures, but, firstly, about diversity and equity of education. James A. Bank emphasizes that everyone has a right to be fully represented in educational process, no matter what ethnicity, race, and culture you are. He also suggests curriculum and teaching strategies for educational institutions. The scholar is widely honoured, and it is a great honour for me to continue the discussion in the field of (critical) multicultural education by conducting the research in Kazakhstani context.

To conclude, I would like to highlight that it is significant to have a role model for each emerging researcher. I found my favourite research author, and I am going to learn more from his works. Also, I would like to thank my supervisors and professors for putting me on the right track, because now I know my path in the research field.

 

References

Photo credit: http://faculty.washington.edu/jbanks/longbio.htm

The research author I aspire to become alike to

Once you have outstepped the threshold of academic world, you ought to adhere to certain guidelines and even adjust some of your habits. If prior to becoming affiliated with academic world you are free to choose what to write or read, after entering scholarly society you do not have this luxury. The longer you study, the deeper you delve into the ocean of scientific knowledge. Consequently, you start to have certain preferences or disfavors. The scholar I personally respect and admire for his scholarly approach, uncomplicated manner of writing and deep knowledge of the context is

Peeter Mehisto.                                       Peeter - CLILpalace11-2008

Photo credit to http://clil-cd.ecml.at/Team/Teammember3/tabid/940/language/en-GB/Default.aspx

Prominent in the sphere of education as an author of books and articles, a trainer of teachers and administrators involved in the implementation of CLIL and an educator Peeter Mehisto gained recognition across continents. His vast experience in education first as a practitioner and later as a researcher enabled him to become an accomplished writer. Peeter Mehisto’s works possess certain distinctive features one of which is simple yet academic style of writing. His sentences lack complex structures or complicated words, though they still are not simple. While reading his papers you do not need to stop every now and then to check the meaning of words. Your reading goes smoothly and uninterruptedly. In my opinion, he manages to do that because he precisely knows the audience he writes for. Another characteristic of Peeter Mehisto’s writing is strong understanding of the context he writes about. Judging by his papers on a number of issues in Kazakhstan, it is evident that he navigates very confidently in the local context. Thus, he accomplishes to write thorough works as if he is an insider who knows all the peculiarities and addresses them meticulously in his writing.

What is the key of writing scholarly works in an uncomplicated manner? Firstly, I believe, is rich experience in the field you are writing about. Secondly, is clear vision of the audience you are aiming your paper at. Thirdly, is broad knowledge of the context and the problem you are discussing. Peeter Mehisto’s writing is a great example which incorporates all this features and serves as a model to follow.

Be a Better Student. Go Beyond the Curriculum: Keshav Bhatt at TEDx University of Strathclyde (Deconstruction blog)

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5AgOGhI29Y&app=desktopWhat is the main claim the speaker/writer is making?

This video is a TEDx talk presented by Keshav Bhatt who is a 24 year-old youth coach, speaker and founder of a social enterprise called Revolution Hive. His claim is that the dynamic enterprise (higher education) does not prepare young people for real life that can make them think beyond the average.  Keshav Bhatt believes that higher education is no longer able to develop the social reformers we once knew, and that there is a gap between what you pay for and what you really get out of university. By taking education into one’s own hands and understanding the core of what needs to be changed is what he envisions will spawn the leaders of tomorrow. Using real life examples, he explains how the university curriculum diminishes our critical thinking skills.

His opinion is based on his own experience and following his advice may not give the same outcomes. The intended audience is university students at the age 18-23 as he wants to persuade them to persuade the education of freedom which comes from students intellectual beliefs.  His tone makes him appear to be looking down on the entire higher education system which cannot meet the social needs of the World.

Keshav Bhatt is very straight to the point. He states his opinion towards the educational system at universities. He gives examples on the failing, incomplete system of education at universities and answers the questions “How to understand this system?” “What is missing in curriculum?” He felt at the pinnacle of his education that something is missing. He states that the higher education needs to be more resourceful, curriculum does not exist and educational institutions do not create the social reformers. He states that people should challenge not to conform to the formal education. However, he looks a bit unconfident and that makes him difficult to watch as he constantly moves his arms, legs. He talks a little bit too fast which makes his speech unclear and causes distraction. As a hook into his presentation, he asks, “How to find answers to the real life questions?”, “How to become mentally strong?”

Keshav tells stories, examples to show why he is qualified to be explaining this topic. However, his claims and arguments are based on his personal experience. He worked in Barcelona, Bangladesh as a volunteer. He states that the quarter life crisis consists of the civic and the personal parts. People tend to be more civic minded.  30 % of students spent their free time volunteering in the UK. People are struggling paying for the universities. Civic includes pollution, conflicts, HIV, AIDS, resource crisis. He tells that education does not address these things. Education should include 3 qualities such as drawing out the natural resources, act like great equalizer, and liberate people and others (critical thinking skills). Instead, he believes that formal education is just the peel of the fruit and we should squeeze that juice out.  It’s time for responsibility and it comes from the students’ intellectual skills. We should trigger different parts of the brain by working hard.

I enjoyed watching it and I agree that the university curriculum should be reviewed and include some of the real life topics and skills. I believe that universities should offer a more rounded curriculum, less focused on the facts and more on developing individual, critical thinking skills.

Students decide to fire a teacher?! WHAT?!

Let’s talk about decision-making within schools regarding employment termination of teachers. We all know that students can’t decide to fire the teacher but their parents may collectively complain about certain teachers to school administration. School administration is the sole body to decide whether to take disciplinary actions or even fire any staff member. I think students shall take part in decision-making as they are the immediate stakeholders. Apparently, primary and middle schoolers are too young to vote but high schools are fine.

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There are always ‘favourite’ and ‘less favourite’ teachers for every student. Reasons may be different: incompetence, dullness, excessive severity and personal dislike (of course!). But can these qualify as the substantial reasons to terminate one’s employment? Let’s see. First, an incompetent teacher is not a teacher. I wonder how each of us defines incompetence, I, personally, view it as excellent knowledge and skills (it shall not be limited to one subject).  Incompetent teachers are easily recognisable but if they are appealing and charismatic they could even pass as excellent teachers in the eyes of students. Here, not dullness but appeal and charisma are what students seek in the teachers. What a dilemma!  Next is excessive severity which includes strictness in the classroom, a ton of homework and pertinacity.  Who would like a teacher who keeps students on the run all the time?! Finally, personal dislike could be the result of all these factors. Everyone has personal preferences that’s why having personal feelings involved is inevitable.

As a student myself I understand how these factors can cloud one’s vision. But, as a teacher I would not want to get fired just because some students didn’t like me. Especially, it is even more unfair if a particular teacher gets fired because a certain student manipulated the others to vote against that teacher. In this case, we should not allow students to take the lead in deciding whether to fire the teacher or not. But school administration definitely has to take the voices of high schoolers into account.

Reference

Should high school students be able to vote to fire teachers? Retrieved from http://www.debate.org/opinions/should-high-school-students-be-able-to-vote-to-fire-teachers

Photo credit: http://www.azquotes.com/quote/1161290