The passion for educating the ‘‘New Man’’: debates about preschooling in Soviet Russia, 1917–1925

Valkanova, Y. (2009) The passion for educating the ‘‘New Man’’: debates about preschooling in Soviet Russia, 1917–1925. History of Education Quarterly, 49 (2). pp. 211-221. ISSN 0018-2680.

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The Russian Revolution of February 1917 displaced the autocracy of the Romanov royal family and aimed to establish a liberal republican Russia. The Bolsheviks, who came to power a few months later in the revolution of October 1917, announced that their new policy in education "had no analogy in history." Their reforms sought to establish a Marxist-based education system, in an attempt to raise new citizens for a new, communist society. Above all, the Bolsheviks regarded education as a means to engineer the ideal human being, the "new man" and the "new woman." The Bolshevik reforms led to a large and rapid expansion of preschool and day nursery places. Preschool education became an integral part of the school system in 1918. The contribution of the Bolsheviks to the expansion of childcare and education is highlighted in many scholars' accounts of the history of Soviet preschool education. These include descriptions by visitors to Russia, such as American educators Patty Smith Hill and John Dewey, who witnessed these processes firsthand in the years that followed the October revolution. In this essay, the author discusses the massive commitment to the education and care of young children in Russia from just after the revolution of 1917-25. The author seeks to identify how liberal and progressive ideas were accommodated within the Marxist labor school philosophy, elements of which were incorporated in the preschools established by the Soviet regime. The author argues that there were two types of internal relations (to use Marx's notion) that dialectically shaped the intention of adapting the labor school to preschool theory and practice in 1917-25. The first relation of this explanatory model examines the establishment of the tradition of preschool education and care within the society, while the second observed relation reflects the way the preschool served the development and the necessities of the new state.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1139.2 Early childhood education
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1140 Preschool education. Nursery schools
L Education > LC Special aspects of education > LC1390 Education of special classes of persons > LC1391 Men. Boys
Divisions: pre Nov-2014 > Faculty of Education > Childhood Studies
Depositing User: Mrs Yordanka Valkanova
Date Deposited: 18 Sep 2013 16:25
Last Modified: 11 Dec 2014 14:11

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00