Category Archives: Other

Keep Searching and RESEARCHing

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Our life is full of information. Every day human brain is attacked by a continuous flow of data from everywhere: the internet, television, billboards, advertisements, newspapers, and books. There are so many new and interesting things and it seems that people can never have enough of them. But is all the information true? Can we trust everything that we are shown and told? And how we can verify the data? There is one and only answer: to do research!

Many of us as young investigators on hearing of “research” may immediately think about a huge written paper which consists of certain parts and necessarily includes working with participants and such kind of stuff. Yes, it is research of course. But the thing is that it is just a small part of a big concept called “research” because research is about our whole life.

So, what is research? First of all, every research starts with a question. The question that no one has asked before or the one to what you have not found an answer yet. For instance, imagine that usually, you listen to a classical music. You feel good and everything is fine, but once you decide to listen to hard rock. You like it and keep listening to it every day. In a week you start realizing that you are not feeling well, you’ve got a headache and it has become easy for you to get angry. Of course, you may take a pill or just ignore these symptoms, but you also may think of the reasons that caused your bad condition and ask yourself: Why did it happen to me? Why don’t I feel well? Can this be because of hard rock that I’ve started to listen? Are there connections between music and my condition? Good questions, right? And if you continue on investigating this issue and searching for the answers, then take my congratulations, because you’ve just started to do a research.

People need research. People need researchers. But do you know what the problem is? The problem is that many people don’t want to do this. They don’t care about the food they eat, movies they watch, fashion they follow. They eat McDonald’s and drink Coca-Cola just because they are famous brands liked by many people. They watch all newly released movies just because they are new and people want to watch them. They buy ripped jeans just because it’s a current trend. Come on, are you serious? Why should we do this? We are not robots or animals, we are humans. We are given brains. Why do we not start thinking? Why do we not research? What has happened to the world?

I really don’t know. But I’m more than sure that research is crucial for our life. Our health, our condition, or family, and even our future depend on it. If you just knew what your gum consists of, you would have got rid of it a long time ago. If you just knew what a destructive impact some movies or computer games, or even mobile apps may have on your health, lifestyle, and perceptions of life, you would have already stopped watching, playing and using them.

Conducting a research, therefore, doesn’t cover only an academic field. Research should be a part of our daily life. Don’t follow the crowd. Don’t follow the media. Don’t be afraid of spending additional time on investigating, because then you will be able to make a right choice.

Keep searching and researching.

 

Photo credit: https://www.shutterstock.com/video/clip-23873998

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Some thoughts on “Globalization and Culture: Three Paradigms” by Pieterse. 

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The notion of culture has always been difficult to define and with the growth of globalization, it became much harder to do it. Globalization not only touched culture in general but has brought new perspectives on seeing cultural difference. With two most common views, cultural differentialism and cultural convergence, there is cultural hybridization brought about recently by globalization. These three perspectives are fully discussed in the “Globalization and Culture: Three Paradigms” chapter of the book “Globalization and Culture: Global Mélange” (2003) by Jan Nederveen Pieterse.

Cultural differentialism is probably the oldest perspective which is often associated with the Huntington’s (1993) theory of the clash of civilizations.  In general, this view sees a cultural difference as immutable and accepts differences in localization, language, and religion. The second view, cultural convergence, is also known as McDonaldization supports the idea of global cultural homogeneity characterized by different effects it caused: Americanization, westernization, Coca-colonization, and others. Finally the third perspective, hybridization, which is fundamentally different from differentialism and McDonaldization, “refers to a politics of integration without the need to give up cultural identity” (Pieterse, 2003, p. 56).

Describing cultural differentialism the author mentions “human mosaic” (p. 47) referring to cultural diversity and then provides an opposing quote: “Because a mosaic consists of fixed, discrete pieces whereas human experience, claims, and postures notwithstanding, is fluid and open-ended (Hannerz, as cited in Pieters, 2003). I found this argument interesting and thought-provoking because it enables us to go beyond our common thinking and realize that even if there are things that can be static and fixed in terms of culture, there is also something which we cannot control, our experience or claims, for instance. And being open-ended and fluid they can eventually bring changes into the stability of the local culture and trigger the penetration of cultures from outside. Thus, cultural differentialism in this perspective can be seen as the starting point of a long process of convergence or hybridization, or even both.

