Ideas Of Continuous Education Forrural Teachers In The History Of Russian Education


The article presents the results of a historical and pedagogical analysis of the theory and practice of preparing teachers for work in the specific conditions of a rural educational organization (rural school). The need for targeted vocational training and education of rural (public) teachers was indicated by K.D. Ushinsky and many other progressive figures in the education of Russiain XIX - early XX centuries. It is they who own the most important provisions and the first practices of vocational training and additional professional education for teachers of the domestic rural school. The professional pedagogical activity of a rural teacher has its significant specific features. At the same time, it is influenced by the current trends in the development of society and education as an institution that determines the future of this society, and should appropriately reflect these new developments. Such trends include ideas about the continuity of teacher education, the origins of which we can observe in reflections on the rural teacher among those who laid the foundations of Russian pedagogical science. The article discusses the theoretical provisions and practical recommendations set forth in the works of Russian scholars of the past, which, from the point of view of the authors, are relevant at present and in the future. The paper traces the sources of systemic approach, consistency and continuity, diversification and variability of continuing teacher education. The authors suggest strategic and tactical directions for promoting these ideas in the practice of preparing rural teachers.

Keywords: Continuing pedagogical educationhistory of pedagogy and educationrural schoolrural teacher


Globalization of education, the desire of progressive countries to create a single world educational space as a territory of great and equal educational opportunities (Delors, 1998), many other modern trends in education have a history, hence it is advisable to precede and accompany innovations with a review and reassessment of previous ideas (Boguslavskii & Lelchitskii, 2016). Researchers' turning to the past, in our opinion, is an obvious necessity at every stage of the development of society (Brower, 1970), but especially during the time of profound cardinal transformations. The 21st century belongs to such periods, which began with the widespread and diverse modernization of the domestic education system at all its levels.

The results of scientific studies confirm that the multiple originality of the educational situation in the countryside and the functioning of the rural school are directly projected onto the professional activities of the rural teacher - it determines the multifunctionality of his work, a high level of social responsibility and increased requirements for professional and personal qualities. Hence the need for special vocational guidance, targeted training, additional education and self-education of rural teachers. The implementation of this approach at different (all) stages and levels of the modern system of continuous pedagogical education is urgent and problematic.

On the one hand, domestic pedagogical science and educational practice have significant theoretical, (including historical and pedagogical) research and rich experience in vocational guidance, training, support of professional development, advanced training and self-education of rural teachers. On the other hand, at present, there is a need to rethink the pedagogical heritage in contexts relevant to modern trends, in particular, continuing education as an educational trend of the 21st century (according to I.A. Kolesnikova, a phenomenal trend) (Kolesnikova, 2013).

The term "lifelong education", which has many meanings, is now being established in the domestic scholarship and education system. Here, continuity is understood to mean a property of the system of teacher education that ensures the ongoing, progressive nature of the promotion of the rural teacher in professional activity - from the beginning to the end of their teaching career - with the possibility of moving up, down, and across their professional ladder and building a career in the profession. The continuity of the professional formation and development of a rural school teacher is determined by the diversification and variability of teacher education. Itis manifested in the continuity of the goals, content, methods and forms of teacher education, in the representation and sequence of its stages, or steps (pre-professional, professional, post-professional) and types (formal, non-formal and informal). The signs and conditions of continuity are integrity, consistency, openness of education and others.

Problem Statement

Analyzing the theoretical work and the experience of training teachers for a rural school in the view of continuity, it is advisable to notice and record:

  • signs and sources, as well as conditions for continuing education in accordance with a modern interpretation;

  • ways and means of implementing lifelong education in correlation with new social guidelines and achievements of pedagogical science;

  • proposals, both implemented in educational practice of the corresponding historical period, and expressed at the level of ideas and / or recommendations; particularly promising for implementation in modern circumstances.

Research Questions

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

  • What aspects of continuity have emerged in the history of national education?

