Teaching Our Hearts Out! (Part II)

Yesterday I wrote out what some of my writing students answered to the question: 

What have you observed as the major difference between your Kazakh teachers versus American or other foreign teachers?

A. – In Kazakh or teacher-centered class room, all work refers to the teacher and personally I can’t behave myself as I want.  It’s like the atmosphere is under the pressure.

N. – Foreign teacher relies more on students’ self study while Kazakh teachers try to explain things in detail.

S. – To be honest, I like to be taught by foreign teachers because firstly, their pronunciation of words is much better.  But the main thing is many Kazakh teachers tend to not value teaching.  It seems to me that many of our teachers try to use a foreign system of teaching and think that students should do everything on their own.  But I think they should show something like an example and after that value what we have learned.  The best way to incite students work to attract their attention is to show some interesting things which will relate to their interest.

A. – Kazakh teachers (not all of them) are concentrated on the structure of the teaching, the way they are following the syllabus, not on whether the students got the information or not.

D. – American teachers do not follow to particular system of teaching process.  They tend to be creative and connect with students during the lecture.  Kazakh teachers think as just instructor, they explain once and want great results.  Soviet system of teaching is ineffective and old.

B. – I think the foreign teachers will have very big success if they live in KZ several years, understand the local people and then teach.

L. – Kazakh teachers always work by outline or by their plan.  Most of the time of our lessons we do exercises, and only sometimes discuss or do something interesting and useful too.  Foreign teachers don’t work by outline. They always try to give us tasks, which we should do ourselves, lessons are really interesting. They like to do a lot of games and movies.

D. – To be honest, sometimes I don’t like some of our Kazakh teachers who studied in KZ and I graduated in Kazakh Institute, because they don’t develop personal peculiarity and sometimes they do not receive information which students say or report.  They react like it is unbelievable or is just imagined by ourselves.

J. – Usually Kazakh teachers teach the information for the whole lesson.  So, it is hard to express my opinion during the lesson.  American teachers give lots of opportunities for students to speak out their thoughts and gives lots of practical practice and elicits ideas from students.

I. – They use totally opposite ways to teach their students, American teachers are trying to encourage us, they are like coaches.  They give direction and then the students gather information and solve specific problems.  On the other hand, our Kazakh teachers are more teacher-oriented.  They are like a source of knowledge and information which they give the students but in this way the students passively receive it.  American teachers are involving students in brainstorming and helping them to integrate skills of inquiry and problem solving and critical thinking.

A. – Kazakh teachers rarely use “learner centered” paradigm because for them it is easier to give a ready information to their students. Thus students are not so active and they are not so involved into studying process.  However, foreign teachers try to overload students.  I think it is good, positively.  Because when student begins to search some information, he become involved in it, he is gathering information that can be useful for him in the nearest future.  I like this phrase: “When quantity transforming into quality.”

I’m not sure what that last phrase is about, I’ll have to ask my student to explain.  What I noticed in some of these responses is that under the teacher-centered, Soviet kind of teaching methodology there was fear and intimidation used against the students.  How foreign to us as Americans where each student is considered an individual with his own gifts or talents to be encouraged, not to be put down. 

I DO remember Mr. Nomland, my algebra teacher, in my  high school who struck fear in the hearts of everyone because he had such a temper and was very strict.  I remember him berating one hapless student for saying “Oh” in his number answer rather than saying “Zero.”  Wow, I would quake in my seat for fear of being called on to write something on the board and I was a good student!  So, I have an idea of what these Kazakh students refer to when they feel under pressure or not free and relaxed in an old style of Soviet pedagogy.


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