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Education for all

Five bloggers, five countries, one dialogue

Final reflections

Out for a ride with time to think

The morning sun shines into my room, and birds are chirping. The two-month holiday at the language school where I’m working has just started. It’s a bit difficult to believe that the time for the last entry for this blog has already come. I still have lots of thoughts to share with our readers!

Lately I’ve been riding my bike in the countryside in the evenings – it’s a good chance to relax after a very full year and to improve my skills in photography. Along the way, I think a lot about the enormous difference between rural and urban areas in my country, and between their inhabitants’ mentalities. What’s difficult to explain is that many Russians would like to move outside the city and buy nice houses there, but most villagers prefer the idea of finding a job in the city (or at least sending their children to get educated there). Of course that’s due to the financial divide between these areas, but we need to make this division less extreme.

Date

July 12, 2012 | 10:00 am

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Ranking Russian universities: why bother?

Does education suffer far from the urban centers and elite universities?

This week I expect to get my diploma – one more step in my higher education which began in 2006. I’ve been thinking a lot about what these years have meant, especially in terms of my decision to leave my original university and study somewhere else.

Several weeks ago I read an interesting column in a daily business newspaper where famous and respected economist Konstantin Sonin touched upon university ratings. The professor’s argument astonished me because he compared the Russian higher education system with its foreign counterparts and went on to say ranking Russian universities at all has basically no point!

Date

July 6, 2012 | 10:16 am

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Degrees and educational milestones

My English exam certificate

The week seems to have gone great! I’ve read the entries by Kathrin and Emmy from the Global Media Forum, which I find quite interesting. In spite of the red tape that prevented me from visiting the conference and meeting my fellow bloggers, several positive things relating to education happened to me, as well, this week. They brought about a storm of emotions, but they also gave some food for thought.

First of all, shortly before the launch of our education blog, a group of my adult students and I took part in an international English exam. And I’m really glad to hear that most of my students passed it successfully and got their certificates from Europe this week!


Date

June 30, 2012 | 3:58 pm

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Russia needs less talk, more action

We need action on the ground, not high-flying abstractions

As Maria noted in her last entry, she believes the social dialogue in Argentina is heading the wrong way – and it seems that every country faces such points in its development. As I look back on my university years, I agree with her.

Sometimes there is too much talking and not enough real action (I don’t just mean the educational sphere only; it can be noticed in all of Russian economic or political life). With all due respect to the talented and brilliant professors and teachers of previous generations who helped several Russian geniuses (mathematician Grigori Perelman, for example) to reveal their potential, I would like to see changes in educational life.

Date

June 27, 2012 | 12:00 pm

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The silence of Russian educators

Libraries have organized discussions for teachers - but none about their rights

Reading Maria’s entry where a teachers’ strike was discussed made me think about dissatisfaction with the Russian education system – both from teachers and others.

What surprises and worries me most is that our teachers never organize strikes or try to make their voices be heard. It happens neither in small cities nor in big ones. I know that most of our university professors do some tutoring or give private lessons throughout the year to earn additional money (for example, before high school students enter a university, their parents often find somebody to give a term-training course to prepare a teenager for the entrance examination). I think a collective demand for better salaries or modern equipment is reasonable – it might result in improving the situation in the whole region (or even several regions), and it is not about giving benefits to any single teacher.

Date

June 22, 2012 | 4:00 pm

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Reflecting on the value of a degree

People need the right environment in order to thrive

Emmy’s entry caught my attention because she talked about something I’ve faced myself – a lack of teachers combined with too many pupils in a class. It usually results in the following: Those who understand and are eager to learn do so, while those who have no intention to learn either sit quietly throughout the term or become obstacles to the teacher. Generally, these types of pupils just aim at getting a “satisfactory” mark. As one of my teachers used to say, it’s a mark that shows nothing – neither your skills in a particular sphere, nor your interests. But still, it’s over the level needed to pass an exam, so you are considered an educated person! There’s a danger when students graduate with most marks just at the satisfactory level. They are de jure qualified enough to work in the area they studied. But, de facto, they are almost incompetent. In reality, they seldom pursue a career in what they studied.

Date

June 19, 2012 | 5:47 pm

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“We shouldn’t seek some land of dreams abroad”

Talented young people are leaving small cities for the big and promising urban centers

The closer my graduation comes, the more I’ve been thinking about education in my country. And mostly Im worried. During the 3.5 years I’ve spent at my second university, I’ve talked with dozens of students about their views of the future, and I’ve heard their opinions about the situation today. I did the same at my former university, and I would say it’s like this: Many students who study in big cities and well-known universities (at least in Russia) are aiming to apply for positions in international companies so that they “get out of the country.” Just a few of them added “… and come back after having gained some experience there.”

Date

June 17, 2012 | 8:00 am

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Transfixed by the TV screen – to whose benefit?

Picture: Pavel Mylnikov

Let's look for ways to entertain ourselves beyond the TV set

A friend will ask me occasionally, “Have you seen the latest episode of…” – and then name some program. I usually answer, “You know, I haven’t watched TV for about 2 years.”

Strange, isn’t it? But actually it’s all quite simple: I find nothing interesting or noteworthy in the most well-known channels. When there’s anything educational, I can also easily find it in the Internet. And many in my generation do the same. It’s not that the Internet penetrates more and more into our lives – it’s that it substitutes many spheres of our lives that intelligent young people are not satisfied with. So what’s the connection with education here?

Date

June 13, 2012 | 12:53 pm

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Pavel on Skype: “There should be more educational opportunities in the countryside”

Date

June 11, 2012 | 12:06 pm

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From broken windows to broken homes?

Picture: Pavel Mylnikov

Sometimes conditions are less than ideal...

During my studies I had several periods of teaching practice where we worked in state schools as language teachers for four to six weeks. I dealt with both a gymnasium, where mostly talented pupils study, and a typical school on the outskirts of my city. So, I can compare them and share a couple of my ideas about what I saw there.

Date

June 6, 2012 | 2:45 pm

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