Volume:1, Issue: 3

Dec. 15, 2009

Integration of Academic and Club Activities in the School Holistic System
Paladiev, Sergey L. [about]

DESCRIPTORS: integration; academic classes; club activities; an ambivalent approach; a teaching-educational complex; a club-type school; communards’ activities and methods.

SYNOPSIS: The author strongly supports the idea of integration of academic and extracurricular activities and brings valid proofs which show how important it is for the creation of an effective school holistic system. He also describes different levels of such integration and different types of schools which use the concept of integration.

Integration of Academic and Club Activities
in the School Holistic System

It is hard to imagine any teacher or school administrator who would deny the importance of integration of efforts of all educational subjects (teachers, administrators, parents) within a secondary school. “Integration” has become one of the most frequently used terms in the “educational vocabulary.” It is only logical and predictable as integration is directly connected with the concept of an educational system, more so it is one of its primary characteristics. Anton S. Makarenkoii used to say, “no tool can be considered good or bad if it is described apart from other tools or apart from the whole complex of educational influences.” Another way to put it is – integration is a “device” that brings all the tools together. It is a method of creating an educational system, a way of arranging a holistic educational process.

In their day-to-day school life administrators and practitioners hardly think of the idea of integration, taking it for granted, strongly believing that everything at school should be interconnected or integrated. Unfortunately, such an intuitive approach to integration reduces the effectiveness of all the efforts to arrange it. So what is integration?

Integration can be considered, first, a state of any phenomenon when all its elements are coherent, orderly, coordinated and stable; and second, it is a process that triggers this state. The notion of integration is close to the notion of interaction, which can be considered a mechanism of integration. Integration can exist between institutions, organizations, and different people. It is multi-directional, multi-sided, and it helps creating a learning space of any institution or of the whole region.

Analyzing the integration of academic and club activities within a secondary school, we use the concept of a school holistic system developed by famous Soviet and Russian educators (V. Karakovsky, A. Kurakin, L. Nowikova, N. Selivanova, and others). Following the ideas of an Estonian researcher Kheino Liimets, these thinkers consider “personality and character formation” the broadest and most meaningful pedagogical notion, equal to management of the development of one’s personality.

In this respect a school holistic system is a unity of a didactic subsystem and a character formation subsystem, in other words, of academic and extracurricular activities. Such integration leads to the creation of an entity or a school holistic system. This is an environment where every student lives and studies which means that the character of a school holistic system and the level of its maturity influence the development of every child.
In any school holistic system there are always two types of opposite processes – integration and disintegration. This is the reason to analyze any integration from the point of view of an ambivalent approach which presupposes that every phenomenon can be observed through its “dualistic opposition”, that is from two different and contradictory approaches.

These two – integration and disintegration – cannot be considered absolutely positive or absolutely negative for the development of a school holistic system or for the individual development of any student.

Among many different activities only one or a few can become systems forming for any school holistic system, and only these activities will shape and color the whole educational system. Our long-term analysis of different systems shows that children can develop their highest potentials only in such systems where there is a combination of mandatory and disciplinary activities along with optional ones. The latter is necessary to provide freedom to choose an activity and the types of participation. School experience shows that more often than not this combination consists of academic and club activities.

Academic activities are obligatory for children during their entire school life. These activities are usually full of prescribed norms and standards, and they are not always challenging for students. Although students do have to participate in academic activities, they do not always help to develop their individualities and provide room for their self-realization. At the same time academic activities serve as a basis for the organization of all other types of activities and as a source of integration in the development of a school holistic system.

Club activities, oriented towards students’ interests and being optional by nature, allow the development of creative individual potentials in every child. They also help to provide a social arena for their communication, self-determination and self-formation. These activities are less predictable and more dynamic; they allow mutual flexibility — children have to adapt themselves to certain activities, and in turn, the activities should be adapted to certain children. This is a reason to consider club activities as a disintegrating factor in the development of any school holistic system.

In contrast to academic activities, club activities are compensatory and stimulating by nature. For example, while participating in club activities, children usually compensate for their failure in mandatory school subjects, as well as for the lack of success in peer communication. Becoming active in club activities challenges their success in academic classes as well. This happens because participation in any optional creative activity promotes additional interest in learning in general. Students acquire necessary skills that help them in both, studying school subjects and changing their status among their peers.

One of the primary forms of integration of academic and club activities is the so-called pedagogical or educational complex (the term created by Vladimir Karakovsky). Any complex is a combination of different educational strategies and organizational forms that combine and unite different aspects of personality formation. As an example, we can name some integrative programs (inter-subjects’, between-subjects’, whole school’s, between schools’), school key activities, club centers, and so on. Besides, every unit or club, which brings children with similar interests together, should become an educational complex. The same applies to any class in any subject.

Any class will serve as an educational complex only if it has become a genuine element of the school holistic system. This can be achieved in two different ways: first, while increasing the educational nature of a class through its content, arrangements, and the personality of the teacher; and second, using content and methods of extracurricular activities in the academic sphere.

