Volume:1, Issue: 2

Sep. 1, 2009

In This Issue
A Letter to the Readers
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Dear readers, It is with great pleasure and not without a certain amount of anxiety that I am introducing this new issue to you. This is for the first time that we are starting to publish articles of American and Russian educators together in an attempt to stimulate a true dialogue between them. Studying American education for many years of my life in Russia, I always tried to bring the knowledge of Western education to Russian researchers and practitioners, to university professors and students. I always felt like it was my mission to introduce to Russian teachers new methods and strategies from the West, to acquaint them with numerous innovations in school structure- and culture-building and management. Many of my books and articles were devoted mostly to these issues. Now, when I live in the States, I experience a strong desire to inform English-speaking readers of outstanding achievements of past and present Russian education. It is so unfortunate that extremely rich Russian educational ideas, knowledge, and experience are almost totally unknown to most Western teachers and educators. It is no wonder that whenever I present about the unique work of the Yasnopolyanskaya school by Leo Tolstoy, the ideas and creations of Konstantin Ventsel and Victor Soroka-Rosinsky, educational findings and a personal fate of Vasily Sukhomlinsky, and finally about numerous modern outstanding school principals such as Vladimir Karakovsky, Yuri Zavelsky, etc. – this always keeps the audience’s undivided attention.
Language Learning in a Global Context
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For something as ubiquitous and essential as language and the meaning which is embedded in human communication, it is ironic that the means for acquiring the tools for this communication and understanding the contexts in which it is used, are so poorly understood by a vast proportion of human society. Myths about language, language learning, culture and cultures abound. Myths in themselves may be interesting or even beneficial, but when they dis-empower people, they become harmful. And because language and culture are so deeply personal and thus entwined in our emotional makeup, a lack of sufficient empathy and the ability to connect with those of a different language or cultural background may lead to severe conflict. And of course, the modern era has forced us to interact globally like never before, making the immediacy and intensity of these linguistic and cultural interactions increasingly rapid and more widespread.
Social Studies Can be Social: Using Humor to Foster Engagement and Invigorate Learning in the Social Studies Classrooms
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There is no shortage of public opinion, commentary, and conjecture lamenting the “sad state” of social studies education these days. One can simply turn on the television to see comedians such as Jay Leno making the most of on-the-street encounters with young (and not-so-young) adults who are apparently incapable of identifying photographs of famous world leaders like Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, or U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden. Similarly, much to the great egocentric entertainment of the viewer, who, presumably, could correctly answer all such questions, these seemingly inept passersby commonly misidentify recognizable world landmarks such as London’s Big Ben, the Taj Mahal in Agra, and St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow. As interviewees hazard reckless guesses, the audience laughs wildly, and a great time is had by all… all except the interviewees’ dear old social studies teachers, that is, who hang their heads in bewildered disappointment.
Ten tips for navigating the wiki maze
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Wikis have become popular tools for educators in this Web 2.0 era (O'Reilly, 2005), where students are not only readers of Internet content but also producers (Driscoll, 2007). The word “wiki” comes from the Hawaiian term “wiki-wiki” which can be translated as “to hurry.” Ward Cunningham is credited with developing the first wiki software application, naming it such because the tool could be used to quickly create collaborative websites. Teachers now use wikis to build do-it-yourself (DIY) websites. Using a wiki allows them to quickly create an entire website without knowing an Internet coding script, such as HTML. Another popular use for wikis is to have students collaborate on building content as part of a class project (Hazari & North, 2009). This use will be the focus of this paper.
Teaching Ethics to children
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There are few activities in life more fun than having a serious conversation about ethical issues with a group of eight year olds. I did just that as part of my regular full time job for 24 years, as ethics teacher at the Fieldston Lower part of Ethical Culture Fieldston School, in New York City. Children are intently engaged in the work of making moral sense of their lives. They are hungry for guidance and quick with indignation. All they really ask is to be taken seriously. Taking them seriously of course includes sharing laughs often. It also includes trying to avoid boredom. Otherwise, teaching ethics to children is both wonderful fun and strenuous intellectual challenge. I am convinced that anyone who would want to do it can do it well.
A History of the educational institutions of the Perm region from the eighteenth to the beginning of the twentieth century.
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The history of education in the Perm region in the 16th to the early 20th century begins with monastery schools, then factory training facilities and proceeds through the establishment of primary and secondary schools which were initially private but eventually grew into a state system of education. The role of the Stroganov family and other factory and land owners helped to create an educated middle class vital to the development of the Enlightenment in Russia. With the emancipation of the serfs, government education facilities developed and in coordination with private institutions created a market for learning, a more stratified society, and quality education.
Vocational training in the Perm region as a space for development
