Russian Schools in the Educational Twilight

Author: Fedorov, B.
Perminova, L.
Romanov, K.
Sergeichik, E.
Smirnova, E.
Year:2001
Pages:364
ISBN:0-7734-3145-4
978-0-7734-3145-4
Price:239.95

Reviews

This book was written by a group of Russian researchers each of whom is a specialist in his or her field with several published books to their credit. Working in relatively limited format and in a framework of just four sections, the authors manage to capture all the essential specifics and peculiarity of Russian education from the moment of its inception. The first and second parts cover the general history and philosophy of Russian education and its influence by German education. They contain much new and hitherto unpublished information and give a clear picture of the whole educational system and its situation and condition in tsarist Russia. The authors provide interesting coverage of women’s education as a function of the overall social status of women at that time, and there is open discussion of spiritual and religious education, which was a largely taboo topic in publications of the Soviet period. The authors analyze and compare religious with secular education, emphasizing their mutual interaction, and also describing changes introduced to coordinate these two systems. Of special note, too, are the several pages citing little-known facts on the philosophy of university, private and privileged education in pre-revolutionary Russia.
Parts three and four are devoted to changes in the education system in the period from 1917 up to the present. The authors amply justify their statement that “in the course of a single year – from October 1917 to October 1918 – the Russian school network was successfully destroyed down to its foundations”. This period saw the annihilation of national traditions in education and the roots of national culture, and the closure of lycees, private and religious colleges, parish and public schools – i.e. the entire nationwide network of educational establishments that catered to Russia’s various social orders and enabled almost everyone to acquire basic literacy, if not more. After this, the creation of a new type of school began. After the revolution, the chief task of Russian education was to eliminate illiteracy among large sections of the population. Here the authors caution that this “should be understood not so much as the acquisition of a basic ability to read, write, and count, but as the process by which people acquired a new ideology informing their public and private life, activities and contacts”. The authors then examine the condition of education at various stages and “the tasks with which the authorities confronted the schools, and how they were resolved across the length and breadth of Russia”. While noting the negative features of various periods of Russian education and reform, the authors in each instance trace positive aspects that ultimately enabled the education system to catch up with that of other countries, and to move from strictly technical subjects to a consolidation of the humanities. Indeed, every negative element contains the embryo of something positive, and every eclipse heralds a new sunrise.
About the authors
Boris Fedorov – specialist in the philosophy of education, graduate of St Petersburg University, author of over 90 scholarly works;
Liudmila Perminova - specialist in pedagogy and teaching methodology, author of over 80 scholarly publications;
Konstantin Romanov – specialist in culturology, sociology of art, and history of Russian philosophy; author of over 70 scholarly works;
Elena Sergeichik – specialist in the philosophy of education, history of philosophy, and philosophy of history; author of over 50 research publications;
Elena Smirnova – spcialist in the field of the sociology of education, author of over 90 scholarly publications
In Russian