Category Archives: Other

Ways of Unblocking a “Writing Block”

Remember those torturing periods when you cannot start writing an assignment, feeling embarrassed, hesitated and STUCK?! Sounds familiar? There was a post about procrastination and ways of battling it, but we should face another “academic demon” that wraps our effort in the start of doing assignments, and i.e. “writing block”. Its Russian equivalent sounds like “creativity crisis”, which precisely depicts the state of a student (or writer) as an inability to start or continue his writing work. Even if this phenomenon seems barely defeatable, any attempt is a chance to push it away. At least, there won’t be a solution without any effort.
Notably, it’s crucial to identify a reason for your writing block. They may be several at once: fear, perfectionism, devoid of ideas or loss of focus. When you are aware of a source of your writing block, there are more possible chances to find a solution for struggling with it.
Let me share my tips on how to overcome a writing block and end up with productive paperwork.

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First, take a break and focus on any physical activity. Sounds trite, but it works! Your mind needs a short-term getaway from a continuous overwork. My father always insisted on a systematic shuffle of mental activity with physical work and I do cleaning a house, gardening systematically along with doing my paperwork.

The second recommendation sounds similar to a previous one, although it is about looking for inspiration. Try to change your focus from your assignment because too much concentration causes a deficiency of diverse ideas or vice versa overload of ideas that enable mess in your mind. It is quite useful to draw your attention to those everyday activities, which you like doing on a regular basis, e.g. surfing social networks, watching favorite TV shows, reading a newspaper or visiting galleries (but do not be stuck there too!). There is also a chance of emergence of an answer for your questions from assignment or ideas for your writing work.

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Finally, become an illiterate, grammarian-free writer… for a while. The process of correcting mistakes through continuous editing your paragraphs and concentration on your stylistic errors results in a waste of much time. Ideas and your thoughts matter more than stylistically polished structures, so it is beneficial to start put your raw ideas first with a later proof check of your writing paper.

Hope, my tips on how to get over writing block will be useful for someone who deals with it. What are your suggestions and experiences in overcoming writing block?


7 Ways to Make a Conversation with Anyone (deconstruction)

Malavika Varadan, a radio presenter, claims it is easy to start a conversation with strangers in her TEDx Talks speech “7 Ways to Make a Conversation with Almost Anyone”. In general, I liked the way she presented, explained and engaged the audience. Nevertheless, I don’t think I will watch it again. Here is why. The intro is too long which might discourage the viewers from continuing to watch it. When she gets almost to the point, Ms. Varadan gives her background saying she’s been working as a radio presenter for nine years and every single show she talks with the broadcast listeners for 20 minutes. That is a good strategy to gain trust from the audience since this makes her seem to be experienced in making a conversation with strangers. The presenter encourages people to take a risk and talk to strangers, she assures there isn’t anything to be afraid of, there is nothing they are going to lose. “What’s the worst that can happen?”. Well, anything could happen! Everything might end up with kidnapping or even worse… So, I think she should be careful when claiming everything is going to be fine.

I would like to comment each tip given by Malavika Varadan.

  1. The first word flood gates

“Just start the conversation”. According to the presenter, starting the conversation might be a bit scary and difficult, but then everything will go smoothly. However, I am sure the hardest part of making a conversation is keeping that conversation going. Just imagine, you come up to someone and say “Hi!”, he/she: “Hi!”… The first step is taken so what? How is the conversation with someone who you don’t know anything about supposed to flow after the first word? It would be more helpful to advise on how the conversation could be continued.

  1. Skip the small talk

Instead of wasting time on How Are Yous and What’s Ups, Malavika Varadan suggests asking personal questions like “Where do your parents live?”. It would work with people whom you are familiar with but don’t talk too much or don’t know much about. However, in case of strangers things might go wrong. Personally, if someone came up and asked a personal question I would run away as fast as I could. Along with that, this tip may not work in some countries (for instance, in the UK) where asking personal questions is considered impolite.

  1. Find the me-toos

Ms. Varadan starts well when explaining her third point. I agree that common things bring people together and make the conversation interesting. But after listing out several examples of questions that could be used when trying to find those common topics to talk about, she says: “I don’t know, you’ll find something”. Intentionally or unintentionally the speaker makes everything look easy. However, I assume people who search for and watch such TEDx Talks are mostly those ones who are actually looking for more practical advice because they don’t find it as easy as it seems to the speaker. That’s why I would rather omit that statement or give more concrete advice.

