This issue of OZ is about raising our children. This issue is pertinent both for the world at large that witnesses a dramatic dilemma between traditional and liberal values, and for the Russian society which is recovering from its social and cultural cataclysms and struggling to establish a workable and vital value system. No matter what we believe in, what culture or social strata we belong to, we cannot help thinking about the future of our children, and these hopes have more in common that we might realize. Since, consciously or unconsciously, we want the world to continue and be well for them, and we all realize that their wellbeing depends on what kind of world our children grow up in.
We present a collection of works by educators, psychologists, sociologists, historians, parents, and former children — about their thoughts and experiences regarding probably the most difficult vocation and the most unpredictable business of all — the moral education of our children.
Psychologist Alexander Venger focuses on the problem of moral education in a situation of transition of values. Venger speaks of terminal and instrumental values, i.e., long-term goals or desirable end-states, and short-term goals that are transitional. An instrumental value such as money or knowledge can turn into a terminal one. Excessive concentration of media on the luxurious life of the rich has led to the deterioration of moral values in the teenage and youth subculture.
Philologist Alexander Panchenko’s publication is about rearing children in the Russian peasant medieval environment. Concepts of education and childhood were not at hand for adults of that environment. Children were perceived as little “incomplete” adults that had to be shaped and adapted for inclusion into social life by means of rituals.
The subsequent section is on parenting and family education. Sociologist Liudmila Presniakova evaluates and compares ‘traditionalist’ and ‘modernist’ educational norms and practices. Results of polls conducted among various age groups of the Russian population allow the author to speculate on the trends in educational values.
Sociologists Natalya Zorkaya and Anastasia Leonova try to discern the role of the family in children’s education as reflected in poll results conducted in June 2004 by the Levada Center. According to the results, the role of the family in shaping the fundamentals of life experience has grown, whereas work, colleges and universities, books, and hobby groups influence children on a lesser scale. While interpreting the poll data, the authors find that popular values and attitudes transform slowly. Zorkaya and Leonova conclude that today’s Russian elite does not play any meaningful role in influencing masses; the only existing medium left for transmitting liberal democratic values to the masses is mass culture. The authors advocate implementing in Russia an anti-totalitarian model of education similar to the one that was embraced in Germany as an alternative to traditional educational practices in the 1970-80s.
While discriminating among most popular urban parenting techniques, psychologist Grazhina Budinaite aims to identify their ‘practical typology.’ She argues that parental strategies stem not so much from rational roots, however explicit and sophisticated those roots might be, as from a latent compensation for what the parents themselves had experienced in their families when they were children.
Adopting a child often implies social problems. Artist Nina Gorlanova tells of her personal experience of raising an adopted girl with its ups and downs. Gorlanova who finds fostering several children who cannot live with their own families more productive, works in a charity home where she teaches painting. For Gorlanova and her peers, the ultimate goal of their work is helping children to return to their families.
We publish a fragment from a speech by Metropolitan Antony about raising children in faith. A child’s life begins before he or she is born. A parent’s model behavior and inspiration are the tools for child rearing. In a way comprehensible for a child, one could draw a child’s attention to people who show such model behavior, who are bright, kind, brave, and handsome. A child should see his parents striving to live up to their faith, behaving honestly and kindly. At some point, they should also learn about Christ, about the early Church. This learning must not be mandatory.
Olga Edelman’s essay is about raising heirs to the Russian throne, a business once exotic and now extinct. Edelman calls mentoring young Crown Princes a custom-made workmanship, since in each case it involved a unique process supervised by a unique tutor.
The section on the educational role of school opens with Andrey Tyomkin’s review of the history and tendencies of European education. He compares two conflicting educational schools: traditionalist and liberal. The traditionalist approach views school education as a tool for preparing a child for entering adult society as a prepared citizen. The liberal one finds it most important to preserve the child’s nature that is supposedly good and self-sufficient and does not need any interference on the part of adults. Paradoxically, these two educational philosophies intertwine and merge in actual life. Tyomkin warns against the pitfalls of the seemingly harmless liberal view of education.
OZ publishes interviews with heads of Moscow schools: Anatoly Pinsky, Sergei Mendelevich, Semyon Boguslavsky, Igor Kuznetsov, and Yury Zavelsky. Each presents his own philosophy of primaryto-high-school education.
Alexandra Veselova essay is about the history of the Foundling home initiated by Russian educator of 18th century, Ivan Betskoy. Influenced by the ideas of John Locke and the French Enlightenment, Betskoy, a supporter and at some point personal secretary of Empress Catherine II, headed Her Majesty’s educational reform. By establishing the Foundling home for illegitimate children, orphans, and children from poor families, the reformers aimed to use the new system of education to bring up a new breed of free and moral people. Although utopian in some respects, the project became a meaningful episode in the history of Russian education.
OZ publishes a letter from the eminent Russian educator Ivan Betskoy to Empress Catherine II in which he advocates creating a Foundling home for illegitimate children. The main goal of this institution, according to Betskoy, was raising goodnatured and upright citizens out of children who had been previously rejected by the society. This goal could not be obtained by mere enlightening and developing a child’s intellect. The greatest care should be taken to raise a child as a moral person. The choice in children’s vocational specialization, by Betskoy, should be decided according to their personal inclinations. Selecting teachers that would fit ambitious and uncompromising goals of the project was considered by the author a crucial element of its realization.
