Category Archives: Other

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

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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.

PPT in education

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Recently, in the classroom discussion when we raised the question of the usage of power point presentation in education, a couple of the students proposed the issue of finding alternative ways which can replace PPT. In our presentation, we focused on drawbacks and benefits of power point presentation and as the result, the majority of students highlighted the disadvantages of PPT rather than advantages. Therefore, in this post, I will try to clarify why PPT has more drawbacks and to give alternative ways which can be used instead of it.

Regarding drawbacks of power point presentation, the first problem related to the technical issues which can disrupt the work of it.  As PPT is done in a computer or other technical devices, in some cases because of computer viruses and the lack of electricity teachers can lose all their material for lessons. Secondly, in the PPT there is not a function for maintaining author’s rights and the plagiarism problem is not considered into account. Therefore, if you post your presentation on the Internet, anyone can use it without permission.

El-ikhsan (2010) also in his blog gives several reasons why PPT should be banned in universities. According to his article, he claims that PPT in education discourages students’ complex thinking skill and makes them lazy as students rely on only bullet points in slides and don’t read the whole material.

As the result of all these claims, we can come to the conclusion that the usage of PPT in education has more cons rather than pros. Thus, here appears a need to find an alternative way to replace it. I deem that there are two ways to solve this issue: to use other programs which have more developed functions or to come back to the traditional methods.

In terms of the first option, there are a large number of other programs such as PowToon, Keynote, Prezentit etc which have functions for the creation of videos or with developed transition capacity.  The next alternative will be to go back to the traditional methods. The majority of oppositions of PPT support the idea to use methods such as using music or videos, paper-based materials, and contact with the audience during the lessons.

To sum up, the usage of PPT in education is the controversial issue and people have the different attitude towards it. Regarding me, I found that it has more disadvantages than advantages. What is your opinion regarding this issues and do you know other alternatives for PPT?

 

Credits to:

http://www.myfreeppt.com/free-powerpoint-templates/business/

https://penalido.wordpress.com/the-advantages-and-disadvantages-of-teaching-by-using-microsoft-powerpoint/

 

 

 

 

 

Giving or taking? Is a “Pronoia” connected with succeeding? (Deconstruction).

Take a minute before watching a video or reading this blog post, and answer the question: “Are you a giver, a taker, or a matcher?”.

I have recently watched TED video where Adam Grant tells about givers, takers, and matchers in our society. The question of giving and taking is discussed in the talk of Adam Grant, and it is connected with every sphere of our life. I remembered the words of one of our professors at Nazarbayev University Graduate School of Education (NUGSE) that each of us should share and help. In this blog post, I would discuss the issues of givers, takers, and connect them with the educational area.

Do you always ask people do anything for you? Do you ask people if you can do anything for them? Do you do anything for the sake of taking back? These are general explanations of a taker, a giver, and a matcher.  As Adam Grant noted, givers are found in all the spheres of life, work, studying both at the bottom and at the top. They make the process work, but they are sometimes unevaluated. They share their knowledge, give feedback, and it could be 5 minutes help, but it is worth. The speaker pointed out three things to protect givers: protect givers from burnout; encourage help-seeking; get the right people on the bus/keep the wrong people off the bus. Explaining in other words, givers should know that they can receive as well; people should not be shy to ask for help; takers should be out because they could pass over the whole work to a giver.

What image do you have when you think of givers and takers? Agreeableness is for givers, and disagreeableness is for takers? However, these traits of character are not connected, and they could represent both of them. Personally, I appreciate disagreeable givers, they are the most critical and tell things that no one wants to hear, but they tell the clear truth and to the point. Adam Grant ended his speech with the words that if there will be more givers, and if people would ask for help, it could lead to the change of success understanding.

The claim of a speaker is valuable, and the presented evidence mostly come from diverse studies. However, I have several points to debate about and add something from my own experience. I refer myself to matchers. Previously, I was a giver, but I have the story behind which made me a matcher. Now I think that everything should be built on balance. If there should be many givers, as Adam Grant suggests, takers and matchers will be off the bus. I believe that three of them should have the place in every sphere of our life. If a giver gives, who would receive then? I agree with the opinion that people should not be afraid of asking questions, they should share and help. However, not only givers can do this.

Talking about an educational sphere, I would like to speak of studying and teaching experiences. Studying at NUGSE, I see on the practice that helping each other, sharing, and asking questions open the door to the suitcase of knowledge. People who do these things are not only givers, but they manage to do it. Working as a teacher of the English language, there seemed to be a lack of givers. Mentoring is what I needed as a first-year teacher. However, no one wanted to help. Then, I asked for a help, and I got it. From my experience, givers are mostly awake when you ask. Thus, asking, sharing, and helping are more important in our life.

