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any process, either formal or informal, that shapes the potential of a maturing organism. Informal education results from the constant effect of environment, and its strength in shaping values and habits can not be overestimated. Formal education is a conscious effort by human society to impart the skills and modes of thought considered essential for social functioning. Techniques of instruction often reflect the attitudes of society, i.e., authoritarian groups typically sponsor dogmatic methods, while democratic systems may emphasize freedom of thought.

Development of Education

In ancient Greece education for freemen was a matter of studying Homer, mathematics, music, and gymnasticsgymnastics,
exercises for the balanced development of the body (see also aerobics), or the competitive sport derived from these exercises. Although the ancient Greeks (who invented the building called a gymnasium
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. Higher education was carried on by the Sophists and philosophers before the rise of the AcademyAcademy,
school founded by Plato near Athens c.387 B.C. It took its name from the garden (named for the hero Academus) in which it was located. Plato's followers met there for nine centuries until, along with other pagan schools, it was closed by Emperor Justinian in A.D. 529.
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 and the philosophical schools.

In medieval Western Europe, education was typically a charge of the church: the monastic schools and universities were the chief centers, and virtually all students took orders. Lay education consisted of apprentice training for a small group of the common people, or education in the usages of chivalry for the more privileged. With the Renaissance, education of boys (and some girls) in classics and mathematics became widespread. After the Reformation both Protestant and Roman Catholic groups began to offer formal education to more people, and there was a great increase in the number of private and public schools, although the norm remained the classical-mathematical curriculum.

The development of scientific inquiry in the 19th cent. brought new methods and materials. As elementary and secondary schools were established and as larger proportions of the population attended, curriculums became differentiated (see progressive educationprogressive education,
movement in American education. Confined to a period between the late 19th and mid-20th cent., the term "progressive education" is generally used to refer only to those educational programs that grew out of the American reform effort known as the
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; guidance and counselingguidance and counseling,
concept that institutions, especially schools, should promote the efficient and happy lives of individuals by helping them adjust to social realities.
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) and included aspects of vocational educationvocational education,
training designed to advance individuals' general proficiency, especially in relation to their present or future occupations. The term does not normally include training for the professions.
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. Opportunities for higher education were expanded, especially in the land-grant collegesland-grant colleges and universities,
U.S. institutions benefiting from the provisions of the Morrill Act (1862), which gave to the states federal lands for the establishment of colleges offering programs in agriculture, engineering, and home economics as well as in the
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 of the western United States. A large increase in college and vocational training resulted from the various veterans' assistance acts that have been passed since World War II. These measures have provided financial assistance to veterans seeking higher education or job training.

Most modern political systems recognize the importance of universal education. One of the first efforts of the former Soviet Union was to establish a comprehensive national school system. In the United States education has traditionally been under state and local control, although the federal government has played a larger role in the latter half of the 20th cent. Various religious groups, notably the Roman Catholic Church, administer parochial schoolsparochial school
, school supported by a religious body. In the United States such schools are maintained by a number of religious groups, including Lutherans, Seventh-day Adventists, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and evangelical Protestant churches.
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 that parallel public schools. Private schools and colleges have frequently been leaders in educational experiment.

See adult educationadult education,
extension of educational opportunities to those adults beyond the age of general public education who feel a need for further training of any sort, also known as continuing education.
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; audiovisual educationaudiovisual education,
educational instruction by means of materials that use the senses of sight and hearing to stimulate and enrich learning experiences. The successful use of motion pictures and other visual aids in the U.S.
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; bilingual educationbilingual education,
the sanctioned use of more than one language in U.S. education. The Bilingual Education Act (1968), combined with a Supreme Court decision (1974) mandating help for students with limited English proficiency, requires instruction in the native languages of
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; kindergartenkindergarten
[Ger.,=garden of children], system of preschool education. Friedrich Froebel designed (1837) the kindergarten to provide an educational situation less formal than that of the elementary school but one in which children's creative play instincts would be organized
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; nursery schoolsnursery school,
educational institution for children from two to four years of age. It is distinguishable from a day nursery in that it serves children of both working and nonworking parents, rarely receives public funds, and has as its primary objective to promote the social
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; schoolschool,
term commonly referring to institutions of pre-college formal education. It also properly includes colleges, universities, and many types of special training establishments (see adult education; colleges and universities; community college; vocational education).
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; vocational educationvocational education,
training designed to advance individuals' general proficiency, especially in relation to their present or future occupations. The term does not normally include training for the professions.
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Theories of Education

Education theorists today struggle over whether a single model of learning is appropriate for both sexes (see coeducationcoeducation,
instruction of both sexes in the same institution. The economic benefits gained from joint classes and the need to secure equality for women in industrial, professional, and political activities have influenced the spread of coeducation.
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), or for students of all ethnic backgrounds; although equality of educational opportunity in the United States is an accepted principle, it is not always easy to practice. Throughout history theories of education have reflected the dominant psychologies of learning and systems of ethics.

An ancient idea, held by Socrates, is that the rightly trained mind would turn toward virtue. This idea has actually never been abandoned, although varying criteria of truth and authority have influenced both the content and the techniques of education. It was reflected in the classical curriculum of the Renaissance, the theorists of which included ErasmusErasmus
or Desiderius Erasmus
[Gr. Erasmus, his given name, and Lat., Desiderius=beloved; both are regarded as the equivalent of Dutch Gerard, Erasmus' father's name], 1466?–1536, Dutch humanist, b. Rotterdam.
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, Sir Thomas MoreMore, Sir Thomas
(Saint Thomas More), 1478–1535, English statesman and author of Utopia, celebrated as a martyr in the Roman Catholic Church. He received a Latin education in the household of Cardinal Morton and at Oxford.
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, and George BuchananBuchanan, George,
1506–82, Scottish humanist. Educated at St. Andrews and Paris, he became (1536) tutor to James V's illegitimate son James Stuart (later earl of Murray). He was imprisoned (1539) for satirizing the Franciscans but escaped to the Continent.
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Since the 17th cent. the idea has grown that education should be directed at individual development for social living. John ComeniusComenius, John Amos
, Czech Jan Amos Komenský, 1592–1670, Moravian churchman and educator, last bishop of the Moravian Church. Comenius advocated relating education to everyday life by emphasizing contact with objects in the environment and systematizing all
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, Jean Jacques RousseauRousseau, Jean Jacques
, 1712–78, Swiss-French philosopher, author, political theorist, and composer. Life and Works

Rousseau was born at Geneva, the son of a Calvinist watchmaker.
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, Johann PestalozziPestalozzi, Johann Heinrich
, 1746–1827, Swiss educational reformer, b. Zürich. His theories laid the foundation of modern elementary education. He studied theology at the Univ.
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, Friedrich FroebelFroebel, Friedrich Wilhelm August
, 1782–1852, German educator and founder of the kindergarten system. He had an unhappy childhood and very little formal schooling, learning what he could from wide reading and close observation of nature; he studied for a short time at the
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, Maria MontessoriMontessori, Maria
, 1870–1952, Italian educator and physician. She was the originator of the Montessori method of education for young children and was the first woman to receive (1894) a medical degree in Italy.
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, and Horace MannMann, Horace
, 1796–1859, American educator, b. Franklin, Mass. He received a sparse preliminary schooling, but succeeded in entering Brown in the sophomore class and graduated with honors in 1819.
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 were outstanding figures in this development. In the 20th cent. John DeweyDewey, John,
1859–1952, American philosopher and educator, b. Burlington, Vt., grad. Univ. of Vermont, 1879, Ph.D. Johns Hopkins, 1884. He taught at the universities of Minnesota (1888–89), Michigan (1884–88, 1889–94), and Chicago (1894–1904) and at
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 declared that young people should be taught to use the experimental method in meeting problems of the changing environment. Later in the century the psychologist B. F. SkinnerSkinner, Burrhus Frederic,
1904–90, American psychologist, b. Susquehanna, Pa. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1931, and remained there as an instructor until 1936, when he moved to the Univ. of Minnesota (1937–45) and to Indiana Univ.
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 developed a theory of learning, based on animal experimentation, that came to have a strong effect on modern theories of education, especially through the method of programmed instructionprogrammed instruction,
method of presenting new subject matter to students in a graded sequence of controlled steps. Students work through the programmed material by themselves at their own speed and after each step test their comprehension by answering an examination question
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. More recent educational models based on the theories of Jean PiagetPiaget, Jean
, 1896–1980, Swiss psychologist, known for his research in developmental psychology. After receiving a degree in zoology from the Univ. of Neuchâtel (1918), Piaget's interests shifted to psychology. He studied under C. G.
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, Jerome Bonner, and Howard Gardner have gained wide support. In the United States, recent developments have included an emphasis on standardized testing, the emergence of the charter school, and such national reform programs as No Child Left Behind (2001) and Race to the Top (2009).


