Volume:7, Issue: 3

Dec. 15, 2015

Dear friends, colleagues, authors and readers of the journal,

Unfortunately, I am addressing you in this capacity and from this website for the last time. After long discussions and many painful thoughts, we have made a decision that the journal should be closed. This is not an easy decision to make but it feels that at this point it is the only right one.

Twenty-five journal issues is a lot, and at the same time it is not much at all, of course, depending on your point of view. Still, we can only hope that through the journal we have managed to bring attention to a number of critical and undeveloped issues in education in the United States and Russia.  Since everything remains online and free, you will have a chance to continue reading and perhaps finding some new ideas and inspirations there.

In conclusion, I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to each and everyone who made this journal happen for nine years – our authors and readers, members of the Editorial Board and reviewers – without you we would have never succeeded and gained an audience from over 140 countries. Special thanks go to the journal web designer Alex Minakov whose skills and patience were exceptional. Thank you so much! It has been my honor and privilege to serve you all!

Always yours,
Tatyana Tsyrlina-Spady,

In This Issue
A letter to the Readers
Tsyrlina-Spady, Tatyana [about]
Time has moved so quickly, and I am happy to introduce this journal issue to you. It is hard to imagine that it is already issue # 20 (!), and I am filled with joy to see that we have accumulated readers in every continent and almost in every country on earth. This edition has been prepared in cooperation with the Center “Educational Search” (Pedagogichesky Poisk) and a number of educational journals published by this Center. Among them are such popular as “A scientific-methodological journal of the school deputy principal,” “A Homeroom Teacher,” “Management of the Modern School,” etc. I am happy to introduce our guest editor for this issue – Professor Vladimir Lizinsky, a person who is blessed with a brilliant mind, deep intuition, and a great sense of humor, and who is sharing his reflection and attitude towards many new processes happening in Russian education today in the two papers published in this issue. His irony, unusual way of thinking and manner of writing will never leave you indifferent.
Vital Pedagogy of Leonid Zankov
Boguslavsky, Mikhail V. [about]
According to Alexander G. Asmolov, “Zankov’s pedagogy is a pedagogy of interesting challenges and, while interesting challenges are life challenges, following Zankov means following vital didactics”. The formation of a major humanistic system of personality development in Russian education is closely connected with the life of its founder, an outstanding scholar, psychologist and educator – Leonid Vladimirovich Zankov (1901-1977). Leonid Zankov was born on 10 (23) April 1901 in Warsaw, in the family of a Russian military officer. He graduated from a Moscow gymnasium in 1916, and almost immediately started his teaching career in a rural school in Tula province. In 1919 Zankov switched to a career of first, a homeroom teacher and then, head of a juvenile agricultural correctional facility in Tambov province. He was only 18 (!) at that time. So from 1920 to 1922 still a very young educator worked as Head of Ostrovnaya juvenile correctional facility in Moscow province from which he was sent back to Moscow to study social sciences at the Moscow State University [2]. It was in Moscow where he had a life-changing meeting with the prominent psychologist Lev Semyonovich Vygotsky, the meeting that entirely changed and defined Zankov’s professional life. Together with his mentor (who was just 26) Zankov took part in experimental psychological studies focused on memory research. A few years later, in 1925, after his graduation from the Moscow State University, he enrolled in a postgraduate program at the University’s Institute of Psychology where, again supervised by Vygotsky, Zankov continued his memory research together with studies of the psyche and development of children with disabilities.
Teacher’s social education activities and pedagogical behavior as essential forms of professional activities
Lizinsky, Vladimir M. [about]
External forms of pedagogical intervention, as well as verbal and non-verbal ways of influence, may and occasionally have a positive, negative or no influence on children. Clothes and accessories, haircut, manner of walking, posture, glances, head inclination, length of pauses, specific looks at children, smiles, expression of anger, handwriting and signature, grade color and shape, exhausted indifference, personal adornments, favorite expressions and quotes – we may still continue the list of things which make an inconspicuous influence on children by attracting or pushing them away and, at times, greatly affecting their behavior, attitudes, views, and their future. Throughout their entire professional career some teachers are unable or unwilling to get rid of some clownery, cheap focus tricks, mockery or toadyism used with the sole purpose to be liked by children. However, all these are external forms of influence, which may keep the attention of immature souls for a short time, but they will most probably fail to attract intellectually developed and thoughtful teenagers. Even before the teacher starts the class or applies various teaching strategies and techniques, his or her personality in the whole range of its dimensions may be appealing or equally repulsive to children. Great philosophers and educators used to say that a teacher must be young and beautiful. Of course, they naturally meant the teacher’s state of mind and psyche.
Let us discard classical didactics and embrace false innovations
Lizinsky, Vladimir M. [about]
