Volume:6, Issue: 2

Sep. 1, 2014

In This Issue
A Letter to the Readers
Tsyrlina-Spady, Tatyana [about]
If you have been reading our journal and following its progress, then many of you would say just one word, finally. And it would be right. You know, why? – This current online publication is devoted exclusively to higher education, its place and role in the modern world. Clearly, the journal could add just one tiny bit to the ocean of research materials, collective and individual books on the topic. So our doubts were whether, in principle, we should or should not start talking about it. And we made our choice that would allow you to read many interesting materials prepared by different authors throughout Russia, United States, and Australia. Even the section on history of education will introduce you to the works of the Russian educator Pyotr Kapterev, a founder of teachers’ training institutions in Russia (traditionally represented by our regular contributor Professor Boguslavsky). In other words, we hope that at least some papers will make you think and maybe even reconsider your attitude and understanding of higher education problems today. A couple of articles bear a more generalized character and raise a number of ideological and methodological issues of higher education. They demand attention to the development of new fundamental approaches and reevaluation of many old notions and ideas (Tatyana Romm; Mikhail Romm a.o). There are other papers that demonstrate how to draw new knowledge from the ‘old depositories’ of such world humanists as Leo Tolstoy and John Dewey (William Roden), and Janusz Korczak (Nina Lipkina); still other works bring us back to the notion of baccalaureate and show how the introduction of a two-tier system of higher education has affected Russian professional university training in general, and future teachers’ training in particular (Ekaterina Alexandrova, Sergey Polyakov). Two academics from the United States (Melinda Pierson and Cynthia Gautreau) reflect on the changing socio-cultural conditions in the country and the necessity to translate these changes into university instruction and environment.
Pyotr Kapterev as a Pioneer of Russian Education
Boguslavsky, Mikhail V. [about]
When I reflect on the development of higher Russian education and the type of people who made it happen, I clearly understand that there was one among many who could be called, with all rights, the Father of the Russian Higher Teachers’ Training Education. The name of this person is Pyotr Fedorovich Kapterev (1849-1922). His educational activities, which lasted for over half a century represent an example of remarkable service towards one’s Fatherland - Russia, towards its professional education, its teachers, and children. Kapterev was the type of person who would do everything very substantially and with the highest results possible. We have all the reasons to assume that he was a creator of the Russian Theory of Education. This assumption becomes clear after reading his fundamental works such as, “Educational Psychology”, “Educational Process”, “Didactic Essays”, and “History of Russian Education”. These books – innovative for their time – remain to this day the educational treasures created by this Russian thinker; they remain in demand among current professors of education and educational psychology. It is amazing how many topics he would cover in his works. Let me mention just the titles of some of them: “The Meaning of Christianity in the Formation of Elementary Education”, “Characteristic Features of Secondary Education in England”, “The Tragedy of Gogol’s Life”, “About Children’s Lies”, “Parents’ Responsibility to Their Children.”
“Tough” questions of higher education in Russia
Romm, Tatyana A. [about]
Currently, the transformation of higher education is a subject of cross-disciplinary and cross-sectorial discussions. For all the advantages of this approach there are at least three complications. The first one is “availability” of an issue. Discussion of “how to cure,” “how to govern a state,” and “how to teach” falls within everybody’s competence, reducing conversations about the situation in higher education to its public aspects, without reflecting on deeper causes and the demarcation of economic, political, psycho-educational, and management processes. Consequently, the results of such discussions are barely constructive. The second complication represents a slight redundancy of an issue. During the last few decades, a crisis in education in general, and higher education in particular, has been one of the most popular debated subjects (Ph. Coombs). Since 1992 the perspectives of higher education in a new social environment have been discussed in Russia. “Higher Education in Russia” (together with about 50 other journals, having higher professional education issues under consideration) is the most quoted journal in Russia in the section entitled “Education and Pedagogy” according to the Russian Science Citation Index. Sometimes, reports on problems in higher education focus on only local issues, and thus bring no proper contribution to their national readers.
Higher Education: Realizing the Learner’s Needs for Engaging the ‘Environmental’ Factors in Class to Succeed in the “Outside World”
Roden, William J. [about]
At first, Leo Tolstoy and John Dewey may seem like strange companions on a journey to find the best approach to identify effective ways to teach students. One, a successful 19th century fiction writer in Russia; the other a contemporary, a sociologist in the United States. Tolstoy had just achieved a monumental career as a novelist. He had the big estate, was turning his avocational attention to how he could improve the lot of the peasant. Dewey was working in his own fields of sociology and philosophy trying to find engaging ways to educate students than what was practiced. Both men abhorred rote memorization, grammar and learning tables, etc., just because that was what a prescribed curriculum deemed important. Tolstoy’s The ABC’s of Learning, presented approaches far more individualized and entertaining to the student. Dewey also focused his attention upon the student-centered model. Both seemed to believe an effective education system could be obtained through a more democratic process. (Simmons, 1968) What might succeed in a society as a form of government, a democratic approach, left much to be desired in the classroom. In the late twentieth century, this egalitarian concept oftentimes resulted in an unfocused, laissez faire or chaotic assortment of teaching and learning styles with little success or accountability. Tolstoy visited countries to view their schools and their operation. What he saw he characterized as rote memorization, whippings, and a military-like approach to what should occur in the classroom. He believed he knew what Russian students (read peasants) would appreciate and wanted to learn.
