Research article
Issue: № 3 (7), 2016


The article deals with the characteristic aspects of pedagogical discourse in Russian émigré community magazines in 1920–30s based on N. Hans articles published in “Contemporary Annals” and “Russian School Abroad”. The author analyses specific features of this type of discourse, its aims and the nature of its terminology. It contains brief comparative analysis of pedagogical discourse in publications of S. Hessen, V. Zenkovskiy and other authors who contributed to “Contemoprary Annals”.


The phenomenon of the “first wave” of the Russian emigration traditionally interests the researchers in the field of modern Russian humanities – from those ones who specialize in Philology and History to scholars in Pedagogy, Political science and Sociology. Once they found themselves outside Russia the representatives of emigration created their own intellectual spaces, which identified and proposed solutions to a number of problems, most important of which included the preservation of national identity of the Russian culture, language and literature, the development of specific methods and techniques of education and upbringing to oppose it to the increasing loss of national identity of the younger generation. Active discussions of these issues at the congresses of NGOs, meetings of groups and associations on the pages of numerous émigré publications, including magazine periodicals became a characteristic feature of the social life of emigration. The formation of special types of emigrant discourse, the content of which is defined through both subject and the platform used for discussion, became the result of the abovementioned discussions.

At the beginning of the 1920s cultural and pedagogical space of the Russian émigré community led to the formation of pedagogical discourse on the pages of émigré publications such as “Latest News”, “Today”, “Contemporary Annals”, “Numbers” etc. and such educational magazines as “Russian School Abroad”, “Bulletin of Educational Bureau of Russian Primary and Secondary Schools Abroad”, “Russian School”, “Student Herald”, “Herald of Russian Student Christian Movement” and others. They contained the works of such authoritative representatives of psycho-pedagogical ideas as S. Hessen, V. Zenkovskiy, G. Troshin and many other outstanding philosophers, historians, linguists, literary scholars and public figures. This broad discussion of educational problems led to the adoption of specific measures for the development of different levels of education of the Russian emigration, elaboration of programs and curricula, introduction of new disciplines (we should note constant attention to such subjects as the Russian language, Literature, God's Law, History, Geography, and Singing aimed at the formation of national identity). This was possible only as a result of social consensus, which is why we should consider pedagogical discourse of the Russian diaspora as a much broader phenomenon than just a text immersed in the situation of educational communication [1] and