educational institutions for the training of primary school teachers. The first institutions of this type appeared in Germany in the 17th century. The earliest such institutions in Russia were established at Moscow University in 1779 and in St. Petersburg in 1786.
Teachers’ seminaries became widespread in the 1860’s when many were opened by the zemstvos (district and provincial bodies of self-government). The zemstvo seminaries were set up in accordance with the plan for a teachers’ seminary put forth by K. D. Ushinskii. The government did all it could to impede the establishment of these institutions. In 1870 it promulgated the Statute on Teachers’ Seminaries, which provided for the creation of teachers’ seminaries run by the government. In 1875 the government issued the Instruction for Teachers’ Seminaries of the Ministry of Public Education, which remained in effect until 1917.
The seminaries were open to persons of all estates who were members of the Orthodox church and at least 16 years of age. Applicants had to present evidence of good conduct and pass entrance examinations based on the curriculum of the Ministry of Public Education’s two-division primary schools. (These schools required five to six years of attendance.) Stipends were available for the needy. In return, however, the recipients were obligated to teach in a primary school for at least four years.
Most students at teachers’ seminaries were the children of peasants. All lived in dormitories. The course of study normally required three or four years, but in some places it took five. In addition to the fundamentals of pedagogy, the seminaries taught Scripture, Russian, Church Slavonic, Russian history, world history, arithmetic, geometry, geography, natural sciences, penmanship, drawing, gymnastics, and singing.
A well-organized program of practice teaching was provided in experimental schools affiliated with the seminaries and subsequently in the public schools. Each seminary school served as a methodological center for teachers of its region. The seminary instructors included several progressive people; their students carried out educational work among the population.
In 1917 Russia had 171 teachers’ seminaries with approximately 20,000 students. There were separate seminaries for young men and women. After the October Revolution of 1917, the teachers’ seminaries were transformed into three-year pedagogical courses and then into pedagogical technicums.