Posts tagged Wikipedia

Two Anecdotes for Thought about Education

The following are things I’m learning about a country, Uzbekistan, I will probably never see.  I have American friends who used to live in Tashkent and other Americans who have visited to Bukhara and Sumarkand, but me…not to be.  Recently I came across some interesting names so I need to educate myself about who Amir Temur and Babur were.  What do the Kazakh people know about these characters?  I wonder, because we as Americans know nothing about these Central Asian warriors and leaders.

First, who is Amir Temur?  Doing a Wikipedia search (not to be confused with wikileaks) I came across this info:

Timur (from the Perso-Arabic form تیمور Tīmūr, ultimately from Chagatai (Middle TurkicTemüriron“; 8 April 1336 – 18 February 1405), normally known as Tamerlane (from Tīmūr-e Lang) in English, was a fourteenth-century conqueror of WesternSouth and Central Asia, founder of the Timurid Empire and Timurid dynasty (1370–1405) in Central Asia, and great great grandfather of Babur, the founder of the Mughal Dynasty, which survived until 1857 as the Mughal Empire in India.

Born into the Turco-Mongol[6][7]Barlas tribe who ruled in Central Asia,[8][9] Timur was in his lifetime a controversial figure, and remains so today. He sought to restore the Mongol Empire,[10][11] yet his heaviest blow was against the Islamized Tatar Golden Horde. He was more at home in an urban environment than on the steppe. He styled himself a ghazi yet some Muslim states, e.g. the Ottoman Empire, were severely affected by his wars. A great patron of the arts, his campaigns also caused vast destruction. Timur told the qadis of Aleppo, during the sack of that newly conquered city, “I am not a man of blood; and God is my witness that in all my wars I have never been the aggressor, and that my enemies have always been the authors of their own calamity.”

Next, here’s more from Wikipedia about the character Babur, not a very nice person in my estimation, supposedly he was a poet but I think a bloodthirsty one:

Babur was born on February 23 [O.S. February 14] 1483[12] in the town of Andijan, in the Fergana Valley which is in modern Uzbekistan. He was the eldest son of ʿOmar Sheykh Mirzā,[13] ruler of the Fergana Valley, and his wife Qutluq Negār Khānum, daughter of Yonus Khān, the ruler ofMoghulistan.

Although Babur hailed from the Barlas tribe which was of Mongol origin, his tribe had embraced Turkic[14] and Persian culture,[2][15][16]converted to Islam and resided in Turkestan and Khorasan. His mother tongue was the Chaghatai language (known to Babur as Turkī, “Turkic”) and he was equally at home in Persian, the lingua franca of the Timurid elite.[17]

Hence Babur, though nominally a Mongol (or Moghul in Persian), drew much of his support from the Turkic and Iranian peoples of Central Asia, and his army was diverse in its ethnic makeup, including Persians (Tajiks or Sarts, as they were called by Babur),[10]Pashtuns, and Arabs as well as Barlas and Chaghatayid Turco-Mongols from Central Asia.[18] Babur’s army also included Qizilbāsh fighters, a militant religious order ofShi’aSufis from Safavid Persia who later became one of the most influential groups in the Mughal court.

Babur is said to have been extremely strong and physically fit. He could allegedly carry two men, one on each of his shoulders, and then climb slopes on the run, just for exercise. Legend holds that Babur swam across every major river he encountered, including twice across theGanges River in North India.[19]

His passions could be equally strong. In his first marriage he was “bashful” towards ʿĀʾisha Ṣultān Begum, later losing his affection for her.[20]

He also had a great passion to kill people, cut heads of people and create pillars out of cut head. He claimed to have created several such pillars in his autobiography.[21]

Finally, there is Ulugbek, but that’s enough of looking into Uzbekistan’s history through the eyes of Wikipedia.  There has to be something that upholds virtue and other character traits that can help benefit children in schools that are building up a civil society.  Food for thought, these two anecdotes about Central Asian leaders from the distant past…

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Changed my prejudice against Wikipedia (part II)

Following are two more candidates’ submissions for potentially being published in Wikipedia. Certainly a very beginning stage but has lots of potential because there are many foreigners who ARE interested in Kazakhstan.  The first is by Ainagul:

After reading this article [by Christine M. Tardy in the English Teaching FORUM, 2010], “What if I put my own contribution to this site, too?” This is a good opportunity for us 1) to learn writing an article Wikipedia style 2) as there is very little information about Kazakh famous people, some historical places, events written in the English language, our articles will be useful for either our native students or for students abroad who want to learn more about our country.

