The Specifics Of The Portrait Of A Nomadic Teacher (Educator)


One of the most significant resources of socio-cultural modernization of education, precisely nomadic, is the representation of the socio-cultural situation and the portrait of the teacher (educator) in a particular country or region, in the context of socio-cultural changes in society. The problem is still insufficiently studied. Simultaneously the level of teachers (educators) has a principal role in children's education, including nomads. Concerning the above information, the purpose of the paper is to determine the socio-cultural situation and the features of the portrait of a teacher (educator) of nomadic educational organizations. These can be used as an indicator of nomadic education development in general. The analysis of scientific works on the problems of the social portrait of the teacher, the peculiarities of nomadic education, and the essence of socio-cultural analysis was used to obtain theoretical generalizations. The authors used such methods: theoretical, empirical, and statistical, including analysis, generalization, survey, questionnaire, interview, and ranking. Method of M. Rokich, adapted UNESCO questionnaires on identifying teachers' information and communication skills in places of traditional residence of the indigenous community of the North, Siberia, and the Far East were used in the experiment. The authors determined the theoretical foundation of the research problem during the analysis. They identified individual parameters of the socio-cultural study, which included life strategies, basic and instrumental values, behavioural models, socio-cultural competencies, and professional competencies. These served as the basis for the presentation (creation) of a socio-cultural portrait of a modern nomadic teacher (educator).

Keywords: Nomadic educator, nomadic education, nomadic teacher, Russia, socio-cultural portrait


Our interest in the socio-cultural portrait of nomadic teachers (educators) is topical since several countries with nomadic populations in the North, Siberia, and the Far East of Russia have preserved nomadic and semi-nomadic reindeer husbandries with the institute of nomadic families. This problem is especially topical than ever before in the era of rapidly changing conditions due to the lack of research and development.

The problem and topicality

Despite the small number of educational organizations in which children from nomadic families’ study and are brought up in their traditional places of residence, Russian scientists have studied regional models of organizing the education of nomadic children and presented the practice of ethnocultural education of indigenous small ethnic communities. At the same time, the collective socio-cultural portrait of a nomadic teacher (educator) remained unexplored. The problem of staffing nomadic preschool groups and nomadic schools cannot be solved without studying and determining the components of the portrait of teachers (educators), including life strategies, vital, terminal, and instrumental values, socio-cultural and professional competencies, and competencies in certain socio-cultural situations.

The purpose of the study and the hypothesis

Based on this problem, the purpose of the study is to determine the socio-cultural situation and, based on it, the features of the portrait of a teacher (educator) of nomadic educational organizations as an indicator of the development of nomadic education. The portrait of a nomadic teacher at the beginning of the first nomadic classes creation in the 30ies of the XX century differed undoubtedly from the portrait of modern teachers when the state solved the problem of eliminating illiteracy in nomadic communities. It can also be assumed that the model of a teacher (educator) also had its characteristics during the sedentarization period and further during the period of self-awareness growth and a new request for education in a nomadic family. The authors suggest that the socio-cultural situation influences the formation of the collective image of a nomadic teacher (educator), determines its principal components. It is crucial in organizing education in nomads' residential areas, the specifics of training and advanced training of teachers (educators), and a pedagogical environment in nomadic families.

Object, subject, and novelty of the research

The object of the paper is the education of children leading a nomadic lifestyle, together with their parents. The subject of the study is the socio-cultural situation and its impact on the portrait of a nomadic teacher (educator). The study covers regions where there is some experience in organizing nomadic education and training of teachers (educators), and there is also a need to improve their skills at work. The novelty of the research lies in the fact that the subject of training teachers (educators) to work in nomadic conditions is narrowly oriented but becomes topical during the period of active development of the Arctic and the involvement of indigenous communities in globalization processes.

Problem Statement

According to the current data by the regional education authorities of Russia (2019), 4621 nomadic families nowadays lead a traditional way of life in conventional economic activity places of indigenous small ethnic communities of the North, Siberia, and the Far East. Usually, they move after deer, lead a nomadic and (or) semi-nomadic lifestyle. 6679 children are brought up in nomadic families, 2203 are of preschool age, and 4476 are of school age. According to the latest monitoring data (Institute of National Schools of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), 2019), the number of preschool groups in the regions of the North, Siberia, and the Far East increased from 1 group as part of a nomadic kindergarten in 2007 to 13 nomadic preschool groups in 2019 as part of kindergartens in villages. As of 2019, in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) (8), the Yamalo-Nenets (11) and Nenets Autonomous Okrugs (1) of the Amur Region (1) and the Taimyr Dolgan-Nenets Municipal District of the Krasnoyarsk Territory (3), there are 24 nomadic structures, including 13 nomadic preschool groups (Sitnikova & Nikolaeva, 2021). At the same time, until 2012, when preschool education became a mandatory level of general education for all children who roamed with their parents, there were no attempts to organize them somehow. Later, they began to pay compensations in some regions when a child did not go to kindergarten (YANAO, the Krasnoyarsk Territory). There were also examples when children were taken to year-round and round-the-clock kindergartens at boarding schools, which was a rather significant psychological trauma for children and families.

