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THE Russian Government has put forth a Project of a Statute for the General Educational Scholastic Establishments of the Ministry of Public Instruction, accompanied by a Project of a General Statute for the Imperial Russian Universities, and a Project of a General Plan for the Organization of National Schools. Transla tions have been printed in this country, for circulation among such Englishmen as are likely to give the Imperial Government useful advice on the subject. We have been favoured with copies, accom panied by a letter from Mr. C. Warrand, Councillor of State, in which he is pleased to say, that any remarks or criticisms of ours will be most welcome, and of the greatest utility to the cause of education in Russia. Thus invited, we have felt bound to give the subject our best attention, and propose as briefly as possible to state the results of our consideration.
We observe that the gentleman who is to us the organ of the Imperial Government in this matter, announces the documents submitted as "Projects for Educational Reforms." The implication is, that the Czar is sincerely anxious to put the school system of his empire upon the best footing. Though it may be well supposed that our sympathies go with principles of government different from those which prevail in St. Petersburg, we shall endeavour to look at the question before us without prejudice on that account. The Emperors of Russia desire to be regarded as the fathers of their people; and we are simply called upon to offer an opinion as to the way in which, with respect to the education of his children, the present Emperor proposes to fulfil his fatherly office.
From the apparent connection between the late agitations and incendiarisins in the capital and elsewhere, and the state of the colleges and schools, it might have been inferred, that these projects are designed to correct evils thus made apparent; and certainly, if the Imperial Government has become persuaded that the true method of reconciling expressions of public opinion with the safety of the State, consists in giving to all the subjects a sound yet liberal education, imbued with moral and religious principles, that Government has itself learned the most important lesson that can be taught to the rulers of nations.
But we are not left to conjecture as to the origin of these pro jected measures. The middle and lower educational establishments under Governmental jurisdiction were settled by Imperial Statute on the 8th of December, 1828. It was found, however, that they had ceased to satisfy the requirements of the times. In 1856, therefore,
measures were taken to investigate the subject, with a view to improvement. The preliminary inquiry was concluded in 1860; and the recommendations founded upon it were communicated to the Curators of the Educational Circles for discussion in the Councils of the higher schools, assisted by experienced Provincial Inspectors and Teachers in district schools. The drafted Project was also printed in the Journal of the Education Department, to afford all persons taking a lively interest in the subject an opportunity of expressing their views. By this means an extensive collection of official and unofficial suggestions, in print and in manuscript, came into the hands of the Committee by whom the Project had been drawn up; and the General Statute now before us is the final result.
Much of it is new; so much, that we think it not worth while to indicate particulars, especially as nearly all is new to most of our readers. We may, however, name as fresh what refers to training institutes, female schools, and private domestic instruction; the consolidation of national schools under the Ministry of Public Instruction; the giving of more power to the local authorities, and the clearer distinction between educational institutions of different grade and character. This last provision was rendered particularly necessary by the wants of small towns and inferior places, where "district schools" only had existed, and sometimes not even these. Those schools offered but a very incomplete education; and yet, should a boy have passed through all their three classes, and then be desirous of proceeding further, he could not be admitted into a gymnasium without entering its lowest class, and sitting at fourteen among boys of ten; nor, further, without feeling that much of his previous course was of little use to him. "Those who did not succeed in getting into a gymnasium, would still not enter a district school, and generally remained without any education at all; and thus the agricultural and trading classes have not been augmented by any educated persons who might have given an impulse to the productive forces of the country; persons of these classes who received any education almost invariably entering the Government service, and thus uselessly augmenting the number of functionaries." The district schools, having therefore little to recommend them, except as a testimonial from them was an introduction to the service of the State in inferior offices, are to be closed, and to be supplanted in larger towns, where there is a demand for superior education, by progymnasiums; and, in the smaller towns and larger villages, by national schools, an improved form of what, under the superseded statute, were denominated "parochial schools."
In a word, the public schools of the Empire had become to so
alarming an extent the means of embarrassing the Imperial Govern. ment with superfluous candidates for the public service, that the true ends of education had come to be lost sight of; and, instead of "solid moral and individual development" being considered as the business of the instructor, he sought, not to train his pupils "into men with moral convictions," but to pervert them "into lifeless storehouses." The problem which the Government has undertaken to solve, then, is, the practicability of a State education which shall nourish the true life of a nation. "At present," say the Committee who prepared the new Statute, "when the institution of serfdom is abolished, and when the rights of citizens and of human beings are given to all persons without any exception, such a direction of edu cation, of course, cannot be continued. Now is seen more than ever the absolute necessity of preparing people for every career, and for every station in life. In order to enjoy reasonably the rights of men, it is indispensable to develop in the masses the sentiment of their rights, to excite the love for well-directed labour, and to plant in every individual respect for himself and for others. Only under such conditions will it be possible for the complete separation which reigns amongst us between the different classes to be annihilated, and for a reasonable distribution of occupation among all the active members of the community to make its appearance."
