2006. no4

Educational Policies


The author of this article regards dehumanization of the Russian community as one of the results of an allround crisis in humanitarian education, with its outdated content and instruments. Neither the education community nor academic institutions, nor cultural activists, nor authorities have attempted a radical solution of that problem ever since the communist regime collapsed. As the author insists, it takes a federal target program involving the educational network, mass media, cultural institutions and publishers to adapt humanitarian education to new goals. It is up to the young and efficient personnel to implement the project.


Interview with Professor Immanuel Wallerstein, many years' director of the Fernand Braudel Center for the Studies of Economies, Historical Systems, and Civilizations at the Binghamton University, a branch of the State University of New York. He is worldrenowned for analyses of historical systems, particularly the emergence and development of the capitalist worldeconomy. His fundamental research ushered in a new stage in studying the development and transformation of the global human community.


Interview with Professor Franklin Ankersmith of the Dutch-based Institute of Intellectual History. His works helped to form a new disciplinary environment-that of historical theory, which has no approximate, let alone precise, analogue in all the fields of Russian humanities.


Alexander Pyatigorsky, renowned philosopher, linguist, and researcher on culture and Buddhism, coauthored many works with Yuri Lotman and Merab Mamardashvili, and was one of those who stood at the cradle of the Tartu-Moscow semiotic school. Starting as an Oriental scholar, he was staff researcher of the Moscow)based Institute of Oriental Studies under the USSR Academy of Sciences, Indian history and religions department. He published many works on Indian philosophy. On Yuri Lotman's invitation, he joined the Tartu University staff in Estonia in the early 1960s. The scholar emigrated to Britain in 1974, and holds professorship of the University of London. His novel Remembering That Strange Man brought him the 2006 Andrei Bely Award. Pyatigorsky was a visiting lecturer in many countries. He revisited Moscow thirty years after leaving it.


Ideological polarization is among fundamental problems of Russian humanities. It concentrates round three disciplineshistory, political studies and sociology. It is top priority in the situation to provide every condition for a qualitative change of humanitarian education. The necessary change must start with the Academy of Sciences. Academic humanitarian knowledge has come through radical transformations. Its modernization is successfully going on to put an end to a crisis and get on a par with the world's highest research achievements.


Contemporary humanitarian education is in a controversial situation. Formerly intended to train the highest bureaucracy, it presently comes as the idiom of the elite's cultural selfidentification, and a means to impose the dominant ideology on the public. It is also deemed useful for making strategies of successful life. As it really is, education is, above all, a value in itself, and universities are sole institutions whose mission is to preserve and develop education as such a value. Universities, however, can survive only if they help to find answers to key questions of this life.

Theoretical and Applied Research


The author proposes approaches to studying the state and structure of the humanitarian environment in a historical context. The article analyzes organizational forms of humanitarian life, research and education typical of Russia from the 1920s into this day. On the one hand, the New Order of the 21st century's initial decade re-creates the Soviet routine with its concentrated environment, catchwords, and a pronounced division of the community in "our own" and "the strangers". On the other hand, the mass media and the Internet help to create a new humanitarian environment, still to be described.


A majority of authors tackling problems of political science education have impassioned discussions of its teaching methods, appeal for its further rapprochement with practice, and call to introduce practical seminars, widely use the latest multimedia, etc., etc. The article analyzes essential aspects of the concept of the social role political science education plays, its academic specifics, and prospects university political education is opening to under- and postgraduates.


Formerly known as Queen of Sciences, philosophy is no longer in labor market demand. Though the article studies the situation of the Lomonosov Moscow State University department of philosophy, everything said about its goals and problems, about ups and downs in the struggle for survival concerns, to a greater or smaller extent, the other numerous seats of philosophical education, scattered all about Russia.

Content of Education


The Soviet regime regarded the ideological function of humanitarian education as the principal. That function rested on essential texts in two strictly limited lists-Russian classics and the founding fathers of Marxism- Leninism. The perestroika years saw an unprecedented experiment at the Moscow Physico-Technical Institute to replace the Soviet ideological education with general humanitarian studies. The article analyzes the reasons for its victories and setbacks as the system proved alien to Russia but is great success in U.S. liberal art colleges and universities.


Teaching history in comprehensive school has a cognitive goal and important social functions. Professional historians are much more concerned about acquainting students with the fundamentals of history as research discipline-above all, with the latest ideas of its character. The author uses Western Europe and the USA as examples to demonstrate how latter-day approaches to teaching history at school cope with such mutually contradictory interests.


The article analyzes the opportunities of the latest technologies in humanitarian education at school. Their implementation allows shift from traditional axiological interpretations and passing social experience on to an adaptation of the latest forms bred by mass culture.



The concepts of cultural literacy, its present-day content and quality are dramatically changing. Language as a formalized semiotic system and set of norms, and literature as a culturally privileged segment of the national verbal heritage certainly must be known and treated with due reverence. The various forms of oral speech, occasionally of profound intellectual content, breed and multiply within and without the academic milieu and in media outlets, which are acquiring a global scope. Oral speech also deserves attention in the practical form of choice, analysis, interpretation and conscious use. University creative writing classes in the native tongue and foreign languages offer a way to cope with the problem.


Contemporary secondary education is arranged in a way that overloads students and offers them complicated and interesting problems to solve only on rare occasions. Despite all that, they can train their intellect in research, if the teacher skillfully organizes it as various disciplines are studied. True quality humanitarian education can be attained only with a systems approach and mutually complementary study disciplines.


