Worldwide diffusion of XXI century educational innovations: opportunities and challenges for educational institutions in Kazakhstan
Berniyazova, Assem Zhigerovna
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Like many countries, Kazakhstan aspires to modernise its school education through the adoption of innovative ideas from the best practices worldwide. A considerable change is underway through the centrally organised exchange and cooperation with international counterparts, including those in the United Kingdom. The potential success of such cooperation, however, is contingent on the compatibility of the countries' social imaginaries of schooling - deep background understandings held by the practitioners working in schools and with schools. The present work is an attempt to discern, compare and reflect on the salient aspects of the social imaginaries of schooling in one region of Kazakhstan and two local authorities in Scotland. Its key objective is to consider how those imaginaries relate and what their relationship may imply for the prospects of international cooperation in bringing about the desirable school of the future. In terms of theory, this dissertation leans on the works of philosophers, sociologists and anthropologists, who studied the shared character of social reality by looking at the roots of personal identity, nationalism, societal structure and cohesion. It primarily relies on Charles Taylor's construct of social imaginary as operationalised by the scholars of science and technology studies. As such, the present work adds to the line of recent research that has investigated the power of social imaginaries to affect educational practices within the national (India, Scotland) or international comparative (Norway-England) settings. Drawing on the literature on innovations, massive open online courses and the social shaping of technology, this study is designed around the two sets of innovative initiatives implemented in school education in Kazakhstan and Scotland - one with a technological focus, and one with a social focus. The research design is further informed by the cultural and educational contexts of the two countries. The evidence base mainly consists of semi-structured interviews with the staff of organisations that bring innovative practices to state schools and the teachers working in those schools. It also includes the industry-wide conversations as exemplified by two relevant academic publications and two large-scale educational conferences. It further draws on the society-level understandings as reflected in two folklore pieces and two hallmark political speeches. With respect to findings, a number of salient aspects of the social imaginaries are identified in the two countries, including: the views about the roles of the school and the teacher; the concept of educated person - the desirable one of us; the authority responsible for the child; the location of knowledge and know-how; the attitude toward the new; the definition and the content of educational innovation; the role of and the attitude toward the technology; the views about the school premises; the perception of the flow of time and the timing of the Future. The juxtaposition of these aspects demonstrates that the social imaginaries do possess some nation-specific features. At the same time, conforming to Oddrun Bråten, the material from each country also shows the traces of some supranational and sub-national imaginaries. In response to the key research question, the interplay of the aspects of the national imaginaries suggests compatibility with the overall current configuration of cooperation: for example, the well-paired perceived location of knowledge and know-how, and the complementary views about technology and equipment. Another practical implication is in that a number of mismatching points need to be considered to secure the smooth cooperation: for example, the differently perceived timing of the Future, and the varied attitudes to the new. The reflection on the study's limitations and the further questions posed by its findings make it possible to propose several avenues for future research.