On Formation Of Civic Education And Upbringing In Russia


The article examines the genesis of the formation of knowledge about civic education and upbringing in domestic pedagogical science with an emphasis on the post-war period of the Soviet era and the end of the 20th–beginning of the 21st century. It is shown that this process was of a concrete historical nature, reflecting the state of society, the state and the dominant ideology at one or another evolutionary stage. The views of individual teachers of the twentieth century, who managed to generalize and systematize the theoretical and practical experience of educating a citizen accumulated in the country, filling it with their own thoughts and practical experience, are presented. Considerable attention is paid to the research of the post-Soviet period. The characteristic of modern conceptual approaches and models of education and upbringing is given. With the help of comparative historical, pedagogical and theoretical analysis, three stages in the development of knowledge about the formation of civic upbringing and education in Russian pedagogical science have been identified: the Soviet period (from the mid-1950s to 1985), the period of perestroika (restructuring) (1985–1991) and the democratic period (from 1991 to the present). It is noted that today the priorities of humanistic pedagogy lie at the heart of domestic civic education and upbringing, as well as the focus on fulfilling the state and social order for building a civil society and the rule of law with the recognition of the human right to individual expression, personal opinion and protection of personal dignity.

Keywords: Civic education, civic upbringing, history of education in Russia


The problem considered in this article is very relevant for modern Russia. The changes that took place after the collapse of the USSR, affecting all spheres of life of Russian citizens, turned the country's development towards building a civil society and a state governed by the rule of law, which led to an increase in the interest of domestic pedagogy in the problem of civic education and upbringing. The political and economic reforms that took place at that time, accompanied by the processes of democratization and humanization against the background of the globalization of the world order, focused on the understanding of civic-mindedness according to the Western model, where it gradually went beyond the boundaries of a particular state, and the priority was still the protection of individualism and the inviolability of private property. At the same time, as you know, in the Russian and especially in the Soviet tradition, priority has always been given to public interests. That is, it can be stated that the image of a citizen formed in the West does not fully correspond to the traditional worldview of a Russian person and the historical and pedagogical experience we as a nation have accumulated.

Problem Statement

In the process of researching the development of scientific and pedagogical knowledge about the formation of civic education and upbringing in Russia, the main attention is paid to the period from the second half of the twentieth century to the present day, when the indicated problems began to be substantively studied in domestic pedagogical science. Meanwhile, following dialectical logic, a small historical excursion is made, because any problem can be fully understood and comprehensively explained only by considering it in its genesis. The issues of citizenship have been discussed with varying degrees of activity in the public and pedagogical thought of our country for a long time.

Research Questions

What is the genesis of Russian civic education and upbringing?

What models of civic education and upbringing in Russia can be distinguished in the pre-Soviet period?

What is the contribution of V.A. Sukhomlinsky in solving the problem of civic education and upbringing?

What periods of domestic civic education and upbringing can be distinguished in the second half of the 20th–early 21st centuries?

What are the main directions of modern pedagogical research in the field of civic education and upbringing in Russia?

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to reveal the historical and pedagogical features of the formation of civic education and upbringing in Russia with the identification and characteristics of its main stages.

Research Methods

The methods used in solving research problems are due to the historical, pedagogical and interdisciplinary specifics of the research being carried out and include:

  • categorical analysis, which allows to reveal the essence and relationship of the concepts of “civic education” and “civic upbringing” and present their specific meaningful characteristics;
  • historical and reflexive analysis, which makes it possible to identify objective prerequisites and characteristic stages of the emergence and development of pedagogical knowledge about civic education and upbringing in Russia;
  • the method of induction, which makes it possible, after analyzing a specific historical, pedagogical and modern scientific material, to move from private reasoning to a general scientific and pedagogical inference in the context of the research.


The word “citizen” used in Russia comes from the Old Church Slavonic language. It is a kind of word-formation tracing of the ancient Greek, which literally means “town dweller” or “town man”. In Russian written sources, the derivative of this word first appeared in the title of the monument of Russian literature of the second half of the 17th century “Citizenship of Children's Customs”. This work was addressed to children, both in content and in the form of presentation of the material, which allows one to speak of the beginning of purposeful civic education and upbringing.

