The Psychological Safety of the Educational Environment and the Psychological Well-Being of Russian Secondary School Pupils and Teachers

By Bordovskaia, Nina, V; Baeva, Irina A. | Psychology in Russia, January 1, 2015 | Go to article overview

The Psychological Safety of the Educational Environment and the Psychological Well-Being of Russian Secondary School Pupils and Teachers


Bordovskaia, Nina, V, Baeva, Irina A., Psychology in Russia


Introduction

The interest of psychologists in the study of the educational environment and its psychological resources is increasing because, with the active development of continuous education in Russia and other countries, the number of people in this environment at different stages of life (not only in childhood and the traditional school years) is increasing. The educational environment occupies a special place because of the importance of its influence on personal development. Vygotsky (1982, p. 127 wrote, "The impact of the environment on child development will be measured among other influences as well as the degree of understanding, awareness, and comprehension of what is happening in the environment." Vygotsky was one of the first Russian psychologists who turned to the study of the sociohistorical determination of the psyche.

With the end of the twentieth century, Russian psychologists have shown considerable interest in the psychological problems of ecology and the development of children's minds in the process of interaction with the environment. As a result, several productive approaches to determining the psychological sense of the educational environment and its role in personality development and socialization have appeared (Rubtsov, 2009; Slobodchikov, 2000).

First, a significant claim of this research was the idea that the educational environment influences human behavior: its objective properties preset the universal "framework" in which individual development and behavior take place (Panov, 2007). Second, there were new approaches to the study of the influence of the educational environment on a pupil's personality and its development (Baeva, Volkova, & Laktionova, 2011) and on the professional and personal development of the student (Bordovskaia, 2012).

Third, psychological studies have proven that people can develop only in an environment with certain parameters, one of the most significant of which is safety (Baeva, 2002). Safety is a basic human need, and it has a key role in providing for the mental health and development of children.

Thus, the study of the psychological safety of the educational environment as a psychopedagogical reality and set of conditions that provide for the positive development and the formation of the personality of each participant in the educational process is extremely relevant in view of the ongoing acts of violence against children, groups, or communities in the context of the family, kindergarten, or school. Violence is the main source of psychotrauma, a factor in the deterioration of mental health (Volkova, 2011).

The search for tools of psychological resistance and the conditions that reduce threats and mitigate the risk of safety inhibition is not only a social need in modern conditions but also the task of special studies. In the psychological context the search for tools and conditions for studying the perception, cognition, and assessment of the educational environment for the development of students and teachers is beginning.

The modern system of Russian education is in the process of being reformed and is offering fundamentally different activities to teachers and students; these changes raise the necessity for the stability of these participants in the educational environment and their ability to overcome difficulties. The basic goal is the preservation of graduates' health -- physical, mental, and psychological. The psychological aspects of achieving this goal lie within the framework of providing support for the psychological well-being of teachers and students.

Many psychologists are guided by the model developed by C. D. Ryff (Ryff & Singer, 2008) for understanding and studying psychological well-being. This model proposes these structural components of psychological well-being: a positive attitude toward oneself and one's past life, relationships with people that are imbued with care and confidence, the ability to follow one's own beliefs, the ability to meet the requirements of everyday life (competence), goals and activities that give meaning to life, and continued development and self-realization. …

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