Before offering any remark, we will endeavour to describe the intended regulations. The projected General Statute is divided into ten chapters, in which, after a statement of governing regulations, national schools, training institutes for teachers, progymnasiums or lower upper schools, gymnasiums or high schools, boards connected with the gymnasium and progymnasium, female schools, private educational establishments and private teaching, provincial school councils, and the rights and privileges of scholastic establishments and of all classes of educational functionaries, are successively set forth.
The Statute begins with the important acknowledgment, that "public instruction forms the principal support of the Empire, and the source of its well-being." The schools are to be formed on the principle of a complete course of instruction, beginning in the national school, and rising by degrees in the progymnasium, the gymnasium, &c. Private educational establishments have a permissive existence. The association of the sexes for instruction is allowable in two classes of schools only-the national, and dayschools for teaching reading and writing. The national school teachers are to be prepared in training schools. The school authorities are to be empowered, by certificate, to confer upon fit candidates
EDUCATION IN RUSSIA.
For these pur
of either sex the designation of private tutor, &c. poses the Empire is divided into a certain number of districts or circles, presided over by a Curator for each, in subordination to the Minister of Public Instruction. Under the Curator are placed the Directors or Inspectors of each class of schools. The Director of the National Schools superintends also the training schools, the private schools, and the private teachers, in his province. In each province there is a School Council, to maintain connexion and unity, and develop sound pedagogic ideas. Ecclesiastic and military seminaries, and all others entrusted to special boards, are exempted from this system of administration.
In describing the national schools, the object in view is stated to be the moral and intellectual education of the nation to such a degree, that every one should be able to understand his rights, and to fulfil his duties reasonably, as every man ought to do." Beginning with object-lessons, the designed course of primary instruction embraces religion, the vernacular, reading, writing, arithmetic, and singing. The limited space at our disposal will not admit of much detail; and the explanation of what is intended under the head "religion," may suffice as a specimen of the fuller explanations given.
"The instruction in religion," runs the Project, "is intended to develop in the children the sentiment of piety, to root firmly in their hearts love of God and love of their neighbour, and to elevate their minds to every thing that is good and noble. With this intention, explanations will be given of the principal prayers and the Shorter Catechism, and a short Bible history is explained. To this course will be added the reading of the Gospel and the Epistles in the Russian language, the explanation of the Liturgy, and the sig nification of the most important festivals. During the reading of the Gospel, the attention of the pupils will be principally directed to the most important features of the earthly career of the Saviour." A degree of proficiency in the vernacular "must absolutely be attained," including pure pronunciation,,, free from local and provincial peculiarities," with "correct oral and written expression;" and "pupils belonging to the orthodox persuasion are bound also to undergo instruction in the reading of books printed in the Sclavonic character." The books, and the use of them, are to be so arranged as to instruct the children in natural objects and phenomena, the history and geography of their country, the local situation of their native region, and its productions and phenomena, and mode of life, and as to "clear their minds of prejudice and superstition." Stress is laid upon singing, as "a means of exciting
feelings of religion and piety," and of providing "good singers for the services of the church;" but, "to accustom them to an intellectual and elegant mode of passing their leisure time," the children may be taught such secular songs as, in subject and sentiment, shall harmonise with the aims of the school. If private individuals or societies desire a complemental course in accordance with local wants, it may be introduced, on the proposers paying the
The school term is to extend from the close of field labours till their resumption, the mean duration not to be less than six months. In towns and trading villages, schooling will go on the whole year round, except a summer vacation of from six to eight weeks. The schools will be closed on Sundays and holy days. They will daily open and close with prayer. The school hours will be oneand-twenty weekly, three of which must be given to religion. Children of all classes and denominations are admissible on being seven years old, and though utterly ignorant. It is at the discretion of the Minister of Public Instruction, whether, in any national school, the instruction shall be gratuitous or not. Girls may not
be associated with boys, after the former have attained the age of thirteen years. To scholars who, on examination, shall be found to have satisfactorily completed the course of instruction, are to be given testimonials, signed by the Curator, the Teacher of Religion, and the Master or Mistress. Persons destitute of this credential, and who cannot produce from the nearest school a duly attested certificate that they know the principal prayers, and can read and write, are "ineligible for any honorary public functions." When such persons join a guild of trade, take out a certificate to trade, or apply for a passport, they will have to pay double the amount imposed by law. To this fine will be liable all persons, of both sexes, in the predicament described, who, on the day of the publication of the regulations, shall have attained the age of sixteen. The proceeds of the fine will be devoted to local educational purposes.
In each school there will be teachers of religion and of secular learning, as many of each as the classes into which the school is divided. One of the two will teach singing; but, if neither can, a Musical Instructor will be specially appointed. In female schools, and in mixed schools, all the teachers may be females, except those who teach religion. This is the duty of the local clergy. But, if from any reason these cannot attend, the school teacher will be required to instruct the children in the most important prayers, with the explanation in the Shorter Catechism, and to go through the Bible History according to a book approved by the Holy Synod.