See J. Dewey, Democracy and Education (1916, repr. 1966); R. Welter, Popular Education and Democratic Thought in America (1963); R. Ulich, The Education of Nations (rev. ed. 1967); L. A. Cremin, American Education (1970–88); J. A. Bowen, A History of Western Education (3 vol., 1972–81); M. Blang, Economics of Education (1978); W. F. Connell, A History of Education in the Twentieth Century World (1980); K. Egan, The Educated Mind (1997); D. Bok, Higher Education in America (2013); D. Goldstein, The Teacher Wars: A History of America's Most Embattled Profession (2014).





the process and result of the acquisition of systematized knowledge and skills. Associated with education are the transfer from one generation to the next of knowledge of all of mankind’s cultural riches; the mastery of sociohistorical knowledge, as reflected in the natural sciences, social sciences, technology, and art; and the acquisition of work habits and skills. Education is essential to preparing for life and work. It is the basic means by which people come to know and acquire culture, and it is the foundation of culture’s development.

Education is acquired primarily through study in various educational institutions. Self-education, cultural-enlightenment work, and participation in social labor also play an essential role in the acquisition of knowledge and in intellectual development.

The content and level of education are determined by the requirements of social production, social relations, the level of development of schooling and pedagogical science, and the state of science, technology, and culture. In a class society education reflects class history, as may be seen in the structure of public education systems, the content of education, and the methods of teaching. The class character of the bourgeois school system, which is marked by restrictions on the level of education provided for workers’ children, by racial discrimination (in some countries), and by a large proportion of private and parochial schools, is in contrast to the Soviet system of public education, which rests on a number of principles, including the equal availability of education to all citizens of the USSR, compulsory education for all children and adolescents, and the state and public character of educational institutions. The Soviet educational system is also distinguished from the bourgeois system by freedom of choice of the language of study, the absence of tuition for all types of education, full state support for some students and a system of stipends for others, the unification of the system of public education, and continuity among all types of educational institutions. In addition, the Soviet educational system rests on the principles of the unity of education and communist upbringing; cooperation among the school, the family, and the society in bringing up children and young people; and the linking of education and training to life and the practical experience of building communism. The underlying principles of the Soviet system of public education also include a scientific approach to and continual improvement of education on the basis of the latest achievements in science, technology, and culture; a humanistic and highly moral orientation in education and upbringing; and coeducation. Furthermore, Soviet education is secular—that is, it excludes the influence of religion.

A distinction is made between general and specialized education. General education provides the knowledge and skills needed by everyone, regardless of their future field and occupation. Specialized education provides the knowledge and skills needed by the worker in a specific field with specific qualifications. In socialist countries the goals of general education are to equip students with a totality of knowledge about the fundamental principles of various disciplines, as well as with the corresponding skills and habits needed for comprehensive personal development; to train active, conscious builders of socialism and communism; and to develop in them the communist world view and communist morality. In the USSR and other socialist countries, general education is inextricably linked with polytechnic education. The transition to universal secondary education in the USSR, under the conditions of a highly developed socialist society, has had great social and national economic significance. Universal secondary education is the foundation for the comprehensive personal development of every member of society, the guarantee of complete equality to all citizens in obtaining an education, and the prerequisite for the mastery of any profession at the level of contemporary achievements in science, technology, and culture.

General education provides the foundation essential to specialized education, which includes a number of fields (for example, mining, radio engineering, construction, mathematics, power engineering, agriculture, medicine, history, and pedagogy). In the training of specialists, the study of specialized information is combined with the acquisition of an understanding of the general scientific principles of modern production. There are several levels of specialized education: higher, secondary specialized, and vocational technical education. The last category includes a brief period of direct, on-the-job training for workers.

The organizational principles, basic goals, and plans for improvement in all the links in the Soviet system of public education are defined in the Basic Principles of Legislation on Public Education of the USSR and the Union Republics (1973). The Soviet educational system is responsible for providing the national economy with trained personnel capable of organically combining the achievements of the scientific and technological revolution with the achievements of socialism, in order to meet the tasks of communist construction. The secondary general-education schools, the vocational technical educational institutions, and the secondary specialized educational institutions have a number of tasks. They are responsible for providing the younger generation with a general secondary education that meets the modern requirements of social and scientific and technological progress. Furthermore, they are assigned the task of equipping students with a profound, solid knowledge of the fundamental principles of various disciplines, as well as inculcating in them a drive to continually improve their knowledge and an ability to supplement their knowledge independently and to apply it in practice.

The scientific and technological revolution has caused an increase in the rate of replacement of the means of production and its technology, as well as a decrease in the time required for putting new scientific discoveries into practice. Consequently, workers must be equipped with a broad range of general scientific and specialized information. Vocational-technical, secondary specialized, and higher educational institutions train personnel who can adjust quickly to the changing conditions of production and who combine broad polytechnic and cultural knowledge with an excellent mastery of a specific field and a creative attitude toward work.

In the USSR and other socialist countries the right to education is one of the most important manifestations of socialist democracy. Legislatively reinforced by the constitutions of these countries, the right to education is guaranteed in fact by the broad development of a network of various types of schools, including higher and secondary specialized educational institutions. The development of education in the USSR has created the prerequisites for eliminating the difference between mental and physical labor.

In an antagonistic class society, the ruling classes use the educational system to reinforce their domination, and the content of education is subordinated to this goal. The contradiction between capitalist production’s need for qualified, trained personnel and the drive of the ruling classes to restrict the educational level of the workers for political reasons becomes particularly acute in periods of crisis and reaction and emerges with particular force in the epoch of imperialism. In modern capitalist countries there is a substantial difference in the level of education offered in schools for the masses and in privileged secondary schools.

The class historical character of education is manifested not only in the principles on which systems of public education are constructed but also in the ideological orientation of programs, textbooks, and the entire practice of instruction. The socialist school equips students with genuinely scientific knowledge, because the content of education is built on the methodology of Marxism-Leninism, which leads students to a dialectical materialist understanding of the laws of development of nature, society, and thought.

Modern technological progress and the increasing cultural requirements of the members of Soviet society have made it necessary to improve the content of education. Scientific and technological progress and the growing volume of scientific information call for continuous education, with workers regularly supplementing their general, polytechnic, and specialized knowledge. Therefore, various forms of improving workers’ qualifications and self-education have become very popular in the USSR and other socialist countries.

Instruction, which realizes the goals of education, is closely related to the content of education. The goals and character of education greatly influence methods of instruction. The broad application of modern technological means and of methods of independent mental activity have resulted in more effective instruction. Among the school’s most important tasks is to inculcate in students an interest in self-education, to develop in them habits of independent work. Citizens engaged in self-education receive a great deal of assistance from state and public organizations, which publish popular science journals and books for mass readership; organize special, educational radio and television broadcasts; show films on science and technology; and strive to develop a network for party political education.

Education is closely related to upbringing, or the formation of personality traits. This objective interdependence is evident: education is a necessary and powerful factor in personality development. By providing a general education and equipping students with a knowledge of the laws of development of nature, society, and thought, as well as with work habits and skills, the Soviet school forms communist views, communist convictions, a communist world view, and communist moral and volitional qualities in young people. At the same time, correct training of the personality promotes the successful acquisition of knowledge. The unity of education, study, and upbringing is achieved by putting into practice the principle of study that disciplines the individual and by including the work of upbringing and personality development in the system of extracurricular activities provided by the Pioneer and Komsomol organizations. By combining study with socially useful work and by taking advantage of the influence of a socialist environment, the Soviet school can successfully fulfill the tasks in education and upbringing assigned to it by the Communist Party.




The development of culture and education among the peoples of the USSR has a centuries-old history. The first schools, which were affiliated with churches and monasteries, appeared as early as the fourth and fifth centuries in Georgia and Armenia. A school of higher rhetoric—the Colchis Academy—was in existence in Phasis (near present-day Poti) in the fourth century. In the Middle Ages the principal cultural centers were the Ikalto and Gelati academies in Georgia and the universities of Gladzor and Tatev in Armenia.

In the areas of present-day Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Middle Asia, where Islam predominated, Muslim schools affiliated with mosques were established. These makatib (primary schools) and madrasas (secondary and higher schools) provided training in Arabic and the principles of Islam.

The first mention of organized instruction for children in Kievan Rus’ dates from the tenth century. The emergence in the ninth century of the Slavic alphabet known as Cyrillic played an important role in the spread of literacy. Schools were established at the larger monasteries. The extent of literacy among various strata of the population of Rus’ is evidenced by beresto writings (letters and documents written on birch bark), the earliest dating from the 11th century, that have been found in such areas as Novgorod and Pskov. After the Russian principalities were united in a centralized Russian state in the late 15th and early 16th centuries, the number of church and monastery schools increased. The development of education was furthered by the spread of printing in the 16th century, with the first Slavonic-Russian primer, printed by Ivan Fedorov, appearing in 1574. The first Greco-Latin schools were founded in Moscow in the 17th century. The Slavonic-Greco-Latin Academy, the first higher educational institution, was founded in 1687; its students included M. V. Lomonosov, A. D. Kantemir, and Karion Istomin.

In the 16th century, as part of their struggle against Polish-Catholic oppression, Byelorussians and Ukrainians in the southern and southwestern regions, which were under Polish-Lithuanian rule, organized brotherhood schools in such cities as Kiev, Mogilev, Vilnius, and Polotsk. These schools, which became educational centers closely connected with national liberation movements, had on their staffs such prominent educators as Stefan Zizanii, Lavrentii Zizanii, Meletii Smotritskii, Epifanii Slavi-netskii, and Simeon Polotskii. In 1632 the Kiev Bogoiavlenskoe Brotherhood school and the Kiev-Pecherskaia Laura school, which had been founded in 1631, merged to form the Kiev Mogila Collegium, which became the Kiev Mogila Academy in 1701.