Main Orientations, Terms and Conditions for Initiating Universities’ Participation in Partnership Network Communities1
Romm, Mark V. [about], Romm, Tatyana A. [about], Zayakina, Raisa A. [about]
Intensification of all spheres of public education is the key priority for the current Russian society and state. To solve this strategic task, the so-called “register” of external requirements, which are imposed by the relevant ministry (further on we will use the term ‘an administrative regulator’) to higher educational establishments at the national level, was composed. These requirements include various external (in regard to higher educational establishments) regulations, monitoring the quality of their work through the prism of rather strict criteria of conformity. While analyzing these criteria one can easily notice that many of them, directly or indirectly, touch upon different aspects of social and network activities of higher educational establishments. For example, joint research projects with foreign scientists, various international symposia, conferences, summer and winter scientific schools, joint educational programs’ implementation, student and academic mobility, etc. The network activity is not only part and parcel of the modern university, but also a criterion of its success. Academic exchange, internship and dual diplomas’ programs, as well as the creation and expansion of consortiums for large-scale research projects, which can join universities’ schools of thought, research centers, institutions and separate laboratories, represent the incomplete list of interactions performed on the networking principle. In this regard there came an urgent need for understanding the nature of universities’ network interactions and search for the most effective models of their network cooperation. 
Australian Tertiary Sector Reform: Credentials for Cash
Meyers, Donald [about]
What is the Purpose of a University? Public debate about the purpose of universities is a relatively recent phenomenon in Australia. As Gaita (2012) points out, universities are always vulnerable to “hijack” by the ideology of the day. Thus, while Gaita (2012) argues eloquently that the purpose of universities is to protect and nourish the “life of the mind”, the rise of free market ideology in the early 1990s and its subsequent dominance in public policy has made it is much easier to find others who believe that the role of universities is to dispense private utilitarian goods on a user-pays basis. Universities have been with us since the 1100s, making them one of the most enduring institutions created by humans. None could argue that the benefits they have delivered to humanity are out of all proportion to their size and funding. Hitherto, their success can be attributed to the provision of an environment in which highly intelligent, imaginative and motivated individuals have the resources and freedom to pursue rational truths and educate the next generation of thinkers, untrammelled by the exploitative and inevitably destructive interventions of ephemeral cultural and political demands.
The Influence of Sociocultural Factors on the Process of Training Future Teachers: Experience, Risks and Perspectives
Alexandrova, Ekaterina A [about]
The goal of this paper is to analyze how sociocultural factors influence the implementation of local educational reforms on university faculty and in particular on those who are involved in future teachers’ training. The most prominent influence of these factors became apparent because of the transition from a 5-year degree program that trains specialists to a two-tier education that includes bachelors’ and masters’ degree courses. A formal transition has been successful but the biggest risk of sustaining the same instruction type remains. It means that a teaching process still preserves an informative-controlling nature when university instructors prefer to deal with large groups of students rather than with individuals. However, the individualization of higher education has become, without exaggeration, the top priority for a modern labor market, as training mass professions is gradually decreasing and is more and more pushed into the background. Today, even employees, who simply have to follow a set of instructions, need to acquire, along with knowledge, professional traits and key individual competences. In this situation the success of every university graduate depends less on a student’s amount of knowledge and more on the ability to solve problems differently, being able to obtain knowledge independently.
Cultural Universals as an Integrated Pedagogical Approach for Preservice Teachers
Winstead, Lisa [about], Gautreau, Cynthia [about]
Classrooms are comprised of mainstream learners, English Learners, and learners with special needs. Teachers need exposure to effective instructional strategies that meet the needs of learners. Instructional time devoted to social studies (SS) content is limited, and teachers have few opportunities to learn approaches to support SS instruction (Bleicher & Kirkwood-Tucker, 2004; Brown, 2007; Author, 2011). As university faculty who teach preservice teachers we are confronted with several issues related to SS instruction in schools including instructional time and teacher professional development (PD). The focus of standardized tests places more instruction and emphasis on mathematics and language arts in elementary schools. Teachers’ time is primarily limited by accountability measures (Scruggs, Mastropieri, & Okolo, 2008, author, 2011). A disproportionate amount of instructional time is focused on language arts and mathematics curriculum in lieu of SS (Doppen, 2007)
Developing Baccalaureate Programs in Russia: Issues of Psychological-Educational Nature
Polyakov, Sergey D. [about]
Russian higher education undergoes transition towards the two-tier system of undergraduate (baccalaureate) and graduate studies. For some higher educational institutions such a model has already become customary while most universities are still in the beginning of the way. The distinguishing features of baccalaureate studies as a system as seen in Russia are as follows: (1) A different ratio of lectures versus group classes (discussion sessions) compared to the traditional or habitual order for teachers and students. (2) A different way of knowledge assessment (in credits and ratings). (3) An introduction of self-study as part of the curriculum with the amount estimated in academic hours. As any large-scale modification of the social system, this process goes along with a great number of questions and difficulties.