The next mention of the word “citizen” in Russian written sources occurs at the time of Catherine the Great. In 1783, by her decree, the book “On the Positions of Man and Citizen” was published. It was intended for socio-political and religious-moral education and upbringing of students of public schools. Kapterev (1915), considering it in his work “History of Russian Pedagogy”, noted that the domestic pedagogical thought of those years had not yet reached the understanding of the essence of education of a person and a citizen: “New words appeared: citizen, person, upbringing, positions of a person and a citizen, but there were no concepts corresponding to the words, and especially, no institutions were created to educate a person and a citizen” (p. 278).

Lebedeva (2004) identifies several models of civic education and upbringing in the history of Russia in post-Catherine times and up to the USSR period. So, in her opinion, the enlightened nobility of the beginning of the 19th century adhered to the liberal-democratic model, which placed above all the concept of honor, duty and loyal service to the Fatherland. At the same time, representatives of progressive social thought advocated for social transformations, substantiating the model of educating a person-citizen capable of changing the existing reality for the better. Lebedeva (2004) ascribes domestic teachers for whom a citizen is a person firmly connected with his native land and people, free and enlightened, striving for an ideal based on the unity of goodness, beauty and truth, to representatives of the people's democratic model. Within the framework of the controversy about national education, which unfolded in Russia at the beginning of the twentieth century, the issues of civic education and upbringing were considered in an inseparable connection with the national and patriotic, open to the best achievements of world culture. On the other hand, the idea of universal human upbringing developed, where a person was viewed as a citizen of the world (Lebedeva, 2004).

With the advent of Soviet power, a model of civic education begins to form, based on the paradigm of authoritarian pedagogy and focused on the reference concept of the citizen as a communist, patriot-internationalist, collectivist.

Speaking about the formation of views on civic education and upbringing in the USSR, one cannot ignore the recognized classic of Soviet pedagogy A.S. Makarenko, who managed to make useful and devoted to the country citizens out of marginalized children.

It is known that the basis of the pedagogical system of A.S. Makarenko lies in the upbringing of a person in work and in a team. At the same time, it was important for him to develop not only the social, but also the individual principle in a pupil. In the context of the problem under consideration, as an undoubted merit of A.S. Makarenko, it is worth noting that, paying great attention to the relationship between the individual, the collective and the society, he emphasized the idea of duty to the state and society and the idea of solidarity between people, which is good for everyone, including the individual. It is the experience of such solidarity behavior that is the basis for the education of a citizen here (Nevskaja & Mettini, 2018).

Considering the evolution of the problem under study, let us clarify the meaning of the concepts used in the article: “civic education” and “civic upbringing”.

Civic education, in essence, shapes the worldview of an individual on the basis of the conscious assimilation of social knowledge and values. It gives a growing person an idea of their state, its place in the world, of the essence of civil rights and freedoms and, at the same time, is inextricably linked with the process of educating a citizen. That is, one can say that civic upbringing is carried out in the process of civic education. In addition, it is closely associated with patriotic, moral, labor education, and nowadays also with environmental upbringing (Kukushkina et al., 2019).

Civic education is aimed at the formation of civic consciousness of a person responsible for themself, social and political processes in the country and the region and the fate of their homeland as a whole. Along with teaching methods, the method of persuasion is used as the main one.

As for civic education, it focuses not only on the formation of consciousness, but also on the feelings sphere, as well as the behavior and activities of a growing person. Accordingly, along with conviction in this process, it is important to use various active forms and methods of work with the involvement of children in participation in the life of the school and society.

For the first time, an attempt to generalize and systematize the theoretical and practical experience of civic education and upbringing accumulated in the country was undertaken in the 50–60s of the XX century by V.A. Sukhomlinsky. He touched upon this problem in many of his works, but, perhaps, the most complete justification for it was in the book “The Birth of a Citizen”.