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The author, Minister of Education of Perm region, briefly analyzes a current situation in the Perm vocational training; he names all the main goals to be achieved for the future success and some possible challenges and risks. This year the meeting of the Teaching-Methodological Union of the Privolzhsky District in the city of Perm was held practically at the same time when we were able to announce the end of the primary adaptation of the regional educational system to the new socioeconomic conditions.
Initial vocational training: all efforts towards modernization
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This is initially a paper presented at the recent Perm regional educational meeting. The author describes the work of the Board of Directors of Initial Vocational Training and some new tendencies which help the regional vocational training system stay in line with the regional economy.
About the period of transition of the modern Russian society
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he period of transition of the modern Russian society is defined in a very different way by Russian sociologists. The article talks about these approaches, their pros and cons. The notion of the modern Russian social culture is also analyzed. Let us start with the attempt to define the term “a period of transition of the modern Russian society.” Neither theorists, not practitioners have a common opinion about it. For example, according to Egor Gaidar, it is “a period of social recession, a fall of gross domestic product, disorganization of economic links, financial crisis, financial stabilization, the start of the reconstruction period, launching of the capacities created during socialism…».
Info-technology is the way to develop the Perm region
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The Perm region and some of its unique institutions have taken up the challenge of modernizing education and have created their own solutions to age old and modern problems. These answers to difficult questions center on the cooperative work of teachers and their desire to improve the educational opportunities and the lives of their students. Perm is among those regions which are, by right, regarded as cultural and scientific centers of Russia. The United Nations Organization presented a report in 2007 concerning human –potential development in which independent scientists and experts rated highly the development of the social sphere in the Perm region and Russia in general. Prikamyie (the region bordering the River Kama, tributary of the Volga, which flows through Perm) ranked next after Moscow and Saint Petersburg.
Non-state higher education as a tool in solving social issues in the Perm region and in the entire Russian society
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The author gives a brief description of the development of higher education in the world during the last twenty years. There is an analysis of pros and cons of non-state education together with a number of factors that put non-state colleges and universities into unfavorable conditions in Russia. Some innovative characteristics of the Prikamsky Social Institute are depicted as well. The development of every country is characterized by specific features of its educational development. It happens due to history, politics, and other factors. National education has become a priority in many political programs of different political leaders. At present education has become accessible for millions.
Association “The 21st Century”
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Professor Zakharova analyzes the development of a concept and a system for creating life-long learning opportunities for the citizens of the City and region of Perm, Russia. Her article describes the birth of the concept and the development of each aspect of its evolution. It begins with a traditional Russian school and grows into a complex of innovative educational institutions that spans preschool to adult education; all with the same philosophy of continuous learning as a way of life. One of the most important characteristics of contemporary education is the quality of its development. The creation and development of a system for “continuous learning” or “life long learning” is based on the principal of the deep formation of the individual. This is an essential condition for guaranteeing quality.
New Approaches to Forming Competitive Environment in the Field of Rendering Preschool Educational Services
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To renovate current Russian system of education, the country needs a non-state sector of education that is able to initiate innovative solutions and to meet current socioeconomic demands. Several new approaches are suggested and described. They are: “a municipal order,” allowances paid to the families who do not place their children in state preschools, concession, outsourcing in education, quality mini preschools, and a new system of training personnel. Education has an absolute priority all over the world, remaining a dominant factor in triggering a dynamic development of economy and society in any country. To renovate the Russian system of education which is in transition towards a market economy now, our country needs a non-state sector of education which has equal rights and which is able to initiate innovative solutions, supplementing an official policy of the federal and regional educational authorities and which is also able to meet current socioeconomic demands. Non-state educational institutions in the Russian Federation today form an integral part of the whole system of education and expand the possibilities for all citizens to realize their rights for quality education.
La Escuela Freire: Academy for culture, leadership, and civic engagement
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The author presents the project of a small community based and democratically organized charter school. There is a short historical perspective of the schools’ seemingly impervious barrier to systemic change. It describes, in general terms, the conditions necessary to overcome the logic of domination as stated by Giroux and McLaren. The article closes by describing in some detail La Escuela Freire in terms of rationale, goals, design principles, and characteristics of organizational culture.

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