So, I’ve decided to write about a famous Kuishi (a man who plays a dombyra) Nurpeis Bayganin, if I ever have a chance to write for Wikipedia.  Because he is from my village.  His grandchildren still live in our village near our house.  This year we celebrated his 120th anniversary.  A great day took place in the center of our region, so many guest were called.  But, unfortunately, there is nothing about his life, his great work, though his contribution put to our native art is priceless.

The second possible submission is by Aliya, I hope she can succeed in writing and eventually publishing in Wikipedia:

I’d like to write about Kazakh national wedding and/or Kazakh national wedding dress.  I don’t like the mixed sorts of weddings that are carried out nowadays.  I think we should differentiate/choose what kind of wedding we want to have.  Nowadays not everybody knows about original Kazakh wedding.  Even I myself do not know much about it because today when carrying out a wedding we do not know whether these or those traditions are our own or they are from other nationalities.  Only “Betashar” is widely known but I’m sure that there are many other traditions.


As for a wedding dress, I do love European and modern dresses.  But, on the other hand, our Kazakh national wedding dress is wonderful too!  It is symbolic, each item on the dress means something.  As for a modern dress, there is only white colour that is left symbolic. 


In my opinion, when writing an article you learn much and that’s why I choose the theme that I’m not an expert in but which I’m much interested in.  Because as a result of the research work, I will know more about the subject that is interesting for me.

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Changed my prejudice against Wikipedia

I’ll admit that I can be changed by what I say, think or write if given enough compelling reasons to do so.  I have long held a prejudice against Wikipedia because of its misuse or overuse by American and EFL students wherever I’ve taught.  When I have taught academic writing, I try to steer my Kazakh students to academic journals that have a reputation in the publishing field.  The authors of these academic articles that my students look up for their research projects have had their words peer reviewed and the authors have supposedly contributed something new in their field of expertise.

After assigning an article for my students to read and then reading “Writing for the World: Wikipedia as an Introduction to Academic Writing” for myself, I’ve been swayed to agree with the author Christine M. Tardy. Article was taken out of “English Teaching FORUM” #1, 2010.  As if Ms. Tardy could read my mind, she wrote the following that would apply to my prejudice against Wikipedia: “Despite Wikipedia’s popularity with the general public, the site has received a somewhat negative reputation in certain academic circles, where instructors often criticize students who use Wikipedia as a primary research source or even incorporate large amounts of Wikipedia text into their own writing.”

After seeing what this seasoned teacher, who is an Assistant Professor in Chicago, did to encourage students to write on something in their expertise, I see this as a very good assignment for my own students to follow.  Here are the steps that Ms. Tardy outlined, it follows a rigorous editing process from the Wikipedia administrators:

  1. Examine Wikipedia (look for similar articles on your topic)
  2. Gather information (find other links in Wikipedia that relate to your topic)
  3. Outline and paraphrase 
  4. Draft
  5. Revise
  6. Format sources
  7. Polish
  8. Publish

I think the following piece that Bota wrote is a good example of something that could be inserted into Wikipedia.   For those interested in Kazakhstan, they would happen to read about a little known musical instrument.  The following is a first draft, stay tuned to see if this piece will actually be published in Wikipedia once all the above steps are followed.  I certainly hope so.  Maybe I should try this assignment myself but I’d have to figure out what I know a LOT about and prove my expertise by getting my own words published.  I don’t want to steal Bota’s Wikipedia thunder but enjoy the following:

Kazakh National Musical instrument – Zhetigen (7 strings)

Zhetigen is an old Kazakh national musical instrument.  The history of zhetigen began many centuries ago. It takes its roots deep from the 16th17th century.  The instrument itself presents a square box with 7 strings and 7 bones (“askyks” in Kazakh) up on the surface.  Kazakh people created the music just moving the bones (“akyks”) and playing on the strings.  Different positions of the bones make different sounds from low ones up to heavy ones.

The history of zhetigen is closely connected with the Kazakh legend about a man, who lost all his seven sons.  When a man lost his very first and the eldest son, he grieved a lot and wanted to put his grief into music.  So he constructed an instrument with one string.  Later, his second son died.  The second string was added.  The death of the rest of his sons one by one nearly broke the man.  That’s why today’s zhetigen consists of seven strings. 

Nowadays the musical instrument is played in many national musical groups of Kazakhstan.

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