CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Nov. 9, 2009 – Dr. Olga Matvienko, professor of pedagogical sciences at Kiev National Linguistic University (KNLU), in Kiev, Ukraine, has spent the past two weeks observing the College of Education at Southeast Missouri State University. Matvienko, who is visiting the United States for three weeks, says her goal is to observe teaching methods used by Southeast professors in the Department of Middle and Secondary Education. At KNLU, professors primarily lecture, she said. Matvienko says she wants to learn more about how Southeast professors conduct their classes to provide for active learning, critical thinking and democratic classroom practices. She also wants to learn how Southeast professors model these practices for pre-service teachers to use in their practicum experiences.
“The amount of field experience that students in the education program at Southeast complete is simply wonderful,” said Matvienko. “At my home university, students are only given seven weeks total for field experience during their entire time at the University. Our students are only taught a very generalized educational practice. At Southeast, students are taught specific strategies for specific age groups. These are ideas I would like to present to the Minister of Education, so that our students can experience the same amount of training in the field, as well as age specific training as American students.”
Matvienko says she is very impressed with the amount of technology used in the classroom at Southeast, and how each professor uses this technology for interactive methods of teaching.
“You have a wonderful resource here, and that is Kent Library,” Matvienko says. “That was an amazing building to see. The materials were abundant, and I was most impressed with the Information Commons area for the students on the third floor.”
Matvienko says she is appreciative of several faculty members in the Department of Middle and Secondary Education as they have allowed her to observe their classes and have taken her to other Southeast Missouri communities to observe a variety of schools.
“This area and its surroundings are beautiful, and so are the people,” said Matvienko. “I am amazed by the high motivation of the students here. So many of them work all day, and then attend school at night. They also speak their minds in class and are allowed to think critically. Students in Ukraine do not have these freedoms. They can only attend classes from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., and sit and listen to only lecture style courses. I believe that if American students visited my home University they would become very grateful for the freedoms they have in their education system here in the U.S.”
While in the United States, Matvienko gave a presentation last week at the National Association of Multicultural Education conference held in Denver, Colo., along with Svitlana Kuzmina, Fulbright Scholar in Residence; Dr. Jean Benton, professor and director of international programs at Southeast; and Dr. Simin Cwick, professor and chair of the Department of Middle and Secondary Education at Southeast. The presentation was entitled “Building a Collective Vision of Equity and Social Justice through Poetry and Songs of the Ukraine and the United States.”