With the specifics and peculiarities of nomadic education of children, it should be noted that nomadic kindergarten groups always have a low occupancy rate - from 3 to 15 people. The largest group in recent years has been working at the Yuribey trading post of the Tazovsky district of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District. More than 20 children of the surrounding fishermen are registered in the kindergarten formally. 10-15 pupils attend classes every day (Terekhina, 2017). Another feature is the age-diverse nomadic groups and the need to consider the peculiarities of the nomadic reindeer herders’ lifestyle.

The technique of determining the socio-cultural situation

During 2007-2010 short-term field expeditions were carried out in Oleneksky, Nizhnekolymsky, Kobyai, Tomponsky districts of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), Salekhard, the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, and Naryan-Mar, Nenets Autonomous Okrug to participate in educational events related to the study of the socio-cultural situation of nomadic reindeer herders. We also intended to design nomadic education, including nomadic teachers (educators) in cooperation with the public. The organizational models and the network modifications of nomadic structures were revealed. Based on the study of the socio-cultural situation, the project "Teachers of the Arctic" (2010) was developed, aimed, among other things, at improving the professional nomadic teachers’ competencies and increasing the role of tribal communities in the development of socio-cultural of teachers’ (educators') competencies. The objective of the project was to coordinate with the communities a request for the teachers’ competence, which at that time was not entirely possible. In this regard, the research was continued in 2019-2021.

Problems of determining the features of the socio-cultural portrait of teachers (educators

In Russia, although the regions have adopted a regional regulatory and legal framework for the organization of nomadic education (Gabysheva & Sitnikova, 2020), there are still problems. In particular, they require fundamental and applied research to determine the qualification requirements and the educator’s additional competencies to work in the nomadic region. As a result of the analysis of the existing educational programs of preschool education on the example of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), the need for methodological support for the educator’s activities was revealed (Semenova & Maksimova, 2018). Personnel problems and insufficient levels of parents’ and mothers’ education and who could provide pedagogical assistance to their children were also identified.

Research Questions

It was necessary to determine the socio-cultural situation in the regions with a nomadic population to solve the above problems. The local citizens and the representatives of indigenous small ethnic communities discussed the social needs for the education system. The questionnaires included questions to determine the issues that needed to be solved in a particular district, the value orientations of teachers and parents, identifying their socially significant socio-cultural and professional competences and competencies. During the study, the authors tried to solve the question: how does the socio-cultural space of territories affect the development of teachers (educators), on which nomadic education, the economic well-being of families, and tribal communities depend on the whole.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the paper is to determine the socio-cultural situation and the features of a teacher (educator) of nomadic educational organizations as an indicator of the development of nomadic education.

Research Methods

Three groups of methods were used as the principal methods: theoretical (analysis, synthesis, generalization), empirical (questionnaire, survey), and statistical (ranking). The respondents were chosen based on the subject of the study. The study was conducted with the participation of 4 regions of the Russian Federation, in the places of residence of indigenous peoples of the North: the Amur Region, Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug (YUGRA) (Surgut district), the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug (Yamal district), the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) (Kobyai, Momsky, Neryungrinsky districts). Forty-six teachers working in nomadic preschool groups and nomadic schools from among the representatives of indigenous small ethnic communities of the North having work experience in nomadic conditions (43 of them are women, 3 are men) were covered. The age range was from 30 to 55. Twelve teachers of nomadic preschool groups participated in the research on the portrait of kindergarten teachers in a nomadic lifestyle.

We used the following methods to conduct the research: the methods of M. Rokich (as cited in Karelin, 2007), adapted standard tools for identifying the socio-cultural portrait of the Russian region (Lapin & Belyaeva, 2010), the method of determining the type of socio-cultural situation according to Tsirulnikov (2017), adapted questionnaires of the World Bank to identify teachers’ information and communicative skills that are necessary for places of traditional residence of indigenous peoples of the North, Siberia, and the Far East were used.