Do not be shy and afraid of asking questions, as it is the wheel to progress and all the developments in our society. Do help people and share with them, no matter who you are: a giver, a taker, or a matcher. Not the point of being a giver, but being responsive is a key to success.

Multitasking. You’d better get rid of it!

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You probably often notice when people around can do two or more things at the same time. For instance, a man working on the computer, drinking coffee and listening to music; a woman singing the baby to sleep and reading a book; students surfing the Internet and using VK or Instagram at the lecture or Mr.Bean hurrying to the dentist. There are so many examples, in fact. We live that way every day and sometimes, in our busy living and rush, we do not recognize what is happening. But our ability to perform several things simultaneously has its own name multitasking. A majority of people tend to justify it by giving arguments like “it helps to save time” or “I can manage everything”. However, multitasking has a number of negative consequences. I myself became recently aware of this notion and realized that my weak productivity, slow academic progress and apathy, which sometimes I suffer from, are all the aftermath of multitasking. It is time now to identify this enemy and make a right decision!

The concept of multitasking is not a recent (as it turned out) phenomenon, but with the advent and development of new technologies like smartphones and tablets, it became an integral part of our life. Abate (2008) defines it as “an attempt by individuals to engage in several tasks in rapid linear succession (rather than simultaneously) where at least one of the tasks is a conceptual learning activity” (p. 8). It was long believed that multitasking is an extremely positive feature which helps us to improve our effectiveness, manage lots of things, especially those which are repetitive and simultaneous (Judd, 2012). And really, why not to check social networks while your professor is introducing a new material? Or do homework listening to music at the same time?

Not so fast. Multiple studies were conducted following the main question: is multitasking indeed a positive characteristic as it has been long considered? The study of Rubinstein, Meyer, & Poldrack (as cited in Abate, 2008) revealed that multitaskers are less productive comparing with people who can concentrate on doing just one thing because it is impossible for a human brain to perform two simultaneous things. So, when we multitask our brain has to switch quickly between the different tasks which consequently leads to the reduction of effectiveness and productivity. Multitasking also impedes the acquisition of knowledge since it creates redundant brain overload which hinders the working memory (Lee, Lin & Robertson, 2012). Moreover, “as multiple tasks are performed simultaneously, a cognitive bottleneck develops because of the limits of cognitive capabilities, and this results in an appreciable disruption in the decision-making process” (Lau, 2016, p. 287). A number of research studies were conducted on the theme of media multitasking and academic performance. For instance, Junco (2012) found that permanent usage of ICTs (Facebook and WhatsApp) during lessons has a negative impact on overall students’ GPA. Mayer and Moreno (as cited in Junco, 2012) have also revealed that “paying attention to Facebook or texting in class limits essential processing because energies focused on attending to these technologies cannot be focused on making sense of lecture material” (p. 2241). A study by Brasel & Gips (as cited in Judd, 2012) provides a good example of the prevalence of multitasking in the modern world: students and staff of one university who had simultaneous access to a computer and TV toggled between them more than 4 times per minute.

It can be seen therefore that multitasking indeed is not as good as it sounds. Having a number of negative consequences such as a poor productivity, cognitive overload, slow memorizing abilities, distraction and low academic performance, multitasking becomes a serious problem for all the people, especially for students. However, the decision of keeping on multitasking or not is only up to us. Perhaps it will take a lot of time to get rid of this habit and learn how to focus and concentrate, but it is really worth it. Because consequently you will start enjoying what you do and have a more meaningful, productive and happy life.

P.s. I also put a link to one good article in case you would like to know some tips for reducing the opportunities to multitask.

References

Abate, C.J. (2008). You say multitasking like it’s a good thing. Thought & Action, The NEA Higher Education Journal, pp. 7-14.

Lau, W.F.W. (2016). Effects of social media usage and social media multitasking on the academic performance of university students. Computers in Human Behavior, 68(2017), pp. 286-291. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2016.11.043

Lee, J, Lin, L, & Robertson, T. (2012). The impact of media multitasking on learning. Learning, Media and Technology, 37(1), pp. 94-104. DOI: 10.1080/17439884.2010.537664

Judd, T. (2012). Making sense of multitasking: key behaviours. Computers & Education, 63(2013), pp. 358–367.

Junco, R. (2012). In-class multitasking and academic performance. Computers in Human Behavior, 28, pp. 2236–2243.

Image credit: http://www.livescience.com/19983-multitaking-work-bad-feel-good.html