Tuesday, 21 September 2010

On upbringing

An historical contribution

I have responded to Susie Mallett’s invitation to contribute something to her new blog Conductive upbringing and lifestyle. Partly I did this to see how such a contribution to an open blog might look, partly because the topic that I chose is one dear to my heart: Soviet vospitanie (воспитание) and its possible relevance to conductive upbringing.

Vospitanie occupied me considerably in the nineteen-seventies and eighties, and perhaps naively I expected and hoped that adapting the upbringing (nevelési) aspects of CE would be a conscious and exciting part of  adaptation to new social contexts. Instead, this aspect rather dropped out of explicit consideration. People have made all sorts of stabs at Vygotskii-style and Luriya-style analyses (though almost wholly ignoring all kinds of associated matters, not least Leont’ev’s activity and the leading activity that may help define the pedagogy of developmental stages). There is no need to call for slavish adoption of Soviet models to see that they are extraordinarily heuristic and hypothesis-forming. So is the whole field of vospitanie! We are much the poorer for ignoring it.

It is amusing to speculate about the causes of this. Suffice it here to state that we may have created ourselves a problem.

If you would like to see what I have written on Conductive upbringing and lifestyle, then I guess that it will probably be up there sometime this evening:

That is if she accepts it! I have to remember that this is notposting on my own blog, but more like submitting something to an editor. She might not want it, so in a few hours’ time I shall be watching out anxiously, like a mother hen!

Maybe this process gives a bit of a clue as to what she has created, a sort of free, open-access house magazine (an e-zine or maybe an on-line scrap book) for the upbringing fans within CE. An interesting precedent that others might consider...

Perhaps, by the way, it is time to stop using the now historical word ‘Soviet’. A quick glance in Google, even using the Latin alphabet, will show that vospitanie, both the word and the concept, is alive and well in Russia, not least in the minds of parents, who expect there to be technical information and advice on bringing up their children – at home, in school, everywhere – and that conscious direction of upbringing should be an essential feature of childhood and parenthood.


  1. Andrew, I am sure I would accept somethng from you, but I have not received anything yet to consider. So I thought I had better send you a message so you are not sitting there all night like a mother hen waiting for it to hatch! Perhaps you would like to try sending it again.

    I have my emails inbox open ready and waiting, there may still be time to get it up there tonight, if I have a suitable photo!

  2. Oh crikey, and there was me feeling so pleased that it would now be somebody else's job to struggle with the formatting gremlins, with me just having to sit back and let you take the strain.

    Mad panic soon had me realising that I had never actually sent the text, but just left it lying under a cybercushion somehwere. I just had to find which cushion.

    I have now sent it and will sit back again, but with less hubris. I do see, though, that you will find a photo to go with it.

    Surely you have one of ASM. Or V. I. Lenin. Did you know that his wife Krupskaya was a leading writer on upbringing? VIL had a famous slogan: Uchit', uchit', uchit' (Teach, teach, teach)rendered by the totally wet and weedy Tony Bair as Education, education, education.

    Funny old world, isn't it?


  3. Andrew, VIL's slogan was not "Uchit', uchit', uchit'" (to teach) but "Uchit'sya, uchit'sya, uchit'sya" "Учиться, учиться, учиться" - to learn, to learn, to learn. Is it similar to " I'm standing straight, straight, straight " or "I am holding smth on, on, on"? :) The emphasys was, as I remember from my pure Soviet childhood and as I understand it now, on the habits of self-learning under the guidance, control and supervision of teachers. I see a strong parallel between this way of upbringing and CE way.