An important stage in the history of education began with the reforms of Peter I. The establishment of a vast governmental system, the development of industry and commerce, the formation of a regular army and navy, and the growth of international ties resulted in an acute need for specialists in various scientific areas. The implementation of numerous reforms led to the formation of several secular state educational institutions, including navigational, mathematical, medical, and mining schools, that provided essentially a Realschule education. The largest of these institutions in Moscow were the School of Mathematical and Navigational Sciences and the Gunnery (artillery) School, both of which were opened in 1701, and a medical school, which was opened in 1707. A series of institutions was subsequently founded in St. Petersburg, among them the Naval Academy (1715), a medical school (1716), an engineering school (1719), and schools for the study of foreign languages. In 1726 the Academy of Sciences opened the Academy Gymnasium and the Academy University.

Secondary and higher schools were intended for children of the nobility (dvorianstvo), but children belonging to other estates attended them as well. In order to promote the developing economy, trade, and industry and to improve defense capabilities, various types of primary schools were established: tsifirnye shkoly (“mathematical,” or “ciphering,” schools; from 1714), metallurgical schools (from 1716), Admiralty schools (from 1717), and garrison schools (from 1721). The children of serfs were denied admission to these and all other schools.

Of great importance to the development of education were the introduction of the Civil typeface in 1708, the simplification of the orthography, the printing of Russian textbooks, and the translation of textbooks from foreign languages.

In the second quarter of the 18th century, as part of the expansion of the rights and privileges of the nobility, the first cadet corps (kadetskie korpusa) were established; admission to these educational institutions was restricted to children of the nobility. In 1732 the School for the Nobility (Shliakhetskii Korpus) was opened in St. Petersburg. The Naval Academy was reorganized as the Naval Cadet School (Morskoi Shliakhetskii Korpus) in 1752. The Corps of Pages, which was opened in 1759, was restricted to children of the aristocracy. In the 1730’s and 1740’s parents of the nobility were granted the right either to send their children to school or to provide instruction at home for children under 20 years of age.

Organized through the initiative of Lomonosov, Moscow University was opened in 1755. It became a center of Russian scholarship. Associated with the university were two Gymnasiums—one for the children of the nobility and the other for children belonging to free social estates but lacking noble status. The first pedagogical institution in Russia, a teachers’ seminary associated with the second Gymnasium, was opened in 1779. In the same year the university established the Boarding School for the Nobility, an institution that required payment for tuition and that was restricted to children of the nobility.

In the second half of the 18th century state education for women was initiated, serving the interests of the nobility. The Smol’nyi Institute, which was established in 1764 for wellborn girls, opened a department in 1765 for girls of the meshchanstvo (lower urban classes) to become governesses, housekeepers, and nursemaids. Private boarding schools were founded for girls of the nobility.

During the last quarter of the 18th century a movement among city dwellers and the democratic intellegentsia for the organization of public schools and the democratization of the educational system gained in strength. These efforts helped establish public schools and institutions for illegitimate children, foundlings, and orphans in such cities as St. Petersburg, Moscow, Voronezh, Vladimir, Kursk, and Tula. In 1782, under Catherine II, who pretended to a concern for public schools, the Commission for Founding Schools in the Russian Empire was created. The commission developed the Statute for Public Schools (1786), which provided for the creation of central public schools with a four-year course of study in provincial capitals and small public schools with a two-year curriculum in district capitals. According to the statute, children from all estates were to be admitted to these schools. Although the government did not assume responsibility for maintaining the public schools, they were subjected to strict supervision by provincial officials. The schools were financed by local resources and voluntary contributions. To all intents and purposes, this system represented a feudal-serf solution to the question of public education, a solution consisting more of words than of substance. The antipopular policy of the autocracy was also manifested in the restrictions placed on the schools’ graduates, who were not permitted to enter secondary or higher educational institutions.

The Ministry of Public Education was established in 1802; the Central Administrative Board of Schools was formed as part of the ministry. Under a statute adopted in 1804 the system of public education, which was under the jurisdiction of the ministry, included prikhodskie uchilishcha (parish schools), uezdnye uchilishcha (district schools), provincial Gymnasiums, and universities. Continuity of instruction was maintained between educational institutions of different levels. Russia was divided into school districts, each headed by a superintendent, with universities serving as centers of local administration of schools. The Statute on Universities of 1804 led to the founding—in addition to the existing universities in Moscow, Dorpat (Tartu; 1802), and Vilnius (1803)—of universities in Kazan (1804) and Kharkov (1805). Pedagogical institutes were established at universities for the training of teachers. During this period one of the leading institutions for the training of Gymnasium teachers was an independent pedagogical institute in St. Petersburg. Founded in 1804, it was reorganized in 1816 into the Chief Pedagogical Institute. The University of St. Petersburg was formed from the institute in 1819. Similar to the universities in their curriculum were the lycées, which included the Tsarskoe Selo Lycée near St. Petersburg and the Demidov Lycée in Yaroslavl.

After the suppression of the Decembrist Uprising of 1825, the government of Nicholas I, taking a reactionary position, adopted measures to strengthen education’s dependence on estate distinctions. A statute promulgated in 1828 eliminated the state system of continuity between schools. The two-year prikhodskie uchilishcha were designated for “the lowest estate,” the three-year uezdnye uchilishcha for the merchantry, and the seven-year Gymnasiums for children of the nobility. Admission to universities was possible only for graduates of Gymnasiums. Government supervision of the loyalty of instructors and teachers was increased. The state expanded the system of girls’ schools established by the Department of Institutions of Empress Mariia; estate distinctions were strictly observed in the system.

In the early 19th century the development of productive forces and capitalist relations necessitated the creation of a system of vocational-technical education. Many uezdnye uchilishcha and Gymnasiums established special classes for instruction in such fields as commerce, agriculture, and navigation. At the same time, the first specialized vocational institutions were formed; among them were commercial, industrial, agricultural, and mining schools. During this period, several technical higher educational institutions were opened. Located in St. Petersburg were the Forestry Institute (1803), the Communications Institute of the Corps of Engineers (1809), and the Technological Institute (1828). Institutions in Moscow included the Higher Technical School (1830).

The democratic social movement of the 1860’s caused the government to implement educational reforms. Two types of secondary schools were created: the classical Gymnasiums and the Realgymnasiums, which gave instruction in the natural sciences and mathematics. The number of girls’ Gymnasiums and of other schools for girls was increased, and a system of higher education for women was initiated with the creation of advanced courses for women. Zemstvos (district and provincial assemblies) were granted the right to open primary schools in rural areas; between 1864 and 1874 more than 10,000 zemstvo schools were opened.

The reactionary political atmosphere of the 1870’s and 1880’s influenced the development of public education. The government instituted parochial schools to take the place of zemstvo schools, and the clergy’s influence on education was strengthened. In 1872, the Realgymnasiums were replaced by Realschulen, intermediate or secondary schools specializing in the natural sciences and mathematics; graduates of Realschulen did not have the same privileges as graduates of Gymnasiums. In the 1870’s the first two-class primary schools with a five-year course of study were established; the first three years constituted the first class, and the fourth and fifth years the second class. Also created were urban schools with a six-year course of instruction, which, in 1912, were reorganized into higher elementary schools.

Figure 1. Public education system of prerevolutionary Russia (c. early 1917)

The system of education established in the 1870’s and 1880’s, which was based on social class and estate distinction, was retained almost without change until the October Revoltion of 1917. Educational institutions continued to be administered by a variety of organizations, the most important of which were the Ministry of Public Education, the Department of the Orthodox Faith, and the Department of Institutions of the Empress Maria (see Figure 1).

The tsarist government conducted a reactionary policy of russification of the numerous non-Russian peoples of the country, hindering the development of their individual national cultures. For example, instruction in the various national languages (excluding Russian) was prohibited in the schools, and and restrictions were placed on the admission of non-Russian children to educational institutions. As a result of the autocracy’s policy of discrimination against national minorities, the literacy rate in 1897 for persons aged nine to 49 was only 28.4 percent. The literacy rate was particularly low among the Kirghiz (0.6 percent), Turkmens (0.7 percent), Uzbeks (1.6 percent), and Kazakhs (2 percent). Dozens of peoples and nationalities had no writing systems. About four-fifths of children and teen-agers were not able to attend even primary school. Secondary and, to an even larger degree, higher education was restricted almost exclusively to the affluent strata of the population. Characterizing the state of education in Russia, V. I. Lenin wrote in 1913, “There is no other country so barbarous and in which the masses of the people are robbed to such an extent of education, light, and knowledge—no other such country has remained in Europe; Russia is the exception” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 23, p. 127).

