National Identity In Russia And Germany Through The Prism Of Pedagogy


In the context of the socio-political situation and the historical experience of Russia and Germany, the legislative requirements for the upbringing of national identity of the young generation in both countries, the implementation of these requirements in secondary education institutions, as well as aspects of the study of national identity in Russian and German pedagogical science are considered. It is revealed that both in Russia and in Germany, the state closely interacts with educational institutions on the upbringing of the young generation. Cultural values, historical experience, and also migration policy influence the educational policy of the state. The priorities of German and Russian pedagogy in the upbringing of national identity are determined. Russian pedagogy is actively involved in the formation of national civil identity among the younger generation. The main priority in the education of Russians is patriotism, which is based on the continuity of generations, historical memory and respect for the traditions of their homeland. German pedagogy, on the contrary, does not set itself the goal of forming a national identity among the younger generation. The main attention is paid to the formation of a pan-European civic identity based on democratic values, tolerance.

Keywords: National identityeducationRussian identityGerman identity


The current socio-political situation in the world poses many tasks for the state: how to position oneself in the international arena, what priorities to determine for domestic politics, what to choose as the foundation for national self-determination of its citizens and, finally, how to shape it. National identity, or in other words, self-identification of a person with a certain political and cultural community, that is, a national state and national culture (Malakhov, 2001), is a central problem in the context of globalization, mass migration and information warfare between countries. The most important role in the formation of the spiritual and cultural component of national identity is played by education, since it is it that in many respects sets value guidelines for the younger generation. The relationship of education and national identity is of interest to scientists around the world (Byung-Jin, 2003; Ljunggren, 2014; Lowe, 1999; Millei, 2018; Tormey, 2016).

Problem Statement

As in the case of Russian and German identities, we observe a difficult relationship between historical experience and problems of the present.

With its many resources of identity (multi-ethnicity, autocracy, Orthodoxy, the Soviet past, the Great Victory, liberal reforms), Russia has recently experienced a crisis of self-determination (Kortunov, 2009). Proud of the events of the past, Russians are ashamed of the present: poverty, disorder, people's disrespect for each other, and also lagging behind Western countries (National identity and pride, 2019).

The crisis of German identity after 1945 made it difficult for modern Germans to identify themselves with their country, its history (Lammert, 2011). Germany active immigration policy from the second half of the 20th century and Germany membership in the European Union led to the following: on the one hand, Germany became an open, multicultural state with a hybrid identity (German and European) and, on the other hand, a country with new nationalist sentiments and fears of returning to nationalistic past (Arnold & Bischoff, 2016; Appenzeller, 2016; Lammert, 2011; Umfrage…, 2019).

The problem lies in the choice of what to teach the young generation: to preserve and strengthen the historical understanding of their homeland, or to look for fundamentally different development paths and new prospects for national identity.

Research Questions

What legislative requirements for the upbringing of national identity among the younger generation exist in Russia and Germany?

How are these requirements implemented in secondary education?

What aspects and problems of national identity interest pedagogical researchers?

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to identify the priorities of German and Russian pedagogy in the upbringing of national identity. We are interested in what kind of national identity the education system forms in the young generation, how the state and educational institutions interact. It is necessary to identify what value system the Russian and German concept of national identity is based on and what are the possible reasons for this view of the problem of national identity.

Research Methods

The sampling method for the keywords "national identity" and "pedagogy" in the public domain on the Internet is used by us to search for scientific publications in the field of pedagogy devoted to the problem of national identity.

We use the method of description, analysis and comparison to work with Russian and German legislative texts, school curricula and events.

We use the interpretation method to explain the possible reasons for the facts clarified, based on knowledge of the socio-political situation in both countries.


Undoubtedly, each state seeks to educate a citizen in accordance with the norms adopted in it, enshrined in law. The requirements for the formation of national identity among the younger generation are formulated in the laws on education.

The Russian Federal State Educational Standards of basic general and secondary general education indicate that the educational process should result in the upbringing of Russian civic identity, patriotism, a sense of responsibility towards the Motherland, pride in it, readiness to defend it, knowledge of history, language, culture (FGOS, 2010, 2012) . It is emphasized that education should be based on the basic national values of Russian society, which include “patriotism, social solidarity, citizenship, family, health, work and creativity, science, traditional religions of Russia, art, nature, humanity” (FGOS, 2010, p. 27). The importance of universal humanistic and democratic values, as well as the ethnic specificity of the region, is taken into account.

In Germany, education is in the area of responsibility of individual regions, so each federal state has its own law on education. Taking into account the similarity of the basic principles of education throughout the country, we will consider only one law in force in Berlin, the capital of Germany. The main objective of school education is considered to be “education of a person who is capable of resolutely opposing the ideology of national socialism and other political teachings striving for tyranny, as well as organizing state and public life on the basis of democracy, peace, freedom, human dignity, gender equality and in accordance with nature and the environment ”(translation by the author of the article is given) (Schulgesetz…, 2014, para. 1).

