Full Texts of Selected Articles

Reinhard Golz

The Foundation of Peace Education by Jan Amos Comenius (1592-1670) and its Topicality

First published in: www.ide-journal.org, 2015, Vol. 2, Nr. 3 (Special Issue Editors: O. Beuchling, A.K. Ellis, R. Golz & E. Hasebe-Ludt).

Summary: The foundation of a peace education was an integral part of the pansophic work of J.A. Comenius (1592-1670), a consequence of his own life experiences as a refugee, displaced persons and asylum seeker during the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648). As an educator, theologian, philosopher and linguist, Comenius significantly contributed to the reconciliation of peoples, cultures and religions. He can thus be seen as the founder of an intercultural, international and inter-religious peace education, whose growing importance in our times is obvious. Cultural and religious differences multiply in the wake of growing social problems. There is new relevance in acquiring the Comenian concept of intercultural and interreligious dialogue and peace education in the context of current general-xenophobic, racist and especially Islamophobic trends in parts of the German and European populations. Peace education must expose anti-humanist, xenophobic positions and educate on the benefits of cosmopolitan societies.
Keywords: Jan Amos Comenius, Peace Education, intercultural and interreligious dialogue, xenophobia, refugees

Резюме (Рейнхард Гольц: Основание воспитания в духе мира Яном Амосом Коменским [1592-1670] и его актуальность в наши дни): Основание воспитания в духе мира было неотъемлемой частью пансофического труда Я. А. Коменского (1592-1670), следствием его собственного жизненного опыта как беженца, вынужденного переселенца и просителя убежища во время Тридцатилетней войны (1618-1648). Как педагог, теолог, философ и лингвист, Коменский внес значительный вклад в примирение народов, культур и религий. Таким образом, его можно рассматривать как основателя межкультурного, международного и межрелигиозного воспитания в духе мира, растущее значение которого в наше время нельзя не признать. Культурные и религиозные различия увеличиваются в ходе роста социальных проблем. Концепция межкультурного и межрелигиозного диалога Коменского и воспитания в духе мира вновь является востребованной в рамках существования в наши дни ксенофобных, расистских и особенно враждебных по отношению к исламу тенденций среди населения Германии и Европы. Воспитание в духе мира выявляет антигуманистические, враждебные позиции и обнаруживает преимущества космополитических обществ.
Ключевые слова: Ян Амос Коменский; воспитание в духе мира, межкультурный, межрелигиозный диалог; ксенофобия; беженцы

Zusammenfassung (Reinhard Golz: Die Begründung der Friedenserziehung durch Jan Amos Comenius [1592-1670] und ihre Aktualität): Die Begründung einer Friedenserziehung war integraler Bestandteil des pansophischen Werkes von J.A. Comenius (1592-1670), eine Konsequenz seiner eigenen Lebenserfahrungen als Flüchtling, Vertriebener und Asylsuchender während des Dreißigjährigen Krieges (1618-1648). Als Pädagoge, Theologe, Philosoph und Linguist, leistete Comenius einen wesentlichen Beitrag zur Versöhnung der Völker, Kulturen und Religionen. Er kann damit als Begründer einer interkulturellen, internationalen und interreligiösen Friedenserziehung gesehen werden, deren wachsende Bedeutung in unserer Zeit klar zu erkennen ist. Kulturelle und religiöse Unterschiede vervielfachen sich im Zuge wachsender sozialer Probleme. Comenius’ Konzept des interkulturellen und interreligiösen Dialogs und der Friedenserziehung erlangt eine neue Relevanz im Rahmen der derzeitigen allgemeinen-fremdenfeindlichen, rassistischen und speziell islamfeindlichen Tendenzen in Teilen der deutschen und europäischen Bevölkerung. Friedenserziehung muss anti-humanistische, fremdenfeindliche Positionen offenlegen und über die Vorteile kosmopolitischer Gesellschaften informieren.
Schlüsselwörter: Jan Amos Comenius; Friedenserziehung, interkultureller, interreligiöser Dialog; Fremdenfeindlichkeit; Flüchtlinge

Aspects of the present dealing with cultural and religious difference

Our time is characterized by processes of globalization, internationalization, migration and social transformations. Coupled with this are progressive socio-economic and political developments on the one hand, and serious social undesirable developments, challenges and problems on the other. The latter includes ongoing conflicts and wars in which peoples and nations, cultures and religions, suffer; eg in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Nigeria, or in Ukraine. A result of these conflicts is migration and refugee movements away from social, economic and cultural pressures, political, ethnic and religious persecution. More and more people are looking for help and protection in other countries where they hope for asylum, cultural and religious tolerance, and improved living prospects. In the societies of the host countries, in turn, they are faced with sections of the population who have joined populist right-wing movements, often for diffuse and irrational reasons. This leads to intercultural and inter-religious intolerance and ignorance, xenophobic demonstrations and aggressive actions in particular against refugees.

All sectors of society in almost all democratic host countries in Europe are facing challenges in dealing with xenophobic, right-wing populist movements. In France eg the “Front National” is known and in Germany there are known right-wing populist parties, such as the “National Democratic Party of Germany,” and since 2013 a new right-wing conservative that is also Europe- and Euro-critical party called “Alternative for Germany”. Moreover, since 2014 there is a right-wing populist, nationalist and xenophobic movement in Germany under the name of “Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West” (PEGIDA), with branches in other countries.

The positions of the propagandists of these parties and movements are diffuse, populist, anti-democratic, nationalist and clearly xenophobic. They stir up sentiments mainly against an alleged Islamization of German and European societies, show a frightening lack of information (or ignorance) about the real cultural and ethnic composition of the population and especially about the actual size of the Muslim population which has not been recognized fully by politicians. Frustration over social problems, the alleged threat to national (German) identity through cultural and extremist religious alienation, etc. is being exploited for blind hatred of anything foreign as well as refugees, asylum seekers and other marginalized people in society.

At the same time we see a broad alliance of social organizations, churches, religious communities, entrepreneurs, students, politicians, people from all walks of life. The supporters of this movement, among them eg „NO-PEGIDA“, oppose the racist, Islamophobic, xenophobic, populist-nationalist ideology; they represent a cosmopolitan multicultural society in which diversity of people is realized not as a burden but as an asset. For them the reception of refugees and asylum seekers is a humanitarian duty; immigration can be an enrichment for an aging society and the commercial future in Germany.

The numerical participation in the xenophob demonstrations and movements has tended to decrease in recent months, and it seems to be but a split of some of these movements in a part which could be more moderate, more open to dialogue and another part which has taken a more aggressive direction with a blind hatred of everything foreign. It is beyond the scope of this article to list all current available publications on the subject here. One will find lots of related information eg in: Geiges, Marg & Walter, 2015; Klose & Patzelt, 2015; Kluge, 2015; Reuband, 2015; see also constantly updated Internet information under “Patriotische Europäer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes” (Patriotische Europäer …, 2015). Meanwhile, there are also numerous English-language sites on the Internet (search for: “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West” or “Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the Occident”.

The societies in Germany and other countries are characterized by cultural, ethnic, religious and linguistic differences, and they have specific experience in dealing with minorities. Humanistic, cosmopolitan attitudes of the majority are faced with growing xenophobic attitudes of certain sections of the population. Frightening trends of increasing intolerance not only to refugees, but also generally to cultural and religious differences are paradoxically particularly noted in areas with a comparatively small number of immigrants or people from other cultures.

How can the peaceful, democratic, cosmopolitan atmosphere be promoted in these societies? How can a Peace Education be developed, justified and designed as a complex of different fields of work with far reaching tasks that affect the whole society, not only the school, but people of all ages? Peace Education includes humanistic-democratic handling of intercultural and inter-religious conflicts, anti-militarism, human rights education, intercultural education, anti-racism, global learning, gender equality, environmental education and other related values. In short – it is about contemporary peaceful dealing with cultural and religious differences, inconsistencies and conflicts (see eg Wulf, 1989; Kössler & Schwitanski, 2014). One thing seems to be clear: pragmatic short-lived political appeals are not far reaching enough. What needs to be developed is a peaceful solution to the differences between actual and alleged intercultural and inter-religious conflicts and to shape and consolidate a democratic and cosmopolitan society. Peace education should not just focus only on schools, but see itself as a social challenge. That means to uncover also the current social causes of xenophobia and nationalism and not to ignore the relevant causes. Xenophobic attitudes and actions are not primarily about social orientation problems of socially neglected youth. Those trends are even more to be located in the middle and older generations. Apart from people of socially disadvantaged backgrounds there are more and more unsettled members of the middle classes involved in xenophobic demonstrations.

The point is to understand better in depth the causes in their historical dimension. The history of the idea of peace and peace education and the work of their historic founders must be consulted to what extent their lessons and experiences may be worthy of discussion and helpful for our efforts to build a peaceful world. There have always been efforts to empower people through education to the peaceful resolution of conflicts and violence. All cultures and religions have more or less contributed in their own way in doing so. Many historically significant personalities have dealt with this question since ancient times.

In this article, however, it is necessary to focus on a historical figure whose life and work in the thematic context is particularly relevant: Jan Amos Comenius (1592-1670).

The countless publications updating historic insights and experiences of the peace educator Comenius are too numerous to mention here, a German-language bibliography lists over 2,400 published titles up to the year 1999 (Michel & Beer, 2000). Since then the number of works on Comenius in German, Czech, English and other languages has continued to rise. The intensive research and publication activities of the German Comenius Society (http://www.deutsche-comenius-gesellschaft.de/coj.html), the editors and authors of the “Comenius Yearbook” (https://www.google.de/#q=comenius+Jahrbuch) and also some German universities which have compiled substantial literature lists on Comenius (see eg Müllner, 2013).

In terms of the biography of Comenius it is essential that his life in the Europe of the 30-year war (1618-1648) and its aftermath was a continuous restless work in the service of people and their improvement through education, work in the service of cultural, ethnic and religious tolerance and humanity. His own life was marked by poverty, great tragedy and unimaginable misery, but also for his participation in major social transformations. It was the decisive point of reference for the work of the educator, philosopher, theologian and linguist Jan Amos Comenius, to make a fundamental, systematic contribution to the idea of peace and place it in a basic educational context. Comenius developed peace education as a fundamental principle in all teaching, learning and information processes – from early childhood to death (Röhrs, 2005). Insofar it meets some general criteria for an educational innovation (Ellis, 2005, 13 f.).

One of Comenius’ creeds was, according to his own lifelong experience:

“We are all citizens of one world (…). To hate a man because he was born in another country, because he speaks a different language, or because he takes a different view on this subject or that, is a great folly. (…) Let us put aside all selfishness in considerations of language, nationality, or religion. ” (Comenius, Panegersia; quoted eg in Golz, Korthaase & Schäfer, 1996, S. 126).

Many countries in Europe were refuges for him from the religious clashes and the chaos of war. However, some of his visits were initiated by royal families and high-ranking civil personalities. They sought his advice as a reformer of the school and the educational thinking. Despite his dramatic and often discouraging life, which was marked by repression, wars and cultural, ethnic and religious intolerance, he left behind a life’s work that is astonishingly relevant. Comenius was and is internationally recognized as the “Teacher of Nations”, the first great theorist of a systematic and comprehensive education (eg Panek, 1991; Hofmann, 1975; Röhrs, 2005; Schaller, 1992; Scheuerl, 1979; Korthaase, 2005). Among his pedagogical-didactic major works, only the following are highlighted here: “De rerum humanarum emendatione consultatio catholica” (differently translated into English, eg as “A general consultation concerning the improvement of human affairs”, in German as “Allgemeine Beratung zur Verbesserung der menschlichen Dinge”) [Komenský (= Comenius), 1970), with its parts “Pampaedia” (ibid., 231 ff. and “Panglottia”, 295 ff.)]; the “Great Didactic” (Comenius, 1961; Keatinge, 2012), and “Orbis Sensualium Pictus” (Comenius, 1658; Alt, 1987; Nezel, 1996).

Comenius never gave up his main goal – to improve the human condition through peace education. In an essay for the UNESCO Bureau of Education, Jean Piaget (1896-1980) put it:

“Nothing is more moving, in following Comenius’ career, than the fact that this eternal exile, eternally a member of a minority group never tired of drawing up plans for international collaboration: general schemes for universal peace. ” (Piaget, 1993, 10) And elsewhere Piaget expressed his belief that Comenius’ works “do not need to be corrected or, in reality, contradicted in order to bring them up to date, but merely to be translated and elaborated ” (ibid. 13).

In cooperation with UNESCO, Comeniologists from all over the world urge translations of works of Comenius, at least into the most important global languages to critically and constructively utilize them for the development of peace education (Golz, 2000).