Introducing the concept of citizenship, Sukhomlinsky (2017) speaks of it as the basis of a person's beliefs, feelings and actions. It is formed from various personal qualities, the main of which are love for the Motherland, work for the good of society and the state and loyalty to one's ideals: “I have always strived for the organic unity of civic thoughts, feelings and activities, so that experiences find their expression in noble deeds, in the work of people for society, for the Fatherland” (p. 24). At the same time, he considers the content of civic consciousness in unity with patriotism, as well as with humanistic and moral values that originate not only from the political and cultural-historical traditions of his people, but also belong to all of humanity. In this he is close to the ideas of the famous German teacher-reformer G. Kerschensteiner, who also successfully dealt with this problem (as cited in Belentsov et al., 2017).

It can be stated that the pedagogical concept of V. A. Sukhomlinsky has enriched the theory and practice of civic education and upbringing, both with innovative ideas and experience, and actualization in the new conditions of domestic and foreign heritage. All this was later partially developed in the activities of Soviet educators-innovators of the 80s and paved the way for the search for ways of civic education and upbringing in the post-Soviet period.

Turning to how the issue of civic education and upbringing was solved in the official Soviet pedagogy of the 60s–70s, one should first of all pay attention to the fact that civic-mindedness was understood at that time as one of the leading ideological and moral properties of an individual, and was equated to patriotism (Egorova, 2015). “Civic-mindedness” and “patriotism” were in fact conflated, which does not seem entirely justified, because a patriot is a person who loves their Motherland and is ready for hardships, accomplishments and heroic deeds for it, and a citizen, being a patriot, must also know and observe their rights and responsibilities. Meanwhile, civic upbringing did not stand out as a separate direction in those years and was gradually reduced to military-patriotic education (Murzina & Kazakova, 2019).

Nevertheless, domestic scientists-educators of that period, to one degree or another, touched upon the problem of interest to us. They considered the issues of the formation of moral and political qualities of a future citizen on the basis of pedagogical integration of communist ideology and morality; issues related to the formation of the ideological positions of schoolchildren; they studied the role of pioneer and Komsomol organizations in the ideological and political education and organization of social work of the younger generation.

As can be seen from the above described examples, the direction of scientific research, correlated with the problems of civic education and upbringing, was determined in the time period under consideration by the dominant mono-ideology of Marxism-Leninism and was focused on training a true communist, an internationalist patriot, ready to subordinate personal interests to the interests of society and the state. At the same time, in the process of educational work, students should have been instilled with confidence in the superiority of the Soviet system and way of life and an irreconcilable attitude towards the “decaying” capitalist countries with their false bourgeois ideology and morality aimed at oppressing the worker.

The awakening of civic consciousness of the advanced part of Soviet society during perestroika at the end of the 1980s turned Russian pedagogy in the direction of humanization and democratization. In terms of educating a citizen, it was important that a transition began from class positions to universal values, from the unconditional priority of the interests of the collective, to taking into account the interests of an individual, from authoritarianism to the humanization of the educational process.

Summing up the formation of civic education and upbringing in the domestic pedagogical science of the Soviet period, it should be noted that in addition to V. A. Sukhomlinsky conceptual understanding of this problem was not given by anyone else. Such a problematic was considered not as an independent one, but in the context of other pedagogical problems, touching upon only individual particular issues of civic education and upbringing and not giving a holistic view of it. Only later did the book by Filonov (2007), “Education of a Citizen in the Soviet School”, come out. Subsequently, he developed the ideas inherent in it already in the new political conditions, moving away from ideologization towards social and pedagogical positions.

As an independent direction of scientific and pedagogical research, civic education and upbringing in Russia began to be considered only in the post-Soviet period, when radical social changes took place and a course was taken to build a civil society and a rule of law (Morgan et al., 2019). All this took place in line with universal, humanistic and democratic value priorities, but from a different perspective (Baltovskij et al., 2020). So, Malkova and Fahretdinova (2017) define network, competence-based, project-based and anthropological methodological approaches as basic for the development of various concepts of civic education and upbringing. Grigorieva (2013), in turn, identifies integrative, political science, system, institutional and project conceptual models. An integrative model of civic education and upbringing is reduced to the study of socio-political and legal sciences, integrated in the discipline “Person and Society”; the political science model is focused on preparing schoolchildren for a conscious life and activity in a state governed by the rule of law and a civil society; a model based on a systematic approach is a personality-oriented civic education and upbringing aimed at developing the social characteristics of a growing person's personality, their ability to think critically, evaluate, create, etc; within the framework of the institutional model, it is envisaged to change the traditional way of life of an educational organization on the basis of the creation and development of the legal space of a school; the project model of civic education and upbringing involves development and implementation of specific projects related to solving real social problems (Grigorieva, 2013).