Socio-cultural situation method by A. M. Tsirulnikov

According to this methodology, four main types of socio-cultural situations of a particular locality have been determined evaluating the answers to the questions: 1) whether cultural and historical traditions have been preserved or whether the level of modern socio-cultural background is relatively high (in our case, the situation in nomadic places); 2) whether cultural and historical traditions have been preserved, but the level of modern socio-cultural background is low (the situation in nomadic places); 3) cultural and historical traditions are absent, but the level of modern socio-cultural background is relatively high (the situation in nomadic places); 4) cultural and historical traditions and modern socio-cultural background are absent (the situation in the places of nomadism) (Tsirulnikov, 2017).

Sampling method (nest sampling)

We used methods of the selective survey of the target audience and determined the survey units based on the characteristics of social objects. The teachers of "nomadic schools," educators of nomadic preschool groups, subject teachers, teachers, and a school director participated in the survey. The respondents included representatives of different nationalities: Evens, Evenks, Chukchi, Nenets, Khanty, Dolgans, and Russians. The sampling method (nest method) was used to select whole groups similar in fundamental characteristics (age, gender, professional activity, and the like). For example, based on the identification of UNESCO's information and communication competence survey adapted for nomads, the testers revealed the accessibility level and proper computer use in nomadic education.

The method of value orientation system identification

The content aspects of the personality orientation are determined under the method of value orientation system identification by M. Rokich (as cited in Karelin, 2007). It makes the basis of relations to the surrounding world, to other people, to oneself, the worldview basis and the life activity core motivation, the life concept basis, and the "life philosophy." The method of studying M. Rokich's value orientations is based on a direct ranking of the list of values. M. Rokich distinguishes two classes of values: terminal values, which are beliefs that the ultimate goal of individual existence is worth striving for; instrumental values, which are beliefs that a definite course of action or personality trait is preferable in any situation. The questionnaires contained questions to identify the priority of respondents' values, highlight the specifics of socio-cultural and professional teachers’ competencies needed in nomadic conditions and work with children from nomadic families. The summing up stage made it possible to calculate the results, compare them, and identify similarities and differences in the results obtained. The processing of the obtained results was carried out based on the comparative analysis. A descriptive comparison was prepared to get an idea of the portrait of nomadic educators’ and teachers’ specifics.


During the analysis of the socio-cultural situation in places of compact residence and traditional economic activity of indigenous small ethnic communities of the North, Siberia, and the Far East of the Russian Federation, we identified specific types of socio-cultural situations in some regions according to the method of Tsirulnikov (2017). The analysis revealed that the current socio-cultural situation in these regions of Russia has a nomadic education with its specific origins since nomadic families have been raising their children in a traditional lifestyle for many centuries. Since the 1930s, the Soviet state, earlier than all other countries in the world, introduced creating an education system for indigenous peoples, the so-called aborigines of the North. The system has developed from the first red reindeer skin tents and nomadic tutors to nomadic schools and boarding schools. The results have revealed that the second type prevails in the socio-cultural situation of a particular locality today. It occurs in the territories of traditional residence and traditional economic activity of the indigenous small ethnic communities of the North, Siberia, and the Far East of the Russian Federation (method of A.M. Tsirulnikov). They have preserved cultural and historical traditions, namely, the traditions of the nomadic lifestyle, but the level of the modern socio-cultural background is low in terms of modern infrastructure. The conditions of the educational environment are created partially, but the educational process is organized not in all regions, places of the nomadic lifestyle of indigenous peoples. A collective socio-cultural portrait of teachers-nomadic educators leading a nomadic lifestyle is presented in these specific conditions. The analysis of the education level of nomadic teachers showed that only 24% (11 people) have a higher education, 36% (17 people) have specialized secondary education, 15% (7 people) have vocational secondary education, and 24% (11 people) have incomplete school education. 16.7% of them have a higher education, 33.3% have vocational secondary education, and 50% have complete school education. Young specialists who have pedagogical experience in kindergarten up to 4 years make 66.7%, up to 10 years - 16.7%, up to 15 years of work experience in nomadic preschool groups – 16.7%. To increase the proportion of children enrolled in preschool education and traditionally receiving primary general education in families leading a nomadic and (or) semi-nomadic lifestyle, the monitoring of the education level of parents (legal representatives) from among the representatives of tribal communities of indigenous minorities of the North, Siberia, and the Far East and their readiness to receive pedagogical education or retraining within the qualifications of "Educator" and "Primary school Teacher" was carried out between May 14 to May 31, 2021. Eight regions of the North inhabited by indigenous peoples took part in the monitoring. Regional education authorities of the Arkhangelsk Region, the Magadan Region, and the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug reported the absence of those who wished to receive pedagogical education among parents belonging to indigenous minorities. Five regions participated in the survey to find out parents' education level. Seven hundred and one people from among indigenous minorities partook in the experiment. The survey showed that 442 people (63.1%) have incomplete school education; 163 parents (23.3%) have complete school education; 69 parents (9.8%) have secondary vocational education and 12 people (1.7%) have higher vocational education (bachelor's degree).