A common question is whether any of the historical developments of science, for example the educational Comeniology, can be a benefit for contemporary or current problem-solving strategies. Here we should refer to the German pedagogue Friedrich A. Diesterweg (1790-1866) and the American philosopher George Santayana (1863-1952). Diesterweg was convinced that anyone who does not know the history of his subject will never understand the connection of the whole, the moving force behind the work of the moment (Diesterweg, 1956, 205). And Santayana’s warning reads: “Those who can not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (Santayana, 1905, 284). That is: addressing current problems begins “with reflection on the contributions of those who have laid the groundwork for present theory and practice” and thus, to think beyond the moment, both historically, currently and into the future (Ellis, Golz & Mayrhofer, 2014, 10).

The thoughts and demands of Comenius are just as stimulating as they were bold and far reaching into the future even in his time: education for all (boys and girls, urban and rural children, regardless of social status and material wealth); a good school climate, instead of fear-generating drill; relating school learning to life, the world of children; clarity, etc. (J. Thonhauser – in: Golz 2000).

Future orientation is especially true for his idea of a lasting peace. Today it seems that – despite enlightenment and education – too many people learned nothing or not enough of the history of violent conflicts. The question is whether people still have to go through all the negative experiences of their ancestors to reach their own knowledge and insights. Can time-independent values be found under such conditions? Time has already shown that the legacy of Comenius, particularly at times of serious upheavals and related pedagogical orientation, problems become a new challenge and stimulation (Daum & Golz 1996, 215). But the mere contemplation of the best human values and virtues has not brought about much change up to the present time. One needs to be wary of being too enthusiastic about the historical implications of the usefulness of the findings of historical education in the context of educational Comeniology. However, the following statement is likely to be uncontroversial: If people from history (eg the history of education in general and peace education in particular) have learned nothing, that does not mean that they could not have learned something, and it does not mean that one today can not learn anything from history. But if you can learn from history, then you must do it for ethical, moral and rational reasons, then, it is a categorical imperative.

The aim is to better our understanding and evaluation of current theory discourses and controversies in their historical and theoretical genesis (Harney & Krüger, 1997, 9). This applies in a special way for the development of peacefulness within societies and for individuals. People and nations need to remember history, to avoid the repetition of mistakes and failures in order to “escape the compulsion to repeat the evil” and also in order to empathize with people with different cultural and religious identities (Nipkow, 2005, 739). Ultimately, this also leads to the realization and overcoming of one’s own, often unconscious ethnocentrism, an essential component of intercultural and inter-religious communication skills (Nieke, 2000; Krüger-Potratz, 2005; Lohmann & Weiße, 1994; Maletzke, 1996). Already Comenius had admonished his contemporaries that we should not hope that we will reach to veritable unity, universality and reformation, as long as we are dominated by the conviction of our own perfection (see: Comenius und der Weltfriede).

Aspects of the idea of peace between universalism, relativism and global ethic

What is needed is a peace education discussion of national and international educational traditions and values as well as their preservation and development, a discussion that is conducted on the basis of a tolerant, enlightened and moderate cultural relativism, which is aware of the dangers of absolutism (Golz, 1999). This applies in particular to the discussion on values in times of serious social transformations. The difficulty of questions regarding the “correct” values across national and cultural borders, and many generations is to be recognized. Values are not abstract and finally not fixed in their hierarchy for all time. From an enlightened relativistic point of view it is – according to the Protestant theologian F. Schorlemmer – about values that characterize and bind the peoples and cultures and enables intercultural and inter-religious understanding (Schorlemmer, 1995, 15-21).

Comenius’ enlightened universalist way aims to achieve the worldwide unity of all people (“We are all citizens of one world …”). The life and works of Comenius were deeply religious. Yet his idea of peace is just affecting and also inspiring to non-religious people. Today’s world, at least the European, is characterized by an increasing secularization of life. In terms of religion, there are major differences between eastern Germany (about 20% of the population are religious) and western Germany (about 72%). In eastern Germany there was always more attention to Comenius than in western Germany. Religious people in the Czech Republic are less than 20%, and yet Comenius is a Czech national hero and his memory is omnipresent in that country. Comenius’ work for world peace not only appeals to Christians but also followers of other religions and people without any religious convictions, for example, secular humanists of all types and humanist atheists etc. (Edwards, 2008; Kahl, 2011; Flynn, 2015).

A similar claim has also been put forward by the Catholic theologian Hans Küng and his project of a “World Ethos” (Küng, 1993; Küng & Kuschel, 1998). On the initiative of Küng a “World Parliament of Religions”, and a “Declaration of Global Ethic” was established in 1993 in Chicago (USA). This was and still is an attempt to summarize the core values of all world religions and to draw attention to peacemaking, consensual commandments, which are available in different formulations and commandments in all major world religions and also in non-religious schools of thought. One of the mottos of the project “Global Ethic” is the so called “Golden Rule” of peaceful coexistence which can be found in different formulations in almost all world religions and, if you will, eventually in the (rather non-religious) Kantian “categorical imperative”. The “Global Ethic” should be the basic consensus for all people over values, norms and attitudes: peace, justice, charity, pluralism, solidarity, responsibility for ones contemporaries, the environment and future generations. Religions can contribute to world peace only through this basic consensus. Global ethics is based on the coexistence and directed against particularistic economic interests and power politics in the context of globalization.

Critics of the “Global Ethic” see this as an attempt towards a mixing and the questionable co-ordination of religions; peaceful co-existence of religions could better promote world peace as an objectively-theological project. “A minimum consensus can not come ‘from above’, but must always be re-worked ‘from below’. Only a minimal open and revisable consensus can prevent the formation of a ‘closed’ society. A consensus according to the “Global Ethic Project” stands in danger of not promoting diversity and acceptance of difference, but to hinder it (Heinrichs, 1999 Vogels, 2008). In both cases (universalist and relativistic) only enlightened, moderate positions which take into account the dangers of being too absolute should be seriously considered. Comenius, Küng, Schorlemmer and others represent respective moderate, enlightened positions, suitable for discussions and dialogues.

Excursus: The idea of a universal language

In this context, Comenius’ thoughts on a universal language as a humanist, peacemaking, global project are worth mentioning. Comenius saw a significant cause of wars between nations, cultures and religions in the “punishment” of disturbing linguistic diversity (Comenius, 1970). The founders of a new (universal) language should have precise knowledge of the major languages of the world. Something unique should be found and preserved in any language for the design of the universal language. A universal transfer between peoples through the confusion of tongues should not be hindered any longer (ibid.). Some Comeniologues see both the idea of peace and the idea of a universal language as the most important reference points for the life’s work of J.A. Comenius. They hold that, the development and spread of a universal language (approximately along the lines of Esperanto) is still a meaningful task for the present and in the future (Formizzi, 2005; Beer, 2005; see also Geissler, 1959). Comenius did not want any of the leading national languages prevalent and thus make the world language; no vernacular is suitable for universal language, not even the language of scholars – Latin. The harshest critics of a world language, which arises from a single nation, pointed out that such language would linguistically, culturally, politically and economically dominate the world in an ultimately imperialistic manner. One such critic was the scientist and philosopher and Nobel laureate Wilhelm Ostwald (1853-1932), whose position is repeatedly quoted by representatives of artificial languages (Ido, Esperanto and others). He believed that the people whose language would be levied for world language would have by that fact alone a large advantage over all other peoples and imperialistically dominate their technical, economic, cultural, medial etc. spheres of life. Ostwald was a consistent opponent of a world language, which arises from a particular people and ultimately dominates the world (Ostwald, 1910, 443; Blanke, 1996, 21-22).

At first glance this position seems to be quite humanistic and in some ways understandable; it is not difficult to have some associations to current developments. However, it certainly needs no further justification, that these universalist-linguistic ideas of Comenius and the attempts of his followers to create and realize a universal (artificial) language which displaces one or more world languages will remain just a utopian ideal.

Peace education as current societal challenge

The pedagogy of Comenius as a whole and especially his peace education was aimed to teach all people everything in a comprehensive manner (“omnes omnia omnino”). Everyone can learn or get taught, and not only at school. Education should benefit “all” people: young and old, rich and poor, noble and commoner, men and women, all ages, all classes, societies, cultures and peoples. To teach or learn “everything” refers to everything that makes human nature really perfect. “All-embracing” means the pertinence and thoroughness of teaching and learning. These aspects of his training concept, including his idea of peace building, were not limited to the school. His “Pampaedia” is also regarded as the foundation of lifelong learning and the discipline of adult education (Schaller, 1992; Schäfer, 1996). Peace education concerns the whole life, which is an educational institution in itself, starting with the “school of prenatal becoming”, through the “school of early childhood”, the “school of boyhood”, the “school of maturity”, the “school of young manhood”, the “school of manhood”, the “school of old age”, to the “school of death” [Komenský (= Comenius) 1970 (Pampaedia); Schaller, 1958; Röhrs, 1971, 15].

Comenius wants people to strive anew to understand objectives, means and forms of one’s own and others’ actions, to separate the essential from the unessential, to recognize a digression of own and others’ thoughts, words and deeds, and to correct them. At all times, and especially in our time, there was and still is his credo of eternal relevance: to make war and violence unnecessary, to develop a pedagogy oriented towards non-violence and dialogue, a peace education, to deeply understand intercultural, inter-religious and heretical aspects and problems and thus contribute to a human life in this world. The related tasks refer to educators, theologians, historians, philosophers, language and cultural scientists, natural scientists, political scientists, writers, music teachers, theater scholars etc. They can all benefit from the work of Comenius and his valuable suggestions for their disciplines (see, for example, the positions of Araújo Kuhlmann, Scarbath, Scheuerl among others – in: Golz, 2000).

Peace education appears at first sight and certainly not without reason as one of the main tasks of schools. But for schools alone, this job is too big; it is a complex societal challenge. Among the subsequent classics of pedagogy, who have spoken on this issue, reference is made here only to Maria Montessori. Although Montessori was scarcely quoting Comenius, a surprising number of similarities between the two may yet be found. The first concerns some didactic aspects. Montessori is to encourage the child’s initiative and self-activity, compensate for learning difficulties, develop monitoring and coordination services through sensory training and maximum vividness. It is essential to remark here, Montessori’s request of a child which became programmatic for her educational concept: “Help me to do it myself!” Comenius had already written on the title page of his book “Great Didactic”:

“Let the main object of our Didactic, be as follows: to seek and to find a method of instruction, by which teachers may teach less, but learners may learn more; by which schools may be the scene of less noise, aversion, and useless labor, but of more leisure, enjoyment, and solid progress; and through which the Christian community may have less darkness, perplexity, and dissention, but on the other hand more light, orderliness, peace, and rest.” (Comenius, 1961; therefore see the reprint in: Keatinge, 1907/2012.).

And in terms of sensory perception it is important to name his “Orbis Pictus Sensualium”, the first illustrated textbook for children. There we can read not only his universal creed “Omnia sponte fluant, absit violentia rebus” (Let all things spontaneously flow; let there be no violence to things.). In his preface he also describes the “Golden Rule of Didactics”:

“Everything is presented to all the sensations as much as possible: the visual phenomena to the sight, the sounds to ear, the smells to nose, the tastes to tongue, the tangible phenomena to the touch. If something can be perceived by more senses, let it be that way. Nothing is in the mind that hasn’t been sensed before.” (Comenius, 1658).

In this regard the similarities with several contemporary and later classics of philosophy and pedagogy (eg Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke, Berkeley, Rousseau, Montessori, etc.) are obvious. Besides these didactic and methodological positions, there is another similarity in terms of a peace education as a part of a societal peace movement including all people of all ages. Montessori emphasizes the important role of the school to enable children to critical, independent thinking and action, children who do not automatically and unconditionally follow neither authoritarian teachers nor war propaganda (Montessori, 1946). For both, Comenius and Montessori, the means to achieve an effective societal peace movement are twofold: first, immediate efforts to resolve conflicts without recourse to violence – in other words, to prevent war – and second, long-term efforts to establish a lasting peace among men” (Montessori, 1949, 27).