Before the Revolution, the Bolsheviks led the struggle of the progressive forces of society for a new, democratic school system. They were guided by the demands concerning education in the party program adopted by the RSDLP in 1903. Among the demands were universal compulsory education, with free tuition, for children of both sexes up to age 16, the elimination of schools limited to certain social estates, the abolition of restrictions on education based on national origin, the separation of school and church, and the institution of instruction in the native languages of the peoples of the country.

The basis for the education policy of the Communist Party and the Soviet government was formulated in the party program adopted by the Eighth Congress of the RCP(B) in 1919. The goals set by the program were of enormous social importance: the program called for the creation of a new, socialist system of public education and for the transformation of the schools from a tool for class domination by the bourgeoisie into a tool for the communist reorganization of society. Lenin stated, “Only by radically remoulding the teaching, organisation, and training of the youth shall we be able to ensure that the efforts of the younger generation will result in the creation of a society that will be unlike the old society, i.e., in the creation of a communist society” (ibid., vol. 41, p. 301).

The elimination of widespread illiteracy among the population became the foremost task of the government. In accordance with the decree of Dec. 26, 1919, On the Liquidation of Illiteracy Among the Population of the RSFSR, the All-Russian Extraordinary Commission for the Liquidation of Illiteracy was created in 1920 under the People’s Commissariat for Education of the RSFSR to supervise all activities connected with this task. Schools for adults and centers for the liquidation of illiteracy were opened throughout the country. Primers, textbooks, and works on methodology in various languages were published in large numbers.

The campaign against illiteracy was joined by teachers, workers in cultural-educational institutions and social organizations, commanders and political workers in the Red Army, Communists, and members of the Komsomol. Notable contributions were made by Glavpolitprosvet (Central Committee of the Republic for Political Education), which was established in 1920 under the People’s Commissariat for Education and was headed by N. K. Krupskaia. In 1923, as a result of a decree by the Council of People’s Commissars, the Down With Illiteracy Society was created. Congresses and conferences devoted to problems of educating adults outside the school system were systematically conducted. Between 1920 and 1940 approximately 60 million adults were taught to read and write. According to census figures, the literacy rate in 1939 for persons aged nine to 49 was 87.4 percent. By 1959 illiteracy had been almost completely eliminated.

On the basis of decrees issued by the Council of People’s Commissars of the RSFSR in 1918 and 1919, the education system was reorganized on new, socialist principles. All general-education schools were made public, and private schools were abolished. Free tuition and coeducational instruction were introduced. Separation of school and church and of church and state was adopted. The teaching of any faith or the practice of any religious ceremonies in educational institutions was prohibited. Corporal punishment of children was abolished. All nationalities were granted the right to receive instruction in their native language. The first steps were taken toward creating a Soviet system of preschool education. New rules concerning admission into higher educational institutions were drawn up and put into effect, making higher education available to workers and toiling peasants.

The People’s Commissariat for Education became the national center for the supervision and administration of education, with the educational institutions of all other agencies being transferred to its jurisdiction. In June 1918 the Council of People’s Commissars of the RSFSR adopted the Statute on the Organization of Education in the Russian Republic. Of particular importance was the Statute on the Single Labor School of the RSFSR (published Oct. 16,1918), which provided for the creation of a single nine-year labor school founded on genuinely democratic principles. Comprising two levels, the school was compulsory for children aged eight to 17 and provided free coeducational instruction in the students’ native language.

The development of schools providing native-language instruction was greatly advanced by the creation, in the 1920’s and 1930’s, of writing systems for dozens of peoples and nationalities, including the Kirghiz, Bashkirs, Buriats, and the peoples of Dagestan and the Far North. Also of importance was the reform of the old writing systems of several peoples of Middle Asia and the Caucasus, among them the Uzbeks, Tadzhiks, Turkmens, Kazakhs, and Azerbaijanis. Instead of the Arabic characters that the writing systems had used, first Latin and then Russian alphabets were adopted.

Radical changes were made both in the content of education and in teaching methods. New curricula, syllabi, and textbooks were prepared. General-education schools became more oriented toward everyday life, and instruction was made more relevant to the labor and social activities of the students.

In a speech given in October 1920 at the Third Congress of the Russian Communist League of Youth, Lenin identified education’s main tasks as educating the younger generation in the spirit of communist morality, inculcating young people with a materialist world view and communist convictions, providing youth with genuinely scientific knowledge about nature and society, and combining education with the building of socialism and with socially useful, productive work. In urging young people to study, Lenin emphasized that “you can become a Communist only when you enrich your mind with a knowledge of all the treasures created by mankind” (ibid., vol. 41, p. 305). The implementation of Lenin’s ideas concerning education and cultural construction is inseparably linked with the efforts of the leading figures in the People’s Commissariat of Education of the RSFSR in its initial period: A. V. Lunacharskii, N. K. Krupskaia, and M. N. Pokrovskii. The creation of a Soviet school system took place under the difficult conditions of the Civil War and Military Intervention of 1918–20 and the accompanying economic dislocation.

In the early 1930’s a series of decrees were promulgated that strengthened the organizational and pedagogical foundations of the Soviet school system. They included On Primary and Secondary Schools, issued by the Central Committee of the ACP(B) in September 1931; On Syllabi and Procedures in Primary and Secondary Schools, issued by the Central Committee of the ACP(B) in August 1932; On Textbooks for Primary and Secondary Schools, issued by the Central Committee of the ACP(B) in February 1933; On the Structure of the Primary and Secondary School in the USSR, issued by the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR and the Central Committee of the ACP(B) in May 1934; and On the Organization of Instructional Activities and the Daily Routine in Primary, Incomplete Secondary, and Secondary Schools, issued by the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR and the Central Committee of the ACP(B) in September 1935.

The right of citizens of the Soviet Union to an education is assured by the Constitution of the USSR. The Soviet state has established firm, specific guarantees that provide the citizens of the USSR with a practical opportunity to exercise this right. In the USSR, for the first time in the history of mankind, a truly democratic system of education has been achieved. The results of this system contributed in many ways to the victory of the Soviet people over the fascist German invaders in the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45.

After the war the Soviet educational system underwent further development. The country quickly overcame the difficulties brought about by the war. As early as 1950 there were more than 220,000 schools in operation. Between 1950 and 1965, 30,000 schools were built, and an additional 36,000 schools were put into operation through the efforts of, and with funding from, kolkhozes. Rapid social, scientific, and technological progress has made new demands on the cultural and educational preparedness of young people joining the economically active population. Improvements have been made in the curricula and teaching methods of secondary and higher educational institutions. Large-scale plans for reorganizing the entire national economy have required the expansion of higher and specialized secondary education, a task that is being met successfully.

In 1973 the Supreme Soviet of the USSR approved the Basic Principles of Legislation on Public Education of the USSR and the Union Republics. This document reflected the achievements of the Soviet people in building a developed socialist society, as well as the tasks facing education at the time. The Basic Principles of Legislation state: “The goal of education in the USSR is the training of highly educated, well-rounded, active builders of communist society who accept the ideas of Marxism-Leninism, show respect for Soviet laws and the socialist order, and have a communist attitude toward labor; the development of physically healthy citizens capable of working successfully in various fields of economic and sociocultural construction and participating actively in public and state activities; and the training of citizens prepared to defend their socialist homeland wholeheartedly, to protect and increase its material and intellectual riches, and to guard and conserve its natural resources. Education in the USSR is called upon to ensure the development and satisfaction of the moral and intellectual needs of the Soviet people” (Narodnoe obrazovanie v SSSR: Sb. dokumentov 1917–1973, 1974, p. 93).

The Basic Principles of Legislation are directed at the further improvement of education in a developed socialist society. The document sets forth the fundamental principles of education in the USSR: (1) All citizens have equal rights to an education, regardless of race, national origin, sex, attitude toward religion, wealth, or social status. (2) Education is compulsory for all children. (3) All educational institutions are of a state and public nature. (4) Students have the right to choose the language of instruction—either a native language or another language of the USSR. (5) Education is tuition-free at all levels, with complete state support for some students and provision of stipends for students. (6) The system of education is uniform, with continuity between educational institutions of all types, enabling students to advance from a lower level of instruction to higher levels. (7) In struction and communist education are intertwined. (8) School, family, and community cooperate in the education of young people. (9) The instruction and upbringing of the younger generation are relevant to everyday life and to the building of communism. (10) Education is based on science and is continually being improved through new achievements in science, technology, and culture. (11) Education and upbringing are of a humanist and high moral nature. (12) Instruction is coeducational. (13) Education is secular, with religion being allowed no influence on instruction.

As stated in Article 25 of the Constitution of the USSR, “In the USSR there is a uniform system of public education, which is being constantly improved, that provides general education and vocational training for citizens, serves the communist education and intellectual and physical development of the youth, and trains them for work and social activity.”

The educational system of the USSR includes preschool education, general secondary education, extracurricular education, vocational-technical education, specialized secondary education, and higher education.

The Communist Party and the Soviet state express constant concern for public education and mobilize the forces of society to improve it. Upbringing and education have become matters of national concern in the USSR, with resources of the mass media, literature, and art being used to contribute to their advancement. The development of education in the USSR is guided by the advanced pedagogical experience and achievements of Soviet pedagogy.

