Archive for August 31, 2009

Writing “Jerry Maguire”-like (Part II)

I’m flummoxed as to how we are to tackle this problem with Kazakh students not liking to write.  They come to our “western-style” university ill equipped to write in Russian from their years of studying in high school and then are expected to know how to write well in English.  Of the 70 or so who completed the Multiple Intelligence questionnaire correctly and answered the 60 questions, only 5 were strong in Linguistics and only one of them is majoring in journalism.  Consequently, we don’t have many people pursuing journalism.  Of course, there were people who had combined strengths and intelligences but I am only looking at those students who came out strongest in one of the six categories.  This was the breakdown by class from my four undergraduate classes:

Listening and Notetaking I Group #1

Interpersonal – 4

Linguistic – 2

Music – 1

Spatial – 1

Bodily Kinesthetic – 1

Logic/Math – 0

Listening and Notetaking I Group #10

Logic/Math – 7

Interpersonal – 3

Spatial – 2

Music – 1

Bodily/Kinesthetic – 1

Linguistic – 1

Reading and Writing Group #3

Bodily/Kinesthetic – 4

Interpersonal – 3

Logic/Math – 2

Music – 1

Spatial – 1

Linguistic – 0

Reading and Writing Group #10

Logic/Math – 5

Music – 4

Linguistic – 2

Bodily/Kinesthetic – 2

Interpersonal – 1

Spatial – 1

 So, the highest intelligence represented strongly in my four undergraduate classrooms is Logic and Math skills for 14 students and Interpersonal intelligence running a close second at 11. When I gave this same inventory to my Ukrainian students at the Linguistics University in Kyiv several years ago, many were the highest in Interpersonal intelligence. [means their friends are most important to help them]  I think from my results above, it is the nature of the kind of students we attract to our university in Almaty, Kazakhstan.  I may give this inventory again at the end of semester and add the Intrapersonal set of questions to see if we have more mature students who know who they are and where they are going.  For now, I see from the above data that we have students who DO know how to think but do not know how to articulate it in writing.

That is our jobs as writing teachers, to encourage them to be passionate about what they write, Jerry Maguire style.  However, I think there are too many of my fellow Kazakh teachers who also were never encouraged to write or speak the truth from their years in Pedagogical school during the Soviet Union period.  No, instead they would rather penalize their students for thinking outside the box and prefer they play the game of plagiarizing from other writers.  Unfortunately, their students are never given an opportunity to express themselves in their given strengths or to pursue their own writing topics of interest. 

Such is the nature of the beast while teaching in a former communist country where it was strongly teacher-centered and geared for the teacher to know how to assess, grade, and score the tests against the students.  It still exists at our university today and maybe I should write a Mission Statement like Jerry Maguire did revealing the sham and dishonesty that abounds at our university.  Actually, that is what this blog has been all about.

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