Pieterse, however, is not the only one who has raised discussion on the paradigms of the difference between cultures. In the article called “Religion and Culture in a Global World: a Sociological Approach” Cabello (2014) provides a summary presenting different authors’ paradigms, as they all talk about the same concepts but use different language. For instance, what Pieterse calls differentialism (differentiation), Holton calls polarization, Hanner, as peripheral corruption scenario, and Hall, as an oppositional code.  Convergence is whether homogenization, global homogenization scenario and saturation scenario or dominant-hegemonic code. As for hybridization, Holton uses the same word, however, Hanner calls it as maturation scenario and Hall employs negotiated code phrase.

In conclusion, I would like to ask is there an opportunity for a certain group or community sharing similar cultural features to keep its borders and uniqueness in the current era of globalization? Is there need to do this? If yes, to what extent should this be kept and preserved? Do you agree with the Pieterse’s view on hybridization as the most preferable way of seeing a cultural difference? And, finally, what is your view?

 

Photo credit:  http://andrewteaches.wikifoundry.com/page/Globalization+as+Hybridization+by+Jan+Nederveen+Pieterse

Reference

Martín-Cabello, A. (2014): Religion and culture in a global world: A sociological approach. Madrid: methaodos.working papers, nº2. ISBN: ISBN: 978-84-697-0316-8. Retrieved from: https://www.methaodos.org/aworkingpapers/methaodoswp/methaodoswp2.pdf

Pieterse, J. N. (2003). Globalization and culture: Three paradigms. In: J. N. Pieters (Ed.), Globalization and Culture: Global Mélange. (pp.41-58). Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc.

How should we teach languages?

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Photo credit: https://www.ewsd.org

Once I was told that there are more interesting lessons in English, but the lessons of Kazakh and Russian are almost the same. At that time I realized that these words might have a true line in our context. There is a debate about teaching the Kazakh and Russian languages among education professionals. As a person, who came through primary, secondary, and undergraduate levels of education in Russian and English, I am not as proficient in Kazakh as I wish. The reasons for that could be numerous. I would like to elaborate on one – teaching methods.

Remembering the lessons of English, where I was motivated to learn and participate in activities, it was a different situation when the time comes to talk about Kazakh and Russian language classrooms. Mostly, teaching methods of Kazakh and Russian include learning something by heart, reading and retelling, memorizing words and grammar, writing essays, etc. A Grammar Translation Method (GTM) prevails. Grammar Translation Method is not an inadequate method; the outcome could be fantastic if mixing it with other approaches.  There is no diversification of methods and techniques which could motivate students to learn a language, even unconsciously. As it turns out, some students learn a language for the sake of getting marks.

It is not the same situation with lessons of the English language. They inspired me, and I wanted to become a teacher of English. When I had been studying in a Pedagogical Institute, we had a course dedicated to different methods of teaching English. For instance, instead of the stated in the previous paragraph meaningless tasks, teachers may add case studies, surveys, pair and group projects, jigsaw activity, role play, problem solving activities, interviews, skits, diverse games, and many other interactive tasks. I understood that there are many of them to use in a classroom. Why do not teachers of Kazakh and Russian adopt some of them during classes?  I also came across one chapter from a book “Methods and Approaches of English language Teaching”, which could serve as a basis for all language teachers. It consists of the explanation and usage of 18 various methods and approaches in the English language classrooms, including GTM.

I believe if teachers of the Kazakh and Russian languages use diverse methods of teaching, it could help solve some difficulties appearing with a lack of proficiency in these languages. Many sources about teaching methods are in English, but I am ready to contribute in translating and sharing it with willing teachers. The idea for this blog post takes roots from my own experience. I would like to know if you have ever faced with this problem. Have you had the same experience or not?

Let’s not make the world speak the same language. Fight for diversity!

Diversity of languages is not some sort of a negative outcome of past mistakes, but rather it is a blessing for the humanity.

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This episode of Freakonomics Radio talks about a “modern-day Tower of Babel” which refers to the problems we have due to the existence of a variety of languages. Linguistic diversity here is viewed through different lenses: as a curse and as a blessing.

Some important people, from professors of established institutions to a director of a respective school talked about this astonishing phenomenon. 7000 languages are reported to exist in present times, but some of the speakers expressed concern that by the next century half of these languages are going to be extinct. The main reason for that was said to be the English language, which hegemony is spreading like a wild fire. Is it a bad thing? Taking into account that there are tons of money spent on translation of documents into different languages we might conclude that financially it would be better to have one standard language common for all. Probably, this was a main reason for creating an artificial language Esperanto and it was a failure. Linguistic diversity, if not financially, but cognitively could be very useful. In this regard, the speakers in this podcast expressed opinion that speaking more than one language has certain benefits: delay Alzheimer, shape thinking, enhance memory etc. Although, these advantages are questionable I choose to believe it. Why not?