Fifteen people (2.1%) have higher vocational education (speciality and master's degree), 41 parents expressed a desire to continue their education to receive pedagogical education by correspondence or full-time correspondence, including the qualification of "Educator" - 35 people, "Primary school teacher" qualification - 6 people. This research confirms the importance of creating a pedagogical environment among the nomads and improving the qualification level of working in such socio-cultural conditions teachers (educators).

The main parameters of the socio-cultural portrait of a nomadic teacher (educator)

The main parameters of the portrait are revealed: life strategies, terminal and instrumental values, socio-cultural and professional competences, and competencies. Thus, most teachers associate their life strategies with pedagogical approaches, design, skills, and innovations. They arise the necessity to introduce them into the education, upbringing, and socialization of children leading a nomadic lifestyle with their parents. The study results indicate that teachers attach great importance to a small homeland, a nomadic family, a camp, traditional farming, nomadic routes, and a nomadic lifestyle. They do not prefer a comfortable life but choose a vast territory of their native land (nomads), traditional farming, reindeer pasture lands, fishing areas. All these dominate their peculiarities of terminal life values. As instrumental values, teachers in nomadic conditions consider personal traits that help a person in life. They are purposefulness, diligence, truthfulness, courage, sensitivity, care, and responsibility. The integrating core of fundamental values has also been revealed: family (care for children), traditions (respect for customs, traditions), order, correct behaviour, health, and social benefits of work.

It is established that a teacher’s professional behaviour reflects professional and personal qualities, including the ability to explain the information clearly and combine the democratic teaching style (pedagogical behaviour) with demand, self-confidence, sympathy, and understanding. Teachers’ socio-cultural competencies aimed at the socio-cultural and educationally significant spheres are defined: drawing up a plan for organizing children's labour brigades, including family brigades in reindeer herds, developing a detailed plan for financing, material and technical base of a nomadic school, creating children's social movements in traditional branches of the indigenous peoples of the North, developing subject curricula and educational courses based on the integration of scientific and traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples and under the specifics of the nomadic lifestyle.

The integral characteristic of business and personal qualities reflecting the level of knowledge, skills, and experience for the organization of educational activities to form students' future competencies: the ability to learn, adapt to new circumstances, and unusual environment, be able to work in unusual conditions, responsibility, independence in making certain decisions, and mobility. Thus, the main components of the socio-cultural portrait can be presented in Table 1 "A nomadic teacher's (educator's) socio-cultural portrait as follows:

Table 1 - A nomadic teacher's (educator's) socio-cultural portrait
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Currently, teachers’ (educators’) activities are regulated by two principal documents: the Professional Standard of a teacher (further referred to as the Professional Standard) and the Federal State Educational Standard (further referred to as the Federal State Educational Standard). (). The professional standard reflects the need to include the ethnocultural, national, and regional values of educational programs. Thus, in terms of,,: "building educational activities taking into account the cultural differences of children, gender, age, and individual characteristics" and "using constructive educational parents’ efforts (legal representatives), assisting the family in solving issues of child-rearing" (Prikaz Ministerstva truda..., 2013).by specific labour actions and the demonstration of necessary skills. They include participation "in creating a safe and psychologically comfortable educational environment through ensuring the life safety, maintaining the emotional well-being of the child;" "build a partnership with parents, use methods and means for their psychological and pedagogical education" (Prikaz Ministerstva truda..., 2013). In addition, many scientists and practitioners consider it necessary to know the ethnocultural, national, and regional characteristics of the region, including the district and locality (Fedorov & Nikitina, 2020). Of interest is training programs development for nomadic preschool groups and nomadic schools of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), particularly tutors (Neustroeva et al., 2016). The model developed by the author of the tutor-teacher of the nomadic and basic small-scale school of the North appears to be "not only psychological and pedagogical but more socio-personal, "the author suggests competencies that "also include motivational, social and behavioural components" (Neustroeva, 2013, p. 2529). Among the new competencies, it is necessary to "master the method of socio-cultural analysis of a person's situation; the ability to identify various life problems that people face and identify those that can be solved through education; cooperate and find ways to solve them" (Tsirulnikov, 2020, pp. 53-54).

