If you have been tracking with me the last several days, I am all about teaching. Being an educator in Kazakhstan can be a bit tricky. Those Kazakhs who are dedicated teachers receive a low salary but teach on just the same. I’m humbled by those I have been in contact with the three and half years I’ve lived in Kazakhstan. Unfortunately, those teachers who have very good English skills have been wooed away by large corporations that can pay a much better salary for their translation of English to Russian or Kazakh. While others are BORN teachers and know they belong in the elementary or secondary classrooms of Kazakhstan whether urban or rural settings. In some cases, a few teachers do not raise their own young children as their parents take care of the grandchildren while they are living in the capital city of Astana to educate other Kazakh’s children.
Teachers are a dedicated lot and they clearly are not in this profession for the money, at least that is true for me. I’m not in Kazakhstan for the money but rather the rewards of making a difference in the lives of a few who can make a major impact on others. My husband and I feel we are “called” to be here in Astana, Kazakhstan and thus the word “vocation” has a special meaning for us. Teaching is my vocation and my calling. See what this dedicated Kazakh teacher wrote about creativity and her own teaching and raising her daughter:
“Let me give you an example from a hard working Kazakh teacher who admits that the kind of teaching she has done in the past may need to change, she sees it with bringing up her own daughter. Here’s what she wrote when I had her respond to a talk on Ted.com given by Sir Ken Robinson titled “Schools Kill Creativity”:
“I mostly liked the speaker, who spoke about schools killing students’ creativity, really less attention is paid on students’ creativity and their own growth in my country. I’m saying this with great confidence, because as being a mother and a teacher I focus my students’ attention on the main subjects, namely, mathematics and languages, nothing more. In this way I absolutely agree with Sir Robinson , who gave the audience true examples how parents and teachers both kill kids’ creativity, making them learn mathematics and English more than other subjects. After his speech I understood my own mistake, for example, my daughter is only seven years and she draws very amazing pictures. Unfortunately, I don’t allow her to keep on drawing, because I hate drawing myself and want her to be brilliant at Mathematics and English. So, I notice, how I am slowly killing her creativity. Sir Robinson proved everything with great facts, which appear in the worldwide and needs to be supervised much by the government.”
I conducted an initial survey that I called “Education in a Modernizing Society” and I got a total of 30 respondents who are Kazakh. Then I did another online survey with only ten questions, I got 19 people to answer my ten True/False questions. The following are what I learned from those who have been on the Bolashak program or other exchanges that have exposed them to education in U.K. or U.S.
- All Kazakh schools and universities should employ teachers who are strict, authoritative figures: T=47.4% F=52.6%
- All Kazakh teachers should be very easygoing and less dogmatic in their teaching. T=89.5% F=10.5%
- All Kazakh teachers should enable their students to tolerate uncertainty and handle risk. T=94.7% F=5.3%
- All schools and universities throughout Kazakhstan should inspire obedience to the collective rather than academic achievement. T=5.6% F=94.4%
- All Kazakh schools and universities should reform quickly by re-educating Soviet trained teachers in new kinds of pedagogies. T=84.2% F=15.8%
- Kazakh teachers should be rewarded if they are committed to learning along with their students and coloring “outside the lines.” T=94.4% F=5.6%
- All schools and universities throughout Kazakhstan should suppress initiative and independent thought: T=26.3% F=73.7%
- All schools and universities should instill loyalty and compliance to the teachers wishes and demands. T=42.1% F=57.9%
- Kazakh students should be encouraged and allowed to think for themselves. T=94.7% F=5.3%
10. All Kazakh schools and universities should nurture their students self-expression by expanding and improving their writing skills in English T=89.5% F=10.5%
The responses are representative of those former graduate students who are now employed as former Bolashak scholars and now working at the new university. The only two questions that I need to research and finetune are questions #1 and #8. Perhaps that is something I can explore further with my Orken teachers and PDP students. Maybe the re-wording of these two questions will make it less ambiguous. The rest of the questions with their answers begs for this PDP program to continue and to have 100% backing from those in authority who want to improve the educational system of this country.
(to be continued)