Preschool education. The first link in the educational system consists of the preschool institutions (crèches, kindergartens, and créche-kindergartens), which are intended for children up to seven years of age. Lenin called Soviet kindergartens “shoots” of communism and wrote of their importance in the emancipation of women (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 39, p. 24). In order to create the most favorable conditions for the upbringing of young children, the establishment of combined preschool institutions known as crèche-kindergartens has been emphasized since the 1960’s. Working closely with the children’s families, the crèche-kindergartens provide all-around, balanced development and upbringing, preparing the children for instruction in the schools and instilling in them a spirit of respect for their elders and love for their socialist homeland.

Preschool institutions are established by the executive committees of the soviets of raions, cities, villages, and settlements. With the approval of the appropriate executive committee, they may also be established by state enterprises, institutions, and organizations, by kolkhozes, and by cooperatives and other public organizations. Table 1 provides figures on the development of the network of preschool institutions.

Instruction and care for children in preschool institutions is based on scientific principles. Pedagogical educational institutions have been founded for the training of teachers and administrators. The ministries of education of the USSR and the Union republics and their local bodies supply pedagogical guidance and provide all personnel, regardless of the agency affiliation of the preschool institution. Medical care for children is provided by public health institutions, which also are concerned with preventive medicine.

The leading journal dealing with this level of education is Doshkol’noe vospitanie (Preschool Upbringing).

General-education schools. General-education schools are the main institutions providing a general secondary education. Throughout their development since the first years of Soviet power,

Table 1. Preschool Institutions in the USSR
Total permanent preschool institutions ...............17746,93145,25170,584102,730127,744
kindergartens and crèche-kindergartens ...............15023,99925,62443,56983,134115,691
Total number of children attending permanent preschool institutions (thousands) ...............5.41,9531,7884,4289,28114,337
children in kindergartens and crèche-kinderaartens (thousands) ...............4.01,1721,1693,1158,10013,464

general-education schools have represented a uniform system making use of polytechnical and labor training. They all share the same principles of organization of the educational process, and the content of education they provide is essentially uniform. At the same time, the various national traits of the country’s peoples are taken into account. Polytechnical and labor training is carried out in tandem with instruction in the fundamentals of science, as well as through extracurricular work in students’ labor associations.

As the country has advanced economically and culturally, the school system has seen changes in the types and structure of educational institutions, in the length of courses of study, and in the relationship and continuity between general and vocational education. In 1921 seven-year schools were instituted to complement other secondary schools, which had nine-year and, subsequently, ten-year courses of study. Schools for peasant youth, which were introduced in 1923, became widespread in rural areas; beginning in 1930 they were called schools for kolkhoz youth. Seven-year industrial training schools were established in cities beginning in 1926. By 1930 the necessary conditions for the introduction of universal education had arisen in all the Union republics. Decrees calling for the introduction of nationwide universal compulsory education for children aged eight to ten, beginning with the 1930–31 school year, were issued by the Central Committee of the ACP(B) and by the Central Executive Committee and the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR on July 25, 1930, and Aug. 14, 1930, respectively. The decrees also provided for universal compulsory seven-year education in cities and workers’ settlements. Between 1930 and 1940 the number of students in the first four grades of day schools increased by 6 million, and the number of students in grades five through seven increased by 8.8 million. In the 1940–41 school year, the total enrollment of students in general-education schools of all types reached 35.6 million.

The achievements made in education in the Middle Asian republics are particularly noteworthy. Between the 1914–15 school year and the 1940–41 school year, the number of students in general-education schools increased in the Turkmen SSR by a factor of 37, in the Kirghiz SSR by a factor of 47, in the Uzbek SSR by a factor of 75, and in the Tadzhik SSR by a factor of 854.

During the Great Patriotic War the fascist German aggressors destroyed 82,000 schools on German-occupied territory, where 15 million students had been enrolled before the war. Nevertheless, even during those years, the Communist Party and the Soviet government did everything in their power to continue developing and improving general-education schools. Schools were founded for worker and peasant youth. The age of admission into general-education schools was lowered from eight to seven. A system of intematy (hostels) was established at schools. Other innovations included the introduction of examinations for certificates of maturity from secondary institutions. In addition, the military and patriotic training of students was strengthened.

After the war, the major tasks in education were the restoration and improvement of general-education schools in cities and raions liberated from the occupation as well as the introduction of universal education throughout the country. In 1952 the Nineteenth Congress of the CPSU adopted a resolution that called for the completion of the transition from seven-year education to universal secondary education in the large industrial and cultural centers of the USSR and for the creation of conditions for the future establishment of universal secondary education in the remaining cities and rural areas. The system of boarding schools was expanded considerably during the 1950’s.

In 1958 the Supreme Soviet of the USSR passed the law On Reinforcing the Link Between School and Life and on the Further Development of the System of Public Education in the USSR. The law provided for the replacement of universal compulsory seven-year education by universal compulsory eight-year education; the transition was completed throughout the country in 1962. The system of schools permitting young people to obtain a secondary education while continuing to work underwent considerable development.

The new party program adopted at the Twenty-second Congress of the CPSU in 1961 outlined prospects for the development of education. The Twenty-fifth Congress of the CPSU called for substantial improvement of the entire general-education system, especially secondary schools.

The evolution of general education schools in the stage of a developed socialist society has been guided by the following important decrees issued by the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR: On Measures for the Further Improvement of the Work of the Secondary General-education School (1966), On Completing the Transition to Universal Secondary Education for Youth and on the Further Development of the General-education School (1972), On Measures for the Further Improvement of the Work of the Rural General-education School (1973), and On Further Improvement in the Instruction and Education of Students in General-education Schools and in Their Preparation for Work (1977).

Data on the development of general-education schools are presented in Table 2.

In accordance with the Statute on Secondary General-education Schools of 1970 the following types of schools are established, depending on local conditions: primary schools (first through third grades), eight-year schools (first through eighth grades), and secondary schools (first through tenth or 11th grades). This system preserves the uniformity and continuity of all levels of general secondary education. The length of the course of study for secondary schools is generally ten years, except in the Lithuanian SSR, Latvian SSR, and Estonian SSR, where it is 11 years.

The general-education school system also includes secondary schools providing production training, secondary schools offering intensive instruction in particular subjects, boarding schools, secondary general-education schools for working youth, schools for the physically and mentally handicapped, and specialized schools.

Those schools providing production training and intensive theoretical and practical instruction in particular subjects are created to meet diverse interests of students, to develop students’ abilities, and to provide vocational guidance. The amount of general-education instruction in these schools meets the standard requirements for curricula and syllabi.

Extended-day general-education schools have as their goal the further development of the social education of students, which

Table 2. General–education schools and student enrollment (beginning of school year)
1Including day general-education schools that hold classes for young people who work, Independent correspondence schools, and secondary vocational-technical schools. For the 1940–41 school year, the figures include workers’ schools and schools for adults.
General-education schools all typos (thousands) ...............123.7198.8222.1224.4189.7145.0
primary, incomplete secondary and secondary (thousands) ...............123.7191.5201.6199.2174.6132.5
evening (shift), including correspondence students1 (thousands) ...............7.320.525.215.112.5
Students (millions) ...............9.735.634.736.249.244.3
grades 1–3 ...............
grades 4–8 ...............1.518.219.819.426.320.6
grades 9–10 (11) ...............

constitutes part of the long-range plan for improving the secondary general-educational system. In the 1980–81 school year there were 10.7 million students enrolled in extended-day schools and groups.

Boarding schools provide favorable conditions for the all-around development of students from families lacking the necessary means for raising their children. In the 1980–81 school year there were 2,000 boarding schools; they provided upbringing and instruction for 600,000 students. A network of children’s homes has been established for those children without parents or guardians.

Specialized general-education schools and classes similar to boarding schools have been created to serve the needs of youth requiring prolonged medical care or suffering from physical handicaps or from mental retardation or other mental defects. There were 2,600 such schools, with 486,000 students, in the 1980–81 school year.

Secondary general-education schools for young workers generally offer the eighth through 11th grades. They are established for industrial, nonindustrial, and kolkhoz workers who, for various reasons, were unable to obtain a secondary education or, in some cases, an eight-year education. Two types of instruction, evening (shift) and correspondence, are offered. Between 1971 and 1980 the number of students receiving a secondary education from schools for young workers was 9.1 million, or one-fourth of all graduates of general-education schools.

The school year for all general-education schools begins on September 1; the year ends on May 30 for the first through seventh grades, on June 10 for the eighth grade, and on June 25 for the ninth, tenth, and eleventh grades. The school year is divided into quarters: the first is from September 1 to November 4, the second from November 10 to December 29, the third from January 11 to March 23, and the fourth from April 1 to the end of the school year. School vacations take place between the quarters, in autumn, winter, spring, and summer.

The standard curriculum stipulates that the maximum amount of compulsory instruction per week is 24 hours in the first through fourth grades, 30 hours in the fifth through eighth grades, and 32 hours in the ninth, tenth, and eleventh grades. In ten-year schools with instruction conducted in a language other than Russian, the weekly course load may be increased by two to three hours.

The main form of instructional and educational work in schools is the lesson, which lasts 45 minutes. Also used are various types of independent study, laboratory work and instruction, and excursions, as well as experience in workshops, in instructional-experimental farm plots, and in students’ production brigades. Production training is conducted at, for example, kolkhozes and various enterprises.