For some time, there has been debate about whether peace education should be implemented as a separate subject in schools. Given the new threats posed by international terrorism these recommendations are at last being taken seriously. Harris & Morrison (2003), write that a unit of educators should be created with the task to develop not only locally, territorially and nationally, but also internationally effective curricula for peace education. This form of education should take into account the experience and lessons from history. On this point there are partly controversial discussions as well as different successful developments in individual countries (Salomon & Nevo, 2002). The question is, for example, if all teachers can be ‘forced’ to hold peace education issues in their teaching. Peace education is a voluntary, self-determined and personal matter; the conviction of its accuracy and effectiveness is important when it comes to both teachers and students. Relevant issues can be integrated into any good lessons and in self-organized and self-directed learning processes. Peace education includes nonviolence, empathy, trust, participation, self-fulfillment, respect, autonomy, freedom from prejudice, human rights, etc. However, a solid school subject has always the problem that it has to be taught and learned and can quickly become just a “learning for school”. The school must contribute to factual knowledge about causes of conflict patterns, wars, violence, etc., but peace education is a challenge for society as a whole (Stober, 2014, 5,6). Thus peace education is, as Rodrigues put it,

“a broad field, which empowers people from all ages and backgrounds, with the knowledge, skills, formation of attitudes in accordance with the values and principles necessary to promote and create a Culture of Peace. Peace Education takes responsibility for transferring the ideal of peace to the conscience and to the actions of people in order to achieve harmonious co-existence based on tolerance, justice, freedom, full respect for difference and to make better conditions for the development of future generations.“ (Rodriguez, 2014)

The German Trade Union Federation called upon to make peace education throughout the core aim of education: “In day care centers, schools, colleges, vocational training and the development of the value of a peaceful coexistence of all people must be clearly conveyed” (DGB, 2014). In this connection individual, national, international and global societal levels are addressed. Given the aforementioned current social development issues in the context of the processes of globalization, internationalization and migration, the challenge is specifically in the development of communication skills for a human and competent handling of cultural and religious difference. The teaching of empathy and expertise (knowledge) is of particular importance for the elimination of inter-cultural tensions and xenophobia. The training of teaching staff has not only to consider the challenge from a pragmatic-current perspective, but to pay more attention to its historical dimension. And given the initially discussed current developments it is also clear that there are also new (gerontagogic) intercultural challenges, to enable older generations to a contemporary use of cultural and religious differences (Marschke, 2005). No matter how the purely numerical participation in demonstrations and actions of PEGIDA and similar movements develop, xenophobic, racist and right-wing ideologies remain in the minds of too many people. Both the true social, socio-psychological, economic, media and other reasons for ideological aberrations need to be explained comprehensively as well as the benefits and alternatives of a human cosmopolitan society.

At the end of his life Comenius wrote texts that can be seen as part of his spiritual testament. In it, he turns again forcefully against any violent and military persecution of other faiths; not against “erring” (heretics), but against aberrations; against ignorance, cruelty, greed, lust for power, colonialism, hatred of denominations – as causes of war. After the unification of the world there should be “no more difference between the Greeks and the Scythians, between the free and the slaves, between the Europeans and the Americans” (Comenius, 1996, 27).


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Arthur K. Ellis, Reinhard Golz & Wolfgang Mayrhofer

The Education Systems of Germany and Other European Countries of the 19th Century in the View of American and Russian Classics: Horace Mann and Konstantin Ushinsky

First published in: Kucha, R. & Cudak, S. (Eds.) (2013): The Old and New Thinking about Education. Lodz: Wydawnictwo Spolecznej Akademii Nauk, pp. 9-38. (The article is also published in a slightly different version in www.ide-journal.org, 2014, Vol. 1, Nr. 1.)

Summary: The article deals with comparative studies of the American founder of the Common School and public education in the U.S.A., Horace Mann (1796-1859), and the founder of the Russian pedagogy and public school, Konstantin Ushinsky (1824-1870) . They were visiting several European education systems, in order to get inspirations for the reform activities in their own countries. In the early 19th century the education system in the German Kingdom of Prussia was considered the most progressive in Europe. The article shows what Mann, Ushinsky and others could learn from their comparisons, what they thought to be useful for their countries or what might be rather rejected. It is mostly about the question if and to which extent national educational experiences are importable, exportable and interchangeable. Some of the instructive findings of the American Horace Mann and the Russian Konstantin Ushinsky, but also their misconceptions are both historically relevant and of most currency.

Резюме: Статья занимается сравнительным исследованием деятельности американского основателя „Common School“ и государственного образования в США, Хорас Манн (1796-1859), и основателя русской педагогики и народной школы, Константина Ушинского (1824-1870). Они знакомятся с некоторыми европейскими системами образования для того, чтобы начать реформирование данной области в собственных странах. В начале 19-го века образовательная система королевства Пруссии считалась самой прогрессивной в Европе. Статья показывает, чему научились Манн, Ушинский и другие из своих сравнений, что они считали полезным для своих стран и что вынуждены были отвергнуть. Прежде всего, речь идет о вопросе, насколько национальный опыт в области образования подлежат импорту, экспорту и обмену. Некоторые содержательные выводы американца Хораса Манна и россиянина Константина Ушинского, а также ошибки являются релевантными как в историческом, так и в современном плане.

Zusammenfassung: Der Artikel beschäftigt sich mit den vergleichenden Studien des amerikanischen Begründers der „Common School“ und der öffentlichen Bildung in den USA, Horace Mann (1796-1859), und mit dem Begründer der russischen Pädagogik und Volksschule, Konstantin Uschinski (1824-1870). Sie besichtigten einige europäische Bildungssysteme, um Anregungen für Reformaktivitäten in ihren eigenen Ländern zu erhalten. Im frühen 19. Jahrhundert galt das Bildungssystem im Königreich Preußen als das progressivste in Europa. Der Artikel zeigt, was Mann, Uschinski und andere von ihren Vergleichen lernen konnten, was sie für nützlich für ihre Länder hielten oder besser abgelehnt werden sollte. Es geht vor allem um die Frage, ob und inwieweit nationale Bildungserfahrungen importierbar, exportierbar und austauschbar sind. Einige der instruktiven Befunde des Amerikaners Horace Mann und des Russen Konstantin Uschinski, aber auch ihre Missverständnisse sind sowohl historisch relevant als auch von großer Aktualität.

Challenges and Functions of Historical and Comparative Studies in Education

Higher education today, especially the branch of higher education devoted to teacher training, is challenged by the computerized information age. Schools of education are subject to manifold criticisms, including their very relevancy in a world where technologies have made possible access to learning in ways hardly imaginable even a generation ago. But criticisms of the pedagogical training of teachers are nothing new. From the late 18th century forward when normal schools were conceived first in Germany, detractors have seen teacher training as failed bridge between knowledge of subject matter and practical experience in schools. It is argued here that teachers should understand the development of their profession from a historical perspective in order to become internationally orientated and able to develop their own, and their students‘ humane, social and intercultural competencies. History of Education as part of teacher training is not fit for the future if it continues to deal only with the long-ago and sufficiently known historic developments and figures and refuses to take into account the intellectual developments and profound ideas of the countries from which one might learn to cooperate now and in the future. International educational discourses must consider their historic genesis. A mere pragmatic-practical consideration of the current status is too cursory and often misleading. The development of sound, democratic, and humanistic professional ethics begins with reflection on the contributions of those who have laid the groundwork for present theory and practice. We need, so to speak, a longer, deeper breath, in order not to follow an unreflected pragmatism, but to think beyond the moment, both historically and prospectively. The German pedagogue Friedrich A. Diesterweg (1790-1866) put it this way: Those who don’t know the history of their subject, will never understand the coherence of the whole issue, the moving power beyond the impact of the current moment (Diesterweg, 1958, 205). And we should keep in mind the words of the American philosopher George Santayana (1863-1952) who famously noted that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it“ (Santayana, 1905, 284).

Scarcely anything in the human communication gets by without a comparison. Comparative educational studies are part of teacher training as well and of special importance in contexts of the globalization. In this respect the different positions of the classics in the field of comparative education are newly current, offering valuable historical insights against which to think about new theoretical and practical problems and challenges of the processes of Europeanization. In 19th century Europe there were those who desired to improve their own national education by importing the best elements of other education systems. To be named here is, of course, Marc-Antoine Jullien de Paris (1775-1848), one of the most quoted French founders of Comparative Education (Jullien von Paris, 1954; see also Gautherine, 1993).

We want to say, however, a bit more about two other figures whose works are of special relevance in the above mentioned sense. At this point we refer the reader also to the fact that our article is simultaneously published in an anthology edited by Kucha & Cudak (2013, pp. 9-38 )1 . In particular we want to say more about comparative studies of the American founder of the “Common School”, Horace Mann (1796-1859), and of the “Father of the Russian and Ukrainian2 pedagogy and public school”, Konstantin D. Ushinsky (1824-1870).3

Comparisons of foreign education systems, theories and practices did have and do have different functions, or intentions; it was and remains about a search for new and different directions: 1.) the search for the particular and the unique in other education systems (the ideographic-theoretical function) in relationship to the societal and cultural environment; 2.) the search for the universal; the comparison takes the role which has the experiment in the natural sciences (the experimental-theoretic function); 3.) the search for the general international trends, which become a guideline for the own educational reform (the evolutionist-practical function); 4.) the search for the better model; you want to constructively learn and use positive foreign experiences for the improvement of your own system (the melioristic-practical function) (Hörner, 1993, 6-11; 1997, 71).

In the early years of the 19th century the education system in the German Kingdom of Prussia was considered the most progressive in Europe and thus in the world. Certain German educational thinkers enjoyed especially favorable reputations in the developed world. No wonder that several leading foreign figures in the field of education, but also writers and others took a great interest in the Prussian educational theory and practice, among them e.g. Horace Mann, Calvin Ellis Stowe, Edward Everett and others from the United States and Konstantin D. Ushinsky and Leo N. Tolstoy from Russia. There were many seekers in search of new pedagogical insights who travelled to Prussia for that purpose. Here we have chosen to focus on two such visitors to Europe: Mann and Ushinsky, in order to develop the different educational perspectives of these two intriguing representatives of their own national education and of the comparative studies in the 19th century. Horace Mann and Konstantin Ushinsky were searching for the particular, for the trends, for the universal but (first of all) for the better model by visiting several European countries and by studying the according literature, in order to get inspirations for the reform activities in their own countries. They visited Europe independently from each other, at different times and with very different durations of their stays; Mann visited England, Ireland, Scotland and Germany in 1843 for a period of about six weeks. Ushinsky’s visit was from 1862 to 1867 in Germany, Switzerland, France, Belgium and Italy. They didn’t know each other personally. While Horace Mann could not know the works of Ushinsky, the latter, however, knew some works of Mann and his activities in the field of education. In 1858 Ushinsky published two comprehensive essays on “School reforms in North America” and on “The inner composition of North American schools” (Ушинский / Ushinsky, 1948, 167-203 & 204-232) . For lack of space here we are not able to include these works into our observations, although they are worthy of newly-discovered, especially by students of Russian-American comparative studies of education. At this point, however, we want to indicate at least Ushinsky’s reference to Horace Mann and other important figures of the Common School movement in America (ibid., 180). It seems to be meaningful – in the sense of Diesterweg und Santayana – to find out, what they could learn from their comparisons and what they thought to be useful for their countries or might well be rejected. Some of their findings, instructive impulses but also their misconceptions are not only historically relevant but of most currency.

The special case of the German (Prussian) education and its relevance for the work of Horace Mann and Konstantin Ushinsky

Education in the 19th century Prussia: Facts and developments

What was the situation of education in Prussia4 when Horace Mann, Konstantin Ushinsky and other travelers visited the country? At the end of the 18th century, Prussia was one of the first countries in the world to try to introduce a generally compulsory primary education, comprising an eight-year course of primary education, the so called Volksschule. It provided not only the skills needed in an early industrialized world (reading, writing and a little arithmetic), but also an education in ethics, duty, discipline and obedience. Though several Prussian ministers, particularly Freiherr von Zedlitz, sought to replace local control over schooling with a centralized, uniform system administered by the state during the eighteenth century, not until the implementation of the Prussian General Land Law of 1794 did the state first attempts to take over responsibility for all educational institutions. But the implementation of these ideas was difficult and till the end of the 18th century not carried out, so that these measures were mere paper reforms. The real beginnings of modern public education in Prussia must be placed in the nineteenth century (Good & Teller, 1970, 348f.).

This century began for Prussia with the defeat in the battle of Jena and Auerstedt in October, 1806, where Napoleon’s army annihilated Prussia’s military forces. Nine month after the defeat, France imposed the severe peace of Tilsit on the humiliated Prussians. The country lost vast territories and was enforced to support the further occupations of Napoleon with soldiers. The defeat and the drastic peace treaty aroused on one side the patriotism in the country and on the other side political and social reforms in Prussia, the so called reforms of Stein and Hardenberg. These reforms had to include educational reforms as well and of this the leaders were well aware. The reorganization of the central educational administration and the founding of the University of Berlin testify to Prussian concern for education. The former “Oberschulkollegium” was abolished and a new institution was set up in 1808 as a division of the Ministry of the Interior.