An increasing number of teachers have completely excluded social education from their professional activities. This was caused by a number of reasons. It was not only because the Unified State Exams as a given reality does not need social education and interaction with students. Nor was it only because the knowledge-centered instruction paradigm with its drills, orders, pressure, requirements, unsatisfactory grades, and cruel abuse of students’ memory does not need affectionate and friendly attitude towards children. Nor was it only because the sophisticated administrative mind replaced social education as a system with a set of major and minor activities. Nor was it only because the teacher has quickly realized that there is a huge gap between talks about spiritual, moral and patriotic education, on the one hand, and real systemic approach to social education, on the other. Nor was it only because of standardization, narrow outlook, fatigue factors, professional backwardness or fear to fail tests. All these and other reasons put together make it possible to easily eliminate both with social education systems and social education as a goal-oriented systemic process fully encompassing school life and work. What is left for any given school? That is just to avoid obvious cases of juvenile vulgarity or offence while pretending at the same time to possess active school self-governance, initiatives, social practices, students’ creativity and leadership. Fighting against Article 278, the school must not only kiss boots but also be able in cooperation with some powerful students’ parents from law enforcement agencies, to hide teenagers’ crimes or offensive social behavior.
The child’s school identity: a shift towars responsible social education policy
Grigoryev, Dmitry V. [about]
Although the new Russian National General Education Standards are being heavily criticized, they contain at least two major ideas, which will leave nobody indifferent. That is a meta-subject approach to teaching and the formation of Russian (civic) identity. Even if we assume, as many critics suggest, that the idea of building Russian identity is explained by the mere desire of the new elite to make everyone accept their (the elite’s) version of Russia, I am not prepared to give up the idea itself. To me it is the same as to lose faith in my homeland. Sometimes, it is very hard to love it, but it is impossible not to have faith in it. The Russian word identichnost precisely conveys the English term identity which dates back to the late Latin identicus, or belonging. To belong means to be part of something bigger: family, friends, school, Motherland, Universe, and God. Without identity or belonging (of course, voluntary rather than imposed), an individual is overflowed with his/her “own self”, sinking in the depths of his/her self-importance and complacency. Identity grows as a result of the individual awareness of oneself while identifying essential others.
Child-adult communities and educational production
Grigoryev, Dmitry V. [about]
We live in a consumerist society. Infinitely increasing production, consumption, and the so-called material wellbeing have been declared the purpose of a human life within this society model. Such society is global, supranational. Its supporters state, “Homeland is where you can live a good life.” Inhabitants of the consumerist society are more preoccupied with the quality of life rather than with its meaning. The issues they see are not “why and what I live for” but only “how I live.” The consumerist ideology has chosen youth as the most pliable social group and demanded its full-scale consumerization (turning young people into followers of a consumerist civilization and into proponents of the utilitarian-hedonistic outlook). A young person is not, even for a second, given an opportunity to fall out of the consumerist system; all his/her identities, except for the customer identity, are erased, his/her individual freedom is paralyzed, and s/he is turned into an attachment to goods (computers, cell phones, music hits, bestsellers, blockbusters, etc.) becoming an obedient “things-addict” (the term was coined by Sekatsky, a modern Russian philosopher). The expansion of the consumerist ideology fueled by mass culture leads to a deformation of almost all tools and mechanisms of socialization, including education system. Consumerization of education (i.e., its transformation into another institute and mechanism of the consumerist society) causes two types of consequences.
Contemporary models of social education: general and specific
Stepanov, Pavel V. [about]
The notion of a model makes it necessary to think of, at least, two things. Firstly, it is the object, or some fragment of a pedagogical reality (let us call it a pedagogical practice or integrated pedagogical expertise). Secondly, strictly speaking, it is a model of the object, or its simplified replica which focuses on the essential elements of the object, discards everything irrelevant, defines key relationships between the elements, and represents a certain object structure. A question arises if the model represents a true object structure (i.e., the object retains its main characteristics in the model) or the model is just our vision of the given object (in this case, it may be added to other visions or models of the same object). In other words, does the model represent an exact copy of reality or a tool to explore reality, so that this tool may be discarded and replaced with other tools or models by researchers if the former do not meet the research requirements? We believe the second seems to be closer to the truth in terms of the scientific approach to cultural studies. In one of his publications, Italian epistemologist Umberto Eco mentioned a particularly interesting case. On his trip to the east, Marco Polo came to the island of Java and encountered a very unusual animal identified by the traveler as a unicorn. However, Marco Polo was greatly upset to find out that the animal did not look as beautiful as the medieval European tradition had painted it. It was black, had elephant-like feet, the head of a wild boar and, indeed, “was an ugly beast to see. And it does not resemble his description at all and will not let itself be caught in the lap by a virgin girl” cited from Usmanova, 2000. Clearly, coming across an unknown object, Marco Polo used conventional reasoning strategies to identify it. Today, having completely freed ourselves from the belief in those noble mythological beasts, we are accustomed to a different name – a rhinoceros.
Education Reforms and Civic Identity Construction in Russia
Rapoport, Anatoli [about]