For most subjects, the scope of students’ knowledge is evaluated through a system of five grades (balls); conduct is judged exemplary, satisfactory, or unsatisfactory. Compulsory graduation examinations are held in the eighth and tenth (or 11th) grades. Some Union republics have instituted examinations in the middle and upper levels that are required for advancement from one grade to another. Students who complete the first eight grades receive a certificate of eight-year education, which gives them the right to enter the ninth grade of a general-education school, specialized secondary educational institution, or vocational-technical educational institution. Students completing a secondary school receive a certificate of secondary education, and those completing production training receive certification as well.

Students who obtain good marks in all their subjects and take part in the social activities of their school receive special commendation. Those excelling in particular subjects are awarded the certificate of merit For Outstanding Achievement in the Study of Individual Subjects. Outstanding graduates of secondary schools are awarded the gold medal For Excellent Achievement in Scholarship and Work and for Exemplary Behavior.

Between 1966 and 1975, during the eighth and ninth five-year plans, notable changes were made in the content of secondary education as a result of a series of party and government decrees. For example, new syllabi and textbooks, prepared on a sound scientific foundation, were introduced that incorporated achievements in contemporary science, culture, economics, and social affairs but were free of excessive detail and of subject matter of secondary importance. The first stage in the systematic teaching of the fundamentals of science was assigned to the fourth grade. School curricula were altered to provide a more effective relationship between the humanities and the natural sciences and mathematics. Changes were also made to eliminate excesses in the application of the spiral method to the teaching of the fundamentals of science and to achieve proper distribution of subject matter appropriate to the level of study.

In order to further develop their diverse interests and abilities, students may take elective courses beginning in the seventh grade. Many schools have introduced courses in automobile engineering and agricultural machinery. Schools are being furnished with modern equipment, instruments, and technical and visual teaching aids. Greater use is being made of laboratory work and instruction, practical polytechnical training, experiment work, and summer practical training. A wide range of interschool vocational training centers is being established.

The most important goals of contemporary Soviet schools are improvement of the teaching of the fundamentals of science, establishment of a Marxist-Leninist world view in the younger generation, the training of students in the spirit of lofty communist morality, Soviet patriotism, and socialist internationalism, and the preparation of students for socially useful work. The ideological focus of lessons and of discussions led by class masters (klassnye rukovoditeli) is being sharpened. The activity of school Komsomol and Pioneer organizations and student self-government committees is being increased.

The Leninist policy of the CPSU has achieved a historic victory in the development of education: the transition to universal compulsory secondary education has been essentially completed. In 1980 more than 99 percent of the eighth-grade graduates entered educational institutions providing a secondary education.

During the years of Soviet power, a system for teacher training and the improvement of teaching skills has been established. In 1980 teachers were being trained in 200 pedagogical institutes, 426 pedagogical schools, and 68 universities. In the same year some 2.6 million teachers were working in general-education schools. A majority of teachers of the fourth to tenth (or 11th) grades have received a higher education at a pedagogical institute or a university. Every fifth primary school teacher has graduated from a pedagogical institute. To provide teaching personnel with advanced training, a system of methodology institutions has been created, including 186 advanced training institutes and more than 4,500 methodology centers.

For outstanding achievement in communist education, teachers are granted the honorary title of Honored Schoolteacher in their republic. The N. K. Krupskaia Medal is awarded to employees of education agencies and teachers who make an outstanding contribution to the education of the rising generation. The lapel pin of Distinguished Worker of Education of the USSR is awarded to the best teachers and other workers in institutions of the Ministry of Education of the USSR. The titles of senior teacher and teacher-methodologist, which are conferred upon the best teachers, were introduced in 1975.

“The teacher is the pride of Soviet society. He has earned universal respect through his selfless service to the cause of education, his generosity, his noble spiritual qualities, and his love for children. The party highly values the ideological conviction and selfless labor of the teacher and his great contribution to the making of the new man” (L. I. Brezhnev, Leninskim kursom: Rechi i stat’i, vol. 5,1976, p. 148). Concern for the improvement of the material situation of teachers is reflected in numerous decrees of the party and government.

At the beginning of the 1977–78 school year 125 teachers were Heroes of Socialist Labor, approximately 290,000 had been awarded orders and medals of the USSR, and more than 35,000 bore the title of Honored Schoolteacher.

The physical plants of schools are continually being improved, and new buildings constructed. Between 1918 and 1970 almost 98,000 schools, accommodating a total of 31.7 million students, were opened by state and cooperative enterprises and organizations (excluding kolkhozes). During the ninth five-year plan more than 10,800 new schools were put into operation, including 7,100 in rural areas. Between 1946 and 1975 the kolkhozes of the country opened 64,500 general-education schools, accommodating 9.5 million students; an additional 5,200 schools were opened in 1976 and 1977.

More than 2,000 school textbooks are published annually in the languages of the USSR; the total number of copies exceeds 300 million. Secondary school libraries’ holdings of instructional and methodology literature total almost 100 million volumes. Since the 1977–78 school year efforts have been made to supply textbooks to students in general-education schools free of charge. It is expected that students in all grades will be provided with free books by 1983.

In 1966 the Union-republic Ministry of Education of the USSR was established. The Council for Questions of Secondary General-education Schools was formed as part of the ministry to give full consideration to national characteristics in the Union republics. Its membership includes the ministers of education of all the Union republics. The Academy of Pedagogical Sciences of the USSR has been established under the Ministry of Education of the USSR.

Periodicals dealing with general education include the journal Narodnoe obrazovanie (Public Education) and specialized journals on methods. Uchitel’skaia gazeta (Teachers’ Gazette) is published by the Ministry of Education of the USSR and the Central Committee of the Trade Union of Workers in Education, Higher Schools, and Scientific Institutions.

Education is under the direct administration and control of the ministries of education of the Union and autonomous republics and the appropriate krai, oblast, okrug, city, and raion departments of education. Republic and local education bodies have established scientific research institutions, advanced training institutes for teachers, methodology centers, and pedagogical periodicals.

Extracurricular institutions. Extracurricular institutions play an important role in the all-around development of the abilities of children and teen-agers. At the beginning of 1977 there were 4,587 palaces and houses of Pioneers and schoolchildren, more than 7,000 children’s sectors at palaces and houses of culture, 1,112 young engineers’ stations, 676 young naturalists’ stations, 216 children’s excursion tourist stations, 152 children’s parks, 39 children’s railroads, 7,000 children’s museums, choreographic schools, and art schools, 6,000 juvenile sports schools, and 7,900 children’s libraries. Millions of children and teen-agers annually spend their vacation time at Pioneer camps, work and rest camps, city and country children’s playgrounds, and sanatorium-type homes. Extracurricular institutions are under the jurisdiction of ministries of education and culture and other agencies; they work in close contact with schools and with Pioneer and Komsomol organizations.

Vocational-technical education. The development of Soviet vocational-technical education began in 1919 with the decree of the Council of People’s Commissars of the RSFSR On Measures for the Dissemination of Vocational-Technical Knowledge. In 1921 a statute on schools for apprenticeship in industry was adopted. Between 1929 and 1940 the schools for apprenticeship in industry trained more than 2.3 million skilled workers. In 1940 the system of the State Labor Reserves of the USSR was established. It assumed control of the schools for apprenticeship in industry and reorganized them into trade, railroad, and industrial training schools. In 1959 the Main Administration for Labor Reserves was reorganized into the State Committee for Vocational-Technical Education of the Council of Ministers of the USSR (since 1978 the State Committee for Vocational-Technical Education of the USSR).

The principal types of vocational-technical educational institutions in the system administered by the committee are the following: urban and rural vocational-technical schools, with a course of study lasting one to two years; secondary vocational-technical schools, whose course of study lasts three to four years; and technical schools, which require one to 1½ years of study. Admission to the secondary vocational-technical schools is open to graduates of eight-year general-education schools. The technical schools admit young people who have graduated from a complete secondary school.

Vocational-technical educational institutions prepare well-educated, technically trained, qualified workers possessing vocational skills that meet the requirements of contemporary industry and of scientific and technological progress. The institutions are specialized according to groups of related occupations—more than 1,200 occupations in all—and have close ties with major enterprises. Their graduates receive the appropriate employment qualification rating and are awarded a certificate (see Table 3).

Between 1941 and 1980 vocational-technical educational institutions trained 43 million skilled workers. In 1980 their graduates numbered 2,430,000.

A new stage in the development of vocational-technical education was marked by the organization at the end of the 1960’s of the first secondary vocational-technical schools, in which young people are trained for an occupation and receive a general secondary education. These schools represent a promising approach to training the younger generation of the working class and to implementing universal secondary education.

Ways of refining the system of vocational-technical education are indicated in the decree of the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR On Improving the Vocational-Technical Educational System (1972), in the Basic Principles of Legislation on Public Education of the USSR and the Union Republics (1973), and in the decree of the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR On Improving the Instructional and Educational Process for Students in the Vocational-Technical Educational System (1977). Particular attention is being devoted to the training of skilled young agricultural personnel, an area dealt with by the decree of the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR On Expanding the Network of Secondary Rural Vocational-Technical Schools and Improving Their Work (1975).

