Problems Of Leadership In Pre-Revolutionary Colonies-Shelters In Russia


This article is dedicated to the question of leadership of the teachers in organisation of the educational process in the conditions of Storozhishchensky corrective colony shelter of the Smolensk province in the late 19th century for correction and socialization of underage criminals. Besides, not only leadership of the teachers and the director of the given institution were studied, but also the characteristics of leadership qualities displayed in the pupils are considered. It is stated that the role of the leader teacher in shaping moral values of the pupils in the correctional facility is extremely significant. Moral principles and value ideals of the underage criminals were conditioned by the positive example of the colony staff. It is found out in what way the staff of the Smolensk colony was chosen, what qualities were demanded from the candidates, to effectively work with children who broke the law and who called for special and careful attention on behalf of the teachers. We examined the experience of organising the educational disciplinary process in Goretsky Agricultural Professional School and Smolensk Theological Seminary. Exploring the characteristics of the functioning of these historical institutions is due to the fact that a number of teachers of Storozhishchensky corrective colony shelter were their students and acquired valuable for that work knowledge and skills, also were shaped as personalities, saw the example of teachers whose experience they brought into their own professional field in the Smolensk colony.

Keywords: Educational process, leading teacher, underage criminals


Actuality of the problem raised in the article is explained by the fact that at present time in Russia, as well as in the prerevolutionary time period, there are special institutions for underage criminals which set various objectives, namely correction, rehabilitation, changing criminal disposition of the given type of people, that was formed under negative conditions, socialization of young offenders in the constantly changing social conditions. Such type of institution is inhabited by underagers who found themselves in hard life circumstances, with lives broken by those circumstances, oftentimes having no trust in the world. According to Rosstat for the second quarter of 2019, 12.7% of the population in our country is below poverty line (Poverty rate according to Rosstat, 2019). Obviously in this category there are persons convicted for crimes committed at the age under 18 and released, but not adjusted to life in contemporary Russia, not understanding which path to choose further. Therefore, the problem of reasons of committing crimes by underagers and their further adaptation to the society in modern Russian reality is very acute and is specially considered by the government.

This problem is widely studied by foreign scientists. Gottfredson (2018) underlines the importance of using prevention measures towards the young criminals; gives special attention to the social environment in which the personality of the child is shaped. Desai (2010) have studied the question of psychological and social welfare at an early age, revealed the characteristics of the measures towards the protection of the underagers taken by the government. Dearing (2017) raises a question of criminal justice based on the respect of human dignity. The researcher emphasises the significance of respecting the rights of a single person, protection of their life and concerns. Dillon (2017) has studied the peculiar features of the crimes committed by young criminals depending on the age characteristics; she suggested ways of solving this problem. The researcher Dünkel (2016) analyses regulatory framework regarding protection of the underage criminals, describes main guarantees of this group of people. Chopra (2015) has studied the activity and principles of the facilities working with young criminals, uncovered the causes that bring children to committing a crime. Wikström et al. (2018) emphasize the influence of place of residence on a child, which can be one of the reasons for committing an offense. The researchers Weng and Chui (2018) point to the importance of self-control for minors. If it is higher, the probability of committing a crime is significantly reduced. Schindler and Black (2015) emphasize that it is necessary to carry out preventive measures to prevent child crime from infancy. Then this problem will not be so relevant in society.

Consequently, working with young criminals demands people who possess specific personal qualities, such as patience, will power, responsibility, self-control in the emotional responses, ability to reasonably explain their point of view. The ability to establish the development thrust of the correctional colony helps to work effectively, reach positive results, foretell further steps towards achieving the goals of the institution and move to them, overcoming raising contradictions. All this is, evidently, found only in people with deep leadership qualities.

For a broader view of the importance for the staff and the manager of children's corrective colonies to have leadership skills it is necessary to refer to the historical regional experience. This aspect remains actual for modern conditions in institutions for young law breakers. When considering this question a special scientific interest is raised by the experience of Storozhishchensky corrective colony shelter of the Smolensk province (late 19th – early 20th century).

Problem Statement

The research problem is: uncovering the specifics of educating underage criminals by the teachers of Storozhishchensky corrective colony shelter of the Smolensk province in the late 19th – early 20th century by using leadership professional and personal qualities that improved the efficiency of the pedagogical process in this institution and had a positive impact on the main cohort, leading to positive results and fulfilling goals and purposes of the colony.

Research Questions

  • What professional and personal qualities did the teachers of Storozhishchensky corrective colony shelter of the Smolensk province possess?
  • How those qualities allowed them to become leaders not only in the context of workplace relations but be respected by the students – underage criminals – of the facility?