How to Develop a Humanistic Position of a Future Teacher
Lipkina, Nina G. [about]
Russian education today faces the change of values. If the school of the past focused on the transmission of large amounts of knowledge, a modern school is oriented towards the identity of the student as a subject of education and development, whose main objective is the search for meaning in life and for one’s self-determination. These circumstances dictate the necessity of significant changes in training future teachers. The formation of students’ humanistic positions, development of teachers who can be facilitators, who do not only possess knowledge and skills of how to organize an educational process, but also share a firm belief in the value of every human is now an urgent goal of university education. Any facilitator should possess five abilities or arts (the art of understanding; the art of respect; the art of assistance and support; the art of negotiation, and the art of being own self), which make him/her capable of becoming a friend with a child and a teacher in the highest sense of the word. A facilitator is the one who is able to create conditions for cooperation with children, to detect their problems and find ways of solving them together.
Cultural Differences at the University Level: How are Teaching and Learning Affected?
Pierson, Melinda R. [about]
Due to the diversity in Southern California, it is typical that university professors and their students come from different cultures. Each will bring their own perceptions and beliefs that may affect the way they will interact with one another within the university classroom. These cultural differences may affect the teaching and learning that is expected of both the professor and the student. It is vital that professors reflect on their own beliefs and recognize the way that these beliefs may interfere with different teaching styles. Likewise, students must learn to adapt to new cultures. Professors should begin to build connections with the students and learn more about their diverse cultures. A student’s background may affect their way of learning depending on the way that specific cultures view education, communication, and organization. Professors should inspire their students and make a great impact on their lives. Yet, at one university in Southern California, this can be difficult based on the extreme diversity of the student population. In this university with more than 38,000 students, there are students from 81 nations. Besides these international students, the ethnic distribution of the student body is approximately 21% Asian/Pacific Islander, 35% Hispanic, 2% Black, 27% White, and the remaining define themselves as being of multiple races. Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education (May 2014) ranks this university as number one in California and tenth in the nation among top colleges and universities awarding degrees to Hispanics based on 2012 data from the U.S. Department of Education. Thus, taking a close look at how culture and learning interact at the university level is imperative for student success.
The Ural workshops: Self-determination in the sphere of educational ideas
Demakova, Irina D. [about]
“Strategy” means an art of planning; an activity based on precise estimation and skilful leadership in order to achieve general goals. Each of the definitions is meaningful, but if we consider social education (vospitanije – in Russian), then strategy can be interpreted as a system of measures aimed at achieving a long-term competitive advantage of the Russian education. Over the past ten years the problems of children’s social education have been among the top priorities in Russian legislation. The most prominent document is the Presidential Decree from June 2012 “On the national strategy of measures aimed at the benefit of children for the period of 2012-2017.” The Decree analyzed social problems that seriously impacted “children’s environment” and often resulted in dehumanization of society. Special attention is given to how to teach peacefulness, increased resistance to ethnic, religious and political conflicts among children and youth, how to build a comfortable and friendly environment for children, how to develop social partnership technology, how to implement public and professional expertise, disseminate positive European experience relating to social education and respect for children’s rights, and finally how to promote positive socialization among children and youth.
Experimental Applied Baccalaureate Program: Experience and Results
Palekhova, Polina V. [about], Predbannikova, Olga I. [about]
On August 19, 2009, the Government of the Russian Federation issued a resolution # 667 “On experiment in setting up applied baccalaureate program in undergraduate studies at secondary and higher vocational education institutions,” and the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation announced the appropriate competition among federal educational institutions of secondary and higher vocational education. The Moscow Banking School (College) of the Bank of Russia became one of 50 winners to launch this experimental program. It was commissioned by the Central Bank of the Russian Federation that financed both – the four years of the program and provided the corresponding extra-curricular activities. The National Research University - Higher School of Economics (HSE) became a partner in this project. The experimental applied baccalaureate program in banking (as part of the economics cycle) was launched in 2010. The Bank sponsored the enrollment of 50 full-time students (20 male and 30 female). The entrance competition was 2.3 applicants per vacancy and the passing national exam score was 73 with a hundred maximum. Upon the end of the second year the number of students was reduced to 38 and did not change until the completion of the program. The geography of the project was diverse: students came from Moscow and other 31 regions of Russia.

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