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To Seize Tomorrow

April 11 2013, 16:46

 

By Zeena Urynbassarova

Doctor Jengo from Camridge UniversityDoctor Jengo from Camridge UniversityWhat caused me to write this article is the conversation I had with my 7 year-old daughter, who asked me what was the meaning of the word “teaching method”? I looked at her with surprise, a little child who could pronounce this word combination so easily. I was thinking how to explain to her the meaning of this terminology in a language that is comprehensible to her, when she again said: “Natalia Serikovna is introducing a new teaching method in our class. She arranged the desks in a circle and during the answer we show green, red or yellow cards. We also put marks to each other, and at the end of the lesson we glue stickers on an apple tree, if we liked the lesson, and if we didn’t – then we put a sticker on a lemon tree. We are going to have an interactive board. It’’s all so exciting!” – said my daughter and there were sparks in her eyes when she spoke.

I usually, listen with half an ear to her school news: how Sasha called names or Christina played with toys during the lessons, and other ordinary school stories.

But now I became interested, what wonderful technique the teacher used that lit the eyes of the child?

SAD GOOD BYE

A month ago, my daughter’s teacher Natalia Serikovna Kim was sent for three months to Atyrau teachers’ refresher institute. It was a big tragedy for pupils, for parents and for the teacher.  We saw the teacher off, as if she was going to the front. Believe it or not, we all cried: children, parents and even the teacher. Parents said: “They won’t teach you anything new, Natalia Serikovna. You are the teacher with God’s given talent”.

But after one month of theoretical training, Natalia Serikovna came back to her class to do practical work and to test the new system of teaching in accordance with Cambridge University standards. Later, after one month of practical work at school, she will return to the teachers’ refresher institute and pass the exams to get Cambridge certificate!

I remembered how many of my acquaintances complained that their children lost any interest for study. Children moved up from grade to grade and parents impatiently waited when the school years will be over.  Neither parents, nor children and teachers, apparently, knew the answer to the question: how to wake the children’s interest for learning?

And here I have the situation, when the 1st grade child is curious to learn all about this most boring word called “teaching method”! I thought to myself, could it be that the solution to the immemorial school problem is found?

CAMRIDGE PROFESSOR

With these thoughts in mind I was on my way to Atyrau teachers’ refresher institute. There I was introduced to the visiting teacher from the Cambridge University, Doctor Jengo. Joseph Michael Jengo, the doctor of philosophy, who over 10 years was engaged in professional development of teachers in his country and abroad, explained to me the essence of this training method:

Teachers at the master class Teachers at the master class “This is the joint project of the Center of Excellence of “Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools” and the Cambridge University. The program uses the best local and international experience in secondary education for the development of the educational model that is focused on the training of students who can quickly adapt to the changing world.

We are now training children who will enter into an adult life in 10-15 years. Who can tell now what the future world will look like? Therefore, while training our children, we have to prepare them for the working activities that don’t exist yet, for the technologies that haven’t been invented yet, and to the solution of problems, that the mankind doesn’t know yet”.

- Doctor Jengo, what does this new teaching program give us specifically?

-We want our children to be creative and innovative. We want them to have an independent opinion and be critical thinkers. We want them to make clever decisions quickly and in any situation. They should be able to analyze and to evaluate. They should master new information technologies and be able to respond to new challenges of the changing world. We want them to be good entrepreneurs.

Every child is an individual and is talented and each child matters. This program allows to create an atmosphere where any child can be open and achieve the maximum of his/her abilities. Much attention is paid to the psychological atmosphere where every child has an opportunity to express himself. This method provides for the development of good communicative skills and the ability to set the tasks and to solve them.

TEACHER AS PARTNER

- And what about the evaluation of the teachers’ work by the students... Aren’t we going too far?

- This is a whole new change in the relationship between the teacher and the pupil. This is not a domination, but more of a partnership. Instead of being the person who gives the child the ready answers, the teacher becomes the partner who assists the child to find the solutions to the questions. After all, there are more than one solution to the problem!

Here, so called 360 degrees feedback is applied, when not only the teacher evaluates the knowledge of the pupil, but also the pupil evaluates the teaching session and expresses his/her opinion on it. 

This is the change not only for the teacher, for the pupil, but also for the parents, for the school management and for the whole country.

The pupil should be happy to go to school and have a great desire to learn. Who can create such atmosphere – only the teacher!

“The main beneficiaries in the education system are children. Will they be competitive and independent?  Will they be able to make a right choice in a labor market? Will they be able to form a family and be able to provide for it? And, finally, will they be successful and happy? These are the questions that this method poses and tries to find the answers, - says Altynshash Tazhigalieva, the Deputy Director of Atyrau teachers’ refresher institute.

And here are the opinios of the teachers that went through the new training course:

Svetlana Khairullina, the head of the innovative teaching centre and the chief program instructor:” I feel like I was re-born. My attitude towards my profession has totally changed. I again started to respect my profession and love to be a teacher!”

AselAsel Talbaeva, teacher: "I feel like I was re-born".Asel Talbaeva, the teacher of informatics: “Everybody says that I have changed for the better. I became more sociable, stopped overreacting and started to take constructive criticism easy. I felt the emancipation of my consciousness and I now smile more. These qualities are very important for the teacher!”      

The data of the sociological research demonstrated that the average child at school speaks not more than ten minutes in a week. Sure, time given for self-realization isn’t much. You won’t have enough time to speak, leave alone to be able to express yourself. And if the school becomes the place where you can argue, talk and discuss, wouldn’t it be great?

AMERICAN OPINION

I also asked the American, long time resident of Atyrau and the employee of Agip KCO - Walt Marshall, about the secondary education system in USA. Walt said: “The basic defference in the USA school system is that there are systems that train kids to think, to find facts and use their critical thinking, while other systems give them the facts and force them to memorize those.

The US education system is divided between rich and poor, between good and bad. In good schools kids are taught to find information, to compare and to evaluate it, they give them life-time learning. Good schools produce managers and bad schools - the labourers." 

BACKGROUND

European scientists and teachers, says Doctor Jengo, in 1970s started to think why such a small country as Japan, with no valuable mineral resources, not enough land, and, moreover, with such high geological activity (constant earthquakes, tsunami an typhoons), that before World War II wasn’t even among the great powers, and lost the war, suddenly overtook Europeans in many spheres, including the creation of new technologies. The secret of this country was in its education system of 1870s where a quality rate of a “human capital” was reached by unprecedented attention to education. Education, continuous improvement of its quality in combination with diligence were the secret of success of this country.

These answers found by the Europeans became the basis of the Cambridge education system, says Doctor Jengo.

CONCLUDING REMARKS

While sitting at the training session I had an impression that the teachers of various ages going thru this Camridge course were trying to catch up with today’s “screenagers”. For example, when the instructor said that the topic of the next session is “What is hyperlink”.

And I thought that it’s not important that some of the teachers are still having difficulty to pronounce correctly the names of some of the computer programs, such as Power Point. The main thing is that the start is given. Wish you good luck, dear colleagues!

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