How are they reflected in pedagogical science in relation to: goals, content, methods, forms and means of training a rural school teacher; representation at the stages (pre-professional, professional, post-professional), and in the types of (formal, non-formal, informal) continuing education of rural teachers?

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to identify the ideas of continuity in the professional training of a rural school teacher formulated in the writings of the leading representatives of Russian pedagogical science and practice in the XIX and early XX centuries.

Research Methods

The methodological basis of the study includes philosophical and pedagogical ideas, such as: a concrete historical approach to the phenomena being studied; the unity of the historical and logical in the assessment of phenomena; the active role of a person in cognizing and transforming social reality; the provisions on the cultural and historical conditionality and social determination of education. These ideas and provisions present and concretize:

  • historical and pedagogical approach /method and comparative method;

  • systemic approach;

  • sociocultural and environmental approaches;

  • documentary and biographical methods.


The history of Russian education and the domestic rural school, which is the primary link in the system, is an illustration of complexity and inconsistency, discreteness and instability, the constant change of directions and the nature of development - from progressive to regressive, and vice versa. The formation of the mass stratum of the population - the peasantry, until the middle of the XIX century was not included in the sphere of state concern, moreover, it was not encouraged by the authorities, and all kinds of obstacles were posed to it (Rumyantseva, Matveenko, Tretiyakova, & Yurova, 2018). In the late XVIII - early XIX centuries the idea of the need for targeted training of a public teacher, which was understood, first of all, as a rural teacher, is emerging in Russia. The development of its main provisions took place in the bosom of the domestic social and pedagogical movement from the middle of the XIX century (Kmeťa & Bel, 2017).

In the essay “The project of teacher's seminaries” Ushinsky (1861) states the following fact: “The most significant shortcoming in the work of Russian public education is the lack of good mentors who are specially (emphasized by the author) prepared for their duties” (p. 513). The most acute personnel problem of that time was solved in two ways:

  • setting up educational institutions and the formation of a vocational education system for teachers - teacher courses, schools, seminaries, institutes;

  • searching and testing different forms of short-term accelerated training, retraining and advanced training of teachers - teacher congresses and courses, schools and laboratories.

The analyzed works, to one degree or another, discuss the stages and types of continuous pedagogical education for the teaching staff in rural schools.

Less attention was paid to the stage of pre-vocational training, which is natural in those conditions of urgent need to prepare a large number of teachers for mass public (rural) schools as soon as possible.

In the Project of Teacher Seminary Ushinsky (1861), however, discusses ideas regarding pre-vocational training of rural teachers, namely, preparatory teacher classes and schools at teacher seminaries, intended to prepare pupils for the actual professional education of rural teachers. Ushinsky (1861) writes, “Religious and moral education should be the main task of the preparatory school” (p. 538). This fragment of the scholar’s article leads to the currently relevant concepts - “professional orientation”, “professional self-determination”, “professional tests”, “professional selection” and others. Preparatory teacher classes and schools are considered to be the forerunners of modern teacher classes.

The opinion of the scholar Rachinsky (1883), who believes that “the rural school itself must produce school teachers” (p. 86) is also very up to date. The educator suggests organizing the training of teacher assistants directly at the village school from among its graduates: “I insist on the great benefits of this training of village teachers, and this is due to personal experience” (Rachinsky, 1883, p. 86). In this proposal, we can see a model of career guidance through professional trials. Still valuable, especially in modern circumstances of admission to pedagogical institutions only based on USE scores, are educationalists' proposals for a special selection of students for their subsequent mastery of their professional activities in a rural school.

K.D. Ushinsky's article “Project of Teachers' Seminary” (Ushinsky, 1861), dedicated to the issues of teacher education at the stage of professional training of a rural teacher, is recognized as one of the most significant works with a detailed study of theoretical, methodological and organizational issues. Ushinsky is designing the country's first institutions of targeted training of teachers for public (rural) schools. Teachers' seminaries, according to his plan, were created in Moscow, Kazan, Odessa, Petersburg and Kharkov educational districts, and by the beginning of the 20th century about 80 similar educational institutions operated in the country.

