Development Of A Rural Teacher Training System In Russia


The article presents the results of a historical-pedagogical analysis of the theory and practice of professional activity and the training of teachers for a Russian rural school. One of the main features of a rural school is the leading “key” role of a rural teacher. The specifics of rural school and the pedagogical activity of a rural teacher reflect the trends in the development of society and education typical for the corresponding historical period - the innovative trends of its time. Currently, these trends include the ideas of lifelong education and pedagogical education. The periodization of the professional development of the rural teacher is built on the education representation and analysis of the way the need for purposeful, i.e. special, training was presented in the writings of Russian philosophers; the activities of a rural school and a rural teacher; professional training of teachers, in particular, rural teachers. Three elements of the structure of education are main indicators: the system of general educational institutions in rural areas, the system of professional pedagogical education that trains pedagogical staff for them, and the system of advanced training for rural teachers. Three main periods are distinguished: initial - until the end of the XVIII century, pre-system - from the end of the XVIII century until the middle of the XIX century, the system period - from the middle of the XIX century to the present.

Keywords: History of pedagogy and educationteacher educationrural schoolrural teacher


It is well-known that replacing the old with something new without taking into account the previous experience can lead to the temptation of ignoring achievements and, as a result, lead to a repetition of errors and miscalculations (Boguslavskii & Lelchitskii, 2016). Comparative historical and pedagogical research is very instructive, because thanks to it one can get useful lessons, avoid repetition of mistakes, predict the future and determine the optimal constructive paths of development.

The history of education in Russia is replete with the ideas of philosophers and progressive reformers, including those about the formation and development of a public school, which, first of all, means a rural school, and the cultivation of a public (rural) teacher. XIX century in this regard should be considered the most fruitful period.

Russian pedagogical science and educational practice have significant theoretical, including historical and pedagogical, research and rich experience in vocational guidance, training, and support of professional formation, advanced training and self-education of rural teachers. However, at present, a need has arisen for rethinking the pedagogical heritage in contexts relevant to modern trends, in particular, continuing education as an educational trend of the XXI century.

Problem Statement

The objectives of the study can be divided into three groups:

Justification of the need for targeted training of teachers for professional activities in a rural school and in rural society

According to statistics, rural educational organizations in the regions of a present-day Russia comprise from 50% to 80% of educational institutions in rural (non-urban) territories, and rural teachers comprise more than half of the total number of teaching staff. The scale and mass nature of the phenomena seem to be indisputable arguments for paying special attention to them. An equally important foundation, according to some experts, is the growing gap between the conditions and quality of education in urban and rural schools.

Determining the place of training and professional formation of rural teachers in the system of teacher education

At present, the professional training of teachers in the system of higher, secondary, and additional professional education in Russia, regulated by the provisions of the Federal Educational Standards and professional standards in the field of “Education”, declares but does not provide for the mandatory reflection of regional specifics and local characteristics of pedagogical activity in rural areas. The priority of standards orientation towards unification and uniformity is pushing for the rejection of the achievements of Russian scientists and the experience of cultivating a special kind of teacher - a rural school teacher.

The acuteness of this issue is indicated by the shortage of teaching staff in a modern rural school (Kryst, Kotok, & Bodovski, 2015) and systematic complaints regarding the readiness of graduates of pedagogical educational institutions, and the rural teachers themselves, for professional work that meets modern requirements in rural areas.

Establishment of criteria for periodization of the professional development of a rural teacher in the context of the continuity of rural teachers’ education

The demand for lifelong education - “education through life” -is taken for granted, particularly in regards to the profession of a teacher. There are questions about the peculiarities of goal-setting, content and means, organization and self-organization of continuing education of a rural teacher, which are, on the one hand, predetermined historically; on the other hand, they are modified by modern requirements and conditions.

Research Questions

The study of scientific and pedagogical works and pedagogical experience is built in the logic of finding answers to the following questions:

  • What indicators of professional activity of a rural teacher substantiate the specifics of a teacher’s activity and the need for targeted training of a rural teacher?

