Our university schedule is coming to a screeching halt; we are sooo ready for the end of THIS semester. Yesterday I got an e-mail from a former student of mine named Baghdad, he showed himself to be a very conscientious student when learning English. However, I might add, I didn’t work at all with his writing. This is his e-mail to me: “I need your help! I am going to try to win the scholarship of _____ company…I wrote about me for this response. You cant imagine about my writing skills. It’s awfull!! But I tried to write and it looks like this (Please, could you check it, correct huge mistakes and add something else to support my article):”
I was more than happy to help Baghdad and he was right, there were many errors such as: “But let’s talk about myself. At university I am one of the best student.” Once I cleaned up those minor errors I sent it back to him. I am only too eager to help my Kazakh students to achieve the highest possible awards and scholarships they can attain while they are still young and energetic. Baghdad had wanted to go to the U.S. this summer but his parents would not permit him to go. Thus, whatever opportunities avail themselves here in Kazakhstan; I want to help him and others like him.
Thinking about leadership at our university I came across this quote by businessman and author Max De Pree. His leadership moved his company near the top of the Fortune 500, he wrote: “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between the two, the leader must become a servant and a debtor. That sums up the progress of an artful leader.” I’m not so convinced that many leaders at the top of our administration have this ability to deal with reality or to be gracious as a servant-leader. However, I believe some of them are “artful” in other regards. I won’t go there by what I mean with artfully “crafty.”
Reality at our English Language Center is that many Kazakh teachers are working hard to teach their Kazakh students research methods. Sadly, they themselves have not been taught how to write papers according to APA style. What was rather vexing for some writing teachers was to get a Faculty Evaluation Form that would list their teaching load and then the next page was to fill out their “Research and Scholarly Activities.” Reality is that many of our writing teachers have a B.A. and have never written a journal article or authored a research book or edited one. They have not given a conference proceedings paper or done a business case studies. For each of these they are to award points for being published by an international publisher. For example, 3-4 points for a textbook and 4-8 points for a research book. (Maximum points for full time teachers is 30 points).
One can receive 15 points for “Administrative Contributions and management participation.” All this is itemized out to see if the teacher would be awarded a promotion considering all the abovementioned categories. Sending this Faculty Evaluation form to our Language Center is NOT dealing with REALITY!!! Technically, the Language Center has long been thought to be the “service arm” to the rest of the university and not outfitted to do research. Neither is our administration dealing with reality when this form is sent to many of the “Ph.D. professors” who try to pass off scholarly journal articles and award themselves points that clearly would not pass muster in a university in the West. Such as, (fill in the blank with a Third World Country): _________Journal of Development; Journal of the Asiatic Society of __________; BIISS Journal (don’t know what those letters stand for but that is how it was listed).
Seeing full professors put down Vanity Press publications is another favorite of mine when I see what passes for “scholarly work” such as University Press of America. That is fine if you are proud of being from America but many of these professors are NOT from America!!! Don’t even get me started on website publications that are passed off as peer-reviewed and scholarly!!! Unfortunately, some of these professors will grab for promotional points any way they can.
If someone from the West reads what I am writing, they would not believe what passes for REALITY at our institution of “higher learning” in Kazakhstan. But then again, I fear that not much learning is happening in the West anymore and that is why I am very eager to watch “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” once I get back to the U.S. this summer, the Lord willing.