The first chief of the division was Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767-1835). With others, Humboldt founded the University of Berlin (today Humboldt-University), he secured for Prussian students the right to study at non-Prussian universities, introduced a state examination for all prospective secondary school teachers, and reformed the gymnasium on a more thoroughly humanistic plan, with domination of the old languages Greece and Latin. One principle he stated (and which is still existent in the German educational system) was the strict division of general education and vocational training. But the greatest changes in education occurred in the elementary schools. The idea of compulsory primary education, with an eight-year course of primary education, was realized step by step during the 19th century.

In 1816 visited about two millions of children (about 50 per cent of children in the age from the 6th to the 14th living year) 20.345 elementary schools and were taught by 21.766 teachers. In the year 1846 this were 2, 43 millions of children (about 78 per cent of children in the age from the 6th to the 14th living year) in 24.044 schools, taught by 27.770 teachers (Herrmann, 1993, 256). The results of this endeavor are rather impressive, especially for the Middle and Western Provinces of Prussia, while the Eastern Provinces were still underdeveloped (see table 1).

Table 1: School attendance in Prussia 1840 (in percent of all children in the age from the 6th to the 14th living year)

District (Regierungsbezirk)

Per cent





















Source: Hoffmann, 1843, 155–161, elaborated by Wolfgang Mayrhofer

The fast development of the Elementary Education during the 19th century is shown in table 2.

Table 2: Progress of Elementary Education as shown by the Decrease in Illiteracy in Prussia, by Provinces


Per cent

Per cent

Per cent

Per cent

East Prussia





West Prussia

































Rhenish Prussia






The State





Source: Cubberley, 1920, 583.

It is difficult to estimate if the figures in the table are correct. But they show a tendency: in Prussia it was a prominent aim of the state to eradicate illiteracy and it could be nearly realized till the end of the century. One of the reasons for this was the development of the training of Elementary Teachers, because without the adequate number of well-trained teachers it was impossible to fulfill these aims.

Since the beginning of the 19th century more and more Teachers’ Seminaries (Volksschullehrerseminare) were established, to increase the quality of teaching. There existed in 1811 15 seminaries (Sandfuchs, 2004, 16), and in 1840 45 seminaries in Prussia (Reble, 1995, 249), and alone in the Prussian Province Saxony in 1839 eleven seminaries with altogether 402 participants (Mayrhofer, 1995, 171). In 1826 a final examination for the seminaries and a second examination after three years teaching were introduced (Sandfuchs, 2004, 17).

This, from the educational point of view, progressive development continued till the 1840th and was one reason, because the educational system in Prussia was much admired by diverse foreign visitors, for example Victor Cousin of France and Horace Mann of the United States. But the political situation had changed by the time Konstantin Ushinsky visited Prussia, and he wasn’t nearly as euphoric as Mann and other American visitors some years before.

Many teachers were active organizers and participants of the revolutionary events of 1848/49 in Prussia and other states in Germany and Europe. After the revolution failed, it was upon the elementary schools (Volksschulen) and the Teachers’ Seminaries that the most severe official displeasure now fell. “Over-education” was regarded as the main reason for the revolutionary activities. So, for example, the Teachers’ Seminary at Breslau was closed, and the head of the Seminary at Berlin, Diesterweg, was dismissed because of his progressive demands. He campaigned for improved teacher training of the elementary school teachers and for higher salaries, and he organized educational associations, directed conferences, delivered speeches and conducted institutes. He fought against clerical administration of schools and opposed the teaching of sectarian religion (Good & Teller, 1970, 353).

Bitter reproaches were heaped upon the elementary-school teachers, and the new King of Prussia, Friedrich Wilhelm IV. (1840–1861), considered their work as the very root of what he considered to be the politically disastrous situation of the State (Cubberley, 1920, 582). To a conference of Seminary teachers, held in 1849 in Berlin, he said:

You and you alone are to blame for all the misery which the last year has brought upon Prussia! The irreligious pseudo-education of the masses is to be blamed for it, which you have been spreading under the name of true wisdom, and by which you have eradicated religious belief and loyalty from the hearts of my subjects and alienated their affections from my person. This sham education, strutting about like a peacock, has always been odious to me. I hated it already from the bottom of my soul before I came to the throne, and, since my accession, I have done everything I could to suppress it. I mean to proceed on this path, without taking heed of any one, and, indeed, no power on earth shall divert me from it.” (quoted in Cubberley, 1920, 583)

In 1854 the so called “Prussian Regulations” were issued which put the course of instruction for elementary schools back to the level of the 18th century. The one-class rural elementary school became the standard. Everything beyond reading, writing, little arithmetic, and religious instruction in strict accordance with the creeds of the Church, was considered as not necessary and therefore not allowed. The elimination of illiteracy, the creation of obedient citizens, and the nationalizing of education became the aim of these schools.

The training in teachers’ seminaries was reduced to the lowest necessities, and those entrusted with leadership in the seminaries were given clearly to understand that they were to train common elementary teachers, and not to prepare educated men. Such subjects as theory of education, didactics and psychology were eliminated. A return was made to the subject-matter theory of education, and a limited subject-matter at that, and it once more became the business of the teacher to see that this was carefully learned. Religious instruction was of first importance in the training (ibid., 583f.).

After about 1860, largely in response to modern scientific and industrial forces among a people turning from agriculture toward industrialism, a slight relaxation of the reactionary legislation began to be evident. This expressed itself chiefly in a diminution of the time given to “memoriter” work in religion, and the introduction in its place of work in German history and geography, with some work in natural science. In the Teachers’ Seminaries instruction in German literature, formerly rigidly excluded, was now added. It was not, however, until after the unification of Germany, following the Franco-Prussian War, and the creation of Imperial Germany under the directive guidance of Bismarck (1870/71), that any real change took place. Then the changes were due to new political, religious, social, industrial, and economic forces which belong to the later period of German history. In 1872 a new law gave to the Prussian elementary schools a new course of study that reasserted the authority of the State in education, extended the control of the public authorities, and made the State instead of the Church the authority even for religious instruction. The schools were now to be used to build up and strengthen the nation, but particularly to support the new Prussian idea as to the work and function of the State. Natural sciences and modern languages (Realien) were given a new prominence, because of new industrial needs, and instruction in religion was revamped. The old memoriter work was greatly reduced, and in its place an emotional and political emphasis was given to the religious instruction (Scheibe, 1974, 155f.).

The secondary schools also were redirected. A new emphasis on scientific subjects and modern languages replaced the earlier emphasis on Greek and Latin. In 1890 the Emperor interfered to force a reform of the gymnasial programs in order better to adapt them to modern needs (Mayrhofer, 1994, 38f.).

Horace Mann and Early 19th Century American Educational Reform

The primary education system of 17th century in Colonial New England was well established and nearly universally subscribed. The so-called ‘Old Deluder Satan’ Act of 1647 ( The Massachusetts Law of 1647) provided for basic education in reading, writing, arithmetic, and religion in all the towns of Massachusetts. Calvinist doctrine required each individual to seek his or her own salvation through a reading and understanding of the Scriptures. All formal education from primary to college was subjected to a religious motive. The intercessory function of priests to hear confessions and otherwise act as an intermediary between the individual and God was anathema to Protestant reformists in general, whether Luther, Zwingli, or Calvin. Therefore, it was axiomatic that literacy must prevail, and as a result the New England literacy rates of that era were probably the highest in the world. However, over time, Calvinist influence waned, and a growing secularism gained strength, particularly among Unitarians, Transcendentalists, and even Congregationalists. Thus the original reason for becoming literate held far less sway, and literacy rates dropped accordingly. By the time of the American Revolution (1775-1787) primary school attendance had dropped precipitously in New England. A new reason for acquiring basic literacy and numeracy was needed if schools were to exist. That new reason according to Horace Mann and others of his persuasion was democracy (Cremin, 1957).

As early as 1830 Charles Brooks had visited Prussia to learn more of the school system in that German province. Returning home via Liverpool to New York in the wake of his visit, he encountered Dr. H. Julius, an educator from Hamburg. Spending 41 days in the company of Julius aboard ship, Brooks later wrote, “I fell in love with the Prussian system.” Thus began the American love affair with Prussian schools (Albee, 1907). Brooks, who termed the Prussian system, “better than any of which we are acquainted,” wrote that “[T]he Prussian principle seems to be this: that everything which it is desirable to have in the national character should be carefully inculcated in elementary education. (…) Over and over again have the Prussians proved that elementary education cannot be fully attained without purposely-prepared teachers. Out of this fact has come the maxim, ‘as is the master, so is the school.’” He saw in the Prussian system three crucial elements that must of necessity be adopted if American public schools were to succeed: 1) that the state must recognize the national importance of education, 2) that “purposely prepared” teachers be produced by the normal schools, and 3) that the “State must commit the details to a Board of Education with a secretary who shall supervise and recommend” (ibid.).

Henry Barnard (1811-1900), who served as commissioner of public schools for the state of Rhode Island, and later as superintendent of common schools in Connecticut, visited Europe in 1835-1836 for the purpose of studying the various school systems found there. The book he wrote on the basis of his experience, National Education in Europe, was published in 1854 and represented the most thorough examination of European schools ever published for an American audience in the 19th century. Like Brooks before him and Mann afterword, he was deeply impressed by what he saw in the schools of the various German states. He writes:

To Germany, as a whole, as one people, and not to any particular state of Germany, as now recognized on the map of Europe, belongs the credit of first thoroughly organizing a system of public education under the administration of the civil power. Here, too, education first assumed the form and name of a science, and the art of teaching and training children was first taught systematically in seminaries established for this special purpose.” (Barnard, 1854, 2)

But Barnard’s most effusive praise is reserved for the schools of Prussia. Citing an obscure work titled, “Social Conditions and Education of the People,” Barnard points to “the three great results which the Prussian government has labored to ensure by this system of education” (Barnard, 1854, 94). Those results included 1) the commitment of management of the parochial schools in different towns to the people under certain very simple restrictions, 2) to assist the school committees with advice from the most able inhabitants the county; 3) to gain the cordial cooperation of the ministers or religion.

In anticipation of the criticisms of government control these strictures might bring from American educators and the public, he writes “I know there are many in our land who say, ‘But why have any system at all?’” Barnard answers his own question by replying pragmatically that “So great have been the results of this system, that it is now a well-known fact, that, except in the cases of sickness, every child between the ages of six and ten in the whole of Prussia, is receiving instruction from highly educated teachers, under the surveillance of the parochial ministers.” And to further conclude his rhetorical argument he writes, “A proof of the satisfaction, with which the Prussian people regard the educational regulations, is the undeniable fact, that all the materials and machinery for instruction are being so constantly and so rapidly improved over the whole country, and by the people themselves“ (Barnard, 1854, 94f.). Thus he ties together such governmental controls as teacher qualifications, school inspections, and religious oversight to the idea of popular support.

Barnard, as Horace Mann (1844a) did after him, uses English schools as a foil against which to extoll the virtues of Prussian schools where all children were sent to school at no expense to parents. He takes considerable effort to point out the failures of the English system which relied at the time on charities and volunteerism and where many parishes had no schools at all for people of the poorer classes. “Nothing,” he writes, “can be more liberal, than the manner in which the Prussian towns have provided for their educational wants” (Barnard, 1854, 103). He notes that “the character of the instruction in all the German schools is suggestive: the teachers labor to teach the children to educate themselves” (ibid., 110). This he contrasts with English schools where “the teacher still contents himself with the old cramming system” (ibid.). His conclusion is that Prussian schools teach “reasoning powers” while likening the English schools to places that “impart facts to a fool, [which] is like intrusting (sic) fire to a madman” (ibid.).

Horace Mann (1796-1859) knew Henry Barnard rather well and was certainly influenced by his insights to European education including their shared disdain for England’s schools where compulsory attendance was not required. Mann was a lawyer by training who served from 1827-1837 in the Massachusetts legislature where he made a name for himself through his advocacy of the need for state mental hospitals. It was during this time that he was approached by James G. Carter (1795-1849), Massachusetts House Chairman of the Committee on Education to consider the position of Secretary to the newly created Board of Education, a post that, according to his supporters, among them Charles Brooks, ought to have been Carter’s own given the leadership he had shown in establishing the first state board of education in America (Albee, 1907). The significance of Carter’s work is found in, among other things, the precedent-setting moves of government funding and thus of control of schools and the founding, with Charles Brooks and others, of the first normal school at Framington, Massachusetts (Mann, 1846, cited in Cubberley, 1920).

