Vasily Sukhomlinsky (Soviet teacher): Educating the Heart, Head & Hands

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Vasily Sukhomlinsky (Soviet teacher): Educating the Heart, Head & Hands

Vasily believed that there was More to a child than the Intellect:
– Character development
– how they can contribute socially
– sort of parent they will be
– their unique worth as a human being
[finding the golden vein in each child – the key to their self-respect]

– Vasily was born in 1918 – in the Ukraine
– father was shot at during the Collecitivisation of agriculture
– he was conscripted during WW2 & was wounded [he never met the woman who saved him; he was evacuated to the Urals; his wife & child were killed during the Nazi occupation by the Gestapo & local collaborators; he was not fit to continue as a soldier, so he resumed teaching; he did not stay in the area of human bitterness; he learnt German in e hope that he could speak to the German officer about the execution of his wife & child]
– his education work provided a valuable distraction
– he loved working with children
– he believed a teacher needed to keep alive the child inside themselves
– he believed in taking children out in Nature – both to appreciate & to tend (planting flowers & apple trees which the children had to tend)
– moral education & aesthetic education – bring joy to others (live in, & create education)

– a good person was strong, could empathise with others, could bring joy to others & appreciate beauty (is all around us – Nature & other humans)
– physical work & sport could be aesthetically beautiful (beyond just being fastest/competing with others)
– consequences (not punishment)
– he believed children misbehaved because of immaturity or because they had been around adults who had not set a good example
– he did not advocate hitting kids or screaming at kids because it undermines a child’s self-respect
– he responded to suffering in a heroic way
– he believed human nature means that children requires education to obtain good values
– he believed the most characteristic feature of a child was optimism (cynicism was learned)
– education requires a relationship to be established, & then education can be achieved through words (to educate children into kindness)
– he was particularly focused on a child’s health – he believed many learning difficulties were because of health – he was focused upon diet; the more demanding intellectual lessons were structured to occur in the early part of the day were a particular priority; he also focused upon posture;
– imagination was encouraged through watching skies/clouds & describing what they saw; camps etc.,
– he encouraged children to “read eyes”, read faces & understand feelings to understand other people (they would look at other people & artwork)
– he, like Tolstoy, realised that 0 to 5 was when children learned most
– he taught parenting to children at school
– the program discusses the difficulty of modern parenting
– he did not believe there was any incorrigible child that could not be reached
– he also worked with children with intellectual difficulties & focused upon building agency & esteem
– he believed every human could leave a trace on the earth
– his ideas have been adopted today in the People’s Republic of China

– he liked some aspects of Communism such as the ideals of comradeship
– he was put on trial by the Soviets for “abstract humanism” & he found it hard to be published before his death in 1970

Source: ABCRN “Conversations” | broadcast date: 5 October 2016

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