Considerable efforts are devoted in vocational-technical educational institutions to developing the technical and artistic aptitudes of students. Work with students in physical culture and sports is organized by the all-Union volunteer sports society Trudovye Rezervy (Labor Reserves).

The principal journal dealing with vocational-technical education is the monthly Professional’no-tekhnicheskoe obrazovanie (Vocational-Technical Education).

Instructors and foremen involved in production training graduate from the engineering pedagogical departments of polytechnic institutes and from industrial teachers technicums. The All-Union Institute for Advanced Training of Engineering Pedagogical Workers With Vocational-Technical Education, in Leningrad, was established in 1966.

Specialized secondary education. Specialized secondary education is one of the basic ways of achieving universal secondary education and of providing various areas of the national economy and culture with skilled personnel. Specialized secondary educational institutions train persons for work in such areas as industry, construction, transportation, communications, agriculture, public health, physical culture, education, culture, and art. At the beginning of the 1914–15 school year, Russia had 450 specialized secondary educational institutions, with 54,000 students. At

Table 3. Vocational-technical educational institutions and student enrollment1 (January 1)
1 Data are given for educational institutions in the system of the State Committee for Vocational-Technical Education of the USSR
Vocational-technical educational institutions ...............1,5512,4882,5933,6845,3517,242
Students (thousands) ...............6026035201,0642,3803,659

the beginning of the 1980–81 school year, the USSR had 4,383 institutions, with 4,612,000 students. During the years of Soviet power, more than 26.5 million specialists have been trained in the specialized secondary educational system. The increase in the number of specialized secondary educational institutions and in enrollment is shown in Table 4.

Table 4. Specialized secondary educational institutions and student enrollment (beginning of school year)
Total institutions ...............3,7733,8204,2234,383
Students (thousands)
Total ...............9753,6594,3884,612
daytime ...............7871,8352,5582,894
evening ...............32628645504
correspondence ...............1561,1961,1851,214

Graduates of eight-year schools may be admitted to specialized secondary educational institutions for a course of study lasting three to four years, and graduates of ten-year schools, for a course of study lasting two to three years. In addition to a general secondary education, specialized secondary educational institutions provide a student with theoretical and practical knowledge and occupational skills associated with his area of specialization. Specialized secondary education offers training in more than 490 specializations in such general fields as mining, power engineering, metallurgy, machine building, electrical engineering, transportation, agriculture, trade, medicine, pedagogy, and music and other arts. A set array of subjects has been instituted for each specialization, and their scope has been established. The subjects are divided into three cycles: general education, general technical education (for example, general medical or general pedagogical), and specialized education. Instruction is organized according to syllabi and curricula established by the Ministry of Higher and Specialized Secondary Education of the USSR.

The basic types of educational institutions in the system of specialized secondary education are technicums and schools (uchilishcha). Daytime, evening, and correspondence study is offered. Evening and correspondence courses of study are usually one year longer than daytime courses. In addition to full-time study, part-time study is offered in some specializations. Graduates of technicums and schools receive the employment qualification rating corresponding to their specialization and are awarded a diploma and a lapel pin.

In 1974 the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR issued the decree On Measures for the Further Improvement of the Management of Specialized Secondary Educational Institutions and on Improving the Quality of Training of Specialists in Specialized Secondary Education. In accordance with the decree, the administration of technicums and schools has been concentrated in a smaller number of ministries and agencies, and specialized secondary educational institutions have become oriented toward particular branches of the economy, with necessary cooperation in the training of specialists being taken into account. The Council on Specialized Secondary Education and a state inspectorate have been established in the Ministry of Higher and Specialized Secondary Education. The number of engineering teachers for technicums produced by higher educational institutions has been increased.

The principal Soviet journal dealing with specialized secondary education is Srednee spetsial’noe obrazovanie (Specialized Secondary Education).

Higher education. The creation of a modern system of higher education and the training of a national intelligentsia is one of the most important achievements of the October Revolution of 1917. In 1914–15 there were 105 higher educational institutions, in which 127,000 students, mainly from the affluent strata of the population, studied. The majority of these educational institutions were located in the European part of the country, notably in Petrograd, Moscow, and Kiev. There were no higher educational institutions in such regions as Middle Asia, Byelorussia, and the Caucasus.

During the first years of Soviet power, the higher educational system was reorganized in accordance with the Statute on Higher Educational Institutions of the RSFSR, which was signed by Lenin and approved by the Council of People’s Commissars of the RSFSR in 1922. Instructional procedures in higher educational institutions came to be based on Lenin’s concept of the close relation between theory and practice, primarily as a result of the decree On the Immediate Tasks in the Matter of Establishing a Connection Between Higher Educational Institutions and Production, issued by the Central Committee of the RCP(B) in 1925.

The Communist Party and the Soviet government devoted much attention to democratizing higher educational institutions and to attracting members of the proletariat and the poor peasantry to higher education. An important role in the establishment of a national intelligentsia was played by the introduction in 1918 of new regulations governing admission to higher educational institutions and by the creation in 1919 of workers’ schools, which made it possible for young people from the working class and peasantry to complete their general secondary education and prepare for higher education. In response to the increasing desire of the adult population to acquire education and skills without giving up their jobs, a system of evening and correspondence higher education was established.

Higher educational institutions in the USSR include universities, polytechnic institutes, industrial and other specialized institutes, academies, conservatories, and higher schools. The course of study lasts from four to six years; an additional six to 12 months is required in evening and correspondence programs. Higher educational institutions are organized by the state and public organizations.

Tuition in higher educational institutions is free of charge. Instruction is conducted in the native language of the students. Students are paid state stipends according to their academic achievement. Those not residing in the city where the institution is located are provided with dormitory space. Supplementary paid leave and a shortened workday are granted to students who wish to continue working at their jobs. Preparatory courses are offered at higher educational institutions, and preparatory divisions have been established for outstanding industrial and kolkhoz workers and for persons discharged from the armed forces of the USSR. Thus, higher education in the USSR has become truly accessible to all citizens having a secondary education.

Table 5. Number of higher educational institutions and enrolled students in the Union republics (beginning of 1980–61 academic year)
RSFSR ...............4943,045,800
Ukrainian SSR ...............147880,400
Byelorussian SSR ...............32177,000
Uzbek SSR ...............43278,100
Kazakh SSR ...............55260,000
Georgian SSR ...............1985,800
Azerbaijan SSR ...............17107,000
Lithuanian SSR ...............1271,000
Moldavian SSR ...............851,300
Latvian SSR ...............1047,200
Kirghiz SSR ...............1055,400
Tadzhik SSR ...............1056,800
Armenian SSR ...............1358,100
Turkmen SSR ...............735,800
Estonian SSR ...............625,500

As a result of the implementation of the Leninist nationalities policy, higher educational institutions have been established in all the Union republics during the years of Soviet power (see Table 5). In 1981 there were 883 higher educational institutions, including 68 universities; the total enrollment exceeded 5 million. In number of students per 10,000 population, the Soviet Union has considerably surpassed such developed capitalist countries as Great Britain, the Federal Republic of Germany, France, and Japan.

Personnel with various specializations are trained in accordance

Table 6. Number of specialists working in the national economy (thousands)
Total number of specialists ...............1905212,4015,13312,06628,612
Specialists with higher education ...............1362339092,1844,89112,073
Specialists with secondary specialized education ...............542881,4922,9497,17516,539

with plans for the development of the national economy and with the needs of individual sectors of the economy and culture for specialists.

In the 1980–81 academic year the number of students in higher educational institutions, grouped by branch of the economy, was as follows: industry and construction, 2,088,200; transportation and communications, 300,500; agriculture, 533,800; economics and law, 377,000; public health, physical culture, and sports, 378,700; education, 1,509,000; and arts and cinematography, 48,000.

People from 136 countries, mostly fraternal socialist countries and developing countries, study at Soviet higher and specialized secondary educational institutions. Many young people from Africa, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America study at the Patrice Lumumba Peoples’ Friendship University in Moscow. In 1977, 40,300 foreign citizens were studying in Soviet higher educational institutions and technicums. The USSR annually sends abroad more than 17,000 professors, instructors, graduate students, and undergraduates and receives approximately the same number from other countries.

Soviet higher educational institutions are called upon to train highly qualified specialists who have a Marxist-Leninist world view and possess extensive theoretical knowledge and practical skills. The institutions instill in their students high moral qualities, a communist consciousness, an appreciation of culture, the spirit of socialist internationalism, and patriotism. They strive continually to improve the quality of the education they offer, taking into account the present-day requirements, and prospects for development, of industry, science, technology, and culture. Higher educational institutions also perform research. In addition, they train educational research personnel and provide advanced training to members of the teaching staffs of higher and secondary educational institutions as well as to specialists with a higher education employed in appropriate sectors of the national economy.

Universities and numerous other higher educational institutions offer graduate programs for the training of research workers in science, scholarship, and education. Many such institutions have departments for improving the skills of professors and instructors, as well as research subdivisions.