In the article, the author criticizes the proposals of the Ministry of Education about the accelerated training of teachers for the public school at Zemstvo schools and gymnasiums that existed at that time, presents and comments on the experience of teacher training in teacher seminaries and normal schools in England, Germany, France, and characterizes the sociocultural educational situation in Russia (Ellis, Golz, & Mayrhofer, 2014). Based on a comprehensive analysis, he develops and proposes his teacher training plan for elementary schools. The project is filled with ideas and original solutions to questions regarding the continuity of training of a rural teacher. Without any stretch, only changing the focus of analysis, such precursors of continuity as the sequence and continuity of types and levels of teacher education, networked organization of education, academic mobility, integration of theory and practice, practice-oriented teacher education, etc. are observed in the project. However, this view also reveals certain contradictions in a number of proposals made.

For example, Ushinsky (1861) argues that teacher seminaries "should not be based in big cities, but at the same time should be close to educational centers," and insists on the organization of institutions of a closed type with a strict order. However, the purpose of these recommendations does not seem to be isolation and corporatism, but the creation of a special educational environment in a teacher’s seminary - educating and forming spiritually, promoting professional self-determination and formation, full of productive activities. An environment conducive to the development of professionally significant personal qualities and properties of a future rural teacher who lives a life of “simple, harsh and even poor”, “strict, accurate, honest, and highly active”. Alienation here is exclusively external, seeming, which is confirmed by other ideas of the author of the project (p. 521).

Teachers' seminary is seen by Ushinsky (1861) as an institution and an educational complex in which he includes an orphanage, an elementary school, a minor school, and a preparatory teacher's school. The author models various options for the organization of a teachers’ seminary:

  • an independent institution with a complex organizational structure. He proposes to attach the local district and parish schools to the seminary;

  • a structural unit at the gymnasium, district school, teachers’ institute.

The educational complex presents different levels of education - general primary, pre-vocational and professional pedagogical. Here conditions are created to ensure the continuity of all levels through joint educational activities, coordination of goals, the content of educational programs, the unity of pedagogical requirements and unified management.

The project provides for the differentiation of training, and taking into account the limitation of the composition of seminarians to 40-50 people, the individualization of the educational process: “The courses of seminary pupils should vary, depending on the purpose of each” (Ushinsky, 1861, p. 543). The differences considered are reflected in the content and capacity educational programs:

from persons of the peasant class, "state-owned from the pupils of an orphan institution", trained for "the position of teachers of district and parish and corresponding public schools of different names, ... mentors for public rural schools" (Ushinsky, 1861, p. 543-543) - " knowledge not only in God's law, grammar, arithmetic, geography and history, but also in the natural sciences, medicine, and agriculture; besides being able to write, draw, read clearly and expressively and, if possible, even sing ”(Ushinsky, 1861, p. 517),“ short courses in agriculture and hygiene ”, courses of practical public medicine, where“ should be all the necessary information that is desirable to disseminate among the masses of the common people ”(Ushinsky, 1861, p. 544);

  • from “clergymen” and “self-respecters” who are prepared, respectively, for teaching in theological seminaries and gymnasiums, - in addition to the above disciplines, “must take not only the full course of pedagogy, but also psychology and physiology” (Ushinsky, 1861, p. 544).

For all categories of students, which Ushinsky (1861) repeatedly emphasizes, "the doctrine itself must acquire a special, practical character and the courses of all sciences should be strictly considered with the future appointment of pupils" (p. 545).

The antinomy in Ushinsky's arguments about the closed character of the teacher’s seminary can also be seen in his recommendations, which in modern terminology are called the networked organization of instruction and the academic mobility of students.