Andrey Tyomkin writes about the nature and methods of Jesuit education in Russia. According to the author, around 4, 000 Jesuit schools functioning today in the world are reputed to be highly tolerant in matters of religion and ethics. In all other respects, they adhere to the doctrine of the founder of the Society of Jesus St. Ignatius Loyola.
An image of an Old Russia girl-student is a Saint-Petersburg’s distinctive feature and a cultural attribute of the time. Alexander Belousov’s essay is about seminaries for young ladies that were founded in the second half of the 18th century. Belousov describes the nature and evolution of this obsolete institution of women’s education.
Mikhail Roshchin of the Institute of Oriental Studies gives an overview of the fundamentals of traditional Muslim upbringing and education. Traditional Arab Muslim upbringing is coherent with edificatory reading and Arab literary tradition. Roshchin describes the system of values in Muslim education along with concepts of happiness, knowledge, gender, and parenthood that underlie it.
Council of Muftis co-Chairman Ismahilkhazrat Shangareev has kindly permitted OZ to publish excerpts from his manuscript on educating Muslim children in Europe. The author points to the negative and positive sides of European culture, and recommends Muslim families to guard true Muslim values such as attitude to religion, marriage, family, and the like from outer corrosive influences while refraining from isolating their children from the world they live in. Shangareev highlights main problems of immigrants of the first and later generations, and gives philosophical and practical guidelines for parents and educators.
During the period of atheist dictatorship that lasted up to the early 1990-s, introducing schoolchildren to the elements of knowledge about religion was unthinkable. In 1993, schools were allowed by the ministry to include in their programs extracurricular classes on religion, but they still cannot function normally due to the great discord between supporters of teaching the subject in secular schools and opposing employees of the Freedom of Conscience Institute. According to Svetlana Solodovnik’s argument, both sides have to compromise, whereas the state has to protect interests of both of them.
To come up with their own system of communist moral education, Bolsheviks employed many ideas of the Church and the scout movement. Linguist Svetlana Leontyeva gives an account of children’s and youth organizations designed to mold a new communist human breed. Now when communist and its educational monopoly are both obsolete, new children’s organizations have inherited some of Soviet Young Pioneer League traditions.
The ways in which educators motivate their pupils are indeed various. Maxim Krongauz maintains that freedom, when used as such a motivation, often becomes a heavy burden for those freed, whereas the reverse motivation, humiliation, can be rather effective. It has been traditionally used not only in the homeland educational facilities but also in western ones. For example, a semblance of dedovschina (like hazing in the military) phenomenon has occurred in the French Ecole normale superieure. While refraining from examining the phenomenon, Krongauz argues that the institution of humiliation must be abolished in the army.
OZ introduces excerpts from diaries of Elena Armand who in 1990 organized and headed a social rehabilitation center for handicapped children. The first part of the publication contains a story of the author’s work as an educator at a rural boarding school for mentally retarded children in 1988-89. The second one is about a Swedish private school for healthy children that the author had a chance to visit at the same period.
OZ continues its earlier started debate of the problems of administrative reform. We present publications on the quality of public service in the country, promoting its transparency, and raising accountability of public officials.
Grigory Kertman uses results of four surveys conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation to observe Russian social attitudes to bureaucrats. Nobody seems to like them; however, if one takes a closer look at the situation, he will discover what is really disliked is the perfunctory treatment people often receive in public offices. A universal cure for the problem is the bribe which normally instantly switches the formal format of a conversation to an easy one. Kertman argues that popular appeals to officials to behave “humanely” are rooted in paternalist notions that are very traditional for the domestic political culture. One of them is unwavering faith of the majority of our fellow citizens that the task of the Russian bureaucracy is not to regulate different aspects of social life within the framework of existing legislation but to patronize the socalled “ordinary people” and to solve informally their problems.
Mikhail and Olga Afanasiev analyze the transparency of today’s Russian governance by monitoring internet sites of the Government of the Russian Federation, federal public agencies, and some official sites of local authorities. Evaluation criteria of the study are: (1) availability/absence of particular information on the website and (2) format and nature of the available information. The research reveals a number of serious flaws in examined resources. The authors make suggestions on their improvement. They conclude that adopting an adequate legislation securing citizens’ right to information access and determining detailed official accountability for providing such information to the public is the only way to create in Russia an effective system of maintaining transparency of state institutions.
In many societies, citizens’ access to public documents and information is understood to be an element of the system of basic rights and freedoms. Olga Afanasieva measures successes of today’s Russian federal and regional legislation against the scale of international standards of information transparency. According to the author, the system of regulation of the right to access information has not yet been established in the country. Afanasieva analyzes existing legislation in the field, focusing mainly on the bill on securing access to information related to activities of federal and local public offices drafted by the Ministry of economic development and trade. Afanasieva exposes merits and weaknesses of the bill.
In the Archive section, we publish excerpts from autobiography by Natalya Bashmakoff, a Russian emigre of the second generation in Finland. A brilliant linguist shares her most precious memories of childhood.
Finally, this issue contains abstracts of Neil Postman’s The Disappearance of Childhood, and Der Erziehungsnotstand: Wie wir die Zukunft unserer Kinder retten by Petra Gerster and Christian Nurnberger.