The perils of neoliberalism in education

 

  “Businessmen are the one group that distinguishes capitalism and the American way of life from the totalitarian statism that is swallowing the rest of the world… Businessmen are the symbol of a free society – the symbol of America.”

Ayn Rand, a novelist, playwright, philosopher, and a “founding mother” of neoliberalism
trump

 

Are you sure, Ayn? Is this misogynist, racist, and insatiably greedy “dude” really the symbol of freedom who will save your country from totalitarianism?

Continue reading The perils of neoliberalism in education

Elastic time: How to gain control over your free time? / Laura Vanderkam (Deconstruction)

I am not the most disciplined, organized person on the earth (despite what my personal statement may say), and if you are anything like me, chances are you are struggling to manage your time effectively. In her 12-minute-presentation, the mother of three small children and a time-management expert, Laura Vanderkam helps us look at time from a new, refreshing perspective. In this video, we see a successful way of delivering your presentation by sharing a common experience with the audience (being late), telling short stories from other people’s lives, offering strategies to deal with a situation and using simple numbers in an effective way.

Laura builds a strong rapport with the audience by talking about the case when she was ironically late for her own presentation on time-saving, being an expert on time-management herself. Further, she goes on telling a story about the woman with the broken water heater, who surprisingly found time (7 HOURS!) to deal with the problem and its aftermath, despite the fact that at the beginning of the week she claimed not to have any free time. This story has sparked connection with the audience, as it is so relatable. I think we all had an urgent situation, at least once in a life, when you were the victim of some circumstances and it completely changed the way you planned everything beforehand. Speaking of my experience, once I had to finish all of my assignments in advance to attend my sister’s wedding (of course, a way better reason to reallocate your time than a heater problem). And, believe me, if you would ask me whether I could do it in advance or in such a short period of time at the beginning of the semester, I would say no, too. So, it all leads to her next point, that time is highly elastic and most of the time, “I don’t have time really means It is not a priority”. The woman with broken water heater found time to fix the problem, because she only prioritized it in her to-do list. Thus, if we prioritize “the things that deserve to be there”, “we can build the lives we want in the time we’ve got”.

Acknowledging that it is not always easy to find “time for what matters”, and even complicated for some people, Laura offers some strategies on how to balance our time commitments.  For that, the speaker suggests to write three categories each Friday afternoon – career, relationships, self- and jot down the things you want to finish by next year and ensure that you have proper investment in each category. Even though these suggestions might sound like a task, the way she delivered this piece of her talk, makes it clear that it is up to the audience to follow her advice or not.

Finally, the speaker presents numbers in an attractive way, so that it doesn’t look like a spreadsheet, but one numerical value embedded into one slide. The numbers (the time that we have to do what we want) come from solving simple math equation like “twenty-four times seven is 168 hours”. So, according to Laura, even if we work 40 hours per week, sleep eight hours per night, we still have 72 hours to spend on things that matter. However, I think this part of her speech could benefit from incorporating food-related time, as she does not consider the amount of time each person spends on eating (for some people food preparation and cooking is a big part of the day).

Overall, her friendly personality and articulate speech throughout the talk makes the presentation more engaging and impactful. I would like to end the deconstruction blog with her outstanding quote that I find to be true: “We cannot make more time, but time will stretch to accommodate what we choose to put into it”.

“Keep your goals to yourself” (deconstruction)

Lose weight. Learn English. Run every morning. Every time when we want to complete any deal, we habitually share our plans with our friends, parents and colleagues. We tell them that we want to accomplish this or that. Sometimes happily acknowledge them, that we have already started something. Then, most of the time, it happens that what we have planned to do did not turn to reality. Why should not we inform anybody about our plans in advance? And why the plans that we did not tell anybody often tend to be achieved?

In the video above an American entrepreneur Derek Sivers shared his view about keeping secret about the goals. The main argument that he proposed is when people tell anybody about their intensions, they are likely to fail.

The speaker supports his view from the psychological perspectives. Whenever the person shares about his plans with people, he states that “their congratulations and their high image of” the person, make people feel that they are already one step closer to accomplishing the plans. However, these sorts of psychological impact of the surrounding can lead to artificial self-satisfaction. As a result, the plans remain as the plans that are suppressed with the imagination of the person as though the plans “are becoming the part of the [person’s] identity”.  In the psychology, this process is called as “social reality”. Therefore, in order to make the goals and plans doable, David suggested keeping the goals only to you.