The origins of the networked organization of education can be traced in Ushinsky’s proposals and in the description of possible participation as a contribution to the training of the rural teacher of the abovementioned educational institutions, as well as in introducing the relevant educational management bodies, the church, and the enlightened public into the life of the teacher’s seminary. According to the project, it is proposed to make model schools created “in villages, in the vicinity of the place where the teacher’s seminary will be located, and depending on it” (Ushinsky, 1861, p. 550), as an element of the educational network. In these schools, the author advises to conduct exemplary (demonstrative) lessons, to test the scientific and methodological developments of seminary teachers, and to organize research.

An illustration of an open versus a "closed" model for a teachers’ seminary, according to Ushinsky, can be found in his proposal to send young people abroad to study a foreign language, theoretical and practical pedagogical education. The sources of modern student mobility are evident here.

Teachers' seminaries are destined not only for educational activities, but also for scientific, methodological, enlightening, socio-pedagogical, etc. - it is predetermined to be an educational center for the local community. Accordingly, the functions of seminary teachers are expanding, whose duties, in addition to teaching and educating future teachers, include “public lectures from pedagogy and psychology” for teachers of other educational institutions, “preparation of teaching manuals, mainly for public schools,” their approbation and publication (Ushinsky , 1861, p. 552). Thus, the ideas of K.D. Ushinsky’s project have much in common with modern ideas about the "third mission of the university" - the role of the university in the socio-economic development of the territory, the pedagogization of the surrounding social environment and others.

In the forming system of teacher education in Russia at that time, attempts were made to implement various training options for rural teachers - teacher classes, schools, courses at the pedagogical institute, district schools, gymnasiums, model schools, and public schools.

Tolstoy (1875) suggested one of such innovative formats for training rural teachers. Count Tolstoy, a well-known Russian writer, established an elementary school in the village of Yasnaya Polyana, Tula province, where he taught, developed textbooks and guidelines, wrote books for peasant children to read, and, finally, organized teacher training on its basis. Rules for pedagogical courses written by Tolstoy give a certain idea of ​​the form of professional education such as pedagogical courses at primary school.

The purpose of the pedagogical courses is “to deliver pedagogical education to young people of all classes, mainly peasant, Orthodox confession, who want to devote themselves to teaching in public schools (Tula province)” (Tolstoy, 1875, p. 386).

The professional training consisted of “(three) two classes; the course of studies was (three) two years, one year in each class.” The content of the training, in the composition of the academic disciplines, coincided with the set of educational subjects of elementary school and was supplemented by the foundations of pedagogy, psychology and physiology. The emphasis of the training was on its practical component. The elementary public school "for practical exercises in teaching" functioned within the same format (Tolstoy, 1875, p. 386).

Yasnaya Polyana courses, as an alternative to the professional training of rural teachers, can be attributed both to the formal type of teacher education, since they are informally and structurally close to official institutions (seminaries), and to non-formal, as they were a private initiative, and graduates at the end of the courses did not receive any state document.

Post-professional stage of professional development of a rural teacher in the XIX - early XXcenturies. Ushinsky’s recommendations on the guidance and support of novice rural teachers, who believed that “seminary should not leave its students appointed to their permanent places,” are valuable. He offers means of communication with graduates and forms of guidance for rural teachers beginning the irprofessional career (financial support, providing literature, participating in resolving contentious issues). Ushinsky believes that “the seminary should not only invest in its pupils’ noble pedagogical aspirations, but also to be able to support these aspirations, no matter what wilderness fate has cast its pupils” (Ushinsky, 1861, p. 549).

Teachers’ congresses and courses as a form of training, retraining and advanced training of public teachers began in many cities of Russia from the 70s of the XIX century. These pedagogical gatherings are unique, original and instructive phenomena in the life of Russian society and the country's education in the second half of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Their appearance was associated with public initiative, with the support of the zemstvo and society.

