Fifth-Graders Moving into Adulthood: The 1960s vs the 2010s

  • Katerina Polivanova HSE University
  • Aleksandra Bochaver HSE University
  • Anastasiya Nisskaya HSE University
Keywords: adolescence, sense of maturity, clinical observation, mental development crisis


The behavior of fifth-grade students from a Moscow school was observed during 12 weeks as an iteration of a similar project undertaken in the mid‑1960s [Elkonin, Dragunova 1967]. Since the original research results were represented not as a text but as individual descriptions of 13 school students, observation criteria had to be identified. The criteria were grouped into so-called spheres, describing how teenagers behave among peers, at home, and at school. The key behavioral characteristic was the indicators of the emerging feeling of adulthood in school children, i. e. of the drive for grown-up behavior, associated with freedom and responsibility. These criteria formed the basis of the 2016 observation program. The diversity of adolescent behavioral patterns has been found to be much greater than in the original study. In addition, the linear formula of the value of learning being replaced with that of communication with peers (close interpersonal relationships) has been brought into question. As it transpires, the value of learning remains high for most fifth-graders, regardless of whether they need communication or not. Such an attitude towards learning might be encouraged by family and school, which is typical for this category of children. Four types of school students have been identified based on the indicators of their interest in learning and communication. The article cites fragments of observation protocols and semi-structured interviews. Hypotheses on how the transition to adolescence is affected by family and school characteristics have been put forward, and further observations of school students with different background have been designed.


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How to Cite
Polivanova, Katerina, Aleksandra Bochaver, and Anastasiya Nisskaya. 2017. “Fifth-Graders Moving into Adulthood: The 1960s Vs the 2010s”. Voprosy Obrazovaniya / Educational Studies Moscow, no. 2 (June), 185-205.
Following the international symposium “Lev Vygotsky and Modern Childhood”

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