  • What place did the training of rural teachers occupy in the national system of teacher education and what place does it take nowadays?

  • What criteria can be taken as a basis for defining the periods of the formation and training of a rural teacher?

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the study is to define the periods of vocational training and the formation of a rural teacher in the context of the continuity of teacher education.

Research Methods

The methodological basis of the research is the philosophical and pedagogical ideas about a concrete historical approach to the phenomena under study, about the unity of the historical and logical in the assessment of phenomena, about the active role of a person in cognizing and transforming social reality, as well as the provisions on the cultural and historical conditionality and social determinism of education. These ideas and provisions present and concretize:

Historical and pedagogical approach / method and comparative method (comparative analysis method) , the essence of which is to appeal to the theory and experience of the past in their comparison and coordination with contemporary scientific research and practice of national education in the problems of rural schools and the training of rural teachers. The authors follow the anthropological and humanistic interpretation of the analyzed socio-pedagogical phenomena according Kapterev (1905).

A systematic approach , from the position of which the phenomena under analysis are considered as subsystems that retain generic characteristics in their properties of origin, ensuring the integrity of a single system: the professional activity of a rural teacher as a subsystem of a rural school, a rural educational organization as a subsystem of an education system in rural areas, a rural education system as a subsystem of Russian education; professional development of a rural teacher as a subsystem of teacher education, represented by the pre-professional, professional and post-professional stages of training.

A socio-cultural approach that explains and explicates the conditioning of social, including pedagogical, by social and cultural conditions in which they are manifested, exist and are transformed.

Tsirulnikov (2009) defines socio-cultural modernization as “a high-quality civilizational transformation of the education system on a national basis” which is carried out “in the environment of an equal dialogue between national and international experience, between the center and regions, between traditions and innovations” (p. 42).

The environmental approach , as a special case in regards to the socio-cultural approach, clarifies the conditions and circumstances in environmental categories – socio-cultural and educational, external and internal. Broadly, the influence of the environment means that the phenomenon is predetermined with the socio-economic and socio-cultural characteristics of the historical era, in the narrow meaning – with the circumstances of the immediate environment (internal, local, territorial).

Documentary and biographical methods are considered as a reference of the analyzed materials regarding the subject and research questions and as ways of working with information gathered from scientific works, practical biographical data of scientific and practical activities of famous representatives of Russian pedagogical science and educational practice. This information is still of scientific value and at the same time is a compelling documentary sketch of its time.


Until the middle of the XIX century, Russia did not raise the question of educating the broad masses of the people, of the most massive and most disenfranchised stratum of society - the peasantry (Cherkasov, 2011). The private and infrequent cases of peasant children and adults getting an education until that period of time were the results of the peasants’ own initiative, and the training was carried out spontaneously by random people - “literacy masters” -who could be either junior clerks of order houses and chancery, or the lower clergy, or retired soldiers, or political exiles. Such education was limited with the ideas of the peasants about its adequacy and the level of education of non-professional teachers.

Compared with the leading countries of Europe and America in terms of public education, Russia is centuries late (Ellis, Golz, & Mayrhofer, 2014), and the creation of the state education system began “from above” - from institutions of higher and basic education aimed exclusively at the ruling social classes education, i.e. the system was formed without any foundation in the form of a mass public school (Rumyantseva, Matveenko, Tretiyakova, & Yurova, 2018).

The XIX century was recognized as a turning point for public education, for a rural school and rural teaching. According to the contemporaries of this period, the Soviet times and present-day researchers, the following events of the XIX century served as the basis for radical changes in the state, in society and in education as an important social institution:

  • the manifesto of Alexander I “On the Establishment of Ministries” (dated September 8 (20), 1802) that established the Ministry of Education as a department and secured the state responsibility in regards to provision and management of education;

the abolition of serfdom in Russia by the manifesto of Alexander II “On the all-merciful granting to serfs of the rights of being free rural inhabitants” (March 3 (February 19), 1861). According to Ushinsky (1861), it made “many improvements in our public life possible that were previously impossible” (p. 250).