Integration of academic and extracurricular activities in any secondary school can be achieved on different levels. Following the findings of E. Evladova, L. Loginova and N. Mikhailova who managed to describe these levels of supplementary education, we have also defined four levels of integration of academic and extracurricular activities.

The first level is characterized by a sporadic set and number of club units that are usually dependent on financial and human school resources. These units are hardly interconnected, and they have very tenuous connections with classes either.

The second level is more organized. Clubs, teams, and studios may be united into club centers that share a similar program. Such school centers are not interconnected, and their overall influence in the school is very limited.

The third level is when the school has its own “supplementary education” division; different club units share the same educational program that presupposes coordination of their activities with the teaching process.

The forth level indicates a well-developed integration of academic and club activities. They are united by similar conceptual ideas that help to develop a high level of the school holistic system.

Today there exist quite a number of different schools where an integration of academic and club activities is on its third or forth levels. Below are just a few examples given of well-known schools.

A teaching-educational complex (TEC)
There are several types of TECs but regardless of the differences they are united by one common feature – the coexistence of primary and supplementary educational establishments together. The fundamental principle of such TECs is an integration of academic and club activities. For example, a successful TEC of this type has been in operation for over a decade in Ioshkar-Ola. This experimental teaching-educational complex of School No 18 is headed by an Honored Teacher of the Russian Federationiii, Dr. Grigory Peisakhovichiv. The complex consists of six primary and autonomous subdivisions that are united by one basic concept and common activities. This TEC includes an elementary school, a secondary school (middle and high grades together), a music school, a sports school, center for pre-professional training, and a medical center.

A club-type school
A school holistic system of this type unites two main components – academic classes and clubs proper; these are interconnected and compose one entity. Academic and club activities are internally connected, presenting every student with equal opportunities for self-determination and individual development. Such a school holistic system has been created in secondary school No 11, Kirovo-Chepetsk, Kirov Region. Since 2001 the school was rated as a gymnasiumv (Gymnasium No 2); the school principal is Valentina Zhuikova, an Honored Teacher of the Russian Federation.

A communards’-typevi school
The primary idea of such a school is the theory of collective creative education (creative teamwork practices) developed by Dr. Igor Ivanovvii. Collective creative methods and strategies are actively used in both academic and extracurricular activities. A lot of time is spent in organizing creative activities of the learning type. Cooperation between students and teachers, and children of different age groups between themselves in the process of preparing such activities is one of the primary integrating factors. One of the most famous Russian schools based on the ideas of collective creative education is Moscow school No. 825; the school principal is the People’s Teacher of the USSR, an Associate Member of the Russian Academy of Education, Professor, Dr. Vladimir Karakovsky.

Sergey Paladiev, [In Russian: Сергей Леонидович Паладьев], Ph. D., Chair, Department of Theory and History of Education, Yaroslav State Pedagogical University named after Konstantin Ushinsky.

Makarenko, Anton Semyonovich, [In Russian: Антон Семёнович Макаренко (1888-1939)] was a Ukrainian and Soviet educator and writer. He was one of the founders of Soviet pedagogy who elaborated the theory and methodology of formation in self-governing, child collectives as well as the introduction of productive labor into the education system.

A title “Honored Teacher of the Russian Federation” [In Russian: Заслуженный учитель Российской Федерации] is one of many official titles presented by the Russian Government. The purpose of the award is to honor teachers at all educational levels for their work in educating the Russian youth. The title was a carry over from the Soviet era, where citizens of various professions were honored by the national government for their long contributions to a specific field or to the nation. After the perestroika, the awarding title was scrapped. The return of the title, with its' present name, occurred with the passage of the President’s Order No. 1341 on December 30, 1995.

Learn more about this school: the article by Peisakhovich and Tyrtyshnaya is in the same journal issue.

A gymnasium is a type of school providing secondary education in some parts of Europe, including the after-perestroika Russian Federation. It is comparable to English grammar schools and U.S. college preparatory high schools. Such schools usually provide solid intellectual education and prepare its students to enter a university for advanced academic study.

The communards are an outgrowth of methods of organizing collective life that developed in Russia in the 1920s. Anton Makarenko utilized brainstorming and group discussion and group preparation, which are still used with modifications. There were periods in the Russian social history when these ideas were extremely popular: the 20s, the 50s, the 70s, and the 90s, which on the whole can be considered the years of social reconstruction and social reform.

Dr. Igor Ivanov [In Russian: Игорь Петрович Иванов] was one of the first who started using Makarenko's ideas in after-school institutions; the first was Frunzensky Palace of Pioneers in Leningrad. The scheme he and his colleagues developed involves the following steps:
(1) working out aims; (2) collective pplanning; (3) collective preparation; (4) the activities themselves; (5) collective analysis; and (6) follow-up.

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