2008.06.05: June 5, 2008: Headlines: COS - Ukraine: Secondary Education: Coshocton Tribune: Grant Earich writes: Accomplishments and obstacles in Ukraine: Continental divide

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Ukraine: Peace Corps Ukraine : Peace Corps Ukraine: Newest Stories: 2008.06.05: June 5, 2008: Headlines: COS - Ukraine: Secondary Education: Coshocton Tribune: Grant Earich writes: Accomplishments and obstacles in Ukraine: Continental divide

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Grant Earich writes: Accomplishments and obstacles in Ukraine: Continental divide

Grant Earich writes: Accomplishments and obstacles in Ukraine: Continental divide

I returned students tests and scolded entire classes for their lack of respect. I then sympathized with them, explaining I too had been tempted to cheat at certain points in my educational career but knew I would be unable to enjoy success that isn't deserved. In all, I used threats, incentives, personal narratives and ultimately pleads with them to not cheat. Toward the end of my first semester I was invited by one of my students to dine at her family's restaurant. I had helped translate their menu into English and was treated to a Ukrainian barbeque dinner. The meal was superb; the conversation was even better. As I sat talking to my student - a known cheater and exceedingly lackadaisical student - she explained my vehement, no nonsense cheating policies might prevent students from cheating in my class, but that it would ultimately have little effect on their perspective of cheating in general. She admitted I was the only teacher she knew who even remotely emphasized such germane ideas. To most teachers, cheating isn't exactly a major concern. I felt defeated. I wanted my students to be intrinsically motivated to succeed and to recognize cheating is dishonorable. If the other teachers continue to tolerate cheating and accept bribes, the students will never achieve higher ethical standards. Rather than give up, I reevaluated my expectations and remembered what the goals of Peace Corps are. One goal is to provide another culture with an understanding of the United States and its people. By adamantly enforcing a zero-tolerance policy on cheating, I was at least dissuading students from cheating in my class and promoting American ideals of education.

Grant Earich writes: Accomplishments and obstacles in Ukraine: Continental divide

Accomplishments and obstacles in Ukraine: Continental divide

By GRANT EARICH • Guest Columnist •

June 5, 2008

Caption: Grant Earich and two of his students, Sergiy, right, Antony, left, during Last Bell, the Ukrainian equivalent of graduation. (Submitted)

Before coming to Ukraine, my teaching experience was limited, but I did have a strong foundation. I volunteered five or six hours per week for six months with the Columbus Literacy Council teaching immigrants the basics of English, took education courses in college and, of course, had observed some outstanding teachers during my time in high school and college. In addition to my own teaching experience, my mother has been a teacher for nearly 30 years, the majority of the last two decades with West Muskingum Local Schools. However, nothing could prepare me for teaching in Ukraine.
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As I noted in my last column, I was teaching at Vinnytsia School 1. I was assigned to teach American literature, country studies and conversational English for my first semester. At first, teaching came relatively easy. Students were fascinated by the foreigner, "the American," so behavior problems were limited. I realized I loved giving lectures to large groups of people, having them hang on to my every word. Unfortunately, this "honeymoon period" didn't last for long. As my novelty as "the American" wore off, I began to see my students' usual manner of conduct.

After roughly four weeks, it was time to start administering test and quizzes. During training, we had never given tests, but we had heard horror stories from current volunteers about the rampant level of cheating. It is important to understand that during the Soviet Era, everything was collective, including education. More often than not, teachers used to turn a blind eye to classroom corruption; today, many still do.

My first experience with cheating had me running around the classroom crumpling up tests, finding mobile phones with pictures of test preps and the ubiquitous cheat sheet. What amazed me most was the insolent demeanor of students as they overtly cheated their way through examinations despite my countless efforts to dissuade them from doing so. They didn't perceive what they were doing was wrong in any way. A peak episode happened when I kept a student after class to lecture them on the "nobody wins" aspect of cheating. Throughout the conversation, the student acted cavalier and simply stated "this is what I do." When I finished grading, I filled the grade book with scores equivalent to C's, D's and F's.

I returned students tests and scolded entire classes for their lack of respect. I then sympathized with them, explaining I too had been tempted to cheat at certain points in my educational career but knew I would be unable to enjoy success that isn't deserved. In all, I used threats, incentives, personal narratives and ultimately pleads with them to not cheat.

Toward the end of my first semester I was invited by one of my students to dine at her family's restaurant. I had helped translate their menu into English and was treated to a Ukrainian barbeque dinner. The meal was superb; the conversation was even better. As I sat talking to my student - a known cheater and exceedingly lackadaisical student - she explained my vehement, no nonsense cheating policies might prevent students from cheating in my class, but that it would ultimately have little effect on their perspective of cheating in general. She admitted I was the only teacher she knew who even remotely emphasized such germane ideas. To most teachers, cheating isn't exactly a major concern.

I felt defeated. I wanted my students to be intrinsically motivated to succeed and to recognize cheating is dishonorable. If the other teachers continue to tolerate cheating and accept bribes, the students will never achieve higher ethical standards. Rather than give up, I reevaluated my expectations and remembered what the goals of Peace Corps are.

One goal is to provide another culture with an understanding of the United States and its people. By adamantly enforcing a zero-tolerance policy on cheating, I was at least dissuading students from cheating in my class and promoting American ideals of education.

Grant Earich is a 2000 graduate of Tri-Valley High School and 2004 graduate of Walsh University. He holds bachelor of arts degrees in history and political science. Prior to his service in the United States Peace Corps, he served in Ohio State Senator Joy Padgett's office and as a legislative assistant and adviser to Ohio's largest non-profit, Ohio Citizen Action.




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Story Source: Coshocton Tribune

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Ukraine; Secondary Education

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