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in the USSR, a staff member of a general-education school who implements communist education and upbringing of the younger generation.
In prerevolutionary Russia, as in any society permeated with class antagonism, the activities and the social and legal position of teachers were determined by the interests of the dominant exploiting classes. The public school teachers (narodnye uchitelia), who instructed the children of peasants and urban working people at the primary school level, were accorded the lowest social status.
These teachers, however, were close to the toiling people and commanded their respect. The public school teachers shared the powerless and oppressed situation of the toiling people and were therefore receptive to ideas of revolution and liberation. As a result, government bodies carefully monitored the teachers’ political loyalty.
Teachers in Gymnasiums and other secondary educational institutions occupied a more privileged position; the government sought to transform them into loyal functionaries. Nevertheless, by the mid-19th century many teachers had come to support the progressive pedagogical ideas of V. G. Belinskii, N. A. Dobroliubov, K. D. Ushinskii and other exponents of Russian democratic pedagogy, which was incompatible with the official pedagogy of the Ministry of Public Education. This branch of the government was, in the words of V. I. Lenin, “a ministry of police espionage, a ministry that derides youth” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 23, p. 135). Dissatisfaction with the ministry’s unchanging and unimaginative approach to the educational process mounted among teachers who were progressively inclined. As the liberation movement grew stronger, the progressive point of view gained adherents and exerted an increasingly beneficial influence on the orientation of the curriculum and on the relationship between teachers and pupils.
After the October Revolution of 1917, support for the policies of Soviet power was overwhelming among those who had taught school in prerevolutionary Russia. The educational functionaries proved an insignificant minority. Teachers were attracted by the broad scope and democratic character of the reform planned for the entire educational system and by the potential the reform offered for creative pedagogy. Consequently, Lenin in 1918 called upon the “new pedagogics ... to link up teaching activities with the socialist organization of society” (ibid., vol. 36, p. 420). Through their participation in the restructuring of public education and in the implementation of the cultural revolution, teachers came to an understanding of the tasks involved in building the new society.
The realization of Lenin’s desire to convert teachers into the main army of socialist education proved to be one of the most important outgrowths of the cultural revolution. As the first step in the conversion, prerevolutionary teachers were reeducated ideologically, politically, and pedagogically, and a system for training new teachers was established. Under the Soviet system, an entirely new type of teacher came into being; his work took on great social significance. His work is “the more valuable and wonderful in that ... it shapes nothing less than a human being. ... A teacher ... bridges the ages; it is a link in the chain of the generations. He passes the baton, as it were, from the present to the future” (L. I. Brezhnev, Leninskim kursom: Rechi i stat’i, vol. 2, 1973, p. 228).
Teachers play a decisive role in upbringing and education and in the improvement of the educational process. “Without the immediate personal influence of the educator on the pupil, true upbringing, which deeply affects character, is impossible” (K. D. Ushinskii, Sobr. soch., vol. 2, 1948, p. 64). The personal qualities of the teacher are crucial to the development of the pupils’ moral beliefs and world outlook, their love of knowledge, and their ability to work creatively in a socialist society undergoing a scientific and technological revolution. Success in preparing the younger generation for life depends on the personality of the teacher, the progressiveness of his social convictions, and the level of his education and pedagogical skills.
The position of teacher requires the person holding it to continuously exert a positive influence on children, adolescents, and youths. The teacher must pay close attention to the characteristics typical of each age group and must display a keen understanding of the needs, interests, enthusiasms, and spiritual worlds of those in his charge. At the same time, he must know how to direct the process of personality development in a beneficial way. In addition to dealing with the pupils as individuals, the teacher has the responsibility of guiding the activities of his pupils as a group (seeCLASS MASTER).
Among the personal qualities essential in a teacher are a love for children, an interest in working with them, and warmth and sincerity in dealing with them; equally important qualities are patience a sympathetic nature, and kindness tempered with a willingness to impose high standards. The foundations of a teacher’s authority are a firm belief in communism, a broad range of cultural and scholarly interests, exemplary conduct, and mastery of pedagogical techniques.
The system of teacher preparation is tailored to the specific nature of the teacher’s work and his role in society. Teachers are trained at pedagogical schools and institutes and at universities in such departments as history and philology. The future teachers learn the subjects whose fundamentals they are to teach; they also study related subjects. In their course of study, special attention is accorded to the pedagogical disciplines and to practice teaching. Some teachers are trained through the systems of evening and correspondence education.