Speaking about modern Russian education, it is quite logical to single out a competence-based model, focused both on the process and the result of civic education and upbringing. The goal in this case is the formation of a person's civic competence, which includes a knowledge component associated with mastering regulatory information, and an activity component associated with the need-motivational sphere of a growing person, encouraging them to participate in the public and socio-political life of an educational organization, society and state (Nartova, 2019).

Summing up the above, it can be stated that the analysis carried out allows us to single out three main periods in the development of knowledge about the formation of civic education and upbringing in Russian pedagogy in the second half of the XX–early XXI century.

The first period is the Soviet period (from the mid-1950s to 1985). Value guidelines here are associated with the ideology of Marxism-Leninism and the class approach and are aimed at the education and upbringing of a collectivist, patriot-internationalist, future communist, builder and citizen of a country of developed socialism and communism, ready always and everywhere to unconditionally subordinate personal interests to public interests. The debunking of the personality cult of I. V. Stalin with the subsequent Khrushchev “thaw” allowed V. A. Sukhomlinsky for the first time in domestic pedagogy to consider at the theoretical level the problem of educating a citizen using individual humanistic ideas, but not going beyond the dominant state ideology.

The next period is the period of perestroika (1985–1991). During this period, Marxist-Leninist ideology began to undergo revision with the aim of redecorating the socialist system created in the country, which gradually led to a rethinking of concepts such as private property, human values, civil and political freedoms. The progressive pedagogical thought in these years corresponded to the named social tendencies, turning towards the humanization and democratization of the educational process, however, the mass Soviet school continued to remain traditionally authoritarian. Nevertheless, certain shifts by the beginning of the 90s took place in it. The collectivist orientation of civic education and upbringing, with the announced course on subject-subject relations, made it possible for a growing person to show their individuality in organizing and conducting school and class collective creative affairs and to master through them new value orientations that were arising in the country.

The third period can be designated as democratic (from 1991 to the present). This is the time of the final rejection of the communist mono-ideology with its class and collectivist priorities and the transition to building a civil society and a state governed by the rule of law in Russia, which are based on universal, democratic and humanistic values, freedom and dignity of a person who has the right to their own opinion, manifestation of individuality and understanding responsibility for their own choices (Petuhov, 2019). The issues of the individual and collective begin to be considered, including through the prism of the formation of national and civic identity. The problem of civic education and upbringing at this stage becomes the object of close attention of the state, society and domestic pedagogical science, which is engaged in substantiating the development of civic competence of the younger generation. The basis of civic competence is the integration of patriotic, moral and environmental education, taking into account national and general cultural traditions and values, the introduction of integrative courses in civics and social studies, the creation of a democratic school structure based on the concept of self-determination, the development of students' critical thinking and legal consciousness in group and collective forms of educational activities.


Summing up the overall result, it should be noted that the development of knowledge about the formation of civic education and upbringing in Russian pedagogical science has always had a concrete historical character, reflecting the state of society, the state and the dominant ideology at one stage or another of the evolutionary process. Having made the way from publicistic discussions to serious scientific and pedagogical research, today the problem under consideration has several conceptual solutions. They are united by their focus on the ideals of humanistic pedagogy and the orientation towards fulfilling the state and social order to build a civil society and the rule of law, where human rights to individual self-expression, personal opinion and protection of personal dignity are recognized.


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15 July 2021

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Cite this article as:

Ivanov, E. (2021). On Formation Of Civic Education And Upbringing 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. 662-669). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2021.07.02.79