Kazakh Teachers’ Views about Education in Kazakhstan

I am using the astute writings from my former Kazakh students who are teachers in Kazakhstan’s educational system. They, of anyone, should know what is needed for changes to happen (and quickly). During our Professional Development classes, I had them respond on Moodle to a slideshow I had gotten from a friend of mine who worked at Chevron. Her position was that of facilitating change in different countries by “change management.” She was quite persuasive that things could not continue in “this is the way we have always done it.”  She had been a guest speaker to my MBA classes when I taught in Almaty.  I still had her ppt presentation which is what my ten teachers watched and responded to in the context of thinking about changing management in education. Here are their views:

Student #1 – When I saw the ppt about Change Management, for the first time I thought about the possible “business plan” for the future. I have never thought that the management system in companies like Chevron are so alike the ones we have at schools and there could be any resemblance between schools and companies.

Change Agents? Wow, that sounds very intriguing. Like spies. I think what I’ve learned for these 20 weeks can be very useful not only for me and my colleagues, but also for the school where I will work in future. I know that at first it will be hard to “force” our ideas onto the management and the older teachers with many years of experience; and they won’t listen to us and take our words so easily. We have to show in practice what we have learned and gain respect, and then take some actions in the way changes.

I remember what one of PDP classmates said to me about what her advisor said to her once: “I know that you have better scores in IELTS than the others teachers do, and you are currently having courses about new teaching technologies and can work with computer tools; but this doesn’t mean that you can teach better than they do. They have a HUGE bag of teaching experience and worked methods. That’s why it is better to learn from them how to successfully get the main goals of teaching and teach THEM what you’ve learned at Nazarbayev University at PDP classes”. These were the words of her advisor.

Nevertheless, I think that if a person has something in mind and desire to make it happen, he will do it anyway. But this may need some time and great efforts. I wish good luck to all my group-mates in the “battle” for changes!

Student #2 – During all these months I learned many things that I had never heard before. I used to think that teaching was mostly boring. Actually, it was boring for me when I studied at the institute and had practice at schools.

What I like about the course is I was taught by a professional Western teacher. The first advantage is we had a foreign atmosphere in our lessons. And the second one is we learned about the disadvantages of our Kazakh schools. If we had a professional Kazakh teacher, I doubt if we could deal with that.

Now, it is our turn to show what we were taught, to make change in classroom atmosphere. WE know so many things and can apply any of them at school. We can use surveys (Survey Monkey), WordPress.com for writing, guest invitations for speaking and many other things. The most important is that we should stay in the way even after completion, because there would be no one to help us. And we should learn for ourselves and self-develop. I don’t want years later to meet my group mates, who didn’t use what we learned in PDP with her students. On my part, I will try to do my best to teach what I know to my environment. The majority of the teachers at NIS have been in a foreign country and also know about the modern ways of teaching. Sharing the experiences, we will be able to build a new society at school.”

(to be continued)

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