Values Of Russian Education, What Is Changing and How: Answers to some Philosophical Questions
The modification of practical and theoretical values in a given system of education is the best gauge of positive change and innovation in education. But as known, there are different kinds of values. For example there are value-myths and value-ideals, enduring and time honored values and and newly articularted values, invariable and variable values, and finally values based in super-personal, personal and interpersonal spheres of endeavor. The real values of education (and philosophy of education, too) have changed in the last years to a considerable extent.
The Law of RF (On Education, at July, 10, 1992) directs educators to repect the following principles: education needs to be "humanist" in nature, entailing respect for human individuals; education needs to uplift values common to all humankind; there needs to be a unity of federal cultural and educational space; there needs to be protection for national cultures and regional traditions, so that education is both popular and accessible; education should adapt to a person's peculiarities; freedom and pluralism should be safeguarded in all educational contexts; management of education institutions should be democratic allowing state/public character of management to be used only in ways that protect the autonomous character of educational institutions; education should be focused on promoting a child's self-determination and integration within democratic and civic society.
These principles helped bring into being child-centered education in Russia. But practice shows how difficult it is to carry out these principles. For example even now there are contradictionaries between the mandate to proclaim humanist ideals and real practice which denies them, between old pedagogical methods and new educational technologies, and between traditional striving of school administration for power and the need for freedom to be creatively felt by democratically oriented, young teachers.
First question: how can something be changed in educational sphere? It always seemed to me that any recommendations, or notes, or instructions, or descriptions of a given pedagogues' methods are of small effect, because the material was written by a pedagogue in another situation and on the basis of another experience with a different class than those of the reader. Since the situation that gives rise to recommendations and a situation in which those recommendations are introduced are both different, the results of their application cannot be expected to be alike. None the less new ideas, methods, and models always will be transmitted and reproduced in new situations, because there are no other ways to spread innovative educational technologies.
Helpful though new innovative technologies might be, they are nevertheless not the main means of changing education so as to enable it to develop its full potential. A teacher remains the central strategical and technological resource for positive development. The quality of education is determined by teacher's professionalism, competence, moral values, and methodological stance. At the same time it is known that the skills needed to be a pedagogue are determined not so much by the methods and technologies available as their capable and skillful use and innovative adaptation to the problems at hand. Therefore the main way to enable positive development to occur in education is not to work for an evolution (or positive growth) in educational technology, but rather to work for evolution (or positive growth) in the pedagogue's culture.
The terms "professional culture" and " pedagogue" are often used in Russian philosophy of education. But when I use the combination of these terms in the phrase "the culture of the pedagogue"-I mean to use both terms in a more complex and wider context and on a larger scale-one that involves all of both senses. The notion of "culture" includes not only not only professional abilities, but also the intellect, mentality, moral values, character, creative potential, general level of personal cultural development.
The logic of this affirmation entails that one of the main tasks confronting those who hope to improve and expand the power of education in a positive way is the task of increasing the cultural awareness of teachers while at the same time insuring that positive cultural modalities and values are infused into the educational processes themselves.
The question remains how can we do this? How can we provide transitions for Russian education (or any other country's education) that lift students and teachers to a level that enables them to attain the highest level of cultural awareness (which I understand to be, a basic original structured quality) which includes a striving for systematic perfection, the inculcation of a high level of self-organization, and/or the establishment of a stable and value laden context for action.
The transition to a better state of education, that is, higher and more innovative education, cannot be done without utilizing a teacher's personality (personality which encompuses much more than professional/teaching skills). It is personality that will have the most decisive significance.
The complexity of this situation consists in the confidence of majority of teachers that all they already possess a professional culture and hence, as they think, automatically have a personal culture of the best and highest quality because they were taught in the universities, became educated, and know more than those they teach. But it is not so simple. Even if we could determine the level and quality of "professional culture" directly by tests and by the results of teaching, we would still see the personal culture of pedagogue only indirectly; we would see it only through children's love, creative attitudes children bring to all the activities, and the influence of both of these on the children's characters and behavior. And these considerations get at the very heart of relationships. A relationship is a space where technologies more often than not do not determine outcomes. In the situation where a good relationship prevails, unique souls meet, with or without the technologies, and positive development ensues.
If you have met in your school life a teacher who inspires close relationships you are fortunate. But many people do not met in schools this kind of truly cultured pedagogue and so they never see in teachers a person who can be looked upon as the model for self-development. To change the quality of life for community it is necessary to change the culture of people. This complex process to a considerable extent depends on the culture of pedagogue.
I think that a traditional teaching of culturology can't produce what is needed in schools today. We recognize today that the individual's culture can be formed only in particularly (culturally) organized intercourse and personal contact with others and that this is the only way in which culture is transmitted from person to person. This position changes the view of the character of individual projects, programs and curriculum. We now look for curriculum material that, first, naturally fits with child's freedom and rights in education and, second, naturally strengthens the role of individual learning with regard to personal interests and makes such learning a resource for self-determination and self-development within the curriculum framework set by the state.
A third question: how can the changing educational criteria be applied in order to bring about results that are permanent and worthwhile? The criteria of school effectiveness are complex. Initial direction is given here by a humanistic philosophy of education which creates new various ideas and models, strategies and technologies, centered not at knowledge-transmiting, but instead at well stimulated and facilitated individual learning interests and independent study (the child's active and independent learning).
There are four main educational criteria: (1)individualization through the child's interests and evolution of self-determination (a very important at Russian education criterion of individualization for developing training); (2) inclusion of and participation in the natural scheme of things (ecology); (3) inclusion in a multicultural community; and (4) individual- and activity-centered (productive) socialization.
Let us attempt to articulate the correlation between new values and new criteria of effectiveness in the educational content. The criteria (there are four) may be imagined as set up at horizontally. Running vertically the four main educational processes: care, training, upbringing, support (O.Gazman, 1995,1996). Crossing through the criteria and educational processes there will sixteen squares within which are specified the new cultural content of education. (I will present at the Congress the resultant figure, educational content corresponding to values and criteria). We can see the activity areas for pedagogues who wish to educate children in ways that will enable them to participate in world culture as they grow to adulthood an become valuable members of a complex society.
Traditional education has limited itself by purposeful training and formal moralized upbringing. Humanist education, in contrast, uses all the resources of various educational processes and realizes the complexity of modern changes in education. Any innovative or alternative school creating its own model of education and internal school life can today enrich connections among educational processes. Thus the filling in the each of "squares" of connection in the figure can be different. It can be varied depending on concrete conditions and aims.
But there is one general factor that is decisive for developing education. This is the factor of culture which is present, and has to be present within any educational form or process. Modification in education creates its new culture (internal high quality): some new aspects of the culture provide for training, others provide for upbringing; different cultures within the domain of the pedagogical, cannot be developed by simply teaching a course in traditional culture.
It is important to understand this principle: a child's development depends on relationships and personal mental contacts more than on pure skills and information. Relationships are the necessary canal for development and internal growth, and information is only one component of the teaching/learning interrelationship. It is known that children lacking in the interrelationship during childhood cannot in consequence adopt, master, or assimilate information/knowledge very well.
The culture of the pedagogue requires freedom to control the diversity of relationships in all educational processes and forms. This involves much more than offering a course of lectures or assimilating someone else's technology; high culture comes through mastery of one's own style as one interacts with children on a person to person basis, taking into consideration each child's interests and needs.
In this context the fourth question is important: how is culture functioning in education? To answer this question we need to clear up what the culturology of education is which attempts to explain the cultural character of education. Let us consider this question in two aspects:
(1) Culturology as a whole is general theory and methodology of culture (the conception of "culturology," introduced by Lesly White, 1900-1975 in his work "Science about Culture"). The culturology of education is a part of the changed philosophy of education. It is systematic methodologic knowledge about cultural factors and mechanisms, contents and forms of education, and singularities of educational development as a cultural system and at the same time as cultural process.
Solutions to difficulties in Russian education require concrete culture-sustainment-that is, theoretic, methodic, protective and pedagogic solutions, and the recognition of these factors and contributions in the conceptions and principles of culturology. Therefore it is not by chance that at present a new scientific discipline is developed at the meeting point of traditional disciplines - philosophy of education, culturology and pedagogic.
"The typical" problem of culturology is oriented toward answering the following questions: How does culture appear? What is the basis of culture? What is the composition of culture? How does culture change? How do different cultures interact and influence one another?
The culturology of education transforms the following questions: How does the culture (that is the qualitative definitiveness and value meaning) of education appear? What determines the cultural basis of education? What are the cultural functions and aims of education? How does the state of the sociocultural crisis of education appear? How do different cultural models of education interact? and, finally, How do cultures and education (as a part of culture) generally connect?
(2) The two spheres of our life-culture and education-are determined by a dialectical interconnection: culture is the condition of education, education is the condition of culture. But we can formulate this interconnection differently: education is a self-made mechanism for creating new forms of culture. The culturology of education analyses its field at practical and theoretical levels. As it has its own point of view (education as cultural process, activity, space and sociocultural system), it possesses its own logic and its own history. A circle of problems (contradictions) has been formed as well. The contents of education is cultural but nevertheless every generation of teachers poses the question, "how can education be made more culturally relevant?" Doing this is really a very difficult task because a person himself is a subject of culture. Every generation of teachers tries to solve anew the problem of the cultured person's education, sometimes unsuccessfully; and the subjects of educational processes (children, teachers, parents) are the carriers of culture. But is every generation of teachers ready to be the real creators of a new culture? Would all teachers acknowledge children as consumers and creators of culture since education is a part of culture. But would society acknowledge that education is really culture creating activity? What does society do for its members to guarantee opportunities for cultural activity? These are questions which reflect serious social problems. It is impossible to solve these problems with the help of culturology of education alone.
The cultural factor for development has been known for a long time, but only during the last two decades has the need for the understanding and practical use of the culturology of education become evident. It explains those peculiarities of education which teachers did not emphasize. The time has now come for culturology to develop their ideas and the practical norms that will change education.
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