Unlike Russian law in German, the words “pride”, “patriotism” and “Homeland” are missing and the value of peace and freedom is more clearly indicated. First of all, this is explained by the historical experience of Germany and the inability to speak freely without a negative context about patriotism and national feelings. By proclaiming the rejection of Nazism, the German education system sees as its primary goal to educate citizens who will not allow its repetition. Russian law takes into account the value of democracy, but puts patriotism in the first place, and also emphasizes the value of the family. It is thus aimed at strengthening the continuity of generations and fostering a more personal attitude to the motherland than German law.

The requirements of laws on education are implemented in practice both within the framework of academic subjects (for example, history and social studies) and in extracurricular activities. Russian teachers organize classes, class hours, projects and other events aimed at creating a national civic identity. We noted the following main topics that are addressed in this work:

upbringing of patriotism and a sense of unity with the Motherland, preservation of historical memory, the formation of ideals of selfless service to the Motherland: “Heroes of the Fatherland”, events on the theme of the Great Patriotic War (“The Great Patriotic War and the 21st Century”, etc.), as well as recent history (for example , on the theme of the reunification of Russia and the Crimea "We are Together");

upbringing of a citizen who knows how to use his rights and obligations: polls “What does it mean to be a citizen?”, “Do you know your rights and obligations?”, business game “Election of the President of the Russian Federation”, essay competition “If I were a deputy”, quiz “Experts in the Constitution of the Russian Federation”;

  • upbringing of family values: a lesson on the topic “Family”, the project “Family Tree”;

  • upbringing of a healthy lifestyle: the project “Live healthy!”;

  • upbringing of tolerance, rejection of extremism and terrorism: cool watches “Extremism in the teenage milieu”, “The Beslan tragedy” (Akhmedkhanova, 2015; Konoreva, 2018; Sevumyan, 2018; Slivnyuk, 2018).

It is worth noting that the education of patriotism is the most popular direction in the formation of Russian national identity. It is necessary to add that in Russia for schoolchildren there is the movement “Yunarmiya”, which carries out work on military-patriotic education (Yunarmia…, n.d.).

National identity in Germany is usually discussed only in connection with the problems of nationalism and the difficult historical context (The relationship between the Germans…, n.d.). The work of German teachers is primarily aimed at the formation of democratic values among students. Various projects and seminars are being organized to support the activities of educators in promoting tolerance. Schoolchildren are working to counter right-wing extremism and discrimination (Rechtsextremismus…, n.d.; Umgang mit Rechtsextremismus…, n.d.). In addition, a number of school programs seek to improve understanding between European countries and contribute to the formation of a common European identity (Europaklasse…, n.d.; Europamacht…, n.d.).

The concept of national identity is similar to the concept of civil, but the latter focuses on the exercise of civil rights and the fulfillment of civil duties. Civil identity does not necessarily imply loyalty to the political regime of the state, but an active position of a citizen in relation to the existing political system (Fedan, 2013). The important role of understanding the culture and history of his country and state in the formation of national identity is emphasized (Kazanova, 2012). Here, however, the opinions of scientists may differ. Some scholars call for the formation of the national identity of youth, based on the traditional values of the Orthodox family and Orthodoxy as the cultural and historical foundation of Russia (Zagrekova & Kilyanova, 2015), while others suggest accepting the equal rights of different cultures and religions traditional for Russia, considering the concept of “Russian identity” exclusively in the civil law and not ethnocultural plane (Susakova, 2015).

As for pedagogical research, Russian scientists are usually interested in issues of national-civic identity (Asmolov, 2012; Ioffe, 2015; Lutoshkina & Smolentseva, 2015).

In Germany, issues of identity are actively dealt with by the so-called intercultural pedagogy, which raises issues of cultural conflict, integration, the image of the other, tolerance (Holzbrecher, 2004; Seminar…, n.d .; Yildiz, 2009). In this regard, German educators are interested in the problem of combating right-wing extremism in schools and creating a tolerant climate in the classrooms (Kalb, 2010). In addition, European identity and the possibilities of its formation in the school are being actively studied (Eberstadt & Kuznetsov, 2008). The problem of national identity as such in German pedagogy, as a rule, is not discussed.


Thus, we see that pedagogy in Russia is actively involved in the formation of national-civic identity among the young generation. This is manifested at all levels: legislative, in pedagogical practice, as well as in pedagogical research. The main priority in the education of Russians is patriotism, which is manifested to a greater extent in preserving historical memory, military-patriotic education and to a lesser extent in the formation of citizenship of young people. The main value is the continuity of generations, respect for the traditions of their homeland.

German pedagogy, on the contrary, does not set itself the goal of forming a national identity among the younger generation. The main attention is paid to the formation of a common European identity based on democratic values, tolerance.

Both in Russia and in Germany, the state works closely with educational institutions on the education of the young generation, supporting projects that form values that are important for the country. Different priorities in the upbringing of the young generation in Russia and Germany are due to different cultural and historical contexts. Cultural values, historical experience, and migration policy influence the educational policy of the state.


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26 August 2020

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Educational strategies, educational policy, teacher training, moral purpose of education, social purpose of education

Cite this article as:

Astashkina, P. G. (2020). National Identity In Russia And Germany Through The Prism Of Pedagogy. In S. Alexander Glebovich (Ed.), Pedagogical Education - History, Present Time, Perspectives, vol 87. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 119-125). European Publisher.