  1. Pay a unique compliment

Here is the part I liked the most: “People will forget what you do, they’ll forget what you say, but they will never forget how you made them feel”. I feel she did well when supporting her claim with the story about the model with the immunity to the word “beautiful”. I saw her message clearly.

  1. Ask for an opinion and 6. Be present

She makes the eye contact with one of the audience members in order to prove that it helps to keep people present in the conversation. To my mind, it worked better than if she didn’t show it in practice. Next, Ms. Varadan imitates a person who pretends to listen when, actually, he does not. She acted it out perfectly; her tone, movements, everything represented that type of people accurately. Then, she adds: “I know you’ve been through this, I know I have”. It seems to me she is generalizing people and their relationships based on her own experience. There might be people who haven’t been through such situation. And she doesn’t take them into account.

7.Name, place, animal, thing

Lastly, Malavika Varadan advises to remember all the details about your partner and mention them in your conversation. “Be genuinely interested and automatically you kind of become an investor in their well-being; so they feel responsible to you to keep that conversation going”. These words make me feel like I’m being taught how to manipulate people. She could be more specific or cautious about the word choice.

The presenter sums everything up with an analogy. By comparing people to books she suggests to read the whole story instead of looking through the titles. That was a really proper closing. She gave the main point in that sentence, which was more convincing to me rather than the whole speech. In the end, she emphasizes she doesn’t enforce a choice and everything is up to the listeners. Frankly speaking, there were too many “trust mes” which make me think she tries to convince that she is totally right and everything will work for anyone.

Ms. Varadan held herself confidently, spoke clearly and used simple vocabulary, consequently, nothing caused any misunderstanding. However, sometimes, her laugh sounded artificial. I assume those times were when she tried to cover awkward silence after the jokes which nobody laughed at.

Overall, the speaker looks at the making conversation from her own perspective where everything is easy. She is a public and very attractive person. She is open and self-confident which is noticeable from the way she speaks. It might be easy for her. But she forgets about people who are shy or not confident enough to take those “simple” steps. What should they do? Moreover, she doesn’t take into account the second partner of the conversation. Conversation is a two-way process, isn’t it? What if that person is shy or simply doesn’t want to talk to us? Although she tried to depict possible life situations in order to demonstrate her tips in practice, she didn’t consider all the possible situations some of which might lead to embarrassing results that will probably discourage already shy people from speaking to strangers even more.

Moreover, there was nothing new in her tips. These are rather basic rules. The video is worth watching in order to remind yourself those basics; however, it would be more valuable if she came up with really working tips about avoiding those awkward moments when talking to strangers.

Where is my smartphone? Or Let’s turn it off for a while.


I usually take a bus. Once I came across to a group of students who were on an excursion with their teacher. The bus was full of school children using their smartphones. Well, actually the scenery is not surprising as it happens most of the time. One may think that this kind of harmless interest to smartphones may not hurt anyone. However, a frequent use of smartphones can cause smartphone addictions, especially school children who are easily attracted and influenced by new gadgets. As a consequence, it probably triggers some detrimental addictions like gambling and information overload that might negatively affect them mentally. What is more, some scientific terms, that describe certain cases, exist related to this “smartphone issue”.

Above all, let’s define what smartphone addiction means. According to the Gale Encyclopedia of Public Health (2013), addiction is a brain disease that is insistent to an irresistible desire to participate in activities, despite the harmful consequences. Therefore, smartphone addiction can be construed as a tempting impulse of overusing Internet, games or apps that have its negative side effects on people using it. By the way, how would you feel if you had forgotten your phone at home, left or lost it somewhere? Note that there is a scientific name for this kind of fear you might experience. The site “Technopedia” explains that “a fear exhibited in a human being when their cell phone is unable to perform the most basic of communication functionality that it is designed to provide is named as “nomophobia”. However, the other side of the coin has something to say. Remember any friend who is addicted to his or her phone. What is he/she doing? Is he or she constantly playing or surfing the Web? Your friend is just taking no notice of you! This kind of practice of ignoring someone’s company in order to pay attention to one’s cell phone or other devices is named as phubbing (The Washington post). So, who are you? Are you phubbing or pubbed? Or have you ever felt fear of losing your phone?