In order to make his claim more evidentially-based, he stated that this “social reality” became the interest of many researchers. He shared with the results of the research conducted in 2009 by Peter Golwitzer in which the half of the participants shared with the other people about their plans they are going to do, whether others did not tell anything. They were all given 45 minutes to accomplish their plans. When the time ends, the participants who kept their mouth shut, entire 45 minutes devoted to work and said that they need to had a long way to achieve the goal. The other half quieted the experiment in 33 minutes by stating that they have almost close to the goal achievement. Indeed, it was the case when their minds “mistakes talking for doing”. However, I deem the results of one research are insufficient to make this theory truly convincing one. More experiment results is necessary to make the theory more thought-provoking.

Personally, I strongly support this misconception of our mind when we talk about our plans. In fact, when I began to announce all my plans to everybody, these plans tend to fail. I do not know, does it have any coincidence or not with the keeping plans secret, but mostly it happens with me.

By the way, do you have the same situation as me? Do you believe that announcement of your plans and goal hinders them to come true?

Hackschooling makes me happy (deconstruction)

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Photo credit: https://www.lifecoachcode.com/2014/09/13/leave-traditional-education/

I was hooked by the presentation of 13 years old boy thinking as an adult but at the same time being curious as a child. The video is the TEDex talk presented by Logan LaPlante, a kid who created the Hackschooling approach. He talks about his homeschooling experience that is focused on main principles as to be healthy and happy. He makes the parallel between the word “Hack” and “innovate” or “ameliorate”. Hence, the hackschooling is making the learning process innovative, engaging, linked to reality and teach not to survive, but how to create own lives. Using his own life experience, he shows how this approach made him creative freethinker and raised his potential and intelligence.

His main claim is that schools do not teach how to be happy and healthy and it is separate from schools. He supports his claim by comparing the case if at schools it could be possible to learn and practice how to be happy and healthy. He emphasizes the practice as the key to succeeding in education. By doing so he elaborates main 8 things to practice: exercise, diet and nutrition, time in nature, contribution and service to others, relationships, recreation, relaxation and stress management, religious or spiritual involvement. Also, he proves his arguments by relying on real research made by Dr. Roger Walsh named “Therapeutic lifestyle changes” (TLC). His counterargument is that schools do not account these eight important factors as the priority. Therefore, proposes his own approach – Hackschooling.

I enjoyed listening to Logan LaPlante as in his 13 years old he brought his own idea to modernize educational system, he recognizes consciously what he wants from education and how he sees it. The most impressive moment for me is his metacognitive skill to make the step back and synthesize the information, experience or feeling. I agree with him saying that the education which is focused on teaching facts and general skills is in the past and now educators, reformers should perceive that education should reflect the reality.

However, he could provide with pieces of evidence about omissions of schools concerning negative effects on raising creativity or diminishing eight important features of successful teaching and learning approach.

Overall, I am glad that the issue of transformation of the educational system is raised by people with different backgrounds, age, location, and beliefs. It triggers me to predict the revolution in several years. I would be more than happy to be in the list of enthusiastic innovators with hackers’ mindset.

Reference:

LaPlanta L., (2013). Hackschooling makes me happy, Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h11u3vtcpaY

How to sound smart in your TEDx Talk?

This talk was given at a local TEDx New York event by Will Stephen, who is a professional actor and writer. By the way, he is concurrently a professional comedian. In his hilarious speech, he shows flawless presentation skills to make you sound genius – even if you are truly talking about nothing.

Words… How impressive they might be?! How brilliant they might sound?! But is it all about only words and content while you are giving a public talk or even a daily speech in your kitchen with your wife?! The speaker in this video claims that you may sound smart, no matter what are you talking about. Voice tone, pace, speed, and body language represents more than about 80% of your talk. The rest is content and words. And his speech is the brilliant proof of this argument. Because when you really get rid of the audio (his suggestion), he looks so smart and his speech seems like worth listening to.

I think this video is probably the most interesting TED talk I’ve ever listened to. Apart from it being an interesting commentary on psychology, it also allows one to think about delivery. Through the manner of his speech, he made the tremendous work to engage and interest the audience. By extension, we may see how people are easily convinced of weak arguments from those in positions of authority and such. Even though the speaker while the whole presentation was talking about absolutely nothing, he made me think about many things instead of just telling me nonsense.

