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🇺🇦 Vasily Sukhomlinsky: educating the heart, head and hands



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  • 🇺🇦 Vasily Sukhomlinsky: educating the heart, head and hands

    Here's another interesting interview in ABC's "Conversations" series.

    I had never heard of this man before, but he's quite an interesting character. I don't know if anyone from Ukraine or Russia comes here, but I expect they would know of him.

    I'm not recommending his notions - I know very little about him and don't read Russian and, besides, am certainly not setting up for an educationist - it's merely that I think this is an interesting conversation and worth listening to.

    I'm actually dubious about some of it. For example, he apparently said that "parenting" should be taught in schools. I think this is confusing education in the broad sense with education in the sense of what is delivered by a school. I think I'd say that there is an institution for learning parenting … it's called the family. And, in any case, that is where children are going to learn what a parent "is", because always so much of human learning is implicit and actually unconscious not a matter of lessons as such.

    But much of this seems attractive to me. Sukhomlinsky did not believe that violence should be used in the classroom. He also thought it wrong for a child to be ridiculed. I think corporal punishment of children in British schools probably ceased in the 1970s - I don't know about the U.S. - but I think ridiculing children remains alive. Sukhomlinsky seems to have been an exceptionally gentle man, made so by the experience of war.

    Sukhomlinsky thought it important that children be brought to feel and have social responsibility and thought that this could be done with patience through example and the use of language.

    He also saw the importance of the physical being of children - something that is being lost in Britain where there is an unhealthy obsession with the 3Rs - thinking, for example, that they should be outside every day. There seems to be some influence of the Natural Health movement in there, too - so he encouraged children to go barefoot. He seems also to have realised the importance of "posture" - that's a static term that I dislike, but it's used in the interview, and it'll do - and designed chairs for the school where he was the headmaster. I don't know what the designs were like, but if they were any good then he was ahead of British and American schools today, where as one U.S. Alexander Technique Teacher has remarked chairs are designed "for the janitor not the children" - meaning designed to be stackable and not with a understanding of human physiology. Actually, it turns out that Sukhomlinsky was interested in health in many aspects, for example encouraging children to grow vegetables and fruit and learn how to preserve them, and trying to relate health to learning. He apparently wrote that where there were learning difficulties he thought there would often be a health problem behind them. That I suspect is a valid thought, and one that would find an audience in Ancestral Health circles.

    Sukhomlinsky also had a pleasingly optimistic attitude towards learning, saying that there was no child who could not be brought to understand more about anything. It seems to me that the obsession with the supposed importance of genetics over the past century left many people with a impression that any differences between people - intellectual ones included - were both large and innate. I think myself - I know I'd promised not give opinions but … that almost all people's abilities are much greater than we realise and with the right teaching the limits for anyone are much greater than we currently realise.

    If the interview sounds intriguing to anyone, here's the link: