Korf, Nikolai

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Korf, Nikolai Aleksandrovich


Born July 2 (14), 1834, in Kharkov; died there Nov. 13 (25), 1883. Baron; Russian pedagogue and methodologist. Active figure in public education.

Korf graduated from the St. Petersburg Alexander Lycee in 1854. He served for a time in the Ministry of Justice but soon left the service. As chairman of the district school council in the city of Aleksandrovka (now Zaporozh’e, the Ukrainian SSR), Korf promoted the development of a network of primary zemstvo (local self-government) schools in the district and propagandized for the creation of Sunday schools. Korf was the originator of a type of one-classroom zemstvo school, with a three-year period of study (with three divisions). He developed a method for conducting a lesson with the teacher working simultaneously with three classes. Korf was a proponent of universal obligatory primary education in the pupil’s native language and defended the use of a phonetic analytical-synthesizing method of teaching reading and writing. Korf attributed great importance to the study of natural history in primary school, viewing it as one of the means of struggling against prejudice and superstition. In 1871 he wrote the reader Our Friend, which was a supplement to Native Language by K. D. Ushinskii and which was used widely in primary schools.

Korf organized training meetings for teachers. He published Reports of the Aleksandrovka District School Council which provided information on the experience of the work of zemstvo schools with the aim of aiding teachers to educate themselves. Korf s progressive activities provoked persecution by the tsarist authorities. In 1872 he was forced to leave his homeland and settle in Geneva. He returned to Russia in 1880 and organized Sunday schools in Aleksandrovka District in 1882.


Russkaia nachal’naia shkola: Rukovodstvo dlia zemskikh glasnykh i uchitelei sel’skikh shkol, 6th ed. St. Petersburg, 1879.
Kak obuchat’ gramote rebiat i vzroslykh: Rukovodstvo k obucheniiu gramote po zvukovomu sposobu, 7th ed. St. Petersburg, 1880.
Rukovodstvo k “Nashemu drugu “: Kniga dlia uchashchikhsia, 2nd ed. St. Petersburg, 1882.
Nashi pedagogicheskie voprosy, vols. [l]-2. Moscow, 1882-86.


Peskovskii, M. L. Baron N. A. Korf ego zhizn ’ i obshchestvennaia deiatel’nost St. Petersburg, 1893.
Struminskii, V. la. “N. A. Korf.” In the collection Spravochnaia kniga uchitelia nachal’noi shkoly. Moscow, 1941.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.