As previously mentioned, smartphone addiction can be expressed in various forms. Gambling addiction is one of the widespread and well-documented problems, the availability of Internet made it even more accessible. Some Japanese researchers disclosed that smartphone-addicted children don’t make friends with those who use it less (as cited in Dollahite & Haun, 2012). It seems that gambling is a disease of digital age. According to Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery, 80% of surveyed teenagers between 12-17 years say that they have gambled in the last 12 months. Whereas, 35% of them gamble at least once a week. Thus, students’ smartphone addiction can give rise to social, mental and academic problems as lowliness, depression and low academic performance at school.

Some students may say that they are not inclined to any sort of gambling as playing online games or so on. That definitely cannot be disclaimed. But, don’t they use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube or any other social media to post their photos and videos or check one’s messenger every hour. Isn’t it an addiction, then? Inveterate surfing the Internet, reviewing news, blogs, feeds can be responsible for the students’ low attentiveness which may lead to low academic achievements. The consequences of these kinds of overloaded information may be as harmful as it is. For instance, isolation, loss of real-world relationships, social life and hobbies, or even worth mental disorders.

Obviously, we cannot deny the importance of smartphones in our life. All those countless benefits it has in education and in other domains. However, an overuse of smartphones can negatively affect like medicine which can be a remedy or vice-versa. So, do you, (your children or students) lose track of time when using your (their) phone? If you answered “Yes”, then maybe it’s a right time to revise your attitudes towards smartphone use and its role in order to prevent lamentable consequences. And what would you do if one of your students unconsciously kept using his or her smartphones most of the time?


Birdwell, A. F. (2012). Technology and the Mind. In N. E. Dollahite & J. Haun (Eds.), Source work: Academic Writing from Sources (195). Location: Sherrise Roehr.

Nomophobia. Definition. Retrieved from

Sternberg, B. S., Willingham, E. J., Asenjo, B., Wells, K. R., Alic, M., & Nienstedt, A. (2013). Addiction. In Gale (Ed.), The Gale encyclopedia of public health. Farmington, MI: Gale. Retrieved from

Smith, M.A., Robinson, L., & Segal, J. (December 2017). Smartphone Addiction.
Trusted guide to mental & emotional health. Retrieved from

Seppälä, E. (13 October 2017). Are you ‘phubbing’ right now? What it is and why science says it’s bad for your relationships. Retrieved from

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Writing Contest Winners: Round One

The first round of our Spring 2018 writing contest series had only three submissions, but they were strong posts which provided critical reviews to two texts about Evidence-Based Policy Making (EBPM). The upside of the low number of posts is that all three contestants won a prize.

Please join us in congratulating the winners!
Third place: Gulzhaina Mussagali

Third Place

Second place: Sagida Serikbayeva

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First place: Mariya Ippolitova

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To learn how to submit a post for Round 2, click here.

Review of the article “The Relevance of Evidence-Based Policy Making (EBPM) in Public Management”


This blog post is the review of the article “The Relevance of Evidence-Based Policy Making (EBPM) in Public Management” by Joseph Tham. The blog post analyses the article’s structure, information is given in it, and content as well as it gives examples from the policy-making process in the Kazakhstani context in order to clarify the relevance of arguments given in the article.

Этот блог является обзором статьи «Актуальность разработки политики на основе фактических данных (EBPM) в общественном управлении» написанный Джозефа Тамом. В блоге анализируется структура статьи и содержание, а также приводятся примеры из процесса разработки политики в казахстанском контексте, чтобы прояснить значимость аргументов, приведенных в статье.

Бұл блог Джозеф Тэмам жазған «Мемлекеттік басқаруда EBPM-тың өзектілігі»  мақаласына шолу болып табылады. Блогта мақаланың құрылымы мен мазмұны талқыланған, сондай-ақ мақалада келтірілген дәлелдердің маңыздылығын түсіндіру үшін Қазақстан контекстіндегі саясатты әзірлеу үдерісінен мысалдар келтірілген.


The article “The Relevance of Evidence-Based Policy Making (EBPM) in Public Management” by Joseph Tham is the review of the usage of Evidence-Based Policy Making (EBPM) in policy-making process in three different countries including the USA, the UK, and Australia.  In general, the article analyzes the effectiveness of using EBPM, the implication for public management as well as various views towards it in these three countries.

Overall, the article is well-structured and easy to follow. It contains several chapters devoted to the particular theme. On the one hand, it makes it clear and structured but on the other hand, it looks like the simple list of ideas without analyses and synthesis.  For instance, the usage of EBPM in three countries is written separately in three paragraphs and it will be better to add one more paragraph in which the author analyzes the situation in these three countries by comparing and contrasting evidence and comes to the consensus.

