Literacy Education Traditions: The Continuity of Secondary and Higher Schooling

Elena Getmanskaya, Global Education MagazineElena V. Hetman

Moscow state pedagogical University (Russia) at Philology Department. Assistant Professor of teaching of Russian language and literature.

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Abstract: The article considers the problem of the continuous development of secondary and higher education in the Russian tradition, for example in literary education. The scientific approach to the problem of continuity have been ensured by a long standing tradition of interconnected functions within secondary and higher education.

Key words: The continuity of secondary and higher education, methodical tradition, curatorial function of universities, mandatory literature for learning in the Russian higher education system in the 19th century.



Secondary and higher education continuity became a state task in Russia under Peter I. Creating the academic project which Peter provided in academies, universities and other schools. During this period the academic system was unique to Russia. State officials reproached the tsar for buildings a mill (meaning the higher education facility) without creating roads towards this mill (meaning the absence of mass secondary school). Peter’s answer was remarkable: the sovereign considered that his task − to construct a mill, “and the roads will construct themselves” (Tatischev, p. 76-77). Under the new law “About education in the Russian Federation” federal state educational standards should provide continuity of the main educational programs including basic and higher education programs (Eksmo, p. 22). Thus, the continuity of secondary and higher education became one of the key factors in Russian education development today. But, educational innovations should build on the rich historical tradition of the secondary and higher literary education in Russia.

Main part

Before beginning a conversation about the history of Russian literary education, it is necessary to explain the concept of “methodical tradition”. Methodical tradition relies on wide interdisciplinary justifications: sociocultural, philosophical and pedagogical. In addition, the tradition is closely connected with the concept of innovation. We think, everyone will agree that the modern scientific community is open to innovation. But there is also “a danger of underestimating classical heritage” as mentioned by V.A.  Slastyonin (p. 114). Thus, the development of modern pedagogy is associated with two polar concepts − tradition and innovation. The methodological tradition (in the aspect of literary education) can be defined as a function of objective inheritance to educational regularities, being realized in ideas, purposes, tasks, subjects, contents, tools and institutes of literary education.

It is necessary to notice that in the history of Russian literary education there was a very remarkable period. Daily interaction between the secondary schools and universities was approved and paid for by the state (between 1804 and 1835). In “The University Charter” (1804) the principle of registering a submission between basic and higher educational facilities was recognized. University professors inspected all the schools of the area. They were to gather information about the methods of teaching, the textbooks and the abilities of pupils (Ministry of Public Education, p. 6). A university´s curator´s function allowed the professors guidance in problems of schooling techniques. Literature as a school discipline (in the school curriculum of 1828) took a lot of time in the senior classes: 4 hours per week. This fact confirmed the key provision of literature at secondary school.

In the Charter of the Moscow Noble Guesthouse (school for noblemen) the following literary activities were spread among the students: “speeches about scientific and moral subjects, analyses of their own compositions, analyses of the best Russian writers” (Ibidem, p. 435). These training techniques show the influence of the University technique on the pedagogical process in schooling. The academic character methods and high degree of independent activity among students helped further training in literature at universities. In the XIX century the secondary and higher literary education systems were connected using the general preparatory courses in the universities. The main topics in the courses were the Latin language and Russian literature. These disciplines have been the same for all departments. Thus, the literary education in universities was not tied only to the historical and philological departments. The main reason for the existence of such courses was to satisfy the requirement for excellent knowledge of classical languages for students.

There was a change in pedagogical education in 1828. In the Charter of the Petersburg pedagogical College, right after “knowledge in the God’s law”, there was a requirement called “knowledge of the Russian grammar and rhetoric”. Knowledge of Latin and Greek became second place (Ministry of National Education, p. 115). Classic languages for the first time gave way to Russian grammar and rhetoric. The main reason for such a change, in our opinion, was the growing influence of a discipline titled “Russian literature” which became, during this period, an obligatory discipline in school. After the period of 1804-1835’s discipline “literature” extended as an obligatory academic subject for any faculty and specialty. So, the higher pedagogical education was shared for two periods - the initial period and the subject period. The literature belonged to the initial period, which was compulsory for all students. The scientists of that period connected literature with necessary memory training and imagination at a youthful age. The scientists believed that development of these abilities kept the desire to address to creativity throughout life. The importance of literature among other sciences was so great, that the person without literary knowledge was considered as an imperfect.

By the beginning of XX century literature, as the general subject of all faculties, left the Russian higher education system. But at the same time, university professors insisted on its return. Methodologists considered that the literature course should have abroad basis, without any special tasks. In particular, A.I.  Borgman (p. 69) noted: ”There is no doubt that if in each higher educational institution, there were open literature courses, these lectures would be visited with great interest“. Undoubtedly, A.I. Borgman meant to illustrate the absence of logic in the following fact: a literary school course has no continuation in the higher education except in historic-philological departments.


Thus, the continuity of secondary and higher literary education in Russian tradition was long based on obligatory literature training at among all faculties. Literature was declared and studied as a basis for higher education in any specialization. The training process was hand in hand with the idea of the famous teacher Pirogov – without humanitarian knowledge any person is ”rough empiricist or a street charlatan”. In conclusion, we would like to note that the history of secondary and higher literary education has a great deal of concrete, analytical material. As a whole, modern innovative literature training may only exist together with a long historical experience of development in the literary disciplines in secondary and higher education with methodical tradition.


 1. Borgman A.I. What changes are desirable in the modern formulation of teaching Russian language and literature in high schools // the Annex to circulars of the Moscow school district. M., 1896. 72 p.

 2. Charter of the Main teacher training college // The collection of resolutions on the Ministry of National Education V.2. (1825-1855). Issue 1. 1825-1839. Saint-Petersburg, 1864. P.  113-146.

 3. Collection of orders by the Ministry of Public Education: In 16 vol. V. 1, Saint-Petersburg, 1866. 987 p.

 4. Law of the Russian Federation from December 29, 2012 «About education in the Russian Federation». M.: Eksmo, 2013. 208 p.

 5. Slastyonin V.A., Chizhakova G.I. Pedagogical axiology: monograph. Krasnoyarsk, 2008. 294 p.

 6. Tatischev V.N. Conversation on advantage of sciences and schools. M: In University printing house, 1887. 159 p.

This article was published on 10th December: Human Rights Day, in Global Education Magazine.

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