A lot of ideas were expressed in this podcast, mostly I heard how inconvenient the linguistic diversity is. Speaking the same language may help to eradicate certain problems, but every language is unique in its own way and there is no way we can choose one among many to be spoken by the whole world.

photo credit:

https://www.irishcentral.com/roots/irish-sayings-proverbs-and-prayers-for-st-patricks-day-117923469-237375661

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?

Podcasts, meet blogging. Blogging, this is a podcast.

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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.

Freakonomics

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“Host Stephen J. Dubner has surprising conversations that explore the riddles of everyday life and the weird wrinkles of human nature — from cheating and crime to parenting and sports. Dubner talks with Nobel laureates and provocateurs, social scientists and entrepreneurs — and his Freakonomics co-author Steve Levitt.” From the website

Radiolab

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“Radiolab is a show about curiosity. Where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience.” From the website
  • Truth Warriors The scientific method at work in the world.
  • Words Three stories about a man learning language at 27 years old, the effect of losing language completely after suffering a stroke, and the recent creation of a completely new language.
  • Fate and Fortune A story about choices and consequences, with a special section on the controversial practice of labeling certain children as “gifted” as early at 8 years old.
  • Translation An investigation of the gap between experience and language, and how people try to bridge it.

This American Life

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“We sometimes think of our program as a documentary show for people who normally hate documentaries. A public radio show for people who don’t necessarily care for public radio.” From the website
  • The Problem We All Live With A story about how desegregation could be used to minimize the racial divide in American schools.
  • Harper High School, Part I (Part II here) An in-depth story about one school with 29 recent deaths from gun violence.
  • Is This Working? What are the best ways to deal with misbehaving school kids? An investigation of how punishments may further hurt kids instead of helping them in the long term.

More

A Whole List of Exclusively Education-Related Podcasts from NPR

3 Linguistics Podcasts Every Language Lover Should Listen To

Philosophy Now: Philosophy in Education

 

 

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.

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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

3 ways to spot a bad statistics by M. Chalabi (Deconstruction)

Statistics takes an important role in our life. It gives us information about the things and events we are interested in, it somehow directs us to make right decisions about social-political field, for instance, voting in elections, or everyday life like shopping for goods. A data journalist, Mona Chalabi, makes the TedTalk speech about statistics and three ways of identifying bad numbers. She claims that checking the statistics for accuracy about the issues we are interested is crucial nowadays because numbers might lie for someone’s private interests.

She brings a lot of examples of situations in which statistics might be biased. One of the important types of the data which influence population is the government statistics. She suggests to see the uncertainty in the visualized numbers and check them for accuracy. But I think that she should have mentioned that the majority of population not only believe in visualized numbers, they just do not care about anything else except their everyday life, work, and family issues because they do not have time for being so skeptical about numbers. Of course, that does not characterize them from the best site, but this is true for the developing countries.

I find this topic applicable for certain professionals who deal with numbers in their daily working lives. For instance, specialists of statistics agencies, information analytical centers, and scholars of different fields need figures to speculate about various issues of social and political life. However, I doubt about their frequent checking these numbers for accuracy. Most of the time they tend to use the information with certain figures to surprise or persuade somebody. More often it appears that they even exaggerate approximate numbers to influence people’s opinion. That is why, Chalabi three tips are right at hand when people need to check if private interests are hidden under the figures.

References

Maikel Akkermans. (2017, March 25). Mona Chalabi 3 ways to spot a bad statistic. Retrieved on April 20 2017 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfJtMUXmllY

Image credit: http: http://www.riomarvillages.com 

Success and failure are not opposites!

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Failure. A scary word, isn’t it? I think almost all of us do not like this word and make everything in order to avoid every opportunity to fail. We all are so charmed by the words like “success”, “achievement” and “succeed” so that we often forget that our route to success is covered by mistakes and failures. From the failure of applying to a prestigious university to the refusal of giving you a job of your dream after the interview, every individual should go through the hardest parts of their life and dare face the difficulties. What does it mean? It means that we need TO LOVE our failures!

If to take some examples we will see that many famous people had failed several times before they became successful. For instance, Henry Ford failed twice with his “Ford” company; Walt Disney was fired from the Kansas City Star newspaper for not being creative, and Abraham Lincoln failed plenty of times before he finally became a president in 1860. These are probably the most well-known examples in the world but they remind again that everyone may fall one day.

