Critical Thinking in the Former Soviet Bloc

By Seth Stern writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, December 1, 2002 | Go to article overview

Critical Thinking in the Former Soviet Bloc


Seth Stern writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


During four decades of Communist rule, education in the Soviet bloc meant mostly pouring facts into the minds of students, not encouraging original thought.

But over the past five years, the concept of critical thinking has begun seeping into schools from the Balkans and Baltics to Mongolia.

The messengers are volunteer educators from abroad who are training teachers and professors in 29 former Soviet bloc countries. The Reading and Writing for Critical Thinking project (RWCT) is funded by George Soros's Open Society Institute in New York.

Organizers say the project is making learning more engaging for students and providing them with the skills needed to participate in a democratic society, such as listening with respect, constructive problem solving, and forming opinions.

"We found a very serendipitous relationship between how children learn best and behaviors needed for a civil society," says project codirector Jeannie Steele, a professor at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls.

Under communism, education was dominated by a rigid model in which the teacher transmitted information from textbooks during lectures, says Vesna Mihokovic Puhovski, a Croatian history teacher who participated in RWCT training in 1997. "Students took notes and forgot them soon without any understanding about what they were forced to memorize," Ms. Puhovski says. Original opinions were discouraged and most books from Western countries were simply banned.

Where only a single disparaging point of view about Albania's monarchy was presented under communism, students are now free to debate their history from all sides.

"There is no right or wrong answer," says Bardhyl Musai, an Albanian university professor who took the training in 1997 and now runs an Albanian nonprofit organization to promote democratic values in education.

"Students have different notions, and teachers are promoting that in the new environment," he says.

The RWCT students range from elementary school teachers to college physics professors. Most participants teach language and the humanities, but the program will instruct teachers from any discipline in which learning from a book is the norm - including driver's education, says Charles Temple, a professor at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, N.Y., and a RWCT codirector.

A team of four Western instructors visits each country periodically over a three-year period. It's a "train the trainer model" in which the instructors teach the new techniques to a batch of local teachers during visits in the initial year. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Critical Thinking in the Former Soviet Bloc
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.