School of Mathematical and Navigational Sciences

School of Mathematical and Navigational Sciences


an educational institution founded by Peter I the Great in Moscow in 1701 to train navy specialists, shipbuilders, geodesists, and engineers. Graduates of the school were also appointed as teachers in the newly created tsifirnye shkoly (“mathematical” schools) and in artillery, engineering, admiralty, and other special schools. In addition, they worked as civil servants in government institutions. The school was located in the building of the Sretenskaia, or Sukharev, Tower, at the top of which an astronomical observatory with a telescope was established. Youths between the ages of 12 and 20 from all social classes except the serf class were admitted to the school. Full financial support was provided by the state for those in need.

The curriculum at the school was divided into three levels (classes, or schools). In the elementary school, known as the Russian school, students were taught reading, writing, and the fundamentals of grammar and arithmetic. In the tsifirnaia shkola, they were instructed in arithmetic, geometry, and plane and spherical trigonometry. In the higher classes, the navigational classes, they received instruction in mathematical geography, astronomy, drafting, geodesy, navigation, and other subjects. Most students, primarily those of nongentry origin, were restricted to the first two levels and were appointed to subordinate positions in the navy, such as clerks. Students in the higher classes were required to receive practical training on seagoing vessels, at shipyards, and in roadbuilding. The principal organizers at the school were L. F. Magnitskii and A. Farvarson, who was invited to Russia from Scotland. In 1703 the school had 300 students, and in 1711,500.

In 1715 the navigational classes of the school were transferred to St. Petersburg, where the Naval Academy (Naval Guards Academy) was established on their basis. The Russian and arithmetic classes continued to operate in Moscow to prepare students for the new academy. They were discontinued in 1752, after the founding of the Naval Cadet Corps.

Among the graduates of the School of Mathematical and Navigational Sciences were the admirals N. F. Golovin and V. Ia. Chichagov, the geodesists I. K. Kirilov, M. S. Gvozdev, I. M. Evreinov, and F. F. Luzhin, and the well-known educator N. G. Kurganov.


Strelov, A. B. Put’ v okean: Ocherk istorii VVMKU [Vysshego voenno-morskogo Krasnoznamennogo uchilishcha im. M. V. Frunze]. Leningrad, 1966. Pages 9–27.
Ocherki istorii shkoly i pedagogicheskoi mysli narodov SSSR, XVIII v.–pervaia polovina XIX v. Edited by M. F. Shabaeva. Moscow, 1973. Pages 19–25.
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