One more idea for improving the article is connected with the last paragraph which is devoted to the situation in Kazakhstan. In the Kazakhstani context, EBPM is a new phenomenon and is not used widely in the policy-making process. Therefore, it is clear that there is the shortage of evidence related to the EBPM and as the result; the author wrote a short review by using available information. Moreover, the author gives some recommendations for the implementation of EBPM in Kazakhstani context. As it was mentioned above, it will be better to give a more practical recommendation based on the experiences mentioned above three countries highlighting strong and weak sides in the usage of EBPM in the policymaking.

As a part of governmental institutions, the education system is considered to be one of the important sectors which formulate the frameworks for all levels of society. Therefore, the usage of EBPM in the education system is important in order to make educational policies more effective and successful. Unfortunately, many policies in the education system fail because of the several reasons. One of the main reasons is connected with the shortage of evidence and the luck of pre-preparation in the implementation process. For example, in the Kazakhstani context, one of the reforms initiated by the MoES is e-learning project is criticized widely.  E-learning is a large-scale state project included in the State Program of Development of Education of the Republic of Kazakhstan for 2011 – 2020 years. Its main goal of the project is to ensure equal access for all participants in the educational process to the best educational resources and technologies. Initially, the implementation of E-learning in the education system was divided into two parts. The first part of the programme contains 2011- 2015. However, according to the statistics of the national website of e-learning in Kazakhstan, the first part of the project did not reach intended indicators and there was a mismatch between target numbers and real situation. In addition, Kenzhebayev and Dalayeva (2014) state that some teacher of schools where e-learning system was introduced faced with challenges such as double filling the documentation: the electronic journals and the school journals. From this example, it can be seen that the mistakes made at the beginning of the projects had an impact on the whole implementation process. Therefore, it is important also use EBPM in the policy-making process in the education system. Moreover, the analyses of situation before the implementation of the policy can help avoid possible challenges or show if it works or not.

In conclusion, overall, the article is clear and informative since it gives important information about EBPM in several contexts. However, these are some points which need further development such as the comparison and synthesis of situations in the different context and giving more practical recommendations and coming to one conclusion after the review of all contexts. In general, the problem raised in the article can be applied and is relevant to the education system too since the policy-making process in the education system also needs EBPM in order to make it more effective.





MoES, (2012). Concept of e-learning in Kazakhstan’s education system: the first results, its introduction into the education system. Retrieved from:

Кenzhebayev, G., Baidildina, S., Dalayeva, T. (2012). Problems of development of e-Learning content in historical education on the republic of Kazakhstan. International Perspectives on Education. BCES Conference Books. Vol.10. Retrieved from


Is Evidence Making a Policy?

Abstract: This post is a critical review of the article by Joseph Tham “The relevance of evidence-based policy making (EBPM) in public management” (2017) where I suggest some possible areas for improvement and include educational researchers’ position to EBPM approach.

Абстракт: Эта публикация представляет собой критический обзор статьи Джозефа Тама «Актуальность разработки политики на основе фактических данных в государственном управлении» (2017), где я предлагаю некоторые области для совершенствования и взгляд на данный подход со стороны исследователей образования.

Абстракт: Бұл басылым Джозеф Там жазған “Мемлекет басқармасындағы нақты мәліметтерге негізделген саясатты әзірлеудің өзектілігі” (2017) атты мақаланың сынап талдауы боп табылады. Осы жарияланымда мен жетілдіруді қажет ететін салаларды әрі берілген тәсілге білім саласының зерттеушілерінің көзқарасын ұсынамын.

“No one can doubt that basing your predictions about policy effectiveness on evidence is a good idea”

(Cartwright & Hardie, 2012, p.53)

The author reviews the ideas about evidence-based policy making in the US, the UK, and Australia; touches upon some challenges of its implementation and presents the implications for public management. At the end, he gives the quick overview of the situation in Kazakhstan. According to Tham (2017) despite the fact that EBPM has a substantial number of proponents among governors and policy makers in the number of countries, its slow effect and difficulty in identifying quality evidence undermine its credibility.

In the review, I argue that ideas lack analysis and connection between them. The author uses a variety of sources such as government reports, conference proceedings, books, presidential addresses, organization websites and others to support his ideas but the quotes fail to achieve their rhetorical purpose and convince the readers. Here is an excerpt from the text:

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has clear guidelines on
performance measurement, and outcome evaluation. In a 2011 document titled
Performance Measurement, the GAO says that outcome evaluation:

“assesses the extent to which a program achieves its outcome-
oriented objectives. It focuses on outputs and outcomes
(including unintended effects) to judge program effectiveness
but may also assess program process to understand how
outcomes are produced.”