Readily accepting the post of Secretary, Mann, in the midst of his political career, famously proclaimed: “My law books are for sale….” Answering a call to advance the cause of public education, he served for twelve years (1837-1849) as Secretary to the Board of Education for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It was during the course of his tenure that he visited Europe for six weeks in 1843 for the purposes of examining schools and taking a year’s leave of absence to rest and celebrate his marriage to Elizabeth Peabody, the sister of the author Nathaniel Hawthorne’s wife. This seemed a perfect time for Mann, upon whom history has bestowed the title of “Father of the Common School Movement,” and who was exhausted from his labors which included among other things editorship of The Common School Journal, turning that post over to the philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson. He visited schools in England and Scotland, as well as schools in Belgium, Holland, and Germany (Martin, 1915). There was nothing particularly unusual about Mann’s desire to visit and learn from European schools and educators. A number of educators had done just that in the 1830s, most notably Henry Barnard of Rhode Island and Connecticut, and Calvin Ellis Stowe of Ohio, both of whom brought back reports of what might be learned from these older nations, Prussia in particular (Stowe, 1837). Persuasive as Barnard was about the need for compulsory tax supported schools in Connecticut where he served as Secretary of Education and was instrumental in the passage of an 1838 law which made this official, in 1842 the state legislature, with the concurrence of the governor, repealed not only the law but dissolved the Board as well using the rationale that the law was a “dangerous innovation.” Lamenting this outcome in the American Journal of Education, Horace Mann (1846a, 719) wrote “[I]n an evil hour the whole fabric was overthrown. The Educational Board was abolished. Of course, the office of its devoted and faithful Secretary fell with it.”

Following his own visit to Europe and writing in The Common School Journal, Mann concluded that “the most interesting portions of the world in regard to education are the Protestant states of Germany. It was Luther’s reformation which gave being and birth to their systems of public schools” (1844a, 10). His enthusiasm for Prussian teaching methods and school system organization seemed boundless.

Although Mann was indeed deeply impressed with the public schools he visited while in Prussia, he acknowledged that “those who detract from the prerogatives of education as the means of conferring talent, power, wealth, the arts, [and] prosperity upon a people” (ibid.) had a point, especially when they claimed that Prussia was inferior to England in the useful arts and to France in the exact sciences. But it was Mann’s considered opinion that this conclusion was held on a misunderstanding of Prussian history. Mann’s claim was that under Frederic William III and his advisors von Stein and Hardenberg, Prussia became “a new creation” as serfdom was eliminated and “men were elevated into owners of the soil they tilled, and made, comparatively, freemen.” He gave great credit to the state-controlled system of schools for Prussia’s advances (Mann , 1844a, 11).

With much rhetorical energy Mann concluded on the basis of his visits to Prussian schools that the work of education was “rising more rapidly in the scale of civilization than any other of the nations in Christendom” (ibid.). He claimed that the “better methods” and greater efficiency of teaching school subjects such as arithmetic and reading found in Prussian schools were valid reasons for public schools in the USA to emulate the system of education found in that Germanic province.

Mann’s Seventh Annual Report is filled with praise for what he saw in Prussia (Mann, 1844a). Not everyone embraced his enthusiastic desire to put Prussian methods into practice. His answer to critics who accused Prussian schools of teaching passive obedience to government or blind adherence to the articles of a church, was that American schools can surely use the same methods for “the support and perpetuation of republican institutions.”

Mann was stung by a 143 page “pamphlet” (as he termed it) written by thirty-one Boston school masters who took umbrage at what they perceived to be his denigration of the state of education in Massachusetts and “the general unsoundness and debility of the Common School System of Massachusetts” (Association of Masters of the Boston Public Schools, 1844, 15). They questioned not only his “superficial” knowledge of Prussian schools (his time spent there was admittedly brief) and his expansive claims of their effectiveness, but in fact his knowledge of the Boston schools and those throughout the state. Their claim was that Mann, in order to advance his cause, had created a canard in which the typical Prussian school teacher might be likened to Melanchthon himself while portraying the typical Massachusetts teacher as something like Washington Irving’s caricature, Ichabod Crane. The Boston school masters in turn compared Mann’s view of the state of education in Massachusetts to the writings of “Madame Trollope” whose dim view of things American was widely known (ibid.).

Among other criticisms leveled by the Boston school masters was Mann’s advocacy of normal schools. It was the school masters’ point of view that the “normalites,” as they called graduates of the normal schools, were equipped with shallow methods and unproven theories as opposed to masters who had gained their expertise through their knowledge of subject matter and practical experience. They claimed that Mann and his followers had created “a spirit of distrust in teachers” as backcloth to his demand that normal schools were needed to upgrade the level of instruction in Massachusetts. This debate continues to the present day and is certainly not confined to this single period of American pedagogical history (ibid.).

Mann took the time to write and have published a rebuttal in which he attempted to refute the claims of the school masters. It is obvious to the reader of his “reply” that he was caught off guard by the attack, which one might imagine strengthened the school masters’ claim that he was not in touch with the day-to-day work of Massachusetts schools. He denied in particular that he had denigrated Massachusetts teachers, using them as a foil against which to contrast the superior methods employed in Prussian schools (Mann, 1844b).

In spite of this furor, Mann, a gifted orator and writer, seemed to have the upper hand. Among the many functions of Prussian schools that particularly impressed Mann were two: 1) age-graded classrooms and 2) a new teacher(s) each year. Both of these were novelties as far as American public school organization was concerned. The two innovations ultimately carried the day. These 19th century ideas are today dominant practice in American schools, public and private. So dominant are they, in fact, that no one has come up with a sustaining alternative even though attempts have been made, including multi-age grading, continuous progress, and the practice of “looping” in which a teacher stays with an elementary class of students for a two-year period. Similarly, the practice of specialized teacher training as pioneered by the normal schools, is currently, in spite of its detractors, found in schools and colleges of education in universities today.

Mann was obviously more interested in administrative matters and organizational structures than in pedagogics. In fact, he had almost no scholarly or experiential background in that area (Association of Masters of the Boston Public Schools, 1844). He had been trained as a lawyer but left that pursuit as well as his political career for the “bully pulpit” opportunity he saw in the position of Secretary of Education in Massachusetts. He completed his life’s work as a member of the U. S. Congress and as President of Antioch University in Ohio. As President of Antioch, he instituted and taught a course on methods in education (Ellis, Cogan & Howey, 1991).

Mann’s legacy becomes clear to the reader of his twelve Annual Reports to the Massachusetts Board of Education. He fought tirelessly for public support of universal common school education (Cremin, 1957), leading to the passage ultimately of the first State law requiring compulsory school attendance in 1852. The English, whose school system Mann (1844a) disdained, had no such compulsory attendance laws, and the influence in this regard clearly came from what Mann and others saw and liked in Prussia.

Mann advanced the pragmatic argument, particularly in his Fifth Annual Report (1841), that economic wealth and opportunity would naturally increase as a result of universal public education. Thus was his appeal to businesses that it is in their self-interest to pay taxes for public schools because more productive workers would emerge from the system. In his book, The Legacies of Literacy, Harvey Graff (1991, 75) offers a note of caution to such optimism when he writes that “It appears unlikely that the common school served as a vehicle for occupational mobility…. [I]t did not alter patterns of economic inequality, but, rather, tended to perpetuate them.“ Reading between the lines, one could conclude that while this statement is true, the “training” children receive in school did and does equip them to be compliant and industrious, thus serving business needs. Graff (1991, 352) writes further that, “(…) [I]n part, public education gained assent because of its close relationship to the dominant ideology of democratic capitalism in nineteenth-century North America”.

Mann argued persuasively for proper buildings and equipment, for the formal training of teachers, for state certification, for non-sectarian teaching and curricula, and for the use of the more-child centered methods found in the educational theories of Johann Pestalozzi, Friedrich Fröbel, and Johann Herbart, Swiss and German educators whose ideas were instrumental in the shaping of what was to become the Progressive Movement in American education and the movement away from what John Dewey called the “traditional” approach to teaching and learning.

Without question, Mann deserves a place in the pantheon of American education. His embrace and influential endorsement of what might be called the Prussian model, changed American education from a localized, haphazard system in which the favored few received formal instruction to one in which all children were not merely allowed, but were required, to attend school. Even today, critics argue that compulsory attendance in state schools represents a usurpation of the authority of the home and a means by which the state can shape young minds towards questionable ends. But a most telling fact is that Mann’s arguments, now nearly two centuries old, have in large measure carried the day.

The appraisal of the educational and cultural situation in Germany and other European countries by Konstantin D. Ushinsky5

The life and work of Konstantin Dmitrievic Ushinsky (1823/4–1870), one the most important figures in Russian historic and current pedagogy is, of course, well known in Russia but also in most of Eastern European (first of all in Slavonic speaking) countries. Regarding the Western world the situation is different. Even a few older and some recent publications (Boguslavsky, 2011; Cipro, 2001, Golz, 1993, 2003; Hans, 1962;) cannot hide the fact that Ushinsky’s scientific legacy is still virtually unknown. In contrast, in Russia many editions of his works, starting with the „Collected Works“ in 11 volumes (Ushinsky, 1948) until the different new editions in the 21 century as well as countless books and articles, which must here go unmentioned, are proof of an unbroken tradition of respect for and in recent times a growing interest in the “father of Russian pedagogy and public education” (see also Golz, 1993, 2003, 2008; Günther, 1976).

His work contains not only insights which are still relevant today, but also more problematic aspects, especially in the field of historically comparative education. The latter refers primarily to the relationship between Russian education and the education of the progressive European countries of the time. In 1857 Ushinsky defined “the general historical foundations of European education” (Ушинский /Ushinsky, 1948 , 71) . He is concerned with creating an awareness of the character of a “folk” (people) in contrast to that of other peoples, that has been inherited and should be preserved. The specific character that is specific to each people draws on all the aspects that form the historical life of a people: religion, the natural environment, family life, traditions, poetry, laws, industry, literature etc., but in particular on the public education system.

According to Ushinsky the European education systems share superficial characteristics, not only in the choice of school subjects studied, but also in their organization and didactic methods etc. Despite these similarities, however, each people has its own educational aims and methods which stem from its own national identity and individuality (Ушинский /Ushinsky, 1960, 60). In other words: Russia cannot and should not copy foreign methods. It needs neither their diseases nor their medicine. It is education which forms the character of a people, not an appropriated system (Kegler, 1991). Some of Russia’s leading educationalists expressed opinions in this vein: “The unchecked gushing in praise of everything which has come from other countries […] does not educate our young people to be patriots. But at the moment patriotism seems to be gradually reassuming its proper place” (Nikandrov, 2000a, 41). In doing so both Ushinsky and contemporary Russian educationalists question the vision proposed by the actual founder of comparative educational studies, the French educationalist M.-A. Jullien de Paris and the founder of comparative educational studies in Germany, Friedrich Schneider (1881–1974).6

Ushinsky did his search from a somewhat fixed position as can be seen in his special investigation into German academia and the German people’s character. A typical feature of the German character, according to Ushinsky’s observations, is a tendency to abstraction, systematization and definition. Every matter begins and ends with a philosophical reflection. The German’s task is to ensure that no object on this earth escapes being classified in some category of his system. This underlying feature of the German character has thus influenced the public education system in Germany. Despite the fact that the majority of German educationalists were convinced that they were studying the education of humankind in general, regardless of nationality, German educational studies were in fact a purely German phenomenon. German educational textbooks are, in fact, about the ideal of a modern German (Ушинский /Ushinsky, 1948, 76).

Ushinsky was often critical of his German educationalist contemporaries. One exception is Karl Schmidt (1819–1864), a German teacher, executive of educational institutions and writer. Schmidt’s anthropologically naturalistic philosophy regarding developments in the world history of educational thinking and practice as well as its connection to the cultural life were clearly important influences on Ushinsky’s anthropologically educational work (Golz, 1993, 105f.).

Some of the works of Schmidt on anthropological foundation of pedagogy might have appeared to Ushinsky virtually as a revelation. Finally there were problems reconsidered which were obviously of special interest in Russia in the 1860’s and in the following years. In 1860 Ushinsky published the work „The grammar-school pedagogy of Karl Schmidt” and referred particularly to Schmidt’s book “Gymnasial-Pädagogik …” (1857). With this publication Ushinsky hoped, to have established a basis for a reform of the Russian school. Similar to Schmidt he wrote about: the idea of the school in general and of the grammar school (Gymnasium) in particular; the students in physiological and psychological respects; the instruction as a means of the development of the emotions, the mind and the volition; the method of instruction in all subjects of the grammar school courses. Therewith Ushinsky wanted to contribute to the Russian discussion about a reform of the grammar school (Gymnasium) by its division into a „classical“ and a „realistic“ type of school, just as it was suggested by Schmidt. In Russia there weren’t any publications dealing with the problem in an appropriate way.