Anthropologists and sociologists know that constructing a new civic identity is a complex phenomenon that requires a certain level of consensus about at least the most basic cultural, social, and ideological norms in the society. The convoluted process becomes even thornier if it is complicated by almost concurrent efforts to develop strong ethnic and cultural identity within a dominant ethnic group in a multi-ethic, multicultural society. This is exactly what has been going on in Russia for the last decade. The vector of civic identity construction that potentially leads to a more unified society and the vector of ethnic identity construction that leads to fragmentation of a society have brought Russia to a dangerous crossroads. In a free democratic society such complex problems would become the focus of an active national dialogue. In an authoritarian society that Russia has gradually become, problems are addressed in an authoritarian manner – there is only one correct solution and it always comes from the top leadership. The purposes of this paper are a) to analyze dominant tendencies in Russia’s education that influence the development of civic identity, b) to discuss specific themes and discourses, used in constructing civic identity in Russia, and c) to demonstrate that identity construction has been determined by ideological paradigms that reflectively shifted in response to new internal and external challenges, both real and imaginary.
Lessons of Russian Safari for Globalists
Voropayev, Mikhail V. [about]
To a western humanities-minded intellectual, unless s/he specializes in comparative education and cross-cultural research, post-perestroika Russian system of education is probably of little interest. There is a widespread belief that during perestroika there were attempts of democratization and de-ideologization in Russian education. This statement is generally correct, although, in fact, it hides a different reality, which is much closer to the prospects of education in the USA and the EU. Clearly, the current events in Russia reflect the consequences of globalization processes which take place in the word culture and education. The value of Russian reforms lies in their radicalism and in the specific nature of Russian culture; our national reforms clearly demonstrate the peculiarities of globalization processes which are less obvious in more developed countries. It can be explained by the fact that the vast territory of Russia, due to the iron curtain, has preserved a unique “Enlightenment project” (in the sense suggested by Jürgen Habermas). In spite of the distorted influence of the communist ideology and thanks to a strong influence of the patriarchal tradition in the Russian society, the soviet system of public education had all main characteristics that proved its genetic connection with the ideas of Enlightenment. I consider, it was the key reason why that system of education was destroyed.
Physics as a means of social education
Gorbushin, Sergey A. [about]
Let us agree upon the basic principles. It is the “activity-based” rather than “lecturing” lessons that really teach and produce a character education effect. The unswerving struggle for the elimination of “lecturing” lessons is a permanent top priority task. Indeed, the lesson does not achieve its goal if the students are listening to the teacher with bated breath, stay interested and mesmerized, but they themselves are doing nothing. In this case, there is no learning unless the teacher is an active proponent of such pedagogical fireworks. But such teacher is obviously wrong. One can be absolutely sure that by the next lesson his students will remember absolutely nothing, so the teacher may as well start all over again. At most they will remember to have already come across this. The second time will not change anything either except for that vague feeling that something of the kind has already been taught. During the lesson students should work actively.  I intentionally limit my discussion to the issues of social education while teaching physics, and I am not going to argue about the learning outcomes of the subject. As far as the social education part is concerned, practically everything is clear. A student must at all times continue educating him/herself – that is the only way of success in any educational strategy. To realize this goal, a student needs a strong willpoweras the key instrument without which such continuing self-education is impossible; in its turn the development of a willpower (just like any skill development) requires continuous and diligent practice or activity. This is a maxim familiar to all university graduates – education must be hard, but feasible.
Will latest megatrends become our tomorrow or even our today?
Veselova, Valeriia V. [about]
Russia entered modernization path nearly a quarter of a century ago and since then it has fully experienced the hardships of the rough transition from tradition to innovation. So far, there is no consensus on the majority of issues, and only recently there have appeared ideas that helped the society to feel united. In other words, there has been a re-conventionalization, which enables a further progress. In the West, the agreement on such values as freedom, progress, individual autonomy and national importance has been achieved after 150 years of continual nonlinear development. Russia, (similar, to some extent, to former USSR countries), found itself in a completely different situation. A sweeping change of traditional social principles in the 1990s taking place without any preparation or substantiation of such “transformation”, led the country into a deep crisis in all spheres of human activity. In this situation, Nikolai Gogol’s words from his Selected Passages from Correspondence with his Friends (2011)have acquired a new meaning: …Never before in Russia has there been such an extraordinary variety and disparateness of opinion and belief among its people, never before has the difference in instruction and education so alienated one from another and produced such a discord in everything. Through all this a wind of scandal has blown, of empty, superficial deductions, of foolish gossip, of one-sided, worthless conclusions. All that has bewildered and confused everyone’s opinions on Russia to the point that one cannot definitely believe anyone.

Home | Copyright © 2023, Russian-American Education Forum