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Classroom and Empire

Classroom and Empire: The Politics of Schooling Russia's Eastern Nationalities, 1860-1917

Copyright Date: 2001
Pages: 448
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  • Book Info
    Classroom and Empire
    Book Description:

    Classroom and Empire tells the story of the politics of alphabets, languages, and schooling in the eastern empire of Russia from 1860 to 1917. Wayne Dowler presents an intriguing cast of characters, including Nikolai Il'minskii, whose method of schooling non-Russian children lay at the heart of nationalist controversy; Ismail Bey Gaspirali, whose new method schools attempted to reconcile Islam with modern secular philosophy and science; Konstantin Pobedonostsev, procurator of the Holy Synod and éminence grise of the reigns of Alexander III and his son Nicholas II; and Sophia Chicherina, feisty defender of the Il'minskii school.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6872-3
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. List of Tables
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 3-20)

    Originating as a tiny territory on the Oka river in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the Russian Empire had by the middle of the nineteenth century grown into one of the most ethnically diverse and polyglot polities that the world had known. In spite of the mosaic of languages and dialects over which Russia’s empresses and emperors reigned, conflict in the empire, before the advent of national sentiment early in the nineteenth century, had usually turned on religious differences, violations of traditional political arrangements, or the exigencies of diplomatic balance of power.

    The dynamic started to change in the first...

  7. 1 Conversion and Apostasy
    (pp. 21-40)

    In December 1866 the residents of the Tatar village of Cherki-Bibkeev of Shungutsk volost’ in the Tetiushsk district of Kazan’ province in the middle Volga region delivered a petition to the province’s chief of gendarmes. The Orthodox priest of a neighbouring village, the petitioners explained, had testified to the authorities that they were descendants of baptised Christian Tatars but now practiced Islam. Since it was illegal for Christians to revert to Islam, the conscientious, or vindictive, priest was taking steps to reinscribe them against their will among the Orthodox. The villagers pleaded that they did not consider themselves Christians. On...

  8. 2 The Il’minskii Method
    (pp. 41-61)

    Official recognition that coercive administrative measures employed under Nicholas I were inadequate to combat apostasy among baptised non-Russians coincided roughly with the debates about popular education that led to the 1864 Education Statute. The statute was part of a larger package of reforms that accompanied the emancipation of the serfs. Along with the reforms of local government and the judiciary, the reform of education was intended to provide an additional instrument for public management and social control in the country’s changed circumstances. In particular, the government accepted the importance of schooling in equipping the population for the role that new...

  9. 3 The 1870 Regulations on Schooling the Eastern Nationalities
    (pp. 62-84)

    The mere fact that Il’minskii, Timofeev, and others had developed an apparently effective method of schooling non-Russians at the primary level was no guarantee that the method would find its way into publicly funded schools. Among the obstacles were a number of broad political questions, which many felt took precedence over pedagogical considerations. Which approach to the education of the non-Russian peoples of the empire best served the goals of social control and eventual assimilation? Was a single educational strategy appropriate for all the disparate groups under the tsar’s authority? Would an independent initiative in one part of the empire...

  10. 4 Schooling Baptised Non-Russians and Pagans
    (pp. 85-119)

    Long and difficult as the debate over the policy on non-Russian education had been, the struggle to implement the new provisions on schooling for baptised non-Russians and pagans contained in the Regulations of 1870 was even more arduous. The obstacles were immense. The chief impediment was endemic throughout the fledgling elementary education structure of the empire: insufficient funding. In addition to schools supported directly by the Ministry of Education, as well as by other ministries and state agencies, the recently created organs of local self-government, the zemstvos, gained, in 1864, the right to fund schools from local taxes. Only in...

  11. 5 Schooling Muslims
    (pp. 120-149)

    Nothing in the statutes or regulations of the Russian Empire prevented Muslims from attending Russian schools or even schools for baptised non-Russians. Russian-language schools for non-Russians had for many years trained an elite from various peoples to serve the imperial administration. In practice, few Muslims entered Russian schools. Since the heart of education in Russian elementary schools was Orthodoxy and the intent of baptised non-Russian schools was explicitly missionary, Muslims preferred their own confessional schools to the Russian variety. The religious curriculum was an impediment to Muslims entering Russian schools and teaching in the Russian language was another. The old...

  12. 6 The Crisis in Non-Russian Schooling
    (pp. 150-171)

    For all their limitations, and despite the government’s efforts in the 1880s to neutralize them, the Great Reforms of the 1860s had laid the foundations for the construction of a civil society in Russia. The growth of a market economy, especially with the government’s industrialization push in the 1890s, bolstered the confidence and independence of the country’s social forces. Rapid social and economic change combined to redefine public and, to some extent, state expectations about elementary education. In the 1860s, both conservatives and liberals, for different reasons, had generally opposed universal compulsory elementary education. By the beginning of the twentieth...

  13. 7 The Il’minskii Method Reaffirmed
    (pp. 172-187)

    The miscalculations and misunderstandings of Nicholas II and his advisors pushed Russia first to war with Japan in 1904 and to defeat the following year. Consequently, the Russian Empire was propelled into a new phase of development. Defeat weakened the bonds of the empire, which depended to a remarkable extent on the now-tarnished prestige of the autocracy. The loss of face and the commitment of the autocracy’s most loyal troops to the Far Eastern theatre combined to give the popular front the opportunity it needed to press for radical political change. Momentous as Russia’s defeat was for Russians, the victory...

  14. 8 Pedagogy and Politics
    (pp. 188-214)

    The shock provoked by the massacre of peaceful working-class marchers on Bloody Sunday in January 1905 resulted, in the following months, in the breakdown of public order and in the organization of public resistance to the government. By summer, strikes in industry were common, and, more ominously for the government, mutiny among army and navy units rife. In late September and October 1905, the disparate strands of the revolution coalesced into a general strike. With the backing of a broad coalition of political groupings from moderate right to far left, workers and owners conspired to shut down production and communications...

  15. 9 The Non-Russian School and the Dilemmas of Russian Nationalism
    (pp. 215-234)

    While the Duma grappled with the question of universal elementary education, the government, in the absence of new legislation, undertook to enforce and strengthen existing regulations on the schooling of non-Russians. The struggle to shape popular education policy, therefore, was by no means confined to debates in the Duma. Interested parties among the public or inside government circles competed with one another to influence administrators to interpret or amend the present regulations in directions that they deemed desirable while at the same time trying to persuade legislators to pass new laws to their liking. Although advocates of greater liberality in...

  16. Conclusion
    (pp. 235-240)

    The Il’minskii experiment was an important and illustrative chapter in the history of language policy in Russia. Nationalities do not inevitably emerge in history through some inherent primordial urge. As one commentator has observed, “Ethnicity and its analogues are social constructs, not inherent properties of human communities.”¹ The state has often been an important force in creating national identities that now appear to us to be fully organic and inevitable developments. Although Il’minskii professed that he had no intention of fostering national consciousness and creating new national identities, he was aware that his education and language policies had the potential...

  17. Notes
    (pp. 241-272)
  18. Bibliography
    (pp. 273-288)
  19. Index
    (pp. 289-296)