Although failures like those often are not so crucial for our life, they can hardly demotivate us and consequently, we may quit and give up. In our subconscious mind mistakes are usually connected with the sense of shame and guilt. Yes, there are some mistakes which we could prevent with our knowledge and attentiveness, and when we make such kind of mistakes we are definitely guilty. But the majority of other wrong decisions are not the result of our incompetence, but a natural and inevitable part of our way towards achieving goals. That is why we must see all the difficulties as an important component of our future success. In fact, we do not need to avoid failures, we need to changes our attitude to them. Success and failure are not opposites, and the second is necessary for achieving the first. We need to accept it fully then we will be able to love failures.

As for me, I have been experiencing difficulties since the very childhood. Honestly speaking, I was a loser who failed at my relationships with other children, later with boys. I was an introverted and frightened girl who was afraid to communicate because of the fear of being ignored or laughed by others. At the university, I always was silent during the lessons because of the fear to speak in English and make mistakes. After the graduation, I changed several jobs because I never believed in myself and feared of the possible failures that I could end with. But I obstinately kept moving forward and now I am here, a master student of Nazarbayev University. But even within the university, I am currently experiencing lots of challenges; at the end of the first term, for instance, I was close to dropping out. But then I realized that those were just temporary difficulties that I needed to go through. I am not afraid anymore.

And you?

 

 

12-year education reform: Are we ready?

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Kazakhstan is entering a new phase of the system of education. Growing market economy demands a new quality of education since it is a well-known fact that in all civilized countries education has been and remains the most prioritized area and the core indicator of development. The high quality of educational system should help Kazakhstan to respond to the social and economic challenges faced by the country, supply national security and strengthen institutions of the state (Smailova & Uvalieva, 2013). The high-efficiency educational system is one of the key factors that ensures sustained economic growth and Kazakhstani society.

According to the Concept of 12-year secondary education in the Republic of Kazakhstan (2010), there are factors that still negatively impact on the development of the educational system of Kazakhstan. They are: the lack of qualified subject and language instructors; the lack of the diagnostic targeting in secondary education, the maintenance of an obsolete assessment system which is aimed only at the evaluation of knowledge; the main focus is on getting formal results, but not on the personality development; informational overload of the educational content which leads to the decrease of learning motivation and health deterioration of students. Considering these problems and negative factors, there was made a decision to embed a new reform of shifting from 11-year schooling to 12-year education. In 2003-2004 academic years 51 schools in Kazakhstan were involved in the experiment on the shift to 12-year education, in 2004-2005 years the experiment included 104 schools, and at the end of the 2014-2015 academic year, 373 students studied in the 12th grade (Zhilbayev, 2015).

The experiment generally had a positive impact on the educational process. There was a significant increase in students’ motivation; interests of parents in the educational process also have risen noticeably; creativity of teachers has activated (Zhilbayev, 2015).

However, despite the fact that the reform of the 12-year education is very important and attractive at the same time in terms of its goals and objectives, the rationales for implementing the reform are reasonable enough, there are several reasons in my opinion that make implementation of this reform quite difficult. The major reason is the lack of finance at the moment in the republic. Firstly, it occurs because of the economic crisis that we have experienced recently and, probably, are still experiencing in the State. Secondly, the preparation to the international exhibition EXPO-2017, which in fact creates this difficult financial situation in the country.  In such circumstances, we can, of course, talk about a new educational reform, but why to implement it now? After all, a large amount of finance is needed, firstly, to build a new school for six-year-old children. Secondly, a new educational reform requires new textbooks, updated methodology and curriculum. And the third and most important, training of qualified teachers, who are the main driving force of the reform, requires a huge amount of money. Hence, two options are left: the first is to gradually implement this reform, as the government has already decided to do and struggle with the challenges and problems, the second is to postpone the reform until the times when the economy of the country is stabilized and sufficient financing is ensured.

And what do you think about this issue?

References

Smailova, S.S., & Uvaliyeva, I.M. (2013). The problems of quality assurance of education in modern Kazakhstan. World education, 3, 50-52.

The Concept of 12-year Secondary Education in the Republic of Kazakhstan. (2010). National Academy of Education named after I. Altynsarin.

Zhilbayev, Z.O. (2015). The Report on the experiment on the transition to 12-year education.  12-Year Education, 4, 6-54.