He says he has nothing to say, but what he really has, is a very sophisticated parody of TED talks themselves. The sad fact remains that this is much more thought provoking than a lot of  TED talks I have seen recently. Watching him one can understand that he has a point that many of TED talks seem like they might be hitting a point that they never do. He makes you think about the storytelling layout of most TED talk videos in a backwards way, his delivery was strong, funny and painless to listen to so he taught you in a way that didn’t feel like teaching.

In fact, it’s actually how public speeches are given. Capturing the audience’s attention. The speaker encapsulates why I think TED talks are just good presentations, and are inspirational “edutainment”, but offer no threat of changing the status quo or actual education (which takes work). They have branded a successful format that makes for good dinner party banter, that’s all.

This is a great way to see that there is no such thing as a boring or pointless topic, only boring and pointless speakers. It legitimately took a lot of skill. I am both annoyed and impressed by his ability to make literally “nothing” interesting. I can say that his claim is credible as I have tried to use the same thing in my Academic Kazakh course and from my personal experience it was interesting and fascinating.

Humans are really complex, yet, we take it to granted, we take it as a simple speech, as it is nothing, but it doesn’t. I liked watching this video and it somehow made me rethink my life. What are your thoughts about this claim?

Some issues of the intercultural communication competence

The intercultural communication competence is closely connected with the value-laden practices based on real life experiences. Education system might provide creation of good professionals in different fields, but it is not enough if the population is not aware of the cultural peculiarities which should be taught to the population. European countries included studying cultures to the curriculum of educational establishments, i.e. education system introduces different cultures to learners.

The necessity of an appropriate education context for plurilingualism of individuals is well-written by Byram (2009). The author explains intercultural education and effective support which learners need for their plurilingual repertoire. In the same vein, COE (2009) comments about the absence of a unique model for all countries because “teaching in/of the mother tongue of minorities and the official/national language(s) will vary according to the situation of the languages concerned, the socio-political setting and the individual school context.” (p. 3). They raise the issues of well-qualified teachers and suitable textbooks in a particular socio-political context. Solving these issues would help to deal smoothly with sociopolitical structure and standards of the country. The authors mention the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the European Charter for Regional or Minority languages. I consider it to be well-organized policy documents which regulate and foster of the development and preservation of plurilingualism in a multilingual society.

According to Byram, “there is also a demotic discourse, the language of culture making, which is often used when people from different backgrounds interact in discussing issues of common concern or engaging in projects of mutual interest” (p. 5).  However, the important factor of this interaction is not only economic and financial benefits of both countries, but sensitive feature of language user’s linguistic repertoire which is mentioned by Kalliokoski (2011) “plurilingual competence serves interpersonal, emotional, poetic and textual functions.” It provides participants with necessary information interpretation from the socializing context. Thus, it functions as a powerful source for developing “(g)local identities in our changing globalized world” (p. 106).

Consequently, even plurilingual identities are considered to be endangered if there is no mutual understanding, respect to the other in an intercultural dialogue.

 

References

Byram, M. (2009). Multicultural societies, pluricultural people and the project of intercultural education. Council of Europe Publishing. Retrieved from www.coe.int/lang.

COE. (2009). Regional, minority and migration languages. Council of Europe Publishing. Retrieved from www.coe.int/lang.

Image credit:  http://www.lawpracticetoday.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/competence-e1401…

Promotion of plurilingualism in a multilingual society

Plurilingualism issues are natural today because every country in the world embraces more than one nationality whose language, culture, history, and education influence the development of the country and intercultural communication within the country.

The promotion of plurilingualism in a multilingual society is seen in two ways (Boeckmann et al., 2011). Firstly, they stress the attention on the secondary school education in which students are taught in the majority language as a medium of instruction. Secondly, they discuss the issues of plurilingualism and language hierarchy in teaching; how they are perceived by the representatives of school management and the necessity of students’ awareness about these serious questions. They urge to consider not only linguistic questions, but also the cultural diversity of a multilingual society. I see their point in teaching and directing the present generation to the right understanding of these serious issues in promoting plurilingualism, since, it is the core criteria in achieving future understanding and peace between different nations living in a country.

In the same vein, Boutillier (2012) suggests a bottom-up approach for plurilingualism. According to him, the population of a country plays an important role as well as the government of the country. It is the essential factor because citizens should understand their obligations in the society. He investigates the strengths and weaknesses of three countries’ past experiences (Canada, Kenya, and Kyrgyzstan) and comes to the conclusion that “The politics of accommodation begins at home (p. 11). I believe this is absolutely true because many outside factors might influence the stability of a country, but nothing is worse than inside misbalance and conflicts.

