October 10, 2019 From Thursday to Thursday
Weekly platform of the Educomplex holiday preparation: press conference with Mr. Ashot Bleyan in the Educomplex High School
Thank you! These Thursdays preceding the Sebastatsi Days, our holiday, are very important.
The creation of a new school, an open school was dictated by the necessity of changes brought by the 1988 movement, also called Artsakh Movement, as well as the 2018 rebirth, the uplift which resulted in new economic, political relationships. And with the breath of Gorbachev’s changes, we went deeper into pedagogy at school # 183. The building, where we are sitting now, was acting as a secondary school known as Ashots’ School. In 1984 Ashot Manucharyan was deputy director of the school, and our good friend Ashot Dabaghyan was the other school administer. As they were so active and brave, the authorities in those years didn’t trust them the director post, so the demand of a third Ashot arose. I was “exiled” from the centre of the city to the South-West district of Yerevan, and in the August of 1985 I was appointed director of school number 183.
In 1989, the Yerevan “Mkhitar Sebastatsi” Educomplex was created as an experimental and research union of educational institutions, representing different educational programs, with the aim of creating author pedagogy, that is, pedagogy whose curricula, programs are developed and disseminated by the teachers themselves.
For the first time in the history of Armenia there has been such an educational network called ″Mkhitar Sebastatsi″ Educational Complex. And today we are unique as an educational institution implementing author pedagogy. We are celebrating the 30th anniversary of this author educational network, but we emphasize the connection with school number 183 created in 1984, because there are still teachers in the Educomplex who have been working here since 1984. It is very important that for 30 consecutive years we have been able to meet the right of choice for the form of education to thousands of children of different age groups because if don’t give them the opportunity to choose you reprimand a definite form of education on them.
We are going to try using this holiday platform to disseminate our educational programme so that it can reach out to residents and learners, both in the suburbs of Yerevan, and in other administrative regions and big communities.
Why is the use of blackboards removed if it benefits us more than does any harm?
Very well, this is an auditorium, isn’t it? Where is the blackboard? This situation, environment is pleasing, isn’t it? The blackboard is something that would fit the barracks. You have seen the ordinary classrooms, haven’t you? The blackboard is on the wall, and then one row, two rows or three rows of desks, and the teacher is standing in the center. That is the barracks. It is not bad, but the barracks are built on the principle of obeying one person. Maria Montessori called this the instruments of slavery. Everyone knows one thing, or not everyone knows the same thing. Everyone knows one thing, or everyone don’t know one and the same thing. That is, the teacher knows something, and all the others don’t.
Question: So, there is no need to have a blackboard, is there?
Haven’t you got a blackboard now? You are recording my voice, shooting a video-film. You have got both paper and electronic blackboards. We should overcome this stage. You are doing team work. You can ask your friend if you don’t know, you can work a little harder. And the teacher should be free too. We have abandoned the chalkboard, then the marker, the electronic board, and offered individual tools where the most important is independence, autonomy, where you dictate the pace and way of learning, and so on.
Quetion: I am a robotix teacher, and we are having our lessons in the Middle School where the learners are noisier than the High School learners. That noise is disturbing, and we would like the rooms with glass walls to be more soundproof. We don’t have that problem in the High Scool because there the learners are more mature and they realize the necessity of keeping silent, but it is a problem in the Middle School.
This year the number of students has grown quicker than it was anticipated. As you know this was the accounting office room. The accounting office was evacuated on the demand of the High School principal. And it was a fair demand as the High School office has already become a classroom. More changes took place and are still taking place. The biggest changes in our Mother School will be during the 2019-2020 school year. If you have any project you can offer them. We can try to realize them.
Question: My question concerns the educational trips which are mandatory. Can they become as desired?
If it is made as desired, students will soon wish to use paper and pen instead of digital means, or they will stop participating in the general morning trainings. In this case, we will very soon be embraced by the state educational programme. You may call it a hot bosom.
The point is about author pedagogy, because the lesson-classroom system is described as having 30 students sitting at their desks, and the teacher comes in… this curriculum is the same in all classrooms, it has to be. But we have incorporated a variety of classes – conditional classes, which we call educational trainings and country study educational trips. You go, you see, you study not only the homeland but also other countries. These also include educational scientific and creative gatherings. The same approach is towards the military science lessons. We want to have real conditions. We are preparing you for the real life where there is compulsory military service; there is an emergency situation which is very typical of our country. The trips are first for the teenagers to be with each other, to love each other, to wander. If there is a parent’s concern, let him or her join in. Why not? They are also interested in traveling, aren’t they? Traveling is a self-overcoming stage where we need to help each other.
Question: Mr.Bleyan, I want to ask you a question outside the Educomplex: what would you do in our current education field if you were minister of education?
Let me remind you that I have been the minister of education and now there are no such intentions in my plans. I feel full in my job. If I don’t feel full in this job, I’ll change it. The important thing is for you to choose a job that will make you full, because that job is your investment, your life.
Question: And have you ever regretted choosing this serious and responsible profession?
I will ask a question in answer to your question. Have you ever regretted my being your director for so many years? Of course, not. I love my job and I can’t help feeling full in this job because I am invested here, I express myself here, I register my success here. You can change if you do not like what you are doing. You have great choices and opportunities. We live one life, and it is worth being your choice.
Question: Is it possible to create a unified schedule in the Middle School?
That is a hard thing to do, dear Elen; it means imposing. Let’s understand why the lesson-classroom system is so popular and why they don’t give it up, because it is very easy: 30 learners, one classroom, and there is no individual teaching, at least in some cases, the class is divided into two groups. The teacher comes in and begins the lesson. There is not even a question of individual teaching-learning process. But here, we make things easier when the learning process really becomes for the individual learner. When an individual says: ″I am very much interested in my lessons, and my aim is not escaping the lessons or ridiculing teachers, or making sure that the lessons do not succeed, but….″ You should be the main person who takes control of your lessons, the main participant. Once you’ve started participating in group work with individuals like you, teamwork will become more convenient and your participation will be easier. That is why we do not have secretaries in the offices, we have an office manager, a young person like Lilit, who knows the Educomplex very well, has passed through this school and so on…
Question: Mr. Bleyan, why did you decide to name the school after Mkhitar Sebastatsi?
Because Mkhitar Sebastatsi, the Great Armenologist, Missioner, showed such braveness: having passed such a long way he made a decision to create a congregation that would bring together people, Armenologists, to engage in what they wanted to do in Armenology. We are somewhat similar to them. We came from different parts. True, this was not St. Lazar, it was the South-West district of Yerevan (Bangladesh), and it was still a question whether this suburb would come to pass or not… And coming from different places, we got to know each other better and united around a new pedagogy which we called author pedagogy and created it on our island. And that’s how the Mkhitar Sebastatsi Educational Complex, your school, was built.
Question: How do you imagine the Educomplex after another 30 years?
Dear Avet, the worry of the day is enough for the day. We have so much to worry about during a day, we have such a busy day. It is up to lazy people to dream about what will happen.
Most importantly, in these 30th anniversary changes you should try to see and value the author pedagogy, and what is yours in it. It is important to have your own investment in all of this, because it is only with that investment that participation becomes yours. Otherwise, it’s not yours, and you’ll be easily torn apart.
This holiday is a stimulus for you to set your deeds apart, to become the author of new works.
Only in this case will the holiday be justified with all its expenditures.
Respectful partners, continue to be partners!
The English translation by Yura Ganjalyan