Posts tagged Seneca

“Great Leaders Create Great Followers”…I don’t think so…

To me, as a TEFL teacher in Astana, Kazakhstan, quotes about education are always inspiring.  Especially when written by my own Kazakh students.  I am privileged to have ten teachers in my class of Professional development students.  They are mature, driven and dedicated to improving their craft of teaching.  Here’s something I came across though that I thought was  a real stumper.  “Great leaders create great followers” ????

In the past I look up every quote that I come across to make sure it was written correctly. I found that this quote had actually been reversed.  It should read “A great leader is a great follower.” Or “Great followers make the best leaders.” Wow, it tells you a little bit about the Kazakh mentality.  I will look back to see what the person really meant, to look at the context of that quote.  Did they mangle it badly or is it really what Kazakhs think? Follow the crowd, follow the leader.  As an American, I come from a democracy, if we don’t like the leader in government, we throw the bum out at the next election.

Another quote was by an educator who took to the sky, a NASA astronaut who was really a teacher.  Christa McAuliffe said, “I touch the future, I teach.” I often think that when I am in front of my eager, inquisitive students in Kazakhstan, they are Kazakhstan’s future hope.  Another famous American whose life was stopped short but not quite like Christa’s was Martin Luther King, Jr. “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step.” With the new university in Astana, we have to take a LOT of things by faith that the upward climb will lead to the next level of achievement.  These things take time.

The following are more quotes on education:

B.F. Skinner “Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten.” (New Scientist, May 21, 1964)

Spanish born American philosopher George Santayana (1863-1952) wrote: “A man’s feet must be planted in his country, but his eyes should survey the world.”

The following quotes are very teacher-centered, which is the predominant method of teaching handed down from the Old Soviet era.

“The way the teacher is defines the way the students are.”

“To become a great teacher, you need to know two things: the subject you are going to teach and how to teach it.”

“A teacher takes your hand, opens your mind and touches your heart.”

Seneca: “If a man knows not what harbor he seeks, any wind is the right wind.” Apparently the Russian translation of Seneca’s quote yields the following or this is what the student wrote in his application: “When a man does not know what harbor he is making his way to, no wind is favorable for him.”

The following quotes are from the highly revered Kazakh poet and philosopher, Abay Qunanbayuli “Every person should find the right place in his life.”

Kazakh saying: “A person should learn other languages but he is to respect his own native language first of all.”

Abai Kunanbayev: “Can the man be considered as dead if he left behind immortal works?”

Aristotle: “The soul of a child is like a clean slate on which nothing is written.” The tabula rasa effect.  But Aristotle also believed this: “The educated differ from the uneducated as much as the living from the dead.”

The Greek philosopher, Laertius Diogenes wrote the following: “The foundation of every state is the education of its youth.” This gets back to the first quote by Christa McAuliffe touching the future by teaching.  I believe the president of this country of Kazakhstan would agree with Diogenes and McAuliffe.  He is known to have said in a speech the following:

“The main objective of modernization of Kazakhstan’s education is to prepare competitive specialists.  It means that the entire educational system of the country should move towards innovative education.”

The question remains for the Ministry of Education in Kazakhstan to be proactive about: Are great leaders being produced with innovative teaching methodologies and technology or just more great followers?

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Alina’s Pride in her Roots–Her Grandparents


     I think that everyone have his own roots.  I’m very proud of my grandparents because they were great people.  They went through The Second World War and restored the economy of country.  I think that it is the most significant fact.  Our family is interesting because my Mother’s parents were deeply rooted in China and Arabian side.  At the same time, my father’s parents have roots from West. His mother was heir of a gold extracting industry in tsarist Russia.


         At the same time there were added German roots of grand grandparents. As always that time was keep the conflict between parents and their children which cover the time of my grand parents, grandpa was poor farmer who fell in love with my grandma who belonged to a rich family.  They got married and in their little family appeared five children, the fourth one was my father. It was time of civil war 1917. As a result economic and social view in country has changed. So my grandparents were deported to Kazakhstan. When they lived there friends in Kazakhstan advised them to change their surname to name of the grandfather. Consequently, my ancestors have lived as Antonovy since 1950. Grandpa was joiner and grandma was director of the restaurant at the railway station. They lived in an industrial district, in spite of all the misery, they were a big happy family.


         As to my mother’s parents, they refer to another social level. Grandmother was born in a family of rich farmer and jeweler, who escaped from China during the Great Chinese Revolution. All members in grandma’s family have economy and medical education. They combine several nations: Chinese, Uigur, Russian and Dungan.  Grandma knew seven foreign languages, and could drive a car, tractor, helicopter and combine. She was a director of agricultural complex, at the same time she was deputy in the parliament of country. During The Second World War grandmother lead collective farm and they sent provisions and clothes to battle-front. After the war she got a lot of honorary medals. Grandpa’s ancestries were Arabian prince. But he became an orphan very early. Despite that fact, he graduated from the University in St Petersburg, teacher’s training college, military college in Moscow. He went through the Great Patriotic war and he has a lot of honorary medals.


     For me, it’s very important to remember about my grand parents in order to organize my future and make them proud of me.

     “Take care about present, foresee future and remember past” (Seneka).

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