In the works of Bunakov (1905), as well as other scholars and representatives of the socio-pedagogical movement, we can find suggestions and tips for organizing the post-professional stage of continuing education of a teacher, descriptions of conventions and courses. Typically, the content of these events included: a general overview of the state of modern educational thought in the field of school affairs and the achievements of pedagogical science; lectures and practical exercises on literacy and writing, explanatory reading, written presentation of thoughts, etc .; the latest information from science, the humanities, and culture. Various forms of practical exercises were organized - exemplary lessons, conversations, consultations, and exchange of experience. Here the results of the work done were summarized, such problems of education as the lack of facilities, educational and methodological support for the rural school, the situation of the rural teacher were openly discussed.

Bunakov (1905), one of the most famous organizers of pedagogical meetings and the founder of a public (rural) school, who called himself a “free teacher of teachers”, led zemstvo teachers’ congresses and courses in Voronezh and in a dozen other cities. In the educational program, he included the theory and methodology of teaching reading, writing, arithmetic, singing and drawing, elements of natural history (gardening and horticulture), Russian history, geography and physics. In his writings, Bunakov (1905) promotes the following forms of teaching: theoretical studies - “in the form of lively presentations and discussions on the issues of educational affairs” (p. 42); practical ones - “in the form of model lessons at school” followed by discussion (p. 45), as well as “deliberative classes in the form of free conversations” (p. 49-50). In addition to lecturing and conducting practical classes, the teacher sought to increase the cultural level of teaching: he organized excursions, music and poetry evenings for students, and classes with the “magic lantern”.

Informal education, understood as education outside the formal system of teacher education, presupposes independent cognitive activity of a rural teacher in his daily life, spontaneous education realized through his own activity. Informal education includes communication, reading, visiting cultural institutions, traveling, the media, etc., when the teacher turns the educational potentials of society into effective factors of his/her development.

In the estimates of contemporaries of the beginning of the XIX century, pedagogical literature and pedagogical journals were presented very poorly; there was no abundance in the teaching aids, in educational and children's publications. Toward the end of the century, according to researcher O.R. Starovoytova, 79 pedagogical journals of a purely pedagogical nature were published in the country, as well as 25 journals containing regular sections on school pedagogy and educational issues (Starovoytova, 2011).

Among pedagogical periodicals, publications focused on the public (rural) teacher draw attention. For example, the journal “Rural Teacher”, published at a public school in YasnayaPolyana, edited by Tolstoy (1975). Its creator saw the purpose of the journal as “responding to the need for activities existing in society to group forces aimed at one goal” - education of the people.

Pedagogical literature was nutritious soil, the main means of informal education for a rural teacher of that time.


The study of the works of the founders of Russian pedagogical science in a given perspective confirmed the assumption that the ideas of continuing education of a rural teacher are represented in the domestic heritage. We have revealed the sources of such signs of lifelong education as systemic approach, consistency and continuity, diversification and variability in the professional development of a rural school teacher.

The results of the study convince us in the relevance of the targeted nature for the professional education of modern rural educators at all stages of continuous pedagogical education.

The following directions seem strategically promising for the further development and promotion in the modern practice of continuous pedagogical education in rural teachers:

  • legalization of the targeted training at all stages and levels of education - pre-professional, professional and additional;

  • appropriate updating and enrichment of the content, forms and means of teacher education - formal, non-formal, informal.

Tactically necessary and possible in the present conditions are the following ideas:

  • special selection of potential rural teachers from graduates of rural schools;

  • formation of a special open educational environment for the preparation of a rural teacher;

  • integration of theory and practice, practice-oriented training of rural teaching staff;

  • diversity and imparting democracy, dialogue and free exchange of experience to the additional education of rural teachers;

  • variability of forms of additional education for rural teachers - both targeted and specialized.


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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). Ideas Of Continuous Education Forrural Teachers In The History Of Russian Education. In S. Alexander Glebovich (Ed.), Pedagogical Education - History, Present Time, Perspectives, vol 87. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 227-236). European Publisher.