This first (and coming second) issue of “Otechestvennye Zapiski” is devoted to education. (The number of texts that we have prepared while working on the topic of education grew so extensive that we decided to divide them between two issues). Nowadays, education is being reformed all around the world, and Russia is no exception. In Russia, the debate around educational reform may be most intense, since the country for a long while has been going through crises in political, economic and social life. Education is a powerful instrumental force for building or re-building a society. That is why, when we are trying to reform an educational system, it is a good idea to start with acquiring a notion of what we really want to achieve, what kind of society we want to see tomorrow. We need to start with understanding of what we want and need, with setting our goals.
We focus primarily on higher education since it is surrounded by the greatest controversy. The second and third issues OZ contain articles by mostly Russian experts in the field of higher education. The emphasis, as befitting a country like Russia where there is such a pressing need to rebuild institutions in the aftermath of the Soviet system, is on what needs to be done. At the same time, these matters cannot be seriously considered in isolation from first principles, or from a certain historical context, or from international experience. In the following articles, all of these dimensions are addressed. Our authors pose a range of questions starting from general ones such as what should be the goals of education in modern society to specific ones such as problems of quality of education, and financing.
We think that the material that we gathered together allows drawing some conclusions about education and the process of its reformation. One of the conclusions is that we must overcome the dichotomy, the strict isolation between the professional and vocational education, on the one hand, and general fundamental development, on the other. Paradoxically, while preparing a well-trained and flexible workforce, we must emphasize the indispensable need in raising a critical-thinking, broad-minded, and spiritual (or at least morally sane and responsible) generation. We invite you to make other conclusions yourself.
This issue is prefaced by Tatyana Malkina’s overview of the current educational situation in Russia. It explains reform alternatives and points out some possible solutions.
Regarding the Philosophy of education, you will find articles by Vitaly Kurennoi (he is a historian of philosophy and teaches at the Center of Phenomenological Philosophy, RSUH — Russian State University for the Humanities) who writes about philosophical issues of education in the context of the contemporary domestic situation and articulates general ideas and motives that de facto have been inspiring current reforms in Russia. Yuri Afanasiev, President of RSUH argues about the critical role of education in the development of human civilization in his article “Educational anti-utopia”. Viktor Mironov, head of the Philosophy Department at MSU — Moscow State University speaks on problems of teaching philosophy in school and in the university, as well as about the crisis of modern culture and the role of philosophy in the modern world. Sociologist Alexander Filippov poses serious questions about education as a molding force of future society, myths about equal opportunity for education, and analyzes phenomena and possible outcomes of education as a lifestyle. Yaroslav Kuzminov, Rector of the State University Higher School of Economics discusses economic issues of education.
In the “Publication” section, there is a John Searle’s speech “Politics and the Humanities” where he speaks up about intellectual pathologies of modernday American universities and the meaning of Western intellectual tradition to civilization. The speech is prefaced by a text about J. Searle by Dr. Alexander Griaznov (now deceased, he used to teach the Chair of Foreign Philosophy in the Philosophy Department, MSU).
The section on educational reform contains expert presentations by Yaroslav Kuzminov, Mikhail Vilchek, First Deputy Chief of the Expert Office of the President of the Russian Federation, and sociologist Oxana Bocharova, VCIOM (The All-Russia Centre for Public opinion research).
The “The Problem of the University” section is focused on Alma Mater. Dr. Alexander Kyosev, professor of Department of Cultural Studies, University of Sofia writes about legitimate foundations of provincial universities in the era of globalization. Dr. Mikhail Tsfasman, Senior Research Assistant, Institute for Information Transmission Problems (IPPI); National Center for Scientific Research, France; Research Prorector, Independent University of Moscow, presents mathematician’s point of view on education.
The “Models of Education” section offers analyses of various national educational systems. Marina Bykova, PhD, Professor of Philosophy, North Carolina State University is responsible for the piece on American education. Philosopher Yuri Tyurin contributed a text on the education in Denmark. Boyan Znepolsky, Senior Assistant at Chair of Sociology, Sophia University St. Kliment Ohridski shares his view on how philosophy should be taught while describing the French crisis in this field. Historian Olga Edelman, State Archive of the Russian Federation, created a text on education in imperial Russia for the “History of the Issue” section.
The “Controversy” section opens a debate on the reform of the Russian language, which began at the beginning of the XX century and is now being reanimated. Why is it being reanimated? The corrections to the Russian Grammar suggested by a group of linguist reformers (they all belong to one institution) do not all seem logical and sensible. Besides, they are not widely discussed by the community of linguists who may be interested. Dr. Svetlana Kuzmina, V. V. Vinogradov Institute of the Russian Language and Kadyr-ool Bicheldey, Vice-chairman, Committee on Affairs of Nationalities, State Duma of the Russian Federation both argue for the current language reform. Dr. Liudmila Rakhmanova, Assistant Professor, Chair of Stylistics of the Russian language, Journalism Department, MSU, Dr. Liudmila Graudina, and Alexandra Silanova, Assistant Professor argue against it.
We start the “Innovation” section with an article by journalist and theologian Alexander Soldatov on teaching Theology in secular school. The “Country of OZ” section. Writer and editor Maria Kuzmina compiled unique documents about Gorki Leninskie — the place where V. I. Lenin lived for a long time. And Nikolai Yakushev who is a Deputy Editor of Medical Department, “Literary Agency” is publishing an exclusive feature story about his native city of Volsk.
We continue the story of Pavel Svinjin’s “Otechestvennye Zapiski” with the publication of travel notes by Russian Czar-reformer Peter the Great.