In today’s world, education is a vital tool for survival. One’s level of education is an accurate determinant of one’s level of success. Education itself has had to survive the changing human thoughts and perceptions over the ages to acquire its current status and structure in society. (Gutek 14) Looking at education in England and Russia, certain periods in each country’s history stand out as having played a huge role in morphing education into what it is in both countries.
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English Education System
The 19th Century was a reckoning era in English education with a culmination of reforms being embodied in the 1870 Education Act. Reforms saw the widespread establishment of elementary schools for children aged between 5 and 13 years. Later the tripartite system was adopted where pupils joined Grammar Schools, Modern Secondary Schools, or Technical Secondary Schools based on their performance in the highly controversial 11 Plus Examination. Grammar School students joined universities while the rest of the secondary school students joined the working world. Currently, the system is divided into Primary School, Comprehensive Secondary Schools, and universities. Entry into university is determined by examination while entry into Comprehensive Schools is indiscriminate (Gutek 344).
Russian Education System
Modern education in Russia can be traced back to the late 18th Century when Peter, then tsar of Russia, established an education system similar to that of the Germans. The system has remained fairly consistent since then, except during the 1917 Revolution where svobodnoe vospitanie [free upbringing] was adopted and saw the abolishment of an exam based system of education. During Stalin’s reign, the exams were reintroduced and the government dictated pedagogy styles and content. Modern Russia subscribes to a system with primary, secondary, and tertiary education (Gutek 428).
Philosophies and Practices That Shaped English and Russian Education
English education was founded with the goal to ensure society’s spiritual, mental, and physical well being. Thus, there has been a great influence on the church in the history of English education. Ever since the era of the 11 Plus Examination, English education has always been exam-oriented. Protestantism challenged the establishment of a nationwide education system, which required a collectivist approach chiefly because of its teaching of individualism. However, the social, economic and political importance of education trumped the challenges (Gutek 365).
The Russian Revolution of 1917 arguably had the greatest impact on Russian education. The Russians at the time used literature to forge their campaign against the Tsar rule, thus literacy in the country went up by record breaking figures. Lenin’s time in power was marked by a revolution in Russian education which adopted very liberal styles of pedagogy. Exams were done away with and the student body democratically chose how and what they wanted to learn. Teachers existed in a consultant capacity rather than as instructors as is the norm. Education was based on everyday experiences rather than ideal or theoretical scenarios that were out of phase with reality. Stalin’s era, however, saw the introduction of rigid programs of discipline and education. The state controlled education.
The exam oriented system such as is the case with English education may provide one with the opportunity for employment, but may deny the same person creativity. A more liberal style of education as seen in Russia during the 1917 Revolution is ideal for imparting innovative and creative skills.
Gutek, Gerald Lee. A History of the Western Educational Experience. 2nd ed. 1995. Prospect Heights, Ill.: Waveland Press. Print.