“Zemsky reform” of Alexander I, i.e. the creation of a system of local self-government in rural areas which began with the publication of the Regulation on provincial and district zemstvo institutions (January 1, 1864). Zemstvos were charged with the establishment of public schools (rural schools) for the peasantry, the provision of their activities, including teaching staff;

  • a socio-pedagogical movement that spread all over the country, where ideological leadership belonged to leading Russian philosophers and teachers of the XIX century, within which theoretical foundations were formed and the work of public education, enlightenment, and pedagogical education was promoted;

  • turning of national scientific and pedagogical thought into Russian pedagogical science - development of methodology, theory of education and upbringing, teaching methods in primary (elementary) and basic (gymnasium) schools, pre-school education, etc.

In the history of Russia it was the time of spiritual progress, the great liberation reforms and liberal-democratic transformations that radically changed the position of all layers of Russian society.

Bunakov (1906) wrote about the advanced representatives of the ruling classes that “an understanding has appeared in them that is still vague and far from universal, that public education is an urgent need of the state, which determines the strength and well-being of the state, and that caring for it is the duty of each thinking and honest citizen” (p. 225).

Characterizing the peasantry of that period, Ushinsky (1861) noted that “now this class is on the path of improvement and transformation”. He predetermined the significance of this social transformation: “only when our rural population moves forward will we have the right to say that all of Russia has moved along the path of civilization” (p. 250).

As a result, against the background of general changes in Russian society and the countryside, changes in the education of the village and in the peasants themselves, the idea arises of the need for targeted training of a teacher, i.e. a rural teacher first of all. The idea was born in the minds of the socio-pedagogical movement of Russia in the XIX century, where it was formulated and popularized.

In the pedagogical constellation of Russia of that era, a special place is occupied by the name of Konstantin Dmitrievich Ushinsky, who was called by his contemporaries and followers “a people’s teacher”, “teacher of teachers” and “the father of Russian pedagogy”.

The theory and practice of training teachers for a public (rural) school has been enriched with the works of many educators of that time. In our opinion, the contribution of these public figures is of particular importance because it was made by practical scientists who were directly involved in pedagogical work as founders of (rural) schools, as rural teachers and teachers of professional pedagogical institutions, teacher congresses and continuing education courses. The value of their pedagogical heritage is determined not only by theoretical, research and methodological works, but also by textbooks and manuals, as well as by their books written for children. Their activity exemplifies the integration of pedagogical theory and educational practice, in which there is a fundamental requirement for scientific research in education.

The features of the rural school are presented and systematized in the works of educators, its description is given in contrast to other class educational institutions of that time (gymnasiums, city public schools, literacy schools, Sunday schools, etc.), which at the beginning of the XX century numbered up to 100 types and models.

The leading role of a teacher in a rural school, the fatefulness of his influence on peasant children are reflected in the ideas of Rachinskiy (1883), who claims:

The school captures the whole life of a child and becomes a great force, imposing an indelible stamp on the child. What kind of stamp? It depends on the spirit of the school, on its organization, on the people who manage it (p. 8).

The public identity of a rural school requires the teacher to know and accept the folk culture and rural way of life, as well as to be ready for life in the countryside and rural society. In scientific and practical works, the following characteristics are also formulated - the requirements for professional and personal qualities and properties of a rural school teacher:

  • high moral and well-developed communicative qualities, determined by a teacher’s cultural mission, position and role, openness of a teacher’s activities.

Ushinsky (1861) explains it: “It is fair to demand from a public school teacher, especially in a village or in a small town, that his life does not give rise to temptation, does not destroy his respect for the parents and children, but, on the contrary, serves as an example both for parents and for children and does not contradict his school instructions” (p. 519);

  • understanding of the psychology of a rural child and rural childhood, as well as the ability to identify, support and nurture children’s talents.

