Influence of Culture on Classroom Pedagogy
The Russian and Soviet education brought about a number of influences in the system of education that are similar to the systems in the western countries. Some of these influences included lobbying for education without gender discrimination, and replacing the religious education system such as that adopted in Islamic schools with a formal system. The other influences included creating an educated populace that is multilingual and has bestowed a reasonably well developed and rapidly improving level of professional instructors and teachers, introducing a system that encouraged cultural pluralism, cultural co-existence and regional collaboration, and lastly a system that encouraged the building of a sustainable future for the country.
This chapter brings out the teaching methods used by Central Asian teachers, which are cultural-based. They insist on imparting the students with cultural values rather than just teaching them the logical knowledge. This method enables the students to learn good morals in the process of acquiring the relevant knowledge.
Teachers are at the core of all learning processes. The most effective teaching strategies brought out in this essay are the ones that involve a balance between instructor centered, dictatorial, forceful and transmissive educational approach and the student centered independent and collaborative method. Since teachers are usually expected to deliver a lot in a short period, they are forced to do general teaching rather than focusing attention on individual students.
This method of teaching is not effective since it assumes that all the students have a uniform learning capacity, which is wrong. Some students tend to be left out owing to the fact that they are slow in understanding concepts. The most effective system is whereby the teacher-student ratio is such that the teacher is in a position to attend to the needs of individual students. This guarantees better learning outcomes.
Teachers are faced with a number of obstructions in the course of their duties, which prevent them from adhering to the teaching methods specified in the curriculum. These include language barrier, which obstructs interactive learning, and lack of resources such as textbooks that causes the instructor to be the only source of knowledge to the students. “This is a common barrier in most of the countries, since students have been brought up to believe that everything coming from the teacher is right” (Niyozov, 2008 p. 137). Teachers are expected to be like encyclopedias, in that they carry all the information required by the students. An example of this is from the interview carried out in Sri Lanka where a teacher claims that “inspectors and parents expect them to follow school syllabus yet they lack the resources to buy materials for projects” (Baker, 1988 p. 454).
Active learning is used as an interactive form of learning, which allows the students to participate by asking and answering questions. For it to be effective there has to be proper use of a language, which is understood by all the students. A good example of an interactive classroom lesson is one involving the scaffolding technique. This technique allows students to solve problems in groups, thus reducing the time spent in searching for information and increasing the time spent in learning. It also enables them to learn collaborative learning.
Culture has a way of instilling values in students such as filial devoutness, discipline, submission, and reverence to parents, seniors and their instructors. When there are strict rules to be followed by students, they are in a better position to learn more than in the cases where there are no regulations. Culture also brings about a commitment to the values of the community, which is responsible in bringing up dependable children.
Some cultural practices, which students are taught, aim at improving the country’s economic circumstances. An example of this is gardening lessons taught in Cuban schools to provide the students with the necessary knowledge of solving the food shortage problem faced by the country. They are also taught ethical values such as unselfishness, community participation, sharing and submission to authority.
The teaching methods applied in developing countries are faced with many obstacles since their system of education is still undergoing various improvements. “They are faced by the issue of cultural obstruction since most communities are still deeply rooted into their traditional ways. The teachers are therefore required to have the skills to handle students from different cultural backgrounds and teach them a common learning language” (Niyozov, 2008 p. 139).
In the developed world, teaching is much easier in that the traditional cultures have been eroded and therefore the teachers are not faced with the cultural obstacles.
This chapter provides an understanding of the pedagogical methods of the Central Asian teachers. “They have adopted the formalistic pedagogy which embraces traditions, and this should be improved rather than attempting to replace it with the western system” (Niyozov, 2008 p. 140).
The Soviet Union wanted to win over those in central Asia. They introduced different policies such as indigenization and a colossal expansion of the education system. They put great effort in ensuring that there was gender equity in the education system. Great emphasis was laid in infrastructure and agricultural development. This in turn put more emphasis on vocational and technical education. The Soviet Union was more accommodating of Islamic education but this was not the case with the Stalinist regime. The regime stressed more on teaching scientific atheism. The soviet education system was underdeveloped and underfunded. Focus was laid on the technical needs. A large part of Russia has accepted the different cultures. The education system has ensured that the beneficiaries of the soviet education are multilingual, literate and developed.
In some areas in central Asia, the religion of Islam seems to be a major determinant in their education system. There are those who support Islamic education because of the personal benefits that they stand to reap. Others support Islamic education but they do so in moderation. They recognize that there are other systems in place and they therefore call for tolerance. External Islamic movements are made of radicals who manipulate people. They limit their freedom and force them to join in their quest. This only leads to the loss of indigenous culture and the widespread of the new movement. This leads to stagnation and there is no development realized in these regions.
Russia has greatly influenced the education systems in central Asian countries. The systems changed from centralized to decentralized and privatized. The teachers use oral recitation and they know about the text they are using. This is unlike the Soviet Union where the teachers did not have enough textbooks to cover the system. They also used obsolete equipment. The teachers care more about their students and this is reflected in the relationship that they have. The Soviet Union did not seem to encourage this, as the students were often alienated and bored. The teachers also had to deal with a very authoritarian administration. In addition to this, the government did not care much for the institution’s buildings and the students had to use dilapidated structures. The students did not acquire enough knowledge to render them competent in the outside world.
The introduction of western ideas and pedagogies influenced the teaching methods in these Asian countries. The focus changed from the teacher knowing all the answers and teaching all the time to a more student-centered approach. The teachers engage the students in sharing their experiences as may concern the subject being taught. The student is allowed to ask questions and suggest the responses to different questions. The curriculum also changed to incorporate teachings that are beneficial to the students. The instructors do not use their authority to bully students but they seek to understand them. They do not also use language that puts off the student or discourages them from understanding the teacher and thus evading from answering the students’ questions. The teachers use the students’ suggestions concerning different ideas. They also ask the students questions to seek clarification. In this case, the students are not only seen as receivers of knowledge but givers as well. The teacher is no longer the holder and possessor of all wisdom and knowledge as it seemed during the Soviet Union. The students are free to disagree with the teacher on any subject.
Niyozov, S. (2008). Comparative and international education: understanding pedagogy. Toronto, Canada: Canadian Scholars’ Press.
Baker, J. (1988). Education and cultural process: Values and pedagogies in cross cultural perspective. St. Petersburg, Florida: Eckerd College.