As they carry out their work, teachers continue to increase their knowledge, develop their pedagogical skills, and improve their characteristics as human beings. One way their skills are upgraded is through the sharing of progressive educational experience at institutes for advanced teacher training, pedagogical institutes, municipal and raion teaching methodology centers, pedagogical societies, and the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences of the USSR. Pedagogical lectures are held on a regular basis to help teachers improve.
Many publications are issued specifically for teachers, including Uchitel’skaia gazeta (Teachers’ Gazette), various Union republic newspapers, pedagogical journals, and other kinds of pedagogical and methodological literature. The work of teachers has become an object of scholarly research.
At the beginning of the 1976–77 school year, 2.7 million teachers were at work in the USSR, in contrast to only 280,000 at the beginning of the 1914–15 school year. This great army of communist enlightenment is directing all its efforts toward further improving instruction and solving the problems of universal secondary education in accordance with the demands of social, scientific, and technological progress. Teachers play an important role in the dissemination of political, scientific and pedagogical knowledge among the people.
Many teachers serve as deputies to various bodies of Soviet power. As of the beginning of the 1976–77 school year, 83 teachers were Heroes of Socialist Labor, 35,000 were Honored School-teachers, and 280,000 were bearers of various orders and medals. The Ministry of Education of the USSR and the ministries of education of the Union republics recognize the best teachers with special medals. The most important of these medals include the N. K. Krupskaia (Ministry of Education of the USSR), K. D. Ushinskii (RSFSR), A. S. Makarenko (Ukrainian SSR), Kh. Abovian (Armenian SSR), and Ia. S. Gogebashvili (Georgian SSR). In connection with a teacher evaluation program instituted in 1975, the titles of senior teacher and teacher-methodologist are awarded to the most experienced teachers. Throughout the Soviet Union the first Sunday in October is celebrated as Teachers’ Day. Teachers belong to the Trade Union of Workers in Education, Higher Schools, and Scientific Establishments of the USSR.
The Soviet government is constantly working to improve teachers’ living conditions. The state provides teachers with pension benefits, frequent wage increases, and an annual paid leave of 48 work days. In rural areas, teachers receive a free apartment with heat, light, and a plot of land.
The experience acquired in the USSR in instructing children and in training and improving teachers has been applied in other socialist countries, with changes dictated by local conditions. Soviet experience has also been put to use in many developing countries.
REFERENCESLenin, V. I. O vospitanii i obrazovanii, 3rd ed. Moscow, 1973.
Vsesoiuznyis’ezd uchitelei, 2–4 iiulia 1968: Stenografich. otchet. Moscow, 1969.
Nar. obrazovanie v SSSR: Obshcheobrazovat. shkola: Sb. dokumentov, 1917–1973. [Compiled by A. A. Abakumov et al.] Moscow, 1974.
Spravochnik rabotnika nar. obrazovaniia: Sb. zakonodatel’nykh, rukovodiashchikh i instruktivnykh materialov. Moscow, 1973.
Kalinin, M. I. O vospitanii i obuchenii: Izbr. stat’i i rechi. Moscow, 1957.
Krupskaia, N. K. Ob uchitele, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1960.
Makarenko, A. S. Soch. [2nd ed.], vol. 5. Moscow, 1958.
Nar. obrazovanie v SSSR. Edited by M. A. Prokof’ev et al. Moscow, 1967.
Sovetskii uchitel’: Ocherki ob uchiteliakh—Geroiakh Sotsialisticheskogo Truda. Moscow, 1975.
Gonobolin, F. N. Kniga ob uchitele. Moscow, 1965.
Kuz’mina, N. V. Ocherki psikhologii truda uchitelia. Leningrad, 1967.
Kuz’mina, N. V. Formirovanie ped. sposobnostei. Leningrad, 1961.
Rachenko, I. P. Nauchnaia organizatsiiaped. truda. Moscow, 1972.
Panachin, F. G. Ped. obrazovanie v SSSR: Vazhneishie etapy istorii i sovr. sostoianie. Moscow, 1975.
P. V. ZIMIN
What does it mean when you dream about a teacher?
Because we spend so much time in school, teachers in dreams can represent many different aspects of the human experience. In general, teachers represent authority. Perhaps the situation we find ourselves in at the moment is a “learning experience.”