Rachinskiy (1883) notes that “the average level of abilities of our peasant children, both boys and girls, is very high”; he writes about support for the beginnings and the development of children’s talents and notes that it depends on the teacher “not to let these precious beginnings die out, but to strengthen and to direct them”, that “a rural school can be the first step towards further mental development, can serve as a stepping stone in entering other spheres of life”( p. 13, 17, 83);

the ability to teach scientific knowledge in an understandable, conclusive and clear manner, using the resources of the natural and social environment, relying on the life experience of a rural child. Rachinskiy (1883) advises the rural teacher “... to act more directly and easier”; warns him that the knowledge acquired in the rural school “only gets some price if it is associated with the appropriate skills” (p. 53, 64);

  • the ability to cooperate with the social environment, to involve it into management and include in the educational activities of a rural school. This social challenge to the teacher is reflected in the articles of many researchers of that time;

the enlightenment skills in the local community as a component of the professional activity of a rural teacher. The publications of scientists describe the experience of rural schools working with the local population, for example, the activities of Tolstoy (1862) in Yasnaya Polyana and Rachinsky’s (1891) work in the village of Tatevo. Methodological recommendations for the organization of educational activities are offered in the works by Bunakov (1906) and others;

  • readiness for self-organization, for self-discipline, for constant self-education and self-development in conditions of a lack of cultural and professional contacts.

The statement of Tolstoy (1862) about the main professional and personal quality of a teacher has become a catch phrase - the creed of teachers of different eras: “Quality is love. If a teacher has only a love for work, he will be a good teacher. If the teacher has only love for a pupil, like a father or a mother, he will be better than the teacher who has read all the books, but has no love for the work or for the pupils. If a teacher combines love for work and pupils, he is a perfect teacher” (p. 292).

The subject for reflection and scientific discussion of that time was the question of the necessary and sufficient level of education, of the depth and breadth of knowledge of a teacher of an elementary public school.

High requirements for the education of a rural teacher are expressed by Tolstoy (1860), who believed that an elementary school teacher should be “from the class of the most educated people in Russia, i.e. having completed a course at a university”, or at least having passed a “pedagogical exam at universities” (p. 43).

Ushinsky (1861) wrote about the professional knowledge and skills of the teacher of the public (elementary) school that “this shallow and not extensive knowledge should be distinguished by encyclopedia character and, at the same time, by its completeness, certainty and clarity”, but noted that the knowledge should be “very diverse” (p. 514).

He outlined the circle of sciences and skills for the future public teacher to study at the vocational educational institution. The educator considered the general scientific and cultural knowledge of the teacher as an important condition for the success of teaching, while pointing out the need for “knowledge and skills to teach and influence the mental and moral development of children with teaching” (Ushinsky, 1861, p. 514). However, a simple listing by Ushinsky of the required knowledge and skills suggests a certain limitation of present-day standards of teacher education, where much of the mentioned by him is not represented at all.

The periodization of the professional formation of a public (rural) teacher is built on the basis of analyzing: 1) reflection of the need for purposeful, i.e. special, training in the writings of Russian philosophers; 2) the activities of a rural school and a rural teacher; 3) professional training of teachers, in particular, rural teachers.

This triad of criteria allows distinguishing the following periods:

  • “The initial period” - until the end of the XVIII century . The works of Russian thinkers of that time reflected the precursors of the idea of training a rural teacher. Unlike many European countries, educational institutions in rural areas and teacher training institutions in Russia did not exist.

“Pre-system period” - from the end of the XVIII century until the middle of the XIX century . The time of appearing and maturing of the idea to train a public (rural) teacher for a public (rural) school. The establishment of the first public (rural) schools (parish schools, private schools in nobility estates). Creation of the first professional teacher training institutions for ruling class institutions: the first teacher’s seminary was established in St. Petersburg in 1786.

The paradox of the history of Russian education is that at first, educational institutions appeared in rural areas, and only afterwards began the formation of a teacher training system for them. For quite a long time, poorly educated or hastily trained teachers, amateurs in teaching and upbringing, worked in public (rural) schools.

