Russian education system in transition towards democracy : future teachers' perspective

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Title: Russian education system in transition towards democracy : future teachers' perspective
Author: Piattoeva, Nelli
Date: 2009-10-27
Language: en
Abstract: This thesis is a qualitative crossdisciplinary study of Russian education since the break-up of the USSR. Its purpose is to examine the role of education and teachers in the process of transformation towards democracy and civil society in Russia. The country, as well as its people and all governmentaI and societaI institutions have been deeply influenced by changes of the past decade. Education as well is going through transformation as both an institution that is being transformed and an institution that should foster changes in the rest of society. The methodological approach applied in the research is a combination of moderate hermeneutics and critical hermeneutics. Hermeneutics has been chosen since my research task is to study the meaning of education and teachers' role in the process of transformation in Russia, as well as to make interpretations of questionnaires, other texts and social processes in the context of continuous economical, political and social changes in the country. The theoretical framework is built from the areas of many disciplines including education, politics, history and sociology. The main concepts of the study are transition, transformation, democracy, state and civil society. As the main interest has been to discuss teachers' role as reformers the educational perspective is based on critical and transformative pedagogy, Leo Vygotsky's writings on children's social experiences and learning, as well as contemporary Russian educators' views on the relationship between education, society and freedom. The research aims at exploring three research questions. The first one is concerned with the challenges brought by political, social and economic changes to teachers' work. It is obvious that teachers' work in the new Russia is very much different from what it used to be like in the Soviet times. The change in the value hierarchy as well as the economical and political instability cause conflicts within school, as well as in the relationship between teachers, school and society. In addition, the educational paradigm is now different, and teachers are expected to pay more attention to each child's individuality, as well as to participate widely in various educational activities. This constitutes a great challenge for contemporary teachers, who have not been given enough support and training to teach in such a new environment. The second research question discusses the role of education and particularly of teachers in the transition process towards democratic civil society in Russia. The discussion of this question is based on both western and Russian literary sources, as well as discoveries of my field work and discussions with a Russian teacher educator. As a result, it becomes clear that in the situation of transformation, decentralisation and institutional inconsistency, it is increasingly important to examine teachers' work in order to gain a real picture of educational transformation. More so, teachers can become the true facilitators of change by fostering democratic values, attitudes and behaviour in their students. Finally, the answer on the third research question is based on the theoretical framework and the empirical data of the study and its aim is to show how student teachers view their role in the middle of change in school, in education system and in Russian society. The data was collected through questionnaire from the students of the Petrozavodsk Pedagogical University in Autumn 2001. The empirical data reveals that young student teachers are not motivated to work in schools. The important conclusion of the analysis of the empirical data is that student teachers show a clear understanding of the importance of teachers for the development of Russia. In addition, they want to pass values which are significant for democratic citizens, but feel they have no possibilities for it. They are dissatisfied with the current situation and the relationship between teachers and government, and feel that the low social status of Russian teachers limits their influence on Russia's future development.
Description: Pro gradu : Oulun yliopisto, kasvatustieteiden ja opettajankoulutuksen yksikkö, kasvatustieteet, 2003.
Subject: kriittinen pedagogiikka
Subject (ysa): Venäjä

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