Tag Archives: deconstruction

6 Problems with our School System (deconstruction)

The video is prepared by Next School which promotes upgraded educational curriculum under the highly innovative Big Picture Learning framework. The video explores some major problems that current educational system encounters in most parts of the world. The creators are claiming that current traditional educational system is outdated and needs to be refreshed. Although this video is mostly about an Indian and American school type, I try to connect it with Kazakhstani context. Let’s see if their arguments coincide with our situation.

The main argument of the video is that the real world is rapidly changing whereas, school system remains the same and not changed in hundreds of years. They claim that children are not prepared to real-life situations as schools have been established in an Industrial Age and have that mentality. Unfortunately, the writers do not provide an exact context within the video, that is why I investigated it myself and found that it was about India and U.S. However, if to contrast their claim with Kazakhstani situation, it exactly underlines our current situation. For instance, three months of summer holidays were designed in early 1930 to create a labor term which was a part of industrialization. According to the People’s Commissariat for Education of USSR, it ended in 1980. But, interesting to note that three months of summer holidays still exist in Kazakhstan up to these days.  Here, I was convinced that traditional school system is a legacy of an Industrial Age.

The next argument provided by the creators of Next School is the lack of autonomy and excess of control among children. They claim that “Industrial Age values lack of autonomy” and “every minute of a child’s life is tightly controlled”. Here, if to compare the situation with Kazakhstan, I completely agree that today there is a deficiency in autonomy among children, teachers and even principals. I speculate it to be a reminder of the Soviet times. Although I accept it as an aftermath of that times, I truly value the past education. But, education should coincide with the demands and globalization, not history.  It is true that every minute at school is controlled as 7 lessons per a day and 40 minutes’ lessons with 5 minutes of break. The child’s control, however, a subject that can be negotiated by their parents and teachers, and to treat it as a consequence of an Industrial Age without good pieces of evidence might be an assumption.

The other problems with the traditional school system are “memorization” and “extremely standardized system”. Firstly, the authors argue that children memorize not having a chance to perform what they have learned as they forget about it after an exam. They support authentic learning type where children will be able to apply what they have learned in a real world. Again, I was convinced with their idea of changing memorization with authentic learning strategy, but they should have provided some examples. As from the personal experience, we used to memorize a lot at school and even university. By saying ““extremely standardized system” the scholars mean that every child receives the same materials to study. They claim that children’s abilities are different and should be treated so. It might be true that kids have different capacity and potential in performing school task, but I think it might be more convincing if the scholars used more concrete examples in dealing with such issues.

Overall, the video was designed for all stakeholders in the field of education starting from children to policymakers. Although some arguments needed to be supported by good pieces of evidence, I was convinced that our Kazakhstani education system needs to be updated and reformed.  But, one thing that they did not mention is that change in education is mostly top-down process unless it is a private educational organization.  I would suggest providing more concrete examples of solving these issues.

What do you think of this video?


Next School. (2016). 6 Problems with our School System.[Video file]. Retrieved from


“Txtng is killing language. JK!!!” by John McWhorter (deconstruction #2)

Texting is tended to be perceived something that impacts negatively a literacy, especially in terms of writing abilities. Unsurprisingly, a linguist McWhorter’s presentation of its beneficial features and his view of texting as a new linguistic and cultural phenomenon and even calling it “miraculous” seemed to be more than challenging.

He starts his talk with the origin of writing within language existence which emerged considerably later than a speech, thus pointing writing’s secondary role in an entire linguistic evolution. As for me, this fact does not lessen the significance of writing in language and culture development. More than that, much of literary and cultural heritage could reach us through manuscripts written by particularly those who were familiar with a writing literacy. Further, he highlights the language basics by opposing its written and oral forms and literally infers language as a speech, not a written form. McWhorter’s attempts at providing evidence through the depiction of the historical development of language from speech to writing was not convincing as it looked more like a general claim.

It is exactly a speech, in his opinion, through a hand, mechanical equipment and then technical devices was transmitted to our days, which led to an emergence of texting. And since people do not keep in mind punctuation and grammar rules while talking, there is no necessity of their mentioning them in texting as well (“You do not think about these things when you talk, no. So why would you when you are texting?”). Then immediately comes a question to what extent texting is beneficial for cultural and linguistic development, and on the contrary, wouldn’t it lead to a linguistic regress? Or even to obsolesce of writing skills overall?

