Academic journal article Psychology in Russia

Strategy and Methodology for the Sociocultural Reform of Education

Academic journal article Psychology in Russia

Strategy and Methodology for the Sociocultural Reform of Education

Article excerpt

The famous psychologist L. Vygotsky noted that understanding a partner's idea without awareness of his or her reasons is incomplete. In this regard I shall briefly outline here the reasons for designing a strategy for the sociocultural reform of Russian education.

The basic theme of this work is the development of a conceptualization of the mission and nature of education as a leading social activity that generates social and mental aspects of public life, such as modeling civil, ethnocultural, and panhuman identity; that explains the dynamics of social differentiation and stratification in society; that adopts various traditions, values, standards, and paradigms of behavior for large and minor social groups; that encourages the acquisition of a repertoire of personal, social, and professional competencies supporting the individualization, socialization, and professionalization of an individual within a system of people and professions; and that views the development of human potential as the most important condition for national competitive performance.

An attitude toward education as one of the leading social activities formalizing a historic and evolutionary process together with the other socialization institutions (the family, the mass media, religion) leads to the ideas of a school of thought covering cultural and pragmatist psychology developed by L. Vygotsky, A. Leontyev, and A. Luriya and to social constructionism, a postmodern methodology congenial to this school. The social-constructionism paradigm is most concisely presented by Berger and Lukman (1995) and by Dzherzhen (2003).

The nonclassical methodology of cultural and pragmatist psychology and the methodology of the social modeling of reality made it possible for my colleagues and myself in the period between 1988 and 2008 to propose and develop a set of ideological constructs that have a specific influence on the development of a national education system:

* the "practical psychology of education" as an attitude for understanding and maintaining the importance of each student's individual growth

* "variative education" as a model for providing an adequate choice of educational paths for each person (Asmolov, 1996)

* "tolerance" as a civilization standard for the sustainable development of an individual as well as of diverse social groups (Asmolov, 2007)

In regard to their genre, these ideological constructs refer to specific conscious attitudes that the classical national philosopher A. Losev and the historian M. Gefter called "generative hypotheses" (Gefter, 2004). The requirement for societal sociocultural reform also pertains to the genre of generative hypotheses. These hypotheses are the most complete expression of the general aim of our 20-year-long research--namely, an ideological attitude for modeling education as a social activity leading to civil-society building and the development of human individuality within a variable environment.

From business and economic reform to the sociocultural reform

of education

Let us regard the events of the contemporary history of Russian education through the perspective of the necessity for the sociocultural development of education (NFPK, 2006) and a similar range of ideas presented in the Public Chamber report Education and Society: Whether Russia Is Ready to Invest in Its Future (2007).

Since the turn of the century changes in Russian education as well as in the entire country have affected almost every resident. Education has survived but is still suffering from the times of stabilization (the beginning of the 1990s), restructuring and evolution (mid-1990s), and, finally, reform (from the end of the 1990s until 2008). The reform period dates from 1997 and is characterized by the design of business and economic projects for education development (Asmolov, Dmitriev, Klyachko, Kuzminov, & Tikhonov, 1997). The advances, failures, and social and economic consequences of each of the above-mentioned periods are the topics of specific historical and analytical research, which, like any other research into contemporary history, is required in order to design the further development of education. …

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