The Brookings Institution, a private think-tank has issued a recent report that
calls on ‘Strengthening Results-focused Government.’:

“It would help strengthen Americans’ confidence that their
government is able to effectively and efficiently tackle the
challenges we face as a nation.” (Page 1, Feldman Strengthening
Results-focused government)

The ideas are just introduced but not discussed and consequently, the coherence is lacking. One idea jumps into another. As a reader, I am wondering how is the existence of efficiency measurements linked to Americans’ trust in their authorities? More analysis of the quotes would lead me to the better understanding of the author’s goal. The conclusion also does not bring the whole paper together and only characterizes the US case leaving the discussion about other countries, challenges, and recommendations without any attention. I would like to see how the cases are interdependent and how Kazakhstani case is different from them.

Which of the implications should be taken into account in the Kazakhstani context? In this part, I would like to compare Tham’s ideas about EBPM in public management with the use of evidence in the educational field on the example of State Program for Education Development. Tham (2017) states that with the “support of the demand for evidence,  and support for the generation of research evidence, EBPM will be strengthened and widely used [in Kazakhstan]” (Tham, 2017, p. 12). However, no parallels were drawn with existing literature on the situation in the US, the UK, and Australia.

Moreover, when it comes to policy-making in the educational field, Bridges and Watts (2009) report about “the failure of policy-makers to take research findings properly into account” (p. 37). Ironically, they cite a number of research studies from Australia, UK, and the US which demonstrate that even solid evidence plays a minor role in changing practitioners or policy-makers decisions (Bridges & Watts, 2009). So even if the research evidence is generated, it is simply ignored because it is problematic to identify what should be counted relevant evidence in a particular context. According to Kettl (2017), in the UK case, the evidence is “facts, figures, ideas, analysis and research” (as cited in Tham, p.8).  This kind of data is already required from the policy makers in Kazakhstan when developing a policy. For example, the State Program of Educational Development in the Republic of Kazakhstan for 2011-2020 (MoES, 2010), which is the foundational program for all the education initiatives, has a special section “Analysis of the current situation” where all the facts and figures on the progress of a program or necessity for its implementation are described. No state program can be developed without “the demand for evidence” (Tham, 2017, p.12). Policy makers rely on think-tanks, experts, commissions, media but “academic research on social issues, including education, sits at the bottom of the list of resources” (Bridges & Watts, 2009, p.37).

Evidence-based policy making is a complicated process because even the essential part of it – the evidence is hardly generalizable. What worked in Western countries may not necessarily work in Kazakhstan, and even the kind of relevant evidence varies from department to department. In this post, I used the article on evidence-based policy to look at some aspects of policy making in education. However, it would be easier to follow the author’s way of thinking if he commented more on the way he interprets some quotations and made more conclusions for the reader on their connection.


Bridges, D., & Watts, M. (2009). Educational research and policy: Epistemological considerations. In D. Bridges, P. Smeyers & R. Smith (Eds.), Evidence-based education policy (36-57). United Kingdom: Wiley-Blackwell

Cartwright, N.,& Hardie, J. (2012). Evidence-based policy: A practical guide to doing it better. NY: Oxford University Press

Tham, J. (2017). The relevance of evidence-based policy making (EBPM) in public management. Unpublished manuscript, the Academy of Public Administration under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Astana, Kazakhstan

Kettl, D. et al. 2017. No time to wait: building a public service for the 21 st century, National Academy of Public Administration.

MoES. (Ministry of Education and Science). (2010, December 7). State Program of Education Development in the Republic of Kazakhstan for 2011-2020. Retrieved from



Critical Review of the article “Evidence-Based Policy Making (EBPM) is wicked: a critical assessment from the periphery” by Joseph Tham


This article is a journey of thought, led by the author, introducing us to the concept of Evidence-Based Policy Making (EBPM). It is written in a style, which is original and unusual for academic writing. However, after the journey you are left with more questions that when you started.

Эта статья является путешествием мысли на которое вы приглашены автором, описывающим концепт политических решений, основывающихся на фактах. Стиль повествования оригинален и далёк от обычного академического письма. Но, в конце данного путешествия у вас остаётся больше вопросов чем до него.