The positions of Schmidt were also a considerable basis for Ushinsky’s own educational-anthropological theory and practice . Perhaps the best example of this is the unfortunately not completed main work “Man as the Subject of Education. Pedagogical Anthropology” (first published in 1868) (Ушинский /Ushinsky, 1948) . Ushinsky points out in his foreword, that the educator must aspire to know the human being with all its weaknesses and with all its dignity, with all its everyday inane needs and with all its great spiritual demands. The educator must be able to draw the means of educational influences from the respective human nature, and those means are boundless (ibid., 35). Despite all appreciation and partly critically constructive acceptance of positions of German and other European pedagogues ‒ Ushinsky keeps his Russian-national attitudes and interpretations. Also his positive appraisal of Karl Schmidt’s work and of parts of the works of other German pedagogues could not prevent him from a rather critical or at least reserved observation of the pedagogy and spiritual life in Germany. He treats some well-known German pedagogues, psychologists and other thinkers, like e.g. Fröbel, Diesterweg, Beneke, Herbart (Zajakin, 2004) and others never as a mere follower but always with a profound but fair reviewer of their work. This position is also to be observed in his rather critical and sometimes ironic attitude towards the then much-admired German institutions of higher education and their societal environment.

Ushinsky initially admires German universities. They epitomize for him the true ideal of general human knowledge – for within their walls every new insight is examined openly and from all perspectives; is developed systematically as far as it will go and thus gains acceptance within the system of general human knowledge (Günther, 1975, 30). Ushinsky then, however, points out the unusual contrast between the scholarly universal and the “penny” interests of the masses which threaten to dominate all human thought. He had indeed earlier observed that families and citizens were not well-informed about the work of German scholars “who were quite plain in their appearance and were happy to drink a beer with their neighbors or talk about the price of potatoes with Lottie (…)” (ibid., 31). However, by the 1860s trade and industry had developed at such great speed that Ushinsky describes the “dull” reverse side of this “coin”: the bad influence of industrialization on morality. On a trip through Germany in the 1860s he wonders where the famous German honesty and conscientiousness have gone. They calculate the prices too high and cheat when weighing out goods etc., exactly as they would do in a Moscow shopping arcade. The difference being that when caught cheating the German retains his unflappable expression of superior dignity and unblemished honesty, whereas when accused the Muscovite will puff himself up, scratch his head and be patently confused. Ushinsky is amazed at the Germans’ feverish striving for profit, at the ubiquitous conversations about guineas, crowns, shillings and sixpences. No one is interested in hearing about last night’s opera or operetta, about a recently published work of literature or about a new scientific discovery – except the specialists, that is (ibid., 32).

Other Europeans are clearly more akin to Ushinsky in their mentality than the Germans. He enthuses about the national cheerfulness of the French at their traditional festivities. They show genuine pleasure at the theatre whereas all German festivities are terribly dull and influenced by “penny” interests. It has become clear that Ushinsky is no stranger to satire. Here is a further example: “A Frenchman is never an expert, but a German is an expert by nature. If he is a scholar then he is a thorough scholar; if he is a proprietor then he is a thorough, particular proprietor who should have no other business; and finally if he is ignorant then he is thoroughly ignorant (…)“ (ibid., 88).

In contrast to German public education English public education is less concerned with comprehensive and systematized knowledge and more with developing character, habits, ways of thinking and manners. When a young English gentleman reads the classics it is not as the object of historical research or philosophical analysis which would be the German approach. Above all the Englishman strives for transparency of language, clarity and accuracy of expression – of which the classics provide excellent examples – and which have had such a powerful influence on the logical nature of English speech. At the center of an English education is the characteristic, the habit, of disciplining oneself which is a marked feature of any real gentleman (Ушинский /Ushinsky, 1948, 86). Ushinsky comments on an idea of John Locke’s that boys should be treated as adults from as early an age as possible so that they will become adults earlier. This cold common-sense is a typical feature of the English and is a tenet of the English education system. A foreigner observes “with some disquiet those small ten-year-old gentlemen (…) who maintain their dignity at all times and in all places” (ibid., 88). Perhaps the English education system has not deliberately created adolescent philosophers and systematic scholars but it is just their premature reserve that makes such an unchild-like impression: “These small, reserved gentlemen who know how to behave themselves so well, which goes against the grain of the warm-hearted Slavs.” It should not be forgotten that “childhood is a phase in life too, and often the best one” (ibid). Here we see the premise: the nature of education is reflected in the nature of the people (ibid., 89).

Ushinsky claims that a people’s sense of their “folk” character is so strong that it will be the last feature to go after everything sacred and noble in a nation has declined. In this context he touches on the problem of migration. “There are people who hate their homeland, yet how much love is sometimes hidden behind that hate! (…) You can forget the name of your homeland and yet still carry its character around inside you (…)” It is therefore not surprising “when an education that has been created by the people on a national basis is more effective than even the best education systems which are based on abstract ideas or borrowed from other peoples” (Uschinski, 1963, 66).

Public education can only be successful to the extent to which literature and public opinion provide a forum for it and questions of education become public issues which everyone understands and which are as relevant to everyone as family matters (ibid., 69). This sounds almost contemporary. Ushinsky calls for more educational literature, more educational societies, more frequent assessments of educational results, trips of an educational nature, a lively exchange between chalk-face teachers and finally “the heart-felt involvement of society itself in the public education system” (ibid., 70). These views are clearly ahead of their time, although public education at that time by no means meant the education of an entire nation. In a contemporary perspective we might say that he anticipated certain aspects of socialization theory when he referred to the natural environment, family life, cultural and religious traditions, poetry, laws, industry, literature etc., “all the things that form the historical life of a people are our real education. Compared to this the influence of educational institutions are inconsequential, especially when they are built on artificial elements.” (Ушинский /Ushinsky, 1948, 148). On the other hand there is also a strong emphasis on the idea of the Russian nation when he categorically rejects an education system built on foreign elements because it “would have significantly less effect on the development of character than a system that has been created by the people of the nation concerned themselves” (ibid., 165; see also Uschinski, 1963, 70).

Ushinsky’s ideas play an important role in current Russian pedagogy on issues such as national revival, national rebirth and ethnic self-education (ethno-pedagogy). This form of education aims to create patriots, sons of the nation with a highly-developed sense of national pride and human dignity. In this context we can see a pronounced return to Slavonic and in particular Russian educationalists of the past. This was clearly a phenomenon of the current Russian zeitgeist of the last years (see Nikandrov, 1997, 1999, 2000a; Volkov, 1999). For the leading Russian educationalist N. D. Nikandrov for example, “the aim of socialization and education now and in future” is “the Russian patriot who sets his priorities according to Russian national values – while respecting the values of other cultures” (Nikandrov, 2000b, 266). Nikandrov is convinced that a return to a national idea will provide the basis for the survival of Russia’s moral values. These are orthodoxy, patriotism and a sense of a shared “folk” identity (ibid., 263). Alongside these educational developments which place an emphasis on the national there are, however, other positions of a more relativist nature where it is feasible that the values of the world culture are learned together with those of the native culture, but always only when combined (Golz, 2001). The emphasis on national elements is an understandable and yet also problematic development. It is understandable in the context of a perceived loss of national and universal human dignity. Yet it can be problematic in the context of the potential danger that a national (patriotic) movement could become a nationalistic one and the desired tolerance within a nation between the different cultures could become the undesirable dominance of the majority culture and thus lead to conflict (Geršunskij, 2002, 472).

Even Ushinsky wondered whether along with national virtues there are also national vices. “All along the line history has proved that our concepts of virtue and vice cannot be applied to entire nations” (Ушинский/Ushinsky, 1948, 165). In this regard it might be useful to consider the dialectic way Ushinsky deals with the relationship between universally valid (European) virtues and indispensable national specifics of education. He points out that – on the one hand – the educational experience of other peoples is a valuable legacy for all; however, on the other hand, only insofar the international historic experiences belong to all peoples. Every nation must try to use its own strengths. Therefore it is especially necessary to develop a strong interest of the respective society in an active public education. The only enduring basis for any possible improvement in the field of education is the awakening of the public opinion (ibid., 166). The rediscoveries and new editions of Ushinsky’s works will not only reflect his views on the “folk” character of education but also put his complete works up for discussion. There are many of his societal and social observations still to be discovered, and it is unsatisfying not being able to discuss some of them because of the limitations of a single chapter. Among them is Ushinsky’s intensive and enlightened analysis of the role of women in the European societies of the era, especially his critical appraisal of the situation of women in Germany (Ушинский/Ushinsky, 1948, 262-276). His insights could well lead to more balanced judgments in contemporary and historical contexts that do justice to Ushinsky’s work and the immense role it could play in the discussions on „European integration through education“ (Kucha, Ed., 2004).

Conclusion: The contribution of Horace Mann and Konstantin Ushinsky to the comparative studies of German and European education

Let us begin our conclusion with the words of Horace Mann who wrote: “Arrange the most highly civilized and conspicuous nations of Europe in their due order of precedence, as it regards the education of their people, and the kingdoms of Prussia and Saxony (…) with several of the western and south-western states of the German nation would undoubtedly stand preeminent, both in regard to the quantity and quality of instruction” (Mann, 1843, 38).

Konstantin Ushinsky in contrast was of the mind, that “there is no educational system that would be common to all nations. Every nation has its own specific education system. Experiences of other nations in the sphere of education are a valuable legacy to all, but not even the best examples can be accepted without being first tried by every nation with the exertion of its own efforts in this sphere” (Cipro, 1994; 2001).

What can we learn from the 19th Century visits to Western Europe of Horace Mann, who wrote enthusiastically about Prussian education and Konstantin Ushinsky, who expressed reservations about an uncritical superficial adoption of other nations‘ educational systems? After all, this was long ago, prior to the rise of modern and post-modern ideas about education. Both men were products of their time and place, and they were limited in that regard just as we are today. But each had a vision of what might be. In Mann’s case, the dream was of state-controlled public schools for all boys and girls, rich and poor alike. For Ushinsky, the goal was of a progressive system of education rooted in the best values and virtues of Russian culture based on an “intuition of national origins.“

Horace Mann (1796-1859) died the very year of John Dewey’s birth, and at a time of the beginnings of the industrial state. The America that Mann knew was largely Protestant, agrarian and a country that had only recently begun to accept large waves of immigrants from European countries other than those of Anglo-Saxon origin. In fact, America was still in a process of inventing itself, attempting to shed its English colonial status. Mann was a New Englander whose influence was hardly felt or even known in the slave-holding South, so when we speak of Horace Mann and the Common School Movement in America, we refer to the Northern states. The state of education in the slave-holding states of the American south was quite another matter. Konstantin Ushinsky (1823?-1871) grew up in a time of severe autocratic rule in Russia. It was not until 1855, when he was twenty-two years of age that the political climate changed during the early years of the more progressive regime of Alexander II. During this brief seven-year time period, he was able to publish his enlightened views including the idea that both male and female deserved an education, that education should be based on sciences such as psychology and anthropology, and that education should be democratic in manner with progressive methods used to nurture the young. His close study of European education from 1862-67 came about basically at a time of exile in his life for falling out of favor with authorities who chose to send him abroad.

Horace Mann was a New Englander born nearly two centuries after the establishment of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He was an inheritor of a tradition of free public primary education that dated to 1642. But the primary schools established by the Calvinist settlers and which insisted on literacy so that each person could read the Scriptures for himself had largely fallen by the wayside, and newer world views such as Unitarianism and Transcendentalism had taken hold among New England intellectuals, displacing to some considerable extent the Trinitarian influence promulgated by the founders. Public schools had fallen into disrepute, and private schools and tutorial teaching were the means by which more affluent families educated their children. It was in this societal milieu that Horace Mann accepted the position of Secretary to the Board of Education of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1837. He immediately began an active pursuit of his plan to establish state controlled primary schools with compulsory education for all children with democracy replacing salvation as motive. Mann was persuaded by certain enthusiasts who had visited Europe that the model he should establish in America already existed in Prussia.

Ushinsky, on the other hand, lived during a time when the rise of the industrial state in Europe, though much less so in Russia, was evident to behold. The effects of a transformation of societies from an agricultural to an industrial basis would be profound, raising serious questions about the purposes of schooling. It is obvious from his astute observations that he saw Prussian schools more as places of training than of education. He well understood that Russia had longstanding traditions and a deeply-rooted folk culture that should form the basis of schooling. Unlike Mann, who held to the idea that Prussian educational methodologies were to be eagerly adopted, Ushinsky was wary of such borrowing. It is the case that Ushinsky differed with Mann that teaching arithmetic and reading involves something more than methodology. If one can accept the analogy that school subjects are the bricks, then the cultural context in which they are taught is the mortar. In other words, borrowing piecemeal from another culture is fraught with imminent peril. It runs the risk of underestimating the normative cultural values that are the fabric of social and moral life and which are unique to each society.