Finally, the population has some power which should be encouraged by the government and foster the citizens’ desire to support multilingualism. The policy makers should provide necessary resources, and, certainly, make every effort to achieve the goals together with its citizens. Although different obstacles are going to prevent a successful promotion of plurilingualism, there is a good saying by Boutillier (2012) “Learning to live together peaceably with disagreement is an achievement” (p. 14).

References

Boeckmann et al. (2011). Promoting Plurilingualism: Majority Language in Multilingual Settings. TESOL Quarterly. 654-657. doi: 10.1002/tesq.106

Boutillier (2012). Defining Plurilingualism. Pluralism Papers No. 1. 1-14. Global Centre for Pluralism.

Image credit: http://www.prezzooferta.mondow.com 

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 

Humanity rise

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18th of May, 1944 is the most catastrophic and tragic day in the history of Crimean Tatars – the Soviet Government troops forcedly evicted ethnic Crimean Tatars from their motherland, Crimean Peninsula, to Central Asia.  Only in 1989 Crimean Tatars were allowed to move back to Crimea. Deportation caused death of many Crimean Tatars and separated many families. Those horrible times are depicted in the song “1944” of the winner of the contest “Eurovision-2016”, Jamala, an ethnic Crimean Tatar, the representative of Ukraine. The music and lyrics of the song were written by Jamala herself. The idea of writing this song was born by the stories of Jamala’s grandmother, who was deported to Kyrgyzstan.

When strangers are coming…

They come to your house,

They kill you all

and say,

We’re not guilty

not guilty.

Jamala calls Soviet troops “strangers”, since Crimea is a “house” of indigeneous people, Crimean Tatars. The word “kill” can be understood in two ways: many people died while transportation to Central Asia, others died in the steppes where they were left. Also, “kill” means that people were broken spiritually, separated from their Motherland.

Where is your mind?

Humanity cries.

You think you are gods.
But everyone dies.

Don’t swallow my soul.

Our souls

Jamala addresses to Soviet Regime asking “Where is your mind”. Indeed, it is difficult to understand how injustice can be made to the whole nation. “You think you are gods” is again addressed to the Soviet state, which thought they were as powerful as god, since they ruled the fates of many nations. History says that Soviets accused Crimean tatars in betrayal and collaboration with Germans, however many tatars were fighting against fascism on the side of Soviets. “Humanity cries” because of the extremely inhumane and violent actions of Soviet government against tatars.

Yaşlığıma toyalmadım [I could not enjoy my youthfulness]

Men bu yerde yaşalmadım [I could not live in that place]

Yaşlığıma toyalmadım [I could not enjoy my youthfulness]

Men bu yerde yaşalmadım [I could not live in that place]

The chorus of the song is in the Crimean Tatar language, consists of two phrases. Youthfulness is associated with heaven-sent and carefree moments. In my opinion, she speaks on behalf of her nation, which could not continue its happy and carefree life anymore on “their land” – “I could not live in that place”. Also, it is reported that during the deportation many children died, since they were most vulnerable ones – “I could not enjoy my youthfulness”.

We could build a future

Where people are free

to live and love.

The happiest time.

This part is about the hopes of the nation. They “could build a future” with free and happy people, but they were deprived from this chance. In my opinion, this part is also about the recent events in Crimea – the annexation of it by Russia. It is important to underline the phrases “could built” and “people are free” which mean that even now Crimean tatars are allowed to live in their historical motherland, they are not free and happy yet.

Where is your heart?

Humanity rise.

You think you are gods.
But everyone dies.

Don’t swallow my soul.

Our souls.

This part is still about the current situation of Crimea. Jamala addresses the global community asking “Where is your heart” and calls for attention and actions woth words “Humanity rise”. Jamala changes her style to harsh one and emphasizes the phrase “Humanity rise”, which is expected to wake compassion in peoples’s hearts.

Yaşlığıma toyalmadım

Men bu yerde yaşalmadım

Yaşlığıma toyalmadım

Men bu yerde yaşalmadım

Jamala wrote a very strong song with serious connotation in it. While singing Jamala uses code-mixing English and Crimean tatar and switches her style of performing, which is made not by chance.