  • “System period” - from the middle of the XIX century to the present time

The state of the three elements of the structure of Russian education - the system of educational institutions in rural areas, the system of professional pedagogical education that trains teachers for them, and the system of advanced training for rural teachers - allow us to distinguish three stages of this “system period”. Its beginning was marked by the opening of the first training institutions for public (rural) teachers (formal education) and the organization of the first forms of professional development (non-formal education). The period covers a significant number of years of functioning and permanent reform of teacher education up to the present, i.e. to the current system of continuing teacher education which includes the stages of pre-vocational, secondary vocational, higher and post-vocational education at various levels (various forms of additional education), as well as options for informal education of teaching staff.

From the middle of the XIX century until 1917, teachers for public primary schools were trained at teacher training institutes, teacher seminaries, female gymnasias, diocesan schools, second-class schools, church-teacher schools, teacher training courses and other educational institutions.

One should also understand that at the beginning of a public schools network formation in rural Russia, a rural school was conceived and planned as an elementary primary school for peasant children aged 7, 8-14. Continuing education for its pupils was not envisioned, it was an exceptional case for a very small part of them.

The following stages are singled out:

The stage of designing an idea in the socio-pedagogical movement and Russian pedagogical science - from the middle of the XIX century until 1917. In-depth research in the problems of a public (rural) school and a public (rural) teacher began. The formation of a public (rural) school took place. Various institutions (church-parish, zemstvo, private, Sunday schools, etc.) were established. Institutions of vocational training (teacher seminaries) were opened (with a gap of almost 50 years) and the first forms of advanced training (teacher congresses and courses) of a public (rural) teacher were organized.

  • The Soviet school stage - from 1917 to the 1990s. The training of rural teachers was carried out within the framework of a system of secondary and higher professional pedagogical education and a system of advanced training for teachers. The rural school functioned as part of the unified labor polytechnic school of the USSR.

  • The post-Soviet stage - since the 1990s until now. The network of rural educational institutions in rural areas is a subsystem of the educational system of Russia. The training of rural teachers takes place under the conditions of a multilevel system of professional teacher education and the variability of additional professional teacher education.

The development of national education in the designated “system period”, including pedagogical education and training of rural teachers, cannot be characterized as evolutionary, progressive, and consistent. Changes in the socio-political structure of the state, crises of ideology and the restructuring of the hierarchy of values of Russian society, revolution and war ambiguously and contradictory influenced and are still influencing such social institution as education.

Thus, in relation to the rural school and rural teaching, there are times of both increased interest and special attention to them from the state, science and society and the times of “oblivion”, even the refusal to recognize the topic per se. The observed discreteness and dichotomy, the intensification campaigns and the recession stages of the scientific and practical development of problems of education in rural areas and the training of rural teachers ambiguously, often negatively and destructively, have affected the socio-cultural educational situation of rural (non-urban) territories of the country, the stability of the rural school and position of rural teachers. However, despite the socio-political cataclysms, this scientific and practical problem has always remained and still remains the subject of research, if not by large and significant research teams, but at least by some enthusiasts.


Despite the reorganization processes of recent decades, due to the sharp decline in the children population of Russian villages, the rural school and rural teachers were, and we hope, will for a long time be the representatives of a significant part of the Russian education system.

The analysis results confirm that the multiple singularity of the educational situation in the countryside and the functioning of a rural school are directly projected onto the professional activities of a rural teacher - it determines the multi-functionality of teacher’s work, a high level of social responsibility and increased requirements for professional and personal qualities. The historical experience of Russian rural school leads to the conclusion about the need for special vocational guidance , targeted training, additional education and self-education of rural teachers .

The selected criteria and indicators made it possible to build periodization and systematize in a certain way ideas about the formation and training of teachers for rural educational institutions.


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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:

Sherayzina, R. M., Alexandrova, M. V., & Eflova, Z. B. (2020). Development Of A Rural Teacher Training System In Russia. In S. Alexander Glebovich (Ed.), Pedagogical Education - History, Present Time, Perspectives, vol 87. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 180-189). European Publisher.