Purpose of the Study

The goal of the research is on the basis of the archival materials of Storozhishchensky corrective colony shelter of the Smolensk province in the late 19th – early 20th century to single out in what way the leading teachers impacted the moral attributes of the young criminals; to show that not only adults occupied the leading positions in the facility, but the children as well had the opportunity to become leaders, but on condition of exemplary behaviour, possessing personal qualities, needed for a leader (responsibility, determination, discipline, self-control, courage, boldness).

Research Methods

  • The methods of the research are: general - purpose (analysis, synthesis, actualization, systemization).
  • Historical pedagogical (uncovering the role of the leading teachers in the development of morals and values of the underage law breakers, which in the end led to correction, rehabilitation, transformation of views and orientation of the latter, and also their socialization in the life of their own as law-abiding and respectable citizens of the Russian Empire).


In the Russian Empire in the second half of the 19th century there aroused a problem connected with juvenile delinquency. In that historical period the question of crime prevention of underage’s became one of the most fundamental issues for the government.

For purposes of solving this social problem the government started opening special facilities for children who broke the law. According to the report on the juvenile correctional educational facilities in the Russian Empire (from January 1st of 1908 to January 1st of 1909) 48 institutions of this type were started (Pavlovsky, 1909). In the Smolensk province in 1894 Storozhishchensky corrective colony shelter was opened. It set a goal: “a) educating underage males liable for the correctional colony shelter on the ground of judicial sentence; b) taking care of homeless and begging male children who under the influence of unfavorable conditions or depraved environment are in danger of falling into wickedness”. It should be emphasized that “prerogative right of getting into the colony belonged to those young offenders who were convicted by courts of the Smolensk province. If they were few and there were vacant places then homeless and begging children could be put there” (Tereshchenkova, 2019, p. 132).

Therefore, proceeding from the available information, it is necessary to conclude that the cohort of the students of the colony was quite rough and demanded hard work from the staff of the facility to achieve their reformation.

Pavlovsky (1903b) was the director of Storozhishchensky corrective colony shelter. He finished the course of second level in the Smolensk Theological Seminary. In the program for the presentation of information on the educational part, physical education, hygiene and religious moral education for 1903, found in SASR, it is stated that Pavlovsky worked in the teaching department for 18 years, out of which in Storozhishchensky corrective colony shelter 6 years till 1903.

Evidently, he may be considered an ultimate teacher, because he managed to, by the information given by SASR about the results of the educational process in the Smolensk colony, to build the life of the pupils in such a way that they wanted to change, followed the example of the director and other teachers. It proves that Pavlovsky (1903a) possessed high professional leadership qualities. Besides, he organised the process in such a way that pupils made their own choice in certain situations, made their own decisions which undoubtedly led to better socialization. Teachers in this case just directed the children gently and delicately and gave them adequate advice, showed good example (Pavlovsky, 1903a). There is a very important fact that the discipline in the colony was based not on repressive measures that would have destroyed the child's personality even more were they used in this facility, but on the personal trust. Whereby the trust was shown not only on behalf of the teachers towards the pupils, but on behalf of the pupils to the staff.

In Storozhishchensky colony leadership was common not only among the teachers, but pupils themselves often became leaders among the peers. In archive materials it is noted that always among the pupils of the colony there were those who were more flexible, were reformed faster and stood out by their good behaviour. They were great help to the teachers, because their behaviour was an example for other criminals, which contributed to their prompt moral rehabilitation (Pavlovsky, 1901).

There is a peculiar fact that to strengthen leadership qualities in pupils special measures of encouragement were used. They were used only if a child indeed earned it. Among such measures were: “the holidays of the pupils (except for those under investigation and accused) to the family for several hours, and in case of long trip for several days; walks on errands; praise before other pupils; premature release from the colony or help in entering some educational or vocational school; appointment for some important work around the house and the expression of trust” (Tereshchenkova, 2019, p.134). Obviously, the children wanted to get recognition from the teachers, they became more responsible, organised and kind.

Consequently, the existence of the given measure only emphasises that the administration of the colony was not aloof from the problems of the children, from their feelings and needs. On the contrary, Pavlovsky wisely organised the rehabilitation process, saw the perspective of the facility and strived to work for the salvation of children's lives. In the process of professional activity the director developed qualities (competences) that were relevant in that professional sphere not only in the late 19th –early 20th century, but do not lose their significance in contemporary conditions. For a good director, leader teacher is not a person who accurately follows the instructions and does his work blindly, by rule only. A real leader is able to foresee the results of his actions, whereby he does it not for his own gain or out of fear of losing authority, power, but for others' sake (in this case –young offenders). On the degree of carefulness and responsibility in the organisation of the educational process depends not only the destiny of a separate individual who is likely to be soon forgotten as soon as he finds himself out of the government facility. This problem is broader: on the professional skilfulness, competence of the manager depends the future of the country, its development, further perspectives.

