In the late 60's, in Novosibirsk, a secondary school utilizing new teaching methods was opened by the local Academy of Science. The school specialized in physics and mathematics, with the notable advantage of drawing on the scholars of the academy for its teaching staff. The school employed progressive teaching methods, and a number of followers quickly emerged. Cooperation between these new schools developed into student competitions in mathematics and physics.
Shockingly, however, a gold medal student, winner of many physics and mathematics competitions, FLUNKED the university entrance exams. Representatives of the Novosibirsk Academy of Science, the Russian Academy of Pedagogy and the Russian Ministry of Education were involved in the appeal process, which grew from the examination of one young man into an examination of the two opposing pedagogical methods -- the conflict between the old school represented by the entrance exams, and the new methods employed by the secondary school.
Three Sources of Incompatibility
The old school insisted that the quality of education was inseparable from the quantity of information. The more acquired information, the better the education. The new school emphasizes the domination of educational habits, focuses on the most important knowledge thereby streamlining cognition, and stresses activity and hands-on experience in instruction.
The primary characteristic of the old school was the didactic method, the basis of reproductive education. The new school was nondidactic, emphasizing generative, productive intellectual activity.
The old school placed priority on the socialization of cognition, leading to the sublimation of the student's personality. The new school focuses on the socialization of the particular knowledge of each individual. The role of cognition and education is expansive, not only the accumulation of information but the generation of a highly educated, creative society -- the society of personalities.
Despite these essential differences, the two schools were really dealing with the same problem - the transmission of knowledge. And in the 60's, everything was explained by trifling divergences in methodics, neglecting the fact that the difference in the pedagogies was profound. It took twenty years for the new school to emerge, differing in both the quality and the form of education. The Novosibirsk alternative school was but the first step.
The New Higher Education -- The Social Necessity for Intellectual Formation.
Society was discovering the need for a new type of intelligentsia, creative and free. Epochal scientific and social progress was in the offing. The established schools could not fulfill this need; creativity, innovation and democracy were incompatible with the classical authoritarian school.
The established schools fostered a vicious cycle of training people to understand problems, but not to solve them. Creativity is realized freedom; the classical school student acquired facts, but had no freedom, and consequently was incapable of creativity. This is the immediate crisis in classical education: current events make it imperative that we produce innovative, creative problem solvers, but the established system is designed to produce conformists.
Necessity is the mother of invention, and society's critical necessity led to the formation of the Authorized school, emphasizing innovative, democratic education, authorizing the creative activity of the student.
Pedagogical Discovery, Pedagogical Revolution
The birth of new knowledge takes place in the school -- the hearth of knowledge. The chain of discovery and revelation begins with the school, the first link.
As noted above, the recognition of the necessity for a new school did not immediately lead to the solution. The problem was initially conceived as a matter of cognition; that is, a problem of teaching and understanding, stimulating the wish to study, to remember, and to acquire knowledge. …