To be sure, each of these men saw a different Prussia. Mann saw an educational system that had somehow emerged from its 18th Century shadows of tyranny to become the most progressive in the world. Most notable was the institution of the primary school, a compulsory, state-controlled eight year course of study that quickly achieved remarkable results in literacy levels. Using new methods which eschewed such traditional measures as corporal punishment and ridicule of children, and which embraced progressive methods of teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic, the Prussian system rapidly attracted attention. Ushinsky arrived in Prussia well after the 1849 reaction to “over-education“ which included closing of normal schools, elimination of progressive methods of teaching, dominance of religious instruction, and a return to one-class rural primary schools. Largely gone were the age-graded classes, the practice of a new teacher each year, and even compulsory attendance. Ushinsky had left Europe by the time Bismarck had reoriented state-controlled schools largely to serve industrial and military expansionist needs, but no doubt he saw this coming.

With reference to Hörner’s claim that comparative education serves four functions, the search for 1) the particular, 2) the universal, 3) international trends, and 4) the better model, it is clear that Mann (not to mention Edward Everett, Calvin Ellis Stowe and to some extent Henry Barnard, who also brought back from their European travels enthusiastic accounts of Prussian schools) considered many elements of Prussian education to exemplify “the better model“ the essence of which could and ought to be adopted by American schools. Ushinsky, in contradistinction, saw in Prussian education “the particular“ or unique elements few of which were compatible with Russian culture and traditions in spite of the fact that one always learns something of value from visiting foreign schools.

After his completing legal studies at Brown University, Mann worked variously as a tutor of Greek and Latin and as a librarian. From 1827 to 1837 he served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives and in the State Senate. He was both progressive and pragmatic in his views and an legislator/administrator at heart. To be sure he had a vision of what American education might be, and his twelve annual reports are by any measure classics of educational literature. His vision included free public school elementary education for all American children, not just the favored few. His pragmatic views led him to accept wholeheartedly the “efficiencies“ he saw in the Prussian idea of compulsory attendance, age-grade classes, subjects taught separately, teachers trained and certified, and a new teacher(s) each year. It is clear in retrospect he did not see that these efficiencies would have a profound effect on school life in ways that critics claim have led to training over education, and regimentation resulting in a sense of restraint and coercion over creativity and freedom and for young learners.

One notable difference in their perceptions of Prussian education was Mann’s enthusiastic, almost naive embrace of what he saw, while Ushinsky formed quite another impression, one of benign skepticism. Of course, they each saw a different Prussia in a different time. Furthermore, Mann’s 1843 visit to Europe was a matter of weeks while Ushinsky spent five years (1862-1867) in Europe. They each brought unique preconceived ideas of what their respective nations needed to learn. Perhaps Ushinsky had a different idea of global/comparative education’s purpose, that is, that an embrace of the exotic is not always necessary and should be approached with caution. Rather, his considered view was that one learns more about one’s culture and society by seeing how others go about organizing theirs. In that sense, comparative educational study is extremely useful. But to be fair, it is quite possible that Mann himself would not have been impressed with the Prussian education of the 1860s.

Ushinsky, also a lawyer by training, could be described as a scientist of education. His prodigious work was based on pedagogics and the rudiments of the nascent disciplines of anthropology and psychology. In fact, Ushinsky was quite impressed and influenced by Karl Schmidt’s ideas of anthropologically naturalistic philosophy with its connections to the cultural life of a people. While Mann’s vision of schooling was for the masses of children, Ushinky was a product of a more class-based society where such a possibility was remote. Therefore, Ushinsky’s views of educational propriety could be mistakenly considered elitist compared to Mann‘s who was an advocate of the rights of all, rich and poor, to a free public education. It is probable that Ushinsky would have agreed with this premise had he thought it possible. This represents a profound difference of goal structure since Mann saw the public school where children of all backgrounds studied together as a cradle of republican democracy, Ushinsky saw the school as a place of greater intellectual endeavor and achievement as well as the locus of enculturation into the history, literature, religion, and love of country and folkways of a person’s native land, in his case, Russia. In this respect he could be considered, as Nikolay Nikandrov and other Russian educationalists are today, an advocate of patriotism and love of country at the heart of a person’s education. Certainly, he had respect, as Nikandrov does for other systems of education and their achievements, but from this viewpoint, patriotism, no matter how much it is universally valued, is unique to each culture. Therefore, it cannot be separated from the social/moral fabric of life. Each culture has its own unique characteristics and attributes. Given this perspective, it is misleading to think that superficial borrowing of ideas and methods developed in one society could serve another in any appreciable depth.

The lessons learned by these two educational reformers continue to reverberate in their respective cultures. Many aspects of the Prussian model touted by Horace Mann are evident today in American schools, most particularly schools of education for teacher training, age-graded classes, new teachers for children each year, the separation of school subjects by discipline, state control and certification of teachers, and acceptance of standardized examinations for marks and promotion. Mann was convinced that the teaching methods found in Prussia, an autocratic state, were usefully adapted to American schools where republican democracy was the goal of education. This conclusion, that the American embrace of the Prussian model, remains controversial to this day.

In the case of Russia, the imprint is less dramatic. Without a doubt many of the more progressive methods based on psychology and anthropology owe much to Ushinsky’s astute observations of what he saw in European schools. This much was clear during the Soviet period. And as a result, Ushinsky did refine his thoughts about the anthropology of education and its potential to inform emotion, mind, and volition in teaching and learning. In this sense, we can fairly say that his ability to enhance the spirit and richness of Russian education was furthered by his knowledge of comparative education.

What would these two classics think of the educational systems of their respective countries today? To some extent this represents an untestable hypothesis. On the other hand, it could be a worthwhile discussion but only if it is informed by a knowledge of the history of our profession.


1 Kucha, R. & Cudak, S. (Eds.)  (2013): The old and new thinking about education. Łódź (Poland): Społecznej Wydawnictwo Akademii Nauk (Academy of Social Sciences Publishing).
[The authors thank the Polish editors for the permission to republish this article (with small formal, Internet-based changes) in the current issue of “International Dialogues on Education: Past and Present”.]

2 Ushinsky is the most important classic of Russian education. It is, however, also understandable when not only Ukrainian educationalists consider Ushinsky as of Ukranian heritage. He was born 1823 in Tula (Russia), died and was buried in Odessa (Ukraine) in1870. Different information in the literature about the dates of birth and death (1824-1871) are caused by different documents and even by some information derived from his family and himself but also by different Russian calendrical countings (old/new style). The most instructive and interesting research questions and information regarding the biography of Ushinsky are still to be found in the chapter “Different documents and materials about single periods of K.D. Ushinsky’s life“ in Volume 11 of the “Collected Works“, 238ff. [See also: Hans, N. (2012): The Russian Tradition of Education. New York: Routledge, 75; see also: Vykhrustsch, A. (2004): Pedagogical Ideas of Ukraine in the Context of the European Traditions. In: Kucha, R. (Ed.) : European Integration through Education. Lublin: Maria Curie-Sklodowska University Press, p. 493 f.]

3 . Because of the different (Russian, German, English) sources used in this article, the name of the Russian (and Ukrainian) pedagogue is written in different ways and transcriptions, e.g. as Ушинский, Uschinski, Ushinsky, Ushynskyi, or Ušinskij. As this article is written in English we use the most common English version: Ushinsky . This form of the name is also used in the literature list, regardless of whether the relevant titles are translated into other languages such as German. At the end of such references is: (Russ.) – as an indication of the original language.

4 . Prussia (German name: Preußen; Königreich Preußen): the largest and most influencial state in Germany, leading the North German Confederation from 1867 to 1871 (establishing of the German Empire); dissolved in 1947, divided between East and West Germany, Poland, and the former Soviet Union.

5 . Some passages of this chapter on Ushinsky partly based upon earlier publications of the co-author R. Golz (1993, 2003, 2013).

6 . Marc-Antoine Jullien de Paris (1775-1848), a child of the enlightenment, published his “Sketches and Preparatory Studies for a Work on Comparative Education” in 1817, in order to form the foundation for school reform using a comparative analysis of materials on the educational institutions of several European countries. His aim was to improve France’s education system by importing the best elements from other countries. Friedrich Schneider (1881–1974), the founder of comparative educational studies in Germany, emphasized the point – at first glance similar to Ushinsky – that a country’s education system is not a conglomerate of outside influences. On the other hand, however, according to Schneider, education is not something to be isolated nationally. To isolate the national from international developments and experiences will lead to an academic cul-de-sac , because: “No country and no people can in the long term exclude the influences of other peoples on their education system. By the same token they cannot stop their own educational ideas and ideals influencing the educational philosophy of other peoples“ (Schneider, 1947, 327).



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About the Authors

Prof. Dr. Arthur K. Ellis, Director, Center for Global Curriculum Studies at the Seattle Pacific University, Seattle, United States of America

Prof. em. Dr. Reinhard Golz, University of Magdeburg, Germany, Editor: www.ide-journal.org; member of International member of the Russian Academy of Education.

Dr. Wolfgang Mayrhofer, University of Magdeburg


Reinhard Golz

Comparative Pedagogy in Russia: Historic and Current Discourses

Published in: Wolhuter, C.; Popov, N.; Leutwyler, B.; Skubic Ermenc, K. (Eds.) (2013): Comparative Education at Universities World Wide. Third Expanded Edition. Sofia: Bulgarian Comparative Education Society & Ljubljana University Press, Faculty of Arts, pp. 122-129.


In respect of its geopolitical structure, cultural heterogeneity, but also its many borders to other states, Russia has no equal (Golz, 2001, p. 86 f.). This country plays a major role in both historic and current globalization and transformation processes. Russia's current societal development and thus also the development of its educational system are characterized to an extent by the area of tension between being aware of the nation and international openness. Given all this, in the Western world there is only insufficient information about Russian educational science and particularly about Russian “Comparative Pedagogy” („Сравнительная Педагогика“). Studies on Comparative Pedagogy in the Russian language deserve more consideration in the Western world. Russian educational comparativists have provided valuable contributions to the discourse on the theoretical-methodological foundations of this discipline and also have established it as a subject of educational training. Based on the analysis of mainly Russian language sources, in the following the history and the current state of the art of Russian Comparative Pedagogy will be discussed.

Historic Overview

In Russia, the interest in educational thinking and acting in other countries developed in the 18th century at the latest and reached its peak in the 19th century. Among others, German pedagogy was in the focus of interest. European educational experiences were in most cases positively received in Russia. However, there were also Russian educationalists who did not only rely on literature which was available in Russia to evaluate foreign theories. The author Lev N. Tolstoy (1828-1910) and particularly the educationalist Konstantin D. Ushinsky (1824-1870) formed their own opinion on the demands and the reality of European pedagogy when travelling through Europe. Independently of each other, both of them drew cautious or even negative conclusions in respect of the transferability of foreign experiences to the Russian educational system (Schneider, 1961, p. 33; p. 76 f.; Golz, 2003). Of particular importance is Konstantin D. Ushinsky´s work. It includes the essential problems of educational theory, it is worked out in a remarkably interdisciplinary way, and it includes many insights of educational anthropology, general didactics, educational psychology, literature for children and, not least Comparative Pedadogy which are worth discussing. It is a scientifically intolerable situation when one looks mostly in vain for the name of the ‘Father of Russian pedagogy’ in more recent German and other non-Slavic textbooks on the history of pedagogy, on Comparative Pedagogy, or in similar reference works.

Ushinsky analyzes and compares the characteristics of the educational systems of Germany, Great Britain, France, and North America, and draws the following conclusion: the ‘national character’ which is typical for every people refers to everything which makes a people’s life: religion, nature, family life, tradition, poetry, laws, industry, literature etc., but particularly to public education. Indeed the European educational systems show similarities of subjects, of organization, of didactic methods, and of the laws of school discipline. But every people has its own national system and its own objectives and means of education which originate from respective national particularities and individualities (Ушинский [Ushinsky], 1948, pp. 71 ff.; Uschinski, 1963, p. 60). In other words: “Russia cannot and should not copy German methods, it neither needs German illnesses nor German remedies. All national characteristics are expressions of the national character (...): they show advantages and disadvantages, but they cannot be arbitrarily exchanged” (Kegler, 1991, p. 72). Just the same, Ushinsky had pointed out national flaws which must be named. But he also pointed out that nobody has the right to judge any other people by applying the idea of his/her own national character as a criterion (Ushinsky, 1963, p. 68).