It's worth emphasising that Pavlovsky's views on professional aspects were influenced by his study in the Smolensk Theological Seminary. In the theological institution the regime moments were organised quite strictly: morning prayer, breakfast, 4 lessons, dinner, doing homework, supper and evening prayer. It formed in the pupils the ability to control time, plan it in such a way as to be able to fulfil all the appointed tasks and duties. So the future director of the Smolensk colony carried this habit over to the facility for young criminals. The academic curriculum in the seminary was 6 years. This time allowed students to receive good theoretical knowledge (Journals of meetings of members of the seminary board…, 1901). Definitely, it came in very useful for S. S. Pavlovsky as a graduate of this institution, for his work in Storozhishchensky colony. Breadth of knowledge, catholicity, erudition were crucial for manager of similar level.

Special attention in the seminary was paid to physical education of the students. Gymnastics and cold training were organised, students were often in the fresh air. Similar approach to physical education was used in the colony.

In the Smolensk Theological Seminary there was a cultural program organised for the students. They went to the theatre, witnessed other cultural events. The administration organised excursions and trips for the students. An interesting episode happened in 1902. Seminary students went for an excursion to the Caucasus and the Crimea under the supervision of G. M. Viyk, a teacher. He managed to create warm, friendly relationship between the students and the event planners (“Smolensk newspaper”…, 2012). Similar activities were not rare in the Smolensk colony.

Thus, the experience received by Pavlovsky while studying at the Smolensk Theological Seminary was extrapolated by him to Storozhishchensky colony shelter. It is fair to emphasise that it gave the correctional facility its advantages and improved the efficiency of the pedagogical process.

Apart from Pavlovsky there were other teachers who had been students of the theological seminary: A. I. Mikhailovskiy, teacher of religion and priest; A. I. Orlov, teacher of general subjects. Their organisational pedagogical experience was definitely very important for the colony and had a positive impact on the pupils.

Among the important personalities of Storozhishchensky colony were teachers of special subjects P. O. Kutorg (he taught agriculture and cattle farming), A. A. Aleksandrovskiy (taught geometry, land surveying, drawing, natural science, law, gardening and fruit growing) (Pavlovsky, 1903a, 1903b). They were graduates of the Goretsky agricultural school of the first level.

The specifics of the educational process in the professional school can be characterised in the following way: “the pupils were raised in the genuine rules of civil life, in order to educate their character and heart according to their purpose” (Tsitovich, 1960, p.49).

Thereby, the teachers of Storozhishchensky corrective colony shelter P. O. Kutorg, A. A. Aleksandrovskiy, who graduated from Goretsky Agricultural Professional School, first level, received in that educational facility theoretical and practical knowledge that was especially useful for them in their interaction with the underage criminals of the Smolensk colony. The teachers shared with them not only their own knowledge, taught the children the basics of agriculture, but extrapolated on them pedagogic effect that had been applied to themselves in Goretsky Agricultural Professional School.

It is obvious that the teaching staff of Storozhishchensky colony was chosen very accurately. The members of the staff possessed all the qualities needed for the work with young offenders. Surely, leadership qualities, developed in the process of studying in the Smolensk Theological Seminary and Goretsky Agricultural School made a prominent effect on shaping these men as professional teachers, capable of realizing individual approach to each pupil with a hard fate, take responsibility for their lives not only inside the correctional facility, but after releasing help them not to leave the right path.


To summarize all that was formulated, it is possible to affirm that shaping of the moral values of the young offenders was occuring under the immediate influence of the teachers. In addition this process was more effective if the latter possessed leadership qualities which allowed them to lead the collective, draw them together and most importantly – to achieve the goal of the educational process without using repressive measures towards the underage criminals. Storozhishchensky corrective colony shelter is an example of all said above.


The reported study was funded by RFBR, project number 20-313-90023.


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Senchenkov, N., & Tereshchenkova, V. (2021). Problems Of Leadership In Pre-Revolutionary Colonies-Shelters In Russia. In A. G. Shirin, M. V. Zvyaglova, O. A. Fikhtner, E. Y. Ignateva, & N. A. Shaydorova (Eds.), Education in a Changing World: Global Challenges and National Priorities, vol 114. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 472-479). European Publisher.