Бұл мақала сізді ойлану саяхатына шақырып отыр, сізді шақырған ой-пікірлерімен, фактілерге негізделген саяси шешімдер тұжырымдамасын сипаттайды. Повесть стилі түпнұсқа және әдеттегі академиялық жазудан алыс. Бірақ, осы сапардың соңында бұрыннан гөрі көп сұрақтар туыңдайды.


A journey of thought

First Steps

The article is written as a description of the process through which the author went, and the same style would be appropriate for a critical review of the said article. As a starting point, imagine being exposed to a catchy title of an article, which instantly makes you want to read it. You start reading and discover that it is easy to read, almost conversational, yet gets a point across. You start to understand what the EBPM concept means. The “imagine it’s you” approach helps you to start a journey of “wickedness”. You enjoy that there are questions in the introduction, because they grab your attention and make you think about what lies ahead.

However, you may think that the introduction is lacking a pitch, which will make it more interesting for you, the actual reason behind the “why do I care” question. A description of possible positive outcomes of applying EBPM in Kazakhstan may have been helpful in relating to this article.

The Walking Tour

The main body starts with setting the context for the journey, the need for a proposal for the implementation of EBPM. You think that using a theoretical example to set the scene is a good way to introduce a topic to a reader who is not familiar with it. You like the style chosen, there are interesting metaphors used throughout the text, such as the “lamppost” (Tham, 2017, p. 7) which may illuminate knowledge. However, here you pause to think about the target audience of this article. If it is aimed at the policy makers and civil servants, it may be too informal, if it is aimed at the laymen – what is the point of imagining being an expert in the field?

You think about the mentioned theory-practice divide and relate the importance of this topic to policymaking and implementation of said policies in education. This is exemplified in the case of inclusive education, where the policies and evidence are in place, however the practice and implementation are lacking (Mahlo, 2013). And for Kazakhstan, in education and other sectors of policymaking there are developments in creating the empirical basis, but there is still a need to create better tools for measuring and evaluating the quality of policies to reach EBPM (OECD, 2014).

As another step of the journey, you notice the organisational pattern of the article, which divides it into different sections. But, as you continue reading, you start getting confused and feel like you are jumping from topic to topic, because the sections seem disconnected and do not always link together seamlessly. More linking and connections between topics wold have create a more cohesive experience of the text.

You feel that some points and ideas, while you start to grasp them overall, may really benefit from additional examples and explanation, such as the whole “wicked problems” (Tham, 2017, p. 5) concept, prominent in the name of the article, but brought up as a topic only by the 5th page.  Even systems approach cited as best for solving wicked problems may need to be based on scientific evidence, as the two concepts often go hand in hand: “evidence-based policy also aims to clarify the interrelationship between different risk factors and different types of measures. This brings us to the systems approach” (Filtness, 2016, p. 13). Another example is that author claims that it is “difficult for the proponents to recognize the role of politics?”, but gives no example of this difficulty, an example of which may have brought you closer to understanding of the ideas in the article.

The abundance of questions throughout the article makes you want to answer all of them, even though they may be rhetoric questions, yet the aim of the article does not seem to be a dialogue between the author and the readers. This creates the idea that creating several blog posts on this topic would allow for a more back-and-forth format and create platform for further discussion, which may have created a further purpose for the reader.

You Got Us Where You Needed, What Next?

You find it ironic, that he conflicting dilemma described in this work is that evidence based policy making needs more evidence to prove that it is worthwhile.

In the end of the journey, even though you may disagree with the conclusions, you sit there, realising that now you know more than you did before reading this work, making it a worthwhile contribution of your time. But there is a thought nagging at the back of your brain: “What next?”. Overall, I was left with the same feeling as after finishing watching the first season of Westworld, or if I were to put it in the words of the author: “there are so many questions, with few answers” (p. 7, 2017, Tham).



Filtness, A. J. (2016). The application of systems approach for road safety policy making Deliverable 8.1 of the H2020 project SafetyCube. Loughborough. Retrieved from

Mahlo, D. (2013). Theory and Practice Divide in the Implementation of the Inclusive Education Policy: Reflections through Freire and Bronfenbrenner’s Lenses. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences MCSER Publishing, 4(13), 163–170.

OECD. (2014). OECD Public Governance Reviews Kazakhstan: Review of the Central Administration. OECD Publishing. Retrieved from

Tham, J. (2017). Evidence-Based Policy Making (EBPM) is wicked: a critical assessment from the periphery.

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.


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


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?


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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:

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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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?