The foreign practice of organizing the children's education and the initiation of so-called cultural standards is appealing in this direction. Standards and guidelines for the realization of the Alaska Cultural Standard were created with the help of Alaska Native stakeholders and adopted in 2010. Cultural standards complement state standards by providing in-depth, experiential learning in real-world contexts. They are not intended to standardize education but rather to encourage schools to nurture and develop the rich and diverse traditions that continue to be practised in national communities throughout Alaska. For example, in Alaska, teachers are guided by two groups of cultural standards (for children and teachers). Alaska Standards for Culturally Adaptive Schools, created by the Alaska Rural Systems Initiative, are included in student and professional standards with the rules of teacher training programs in Alaska. These standards show a shift in emphasis from teaching and studying cultural heritage as another subject to teaching and learning through local culture. The strategy of evaluating teachers’ activity depends on the socio-cultural context in which they work (Kaden & Patterson, 2014). Researchers of the peculiarities of teacher training for a specific socio-cultural situation also emphasize the role of the socio-cultural and socio-political context in teacher training (Roegman et al., 2021).

In the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, the practice of training Arctic volunteers with pedagogical education and high school students is being introduced (Andreev & Morgun, 2021). In the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), the experience of formal and informal education is being implemented within the socio-cultural approach (Tsirulnikov, 2016). The attention is focused on the specifics of the nomadic lifestyle, to which teachers should be adapted. The role of parents in organizing the nomadic teachers’ lifestyle and the need for nomadic community language and the Russian language proficiency, which is the language of education, are underlined (Terekhina, 2018). The education issues of indigenous children are considered within the indigenous approach. The attention is drawn to the specifics of educational programs, teaching methods, and upbringing in conditions of low classes occupancy and age groups (Nikolaeva et al., 2019; Neustroev, 2020). All these socio-cultural and professional competencies are included in the portrait of a nomadic teacher (educator). It presents a new trend in the growth of teachers (‘educators’) information and communication competencies among the news skills.


The thesis on the importance of the socio-cultural situation for the socio-cultural portrait of a nomadic teacher (educator) formation as an indicator of the development of nomadic education is emphasized due to three main and mandatory grounds. Thus, the specifics and features of nomadic education of children concerning the subject of the study are as follows. The educator should organize the children’s activities aged 3 to 7 years old with different proficiency levels of native and Russian languages, which fundamentally distinguishes a kindergarten in the tundra or taiga from a typical village or urban preschool. Consequently, the teacher (educator) must be proficient in the children’s native language and Russian as the education language. The teacher must know the ethnopedagogical and cultural traditions of the indigenous small ethnic communities and be able to apply this knowledge in professional activities in nomadic conditions. He must also; possess developed specific skills for participation in the communities’ economic life, embedding in nomadic lifestyle with a flexible work schedule.

The presented socio-cultural portrait of a teacher (educator) in the conditions of a nomadic lifestyle contributed to determining the prospects for the development of the subject of research in the form of the following practical recommendations:

- the study of the resource intensity of indigenous small ethnic communities leading a nomadic or semi-nomadic lifestyle in the regions of the North, Siberia, and the Far East of Russia (the education level of nomads and the need for teaching staff);

- organization of the targeted training of mothers, nomadic communities’ representatives for the organization of a system of remote nomadic structures as part of preschool institutions in towns and cities;

- formation of a "cultural standard" of a nomadic educator and a nomadic teacher based on effective domestic and foreign practices;

- testing of tools for creating a developing spatial environment in non-standard conditions (in nomads, in the family, and the like);

- development and implementation of the basic educational program considering the education peculiarities of indigenous minorities children in nomadic conditions.

Thus, without determining how much the socio-cultural space of the territories affects the development of teachers (educators) who, in their professional activities, will educate a new generation in nomadic conditions, based on their actions and worldview of a Northerner, knowledge, and skills, it is impossible to build strategies and plans for the development of nomadic education in general.


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Sitnikova, N. V., & Nikolaeva, A. D. (2022). The Specifics Of The Portrait Of A Nomadic Teacher (Educator). In N. G. Bogachenko (Ed.), AmurCon 2021: International Scientific Conference, vol 126. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 886-896). European Publisher.