Jamala starts the song with a quiet but yet firm voice full of terror and pain, this is the way how she describes 18th of May of 1944 when her ancestors were deported. She continues singing in Crimean tatar. I think, she chose particularly her native language for a chorus, where she describes the feelings and pain of herself and her nation. She sings a chorus with a tremble in her voice, making words long as she is moaning and howling from the pain.

Parts of the song, which are in English, illustrate the historical event of 1944 and address to the English speaking global community. Jamala tries to attract the attention of the world on current situation of Crimea and Ukraine. For this reason she sings with a harsh and loud voice, emphasizing such phrases as “Where is your mind?”, “Where is your heart” and “Humanity rise”.

In conclusion, the song “1944” and the performance of Jamala is a bright example of code-mixing and style shifting in order to deliver a particular message. Jamala masterly plays with her voice and gestures, showing her pain and sufferings.

Photo credits: http://esckaz.com/2016/ukr.htm

 

Discourse analysis: Hochu seni polubit’

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Today the code switching in Kazakh society is the most frequent issue.  Especially youth Kazakhs used to mix Kazakh and Russian languages, hence they have integrated linguistic repertoire. Contemporary authors in this field try to announce about this issue and create songs to show how it looks in an ironical way. In this post, we will make deep discourse analysis of the song “Hochu seni…polubit”.

The author of the song “Hochu seni…polubit” (I want to love you) is the Kazakh Poet Almas Temirbay. He writes about contemporary issues in the social life of Kazakhs, as the language code mixing habits, the appearance of Kazakh girls, the behavior of authority in Kazakhstan etc. The song became popular 3 years ago and its purpose was to show how Kazakh youth used to code-switch and mix Kazakh and Russian words in their speech. Usually, Kazakh people from urban area speak in Russian and while talking in Kazakh they add Russian words in their discourse. Particularly in this song, we can observe crossing and style shifting of two singers.

In the plot of the song the singer Eltay (mail) plays the role of the man from aul (Kazakh village), who fall in love with city girl – Bota (female). She is from Kokshetau, the northern part of Kazakhstan, where Kazakhs assimilated to Russian ethnic group because of the large Russian population. There are 16 features of crossing (red lines highlighted by yellow color) in Bota’s text. In the first sentence “Ғашық болып походи” where gashik bolyp (Kazakh word) means being in love and походи ( the Russian word) means go ahead or with the meaning you can do that she builds the sentence with two predicates in two languages by using Kazakh language grammar. It demonstrates that she is bilingual and used to speak in two languages simultaneously. At the same time, er manner of speech shows her origin and style to switch from one language to another.

The author of the song attempts to add as many examples of crossing as it is possible. Moreover, by words “Не по теме сөйлемеші” (Do not speak beyond the theme) he distinguishes the age (youth), auditorium and language style. Usually, only 17-30 years old people may talk with their friends in such way, in other situation it perceived roughly and disrespectfully.

Turning to Eltay’s text (black lines) we may analyze that he speaks in Kazakh from the beginning, but starts to switch to the Russian language after Bota’s words. For instance “Хочу сені, хочу полюбить” ( I want to love you) may give the contextual understanding of the meaning without the Kazakh word сені, but he purposefully mixes two languages.The reason is to show that he knows the Russian language as well and for making his speech modern or prestigious he uses style shifting. Selting (1983) defines style-shifting as the switching of one speech style with another in the same communicative situation by the same person (Selting, 1983). Also, the example as “Че там говорить” (There is nothing to say) shows the way to display his belonging to Bota’s age and socio-cultural population group. In the song, there are 8 tokens of style shifting (black lines highlighted in green and yellow colors).

I found this song as a demonstrative example of style shifting and code switching. However, the limitation of the in-depth analysis is the preparation of the text by the author with the specific aim. It would be better to analyze impromptu conversation in different contexts for determining other different reasons and situations of language variations.

Overall, looking at the issue from the sight of future scholars we can realize that social phenomenon to switch languages deserves further research. At the same time, we will through the light on the issue of using the Russian language in daily conversations is more frequent than using Kazakh, as I discussed in the post “Why don’t Kazakhs speak in Kazakh as the native language”.

 

 

Reference:

Selting, M. (1983). Institutionelle kommunikation: Stilwechsel als mittel strategischer interaktion. Linguistische Berichte86, 29-48.

Temirbay, A. [Shaikenova B.]. (2013, July 13). “Hochu seni..polubit’” Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ar_VRftWZk