The information technological boom, which thoroughly changed the circulation and acceptance of information, has no impact at all on language teaching in Russian secondary and higher schools. The textual world is changing apace and beyond recognition. The problem of aloof) ness of Russian teaching to practical life fully concerns Russian language teaching. The article demonstrates the functional opportunities of a new language resource known as The National Corpus. Its use in teaching humanities at secondary and higher school promises to help tackling academic and practical pedagogical problems.


Government demands on teaching literature and history have not been precisely formulated as yet. Possibly, it is not too late to tell now about the fruit of school humanitarian education that teachers organize according to their own ideas of how to do it. Evaluating that experience are men and women who attended the humanitarian class of Moscow Comprehensive School No. 57 in different years. Its former pupils highly appreciate the information and practical habits they received at school but cherish as precious gems what cannot be used in practice)a new picture of the world and the cultural environment and tradition they discovered in class.


The European educational tradition preserves to this day the classical grammar school, with its tuition of Latin and Greek, as an incubator of the political elite. Ancient language classes develop a taste for research and creativity, thus forming a large social group of intellectuals and guaranteeing its viability. Latin has come back to Russian secondary school, and is major success. It is to be regarded as an instrument to attain linguistic and extra-linguistic goals-make students discover for themselves European cultural values, with the focus on the Antiquity as the basis of later global progress.



Humanitarian teaching problems are no less acute in other countries than in Russia. They concern the educational content and the essence of the research method in humanities, and have a bearing on institutional problems of education. This selection of articles does not exhaust by far the problems of humanitarian education debated in the West. It, however, offers a glimpse of the discussion field.


translated from English I. Friedman


translated from English I. Friedman


translated from English A. Oleinikov

Practical Humanities

translated from English A. Oleinikov


Many parts of Russia have adopted local bylaws to introduce a new teaching discipline-"ABC of Orthodox Christian culture". The author analyzes clauses of the Russian Constitution and legal acts that precisely determine the limits of regional administrative competences, and confirm freedom of conscience and religion to offer a detailed and substantiated proof of the constitutional and legal non-compliance of those bylaws. Meanwhile, overzealous religionists and their supporters in secular ruling bodies are implementing their ideas more and more aggressively, which cannot but worry believers of other religions and Christian denominations, human rights activists, atheists and people who cannot put up with Orthodox Christian culture taught in an utterly uncultured manner.


The entire community needs knowledge of "Church sciences" as none other are adequate to philosophical problems of which humanity became aware thanks to the progress of physics and philosophical logics in the 20th century. Ecclesiastical disciplines can do no less for Russia as it strives to settle its domestic problems. Russian universities and other secular educational establishments have a tremendous potential. They are able to inherit a tradition started by pre-revolutionary theological academies, which educated experts on disciplines crucial for understanding the history and contemporaneity of our post-Christian civilization as a whole, especially for countries of the Eastern Christian tradition.


Teaching the ABC of Orthodox Christian culture at school has many enthusiasts, and no fewer opponents. These latter refer to laws that allow everyone to freely profess his religion and convictions and do not force anyone to learn what does not interest them. As for proponents, they consider that the heart of the matter is not in the law and human rightsmerely a Russian who does not recognize Russian Orthodoxy cannot be regarded as proper Russian. Many generations of Russians were brought up within Orthodox Christian culture. That culture is of interest not as a part of school curricula but in itself. Certain members of the clergy hurry to make it an official ideology to be shared by all. They might have borrowed their methods from Soviet propaganda. What they want is to force us not so much to study that culture and discover its indubitable merits and greatness as to think whether it is admissible to introduce the discipline at school on a compulsory basis.

Education Statistics and Sociology


The article bases on an opinion poll we made in April 2005 in several Moscow comprehensive schools, where our 2,510 respondents studied in the 7th, 9th, 10th and 11th grades. The probe continued a research cycle to monitor the dynamics of school students' changing artistic preferences, which we started in the mid-1970s. We discuss such conceptual aspects of literary development as information awareness in fiction, ability to adequately perceive the style of reading matter, and motivation of reading. Side by side with analyses of the impact of gender, age and social stratification, we pay special attention to changes in attitudes to fiction that took place in the teenager subculture within the preceding thirty years. Of greatest interest to us is analysis of the role of school studies in the formation of adolescents' interests in reading.


The Soviet Union, especially on its decline, gave priority in secondary and higher education to technical professions, while leaving humanities in the background. We centered our study round the content of school education, with the focus on humanities, to see to what an extent the situation has lately changed.


This opinion poll made in Russia, with 1,500 respondents, aimed to see how precisely the public knew what humanitarian education was about, what humanitarian professions the nation presently needed the most, and which of them were the most popular with young people. There were also questions about which profession the respondent would like to take up and why: to know a particular field of humanities and creatively work in it, or to get a well-paid job.



Book Reviews and Survey Articles


As we talk about the problems of humanitarian education and its current decline, we all the more often switch to verbiage taken from fields very remote from humanities, at least in the classical sense. We even recur to metaphors borrowed from market exchange. The idiom of humanities evidently needs a cleanup, enrichment and genuine development. Inestimable help in that and many other matters can be found in books in the series, Alexander Pogorelsky's University Library.


translated from English I. Friedman