Scientific and scholarly research papers and material dealing with the work of higher educational institutions are published in the journals Vestnik vysshei shkoly (Journal of Higher Schools), Nauchnye doklady vysshei shkoly (Scholarly Papers of Institutions of Higher Learning), and Izveztiia vysshikh uchebnykh zavedenii (Proceedings of Higher Educational Institutions) and in the Trudy (Transactions) and Uchenye zapiski (Learned Transactions) of individual higher educational institutions.

Scientific and scholarly ties between Soviet higher educational institutions and those of other countries are expanding. Soviet scientists and scholars have been named honorary professors of foreign higher educational institutions and have been awarded honorary doctorates. Prominent foreign scientists and scholars and progressive public figures have received similar honors from Soviet higher educational institutions.

Numerous student organizations exist in Soviet higher educational institutions, including student construction detachments, sports societies, student theaters, and ensembles. Soviet students take part in the international youth and student movements. The Student Council of the USSR represents Soviet students in the International Union of Students.

Overall direction of higher education in the Soviet Union is exercised by the Ministry of Higher and Specialized Secondary Education of the USSR. The Council on Higher Schools has been established as part of the ministry to develop scientifically based recommendations on improving instructional and research work, on problems of long-range planning in the training, placement, and use of specialists, and on improving the qualifications of research and teaching personnel. Most higher educational institutions carry out their work under the direction of the ministries of higher and specialized secondary education of the Union republics or of other ministries or agencies dealing with a particular branch of the economy. Every higher educational institution has its own charter, which is based on the Statute on Higher Educational Institutions in the USSR and is approved by the appropriate ministry or agency, as well as its own rules governing institution routine.

Educational level of the population. The transition to compulsory universal secondary education and the development of higher and specialized secondary education have resulted in a high level of education of the population. At the end of 1981 the number of people in the USSR who had graduated from a higher or specialized secondary educational institution was 41.6 million. Table 6 portrays the growth in the number of specialists working in the national economy who have a higher or specialized secondary education.

In 1980 the total number of specialists with a higher or specialized secondary education employed in the national economy was 28,612,000. This figure included 7,236,000 at industrial enterprises, 1,856,000 in agriculture, 1,211,000 at transportation enterprises, 1,935,000 in construction organizations, 3,348,000 in public health, physical-culture, and social security institutions, 5,298,000 in educational and cultural institutions, and 2,386,000 in scientific and scientific service institutions. In 1980, 83.3 percent of the population employed in the national economy had a higher or secondary (complete or incomplete) education.

Table 7. Expenditures for education from the USSR state budget1 (million rubles)
1 Excluding capital investment
General education and upbringing of children and teen-agers; general education for adults ...............1,1598,31416,273
Vocational-technical education ...............8402,686
Technicums and schools for training middle-level specialists ...............1898292,028
Higher educational institutions ...............2731,4833,751

The Soviet state allocates large amounts of money and material resources for the development of education (see Table 7). Funds for the maintenance of educational institutions are provided by the state budget, by cooperatives, trade unions, and other public organizations, and by kolkhozes.



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Narodnoe obrazovanie v SSSR, 1917–73 gg.: Sb. dokumentov. Moscow, 1974.
Brezhnev, L. I. O kommunisticheskom vospitanii trudiashchikhsia: Rechi i stat’i. Moscow, 1974.
Kalinin, M. I. O vospitanü i obuchenii: Izbr. stat’i i rechi. Moscow, 1957.
Krupskaia, N. K. Izbr. pedagogicheskie proizvedeniia, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1968.
Lunacharskii, A. V. O vospitanii i obrazovanii. Moscow, 1976.
Bubnov, A. S. Stat’i i rechi o narodnom obrazovanii. Moscow, 1959.
Potemkin, V. P. Stat’i i rechi po voprosam narodnogo obrazovaniia. Moscow-Leningrad, 1947.
Spravochnik rabotnika narodnogo obrazovaniia: Sbornik zakonodatel’nykh, rukovodiashchikh i instruktivnykh materialov. Moscow, 1973.
Vsesoiuznyi s”ezd uchitelei: Moskva, 1968: Stenograficheskii otchet. [Moscow] 1969.
Narodnoe obrazovanie v SSSR, 1917–1967 gg.: Sb. Moscow, 1967.
Vysshaia shkola SSSR za 50 let [1917–1967]. Moscow, 1967.
Prokof’ev, M. A. Sovetskaia obshcheobrazovatel’naia shkola na sovremennom etape. Moscow, 1975.
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Korolev, F. F., Z. I. Ravkin, and T. D. Korneichik. Ocherki po istorii sovetskoi shkoly i pedagogiki: 1921–1931. Moscow, 1961.
Ocherki istorii shkoly i pedagogicheskoi mysli narodov SSSR: XVIII v.-pervaiapolovina XIX v. Moscow, 1973.
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Batyshev, S. Ia. Formirovanie kvalifitsirovannykh rabochikh kadrov v SSSR. Moscow, 1971.


See also Teaching.
Academy, the
Plato’s school in Athens. [Gk. Hist.: Benét, 5]
introduced the alphabet to the Greeks. [Gk. Myth.: Brewer Dictionary, 161]
one of two leading British universities (since 1231); consists of 24 colleges. [Br. Education: Payton, 116]
Catherine of Alexandria, St.
patroness of education. [Christian Hagiog.: Hall, 58]
Education of Henry Adams, The
autobiography describing intellectual influences on the author. [Am. Lit.: Hart, 249]
Rousseau’s treatise on education of children (1762). [Fr. Lit.: Emile, Magill III, 330–333]
Feverel, Sir Austen
rears his son by a scientific system in which women were a minor factor. [Br. Lit.: Meredith The Ordeal of Richard Feverel in Magill I, 692]
Gradgrind, Thomas
raises and educates children on materialistic principles. [Br. Lit.: Dickens Hard Times]
Grand Tour, the
European tour as necessary part of education for British aristocrats. [Eur. Hist.: Plumb, 414]
Instructions to a Son
papyrus document; one of earliest preserved writings (c. 2500 B.C.). [Classical Hist.: Grun, 2]
Ivy League
select group of colleges: Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Pennsylvania, Princeton, Yale. [Am. Education: Payton, 343]
Lyceum a
gymnasium where Aristotle taught in ancient Athens. [Gk. Hist.: Hart, 502]
McGuffey Readers
sold 122,000,000 copies and exerted profound moral and cultural effect in mid 19th-century America. [Am. Hist.: Hart, 509]
closefitting cap with flat square piece and tassel; part of academic costume. [Am. and Br. Culture: Misc.]
one of two leading British universities (c. 1167); consists of 34 colleges. [Br. Education: Payton, 502]
Phi Beta Kappa
honorary scholarship society. [Am. Hist.: Hart, 651]
Seven Sisters
select group of colleges: Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke, Radcliffe, Smith, Vassar, Wellesley. [Am. Education: Payton, 615]
University of Paris; long esteemed as educational center. [Fr. Hist.: Brewer Dictionary, 1019]
a year’s absence from one’s schooling as period to reflect on learning. [Eur. Hist.: Plumb, 414]


1. the act or process of acquiring knowledge, esp systematically during childhood and adolescence
2. the knowledge or training acquired by this process
3. the act or process of imparting knowledge, esp at a school, college, or university
4. the theory of teaching and learning
5. a particular kind of instruction or training


Teaching concepts and perspectives. Computer education includes computer systems and information systems. Contrast with training.
References in classic literature ?
The children grew, worked, fought, ate what and slept where they could; loved one another and their parents pretty well, but with no tropical passion; and educated themselves for nine months of the year, each one in his own way.
At Hartfield, you have had very good specimens of well educated, well bred men.
I was brought up a dependant; educated in a charitable institution.
I can only tell you she has seen better days; she is an educated person; and she may like my society on that account.
And how do you get on, and where are you being educated, Brooks?
It is considered that you must be better educated, in accordance with your altered position, and that you will be alive to the importance and necessity of at once entering on that advantage.
This stern measure Cedric had adopted, in hopes that, during Wilfred's absence, Rowena might relinquish her preference, but in this hope he was disappointed; a disappointment which might be attributed in part to the mode in which his ward had been educated.
Those who did not know this naturally believed that he was proud of it, and were at a loss to account for his permitting his children to be educated as Christians.
Upon these, and the like reasonings, their opinion is, that parents are the last of all others to be trusted with the education of their own children; and therefore they have in every town public nurseries, where all parents, except cottagers and labourers, are obliged to send their infants of both sexes to be reared and educated, when they come to the age of twenty moons, at which time they are supposed to have some rudiments of docility.
Well then, since you were brought into the world and nurtured and educated by us, can you deny in the first place that you are our child and slave, as your fathers were before you?
I ask you, gentlemen, listen sometimes to the moans of an educated man of the nineteenth century suffering from toothache, on the second or third day of the attack, when he is beginning to moan, not as he moaned on the first day, that is, not simply because he has toothache, not just as any coarse peasant, but as a man affected by progress and European civilisation, a man who is "divorced from the soil and the national elements," as they express it now-a-days.
Still, as young Marmaduke was educated in a colony and society where even the ordinary intercourse between friends was tinctured with the aspect of this mild religion, his habits and language were some what marked by its peculiarities.