The various new editions of Ushinsky´s works may perhaps also overcome some one-sided interpretations of his (at first sight) markedly national idea of education and will thus do more justice to his works which play an immense role within the current process of the democratization and humanization of education. Obviously, markedly national orientations are a part of the current (‘patriotic’) Russian spirit of these times. But here there are also starting points for both patriotic and enlightened intercultural positions. For the leading Russian educationalist N.D. Nikandrov, for example, the current and prospective goal of socialization and education is also the “Russian patriot who is orientated towards the priority of Russian national values, while respecting the values of other cultures” (Никанров [Nikandrov], (2001), p. 202).

One thing is clear: the knowledge of Ushinsky's work makes it easier to understand the current Russian debate on pedagogy. Also the horizon of Comparative Pedagogy may be extended by dealing more strongly with Ushinsky, even if he – as far as the possibility of transferring foreign educational experiences to one´s own national field is concerned – supports an opinion which is different from the commonly quoted founders of this discipline (such as M. A. Jullien de Paris).

For the English speaking countries, one remark by V.I. Malinin from the year 1974 is perhaps still valid today, according to which foreign comparativists “after all do not know anything at all” about comparative educational research in Russia. In contrast to this, Malinin is able to quote about one hundred studies on comparing the educational systems of two or more countries, which were published in Russia or the Soviet Union between 1863 and 1930 (Malinin, 1974, p. 210 f.). The varied history of Comparative Pedagogy as an independent discipline of research and teaching in Russia and the Soviet Union has also been described by other Russian authors (Родионов [Rodionov], 1999; Джуринский [Dzhurinsky], 2005, p. 61 ff.; Хуторской [Khutorskoy], 2006, p.10 ff.; Вульфсон [Vulfson] 2003 and others); there is also a German study on the period between 1917 and 1951 (Krüger-Potratz, 1974).

During the 1950s and 1960s, the interest in foreign pedagogy increased in the Soviet Union, most of all to “learn about the weak spots of the school and educational systems of non-Communist countries” (Schneider, 1961, p. 78). At the beginning of the 1970s, the development of Comparative Pedagogy as an independent discipline of educational training as well as the unbiased comparison of Soviet and foreign schools and pedagogy is still obstructed. This situation has changed since the end of the 1980s. At some universities as well as at the Russian Academy of Educational Sciences in Moscow (today: Russian Academy of Education), new scientific centres where problems of Comparative Pedagogy are being worked at are emerging. Russian scientists discuss various aspects of Comparative Pedagogy and compare educational developments throughout the world. Monographs, articles, and dissertation theses as well as several university textbooks on Comparative Pedagogy analyzing the educational experiences of one or several states and relating foreign and Russian educational developments to each other have been published. The Centre of Comparative Pedagogy at the Russian Academy of Education is of particular importance. In this context, Russia’s important educational journal Paedagogica (Педагогика) should also be mentioned; V.P. Borisenkov is the editor-in-chief. This magazine includes a permanent column ‘Сравнительная Педагогика’ (Comparative Pedagogy).

Given the space available here, it is only possible to point out the lists of references in Джуринский [Dzhurinsky], (1998; 2005); Вульфсон [Vulfson], (2003); Хуторской [Khutorskoy], (2006); as well as to the great number of references to be found in the Internet – most of them in Russian.

Current Status as a Subject

In April 2005, the Russian Federation´s Ministry of Education and Science passed the ‘Educational Standards of Higher Professional Training’. There, in the context of the discipline of Pedagogy, Comparative Pedagogy is mentioned among 20 ‘professional training’ disciplines with 120 lessons, in comparison to Pedagogy of Professional Education (199 lessons), Family Education (120), Social Pedagogy (300), and History of Pedagogy (168). One half of the number of lessons is used for teaching (lectures, seminars, exercises) and the other half for independent work. Meanwhile, independent Comparative Pedagogy courses have been established at several universities (Arkhangelsk, Moscow, Nizhnyi Novgorod, Pyatigorsk, Juzhno-Sakhalinsk, Jaroslavl et al.). An example is the well worked out seven semesters BA course on Comparative Pedagogy at the State University of Pedagogy ‘K. D. Ushinsky’ in Jaroslavl. This course is also very clearly represented in the Internet, with information on the teaching program, seminar schedules, subjects of lectures, tests for self-monitoring, glossaries, literature references, tasks of problem-oriented, as well as scientific and artistic nature (Молоков [Molokov], 2007). Tasks of the course include informing about particularities of national educational systems; the development of comparative skills; the development of an adequate, critical, and tolerant attitude towards foreign educational experiences; and orientation towards most recent educational achievements of foreign countries. Students should perfect their educational style and extend their scientific-educational and general cultural level. Furthermore, students should recognize general, particular, and common aspects of the international development of education as well as possibilities and limits of transferring foreign experiences to the Russian educational system (ibid.).

In Russian publications as well as in other courses on Comparative Pedagogy this discipline is often combined with the History of Pedagogy. Contents and rank of the academic plan of History of Pedagogy and Comparative Pedagogy programs depend on the specific nature of the respective universities. A. N. Dzhurinsky, a specialist of Comparative Pedagogy, History of Pedagogy, and Polycultural [Поликультурное] education at The State’s Educational University in Moscow, gives examples of courses on History of Pedagogy and Comparative Pedagogy (Джуринский [Dzhurinsky], 2005, p.136 ff.). An interesting feature of the History of Pedagogy course – apart from generally common topics – is its emphasis on education in Israel, India, and China, as well as dealing with Brahmanism, Buddhism, and Confucianism; also worth mentioning are the ‘Educational Ideas of Eastern Slavs’. Details follow on organization and methods of studying History of Pedagogy and Comparative Pedagogy by lessons, seminars, on preparing lectures, seminar and diploma papers, on independent work with sources, electronic information, films, statistics, iconography etc. The special course on Comparative Pedagogy is supposed to be offered only after History of Pedagogy as well as after having achieved knowledge of philosophy, sociology, and history. History of Pedagogy and Comparative Pedagogy are quantitatively differently weighed. On 26 pages Dzhurinsky lists about 500 publications – most of them in the Russian language – on studying both disciplines (the great majority of references being on History of Pedagogy). There are also examples of control tasks on the quality of teaching as well as questions, tasks, topics for tests, lectures, and course and diploma papers. Also here a quantitative aspect can be evidenced: 116 ‘Questions and Tasks’ refer to History of Pedagogy and 43 to Comparative Pedagogy (Джуринский [Dzurinsky], 2005, pp. 142-190).

It should be added that some universities offer special programs on Comparative Pedagogy, which combine the comparative analysis of educational experiences in Russia and other countries with the national language which must be studied. Some publications establish connections between Comparative Pedagogy and ’Polycultural Education’. At some universities, ’Polycultural Education’ has also started to develop as an independent field of teaching and research. Among respective publications that deserve consideration are Бондаревская & Гукаленко [Bondarevskaya & Gukalenko] (2000); Гукаленко [Gukalenko] (2003); Борисенков/Гукаленко/Данилюк [Borisenkov, Gukalenko & Danilyuk] (2004); Джуринский [Dzurinsky] (2007).

More Recent Discourses on Methodology

Studies are criticized which judge foreign experiences according to a ‘good-bad’ pattern, something which in respect of the sciences, results in soulless conclusions on Russia supposedly having nothing to learn from foreign countries. To overcome this tendency, Russian Comparative Pedagogy should deal more intensively with its own scientific foundations (Джуринский [Dzurinsky], 2005, p. 63 f.).

Precisely this is the field of work of one of the doyens of Russian Comparative Pedagogy, Б.Л. Вульфсон [Vulfson] (2002; 2003; 2006a; 2006b). In his more recent studies he points out problems of comparative criteria such as the number of population, or economic and socio-political conditions. One important criterion, he says, is the individual-related gross domestic product (GDP). However, he states that in Russia the GDP is lower than in developed countries of the West, but the cultural and educational level of the population is still very high. Thus it is hardly possible to base Comparative Pedagogy only on socio-economic indicators. Appropriate comparisons may result in simplifications and distortions of reality, the recording of the entire variety of international educational systems may become more difficult this way, and the dynamics of change cannot be shown. Vulfson speaks out against a positivist ‘cult of facts’ which results in a loss of theoretical understanding. The latter, he says, is again dependent on a thorough understanding of concrete phenomena. Not every comparative analysis is always able to proportionally do justice to both sides. Interviews, conversations, and ‘first hand’ information essentially complete the insight one gets on the basis of studying literature and sources (Вульфсон [Vulfson], 2002). A closer look at many Russian studies reveals that the use of qualitative methods of social research, however, is still only marginal.

A Special Case: The Educational Space of the Community of Independent States (CIS).

Recently, several authors have been dealing with developments of the post-Soviet educational space, particularly with the CIS, e.g. Хуторской [Khutorskoy] (2006); Гукаленко [Gukalenko] (2006); Джуринский [Dzhurinsky] (2007) et al. This new branch of Comparative Pedagogy is about “our nextdoor neighbours”, furthermore “a population of many millions of Russian and Russian-speaking people lives there; in some of the new states it is confronted with serious difficulties in the fields of culture and education, and sometimes even with open discrimination” (Вульфсон [Vulfson], 2006a, p. 61, quoted in Khutorskoy, 2006, p. 22).

Particularly А.В. Хуторской [Khutorskoy] (2006) deals with this research problem. In Khutorskoy´s opinion, the problem of creating a common educational area on CIS territory has developed in analogy to educational programmes of the EU. This requires mutual acceptance of educational degrees and the introduction of common educational standards. At the same time it is about introducing a ‘human’ orientation of education in the sense of a standard. The crucial term in Khutorskoy is «человекосообразность» [chelovekosoobraznost] (ibid., p. 33).

The objective is the development of ‘human potential’ in the CIS countries, while partly including the Baltic countries. He criticizes the fact that currently societal and state norms and not character-oriented ones seem to have priority. School is rather orientated towards the needs of the ‘socium’, it does hardly care about the development of ‘human man’. The integration of this educational area, he says, is important, but not for its own sake but in the interest of the people and their education. Khutorskoy describes socio-political, educational, and information-technological factors of the CIS educational area which are also of importance for the development of Comparative Pedagogy. A variety of statistic overviews on the comparison of dealing with human capital in the single CIS countries support this impressive concept of ‘humanly-appropriate education’. He asserts to have thus worked out a new approach to comparative educational research and essential key competencies for the CIS educational area (ibid., p. 193).

Russia and China – an example of binary comparison

Through a common research and publication project Russian and Chinese representatives of Comparative Pedagogy have provided one remarkable example which analyzes and compares educational reform in Russia and China at the turn from the XXth to the XXIst century (Боревская [Borevskaya], Борисенков [Borisenkov], Сяоман [Syaoman], 2007). This publication includes contributions by 19 Russian and 21 Chinese authors. From the methodological point of view, this publication is of particular significance. Chinese and Russian authors analyzed the situation and the trends of the educational development in their respective countries on the basis of a previously worked out structure of comparing identical or similar problems. When this concept was worked out, difficult questions had to be answered, e.g. in respect of objectives and a common terminology and methodology (Борисенков & Вульфсон [Borisenkov & Vulfson] (2007, p. 13). After all, it is not that two different studies which are only connected by a common title on the sleeve were developed, but a complex research resulting in an extensive, comprehensive comparison of current educational problems of both countries, from school institutions up to university, in one, extended educational-sociological, historical-cultural, and educational context. Based on an extended number of sources both educational systems are characterized. Every chapter is consistently divided into two parts: analyses by Russian and Chinese experts, and comparison of situation, problems, and prospects – also both from the Russian and the Chinese points of view. The analytical and comparative aspects of this book are summarized – again from the points of view of the representatives of both countries. The book includes an extensive presentation of the results of the comparison in the English language. One can only agree with Mark Bray that “The present book is a great contribution to the literature (…). The methodological and conceptual insights will be of great value to scholars beyond Russia and China as well as within it. The authors and editors are indeed to be applauded” (Bray, 2007, p. 591).


Russian educational comparativists have provided valuable contributions to the debate on theoretical-methodological foundations of this discipline and have established it as a subject of educational training. Meanwhile, there are Comparative Pedagogy centres and courses at several Russian universities, a typical feature of which is the development of curricula which are clearly stuctured according to topical amd methodological principles. Currently, the discourse within Russian Comparative Pedagogy is characterized by the area of tension between trends of internationalizing educational developments and observing national traditions and particularities of the transformation process. The Russian educational comparativists’ theoretical-methodological discourse deserves to be taken more into consideration by the Western world.


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