Although presenter mentions concerning questions above, giving examples of a new language structured in texting, referring to it as “an emerging complexity” – still there appear more questions than answers. Two only given examples during the presentation of “an emerging complexity”- analysis of “LOL” and use of a slang “Slash”, their acquisition of a new meaning in the context of online texting – somehow do not disclose and explain the “complexity” of them. How can acronyms and slangs even with a new meaning be referred to the “complexity” and how would they affect the intelligibility of texts?

However, the speaker addresses numerous questions on grammatical accuracy and sophistication in writing with a series of instances of grammarians’ concerns throughout the history and did in the most humoristic and agreeable manner. Samples of scholars’ worries and dissatisfaction with students’ low writing performance and ignorance were displayed from 1956 to 63 A.D., thus he showcased the process of concerns on writing literacy as endless. In addition, the latest example of a Latin teacher worried of Latin literacy in 63 A.D. whose only trouble, by Mr. McWhorter, was scholar’s unawareness of French language establishment from Latin at that time, could give food for thoughts on that possibly a new globalized language might be established through the texting. Also, by demonstrating excerpts of scholars’ passages of worries linguist wanted to persuade audience on how those worries for language purity and literacy become vain, and his statement “people worrying about these things, but planet keeps spinning somehow” adds humoristic and skeptic view to that point.

Another convincing argument of the speaker is the importance of texting in a bilingual and bi-dialectical cognitive development when young people use knowledge of both forms (formal writing and texting) of a language, that adds a scientific value to the presentation.

John McWhorter presented an optimistic and full of scientific curiosity view on texting. His personal charm with a sense of humor, the ability of collaboration with the audience and confident speech could be advantageous in his successful presentation of the topic. However, a lack of exact linguistic examples or at least small research results contributed to the weakness of arguments and unconvincing presentation overall. Throughout the talk, he did not provide any evidence why he called texting “a miraculous language” as well.

The impact of globalization on “brain drain” in developing countries (deconstruction)

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Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877042812025840

      The scholars from one of the Kazakhstani universities Zhatkanbaeva, A., Zhatkanbaeva, J., and Zhatkanbaev, E. (2012) published their analysis of brain drain with the title “The impact of globalization on “brain drain” in developing countries”. They claim that brain drain causes complication to the developing countries asserting that “the problem of “brain drain” is considered as a threat to national security” (p. 1490). To solve it, they recommend to recognize brain drain as a problem and reform the educational system. I appreciate that scholars have their recommendations on solving this controversial issue, despite the lack of supporting details and justifications for their claim. Seems that their thesis statement is not clearly structured in the introduction which consists of three paragraphs with separate ideas that resulted in the loss of the main idea. Moreover, the lack of roadmap made the article even vague.

          While reading it for the first time, some incomprehensible details appeared that could have been improved or prevented. Firstly, the article is not about “developing countries” as it was stated in the title. But only about Kazakhstan. It might be suggested to use the exact context in the title to make it distinct. Secondly, the definitions of major concepts are missing. As the paper analyses the concept of “brain drain”, it is useful to consider defining the term first. Thirdly, the article comprises a list of obscure details and ideas that make the work feeble. For instance, the first three paragraphs of “Heading styles” (I suppose, it to be a body paragraph), where the word “erudite” was thoroughly defined. The scholars jump from one idea to another without ending the first one. If you remember, the introduction was opened with the “globalization of education”, whereas, the body also contains some general information about globalization which could have been mentioned in the introduction. It could be the case to remind that “a sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences” (Struck & White, 2000, p. 23). Moreover, the scholars keep repeating some words, phrases and even sentences to emphasize its importance as in: “accommodation and flats” and “perspectives of career growth and position” (p.1492). The below given two sentences might show the repetition of weakly paraphrased sentences and an irrelevance to the context. The first excerpt is written in the introduction and the second one in the main body. Although the relevance to the context might be negotiated, both excerpts devoid of further clarifications in the kind of measures that make these statements deceptive.

Kazakhstan has been taking a series of comprehensive measures of a legal, social and organizational character. What is worth speaking about is the formation of Kazakhstan’s way based on the experience of different countries to overcome this problem” (p. 1490).


Kazakhstan undertakes a number of complex measures of legal, social and organizational character. We should mention the formation of Kazakhstan way of overcoming the stated problem, which combined the experience of a number of countries” (p. 1492).

            The other things I have to mention are the assumptions and a lack of justifications for their claims in the statements. Let’s have a look at some of them:

The problem of “brain drain” is considered as a threat to national security” (p. 1490).

I agree that brain drain probably brings some economic, social and educational problems to the country. But to argue it to be a “national threat” without any clarifications of why should it be a threat and without any justifications to support makes it a feeble argument.

“We have to state that schools and universities provide only the basic education” (p. 1491).

Zhatkanbaeva et al. (2012) assumed that schools and universities provide only basic education based exclusively on their teaching experience in the university. Although it might be true to some extent, the statement cannot be generalized to all schools and universities without any research done to support it.

“[Developing countries’ curriculum] … does not meet the international standard requirements, although these requirements do not exist” (p. 1492).

The other statement which is worth to mention. It seems that scholars again speak from their perspective, based on their experience of living in a developing country. The first assumption made is the developing countries’ curriculum which does not correspond the international standards, could have been explained in what way it does not meet it. However, I would argue that those reform changes that the government makes aim to fit those international standards.  The other speculation is rejecting those “international standards”, here, they contradict their own words.

            The article is written from the first person. The scholars mostly use “we” to refer to themselves in their recommendations and use their personal and work experiences in making the examples, not evidence.

            I guess that intended audience of this article are students and educators. The scholars presented their work mostly based on their practice without intelligible explanations and pieces of evidence to support their claims. After reading the article I wasn’t convinced at all with its content, rather got confused with their ideas, where they argue that “educational international standards do not exist”, on the other hand, they asserted that “Kazakhstan reforms its educational system based on the experience of different countries to overcome problems”. I greatly admire their effort in analyzing one of the debatable issues of our society, but to improve their article, I would advise to totally rewrite the introduction, body paragraphs, and write concluding paragraph (which is missing), support it with credible pieces of evidence and of course, to avoid making assumptions and bias. And remember to find a reliable peer-reviewer that makes the writing more credible.

How do you think this article could be improved?


Strunk, W., & White, E.B. (2000). The elements of style (4th ed.). Longman

Zhatkanbaeva, A., Zhatkanbaeva, J., & Zhatkanbaev, E. (2012). The impact of globalization on “brain drain” in developing countries. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences 47, 1490 – 1494. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2012.06.848

Linda Cliatt- Wayman: How to fix a broken school? Lead fearlessly, love hard (deconstruction)

As I remember from my school days, our school principal was one of the greatest persons who inspired students to build on their strengths, persuading to believe that all dreams and goals are achievable. This experience allows me to construe that the principal is the key figure in education who keeps the balance in schools. When I saw this videoLinda Cliatt- Wayman: How to fix a broken school? Lead fearlessly, love hard (deconstruction) for the first time, I was speechless, because it really touched me with highlights of the impact and asset that this strong woman brought to the society. It was manifest from her speech that principal, teachers and students in school are more than the system. Linda Cliatt-Wayman is a great principal in Strawberry Mansion High School in the North Philadelphia, who has the 20 years’ experience on a special education for low-performing schools.  She is a solid principal who triggered off a broken school to ameliorate; the woman who had established a student code of discipline among the students with the most outrageous behaviour. The school is defined as a school with the bad reputation and was in the hit list of Philadelphia’s authorities as a “persistently dangerous school”. Nowadays the school is being transformed in a positive direction.

That’s how it was.

She claimed that there was no one around who could be a powerful principal to this school in the last four years, and finally she volunteered to be a principal.  On the first day of work she had witnessed her students fighting each other, after it she moved on to first action toward improvement. During the meeting, one girl named Ashley asked her “Miss… miss, why do you keep calling this a school? This is not a school”.  Linda says that this sort of question made her think back to her low-performing school where she had studied many years ago. Exactly, this was not a real school, the doors were locked with the chains, and the classrooms were almost empty, students carried weapons and there were a drug addicts. What is the worst that even the teachers were afraid for their personal safety. She obviously did a huge work to transform everything in the school, she compel herself to persist these challenges. In this way, her famous slogans were used as leverage to struggle for change. Anyway it seems to me that everything is not easy as it described in her speech.

Her first slogan is: “If you’re going to lead, lead”.

Cliatt-Wayman asserts that everything happens in the school depends on the principal. Being principal requires her to be a leader. She pinpointed that the leader should not sit back in the office, delegate work on others, and cannot allow herself to be afraid of tackling her students’ issues. Also, she emphasized that there’s nothing to be done alone. So, to carry out this task Linda gathered around herself the most skilled staff, who have the faith on children’s potential. All staff including teachers, police officers work constructively, tirelessly and consistently to help the broken school recover. Necessary steps were taken to strengthen the discipline entitled as: “Non-negotiable.” As a result, the school removed from the persistently dangerous list, which in my opinion reflects her truly leadership skills to lead people fearlessly. As she highlighted “Leaders make the impossible – possible”.

The next slogan is: “So what. Now what?”

The principal asserts that the school encountered the low attendance rate, many students were from dysfunctional families, they did not place a priority to study, and this in turn led the school fall behind.  Taking into account conversations about appalling conditions, bad-tempered students, the low results on algebra and literature, she set the goal in front of her colleagues: “So what. Now what? What are we going to do?” Linda depicts development problems and solutions, so she made teachers to differentiate the methodology which might be effective to pay respect to individuality of students. She made every effort to deal with the problems she encountered, but in this video she described only the top of the iceberg. For instance, I was curious to know how they elevate the level of education in details, what exact methods teachers used? So, these questions still required more precise answers.

Her final slogan is: “If nobody told you they love you today, remember I do”.

Her students had financial, social and emotional problems, and no matter what they had she tried to support all of them, because she knows the feeling what it’s like living on poverty.  She believes that opportunities for education and life skills help them to improve their lives and rise from poverty. Linda has daily conversations with her students and  she elevates with pinpoint accuracy those moments when her students feel themselves special, essential and awfully safe.

Though truth be told, my favorite spot is that Cliatt-Wayman has gained the respect and support of the audience on the basis of her work and results. She made tough decisions; she set a clear goal in front of her students, reminding them on a daily basis that education can change their lives.

In her speech there is a powerful message for all educators who have an opportunity to change the world, we should not stand idly by, experience the negative effects of poverty, and be satisfied with promises of authorities. Since any change would require broad support across all sectors of society, she encourages people to let us be prepared to take minute steps toward development of education worldwide.



Alan Siegel: Let’s simplify legal jargon! (deconstruction)

Limited legal jargon comprehension is an obstacle on the way to protect one’s rights or receive benefits. Alan Siegel, a branding and business communication expert presenting at TED, argues for simplification—using plain English and making voluminous documents more succinct—of the language in paperwork. Although in doing so he provides relatable evidence and poses crucial questions, certain answers appear one-sided.

Intelligibility of the language, be it English, Russian or Kazakh, facilitates individuals in dealing with documentation. Multi-paged agreements, which pop up before proceeding to use a service, are a thing consumers prevalently ignore, hastily scroll through and check off. In the words of Siegel, shift to plain English will ameliorate the otherwise unnecessarily complex legal language. The positive feedbacks on the use of a simple calendar for responsibilities by IBM proves the effectiveness of doing so. Simplicity of the documentation language reduces the risks people expose themselves to, thereby cutting expenses on hiring a lawyer that would “translate” documents and mediate in working with them. It would also add to their understanding of steps to be taken in contact with the company as an employee, as a user of products or a natural person.

Siegel attempts to show his genuine concern about how “we”, the way he repetitively addresses the audience, interact with legal documentation. However, he ceases to show consideration toward other aspects of language other than its comprehensiveness. Simplification of language inevitably leads to reduced need in jargon, a means of decreasing verbosity and communicating ideas precisely; hence, in a chain reaction, it potentially makes such vocabulary atrophic and increases wordiness. Perhaps, finding an alternative way of amplifying comprehension might have been suggested by Siegel, one of which is enclosing an additional page of glossary to documents shortly explaining terms.

Along with the promotion of plain English, the speaker emphasizes concision as a prerequisite for paperwork. Siegel cites Obama’s words (“I don’t see why we can’t have a one-page, plain English consumer credit agreement.”) and mentions he sought assistance from two highly-qualified consumer credit lawyers to approve his work on content simplification condensation. Again, as he implies he is focused mainly on the ability of people to grasp the content presented in few pages, there is no mention of the hidden danger in shrinking papers. Explicit coverage of all points seems of key salience since both parties—service provider and service consumer—may subsequently have reasons to open a legal dispute, where each word in the document matters. By squeezing every item into limited space, each side’s vulnerability to risk rises tenfold. Not only does this strategy cause omission of substantial details, but also fails to reach the initial goal of making documents more accessible now that the amount of items per fragment goes up. The presenter possibly should include drawbacks of redesigning documentation in such a way, too, to allow the audience to evaluate the status quo and draw an inference independently.

In conclusion, clear language use and succinctness in documentation promoted by the speaker should be valorised without diminishing language and detailedness. Siegel’s somewhat flawed standpoint still resonates with many since he addresses a problem an individual stumbles upon regularly. Hypothetically, if moderately simplified in terms of language sophistication and size, legal papers might be sufficiently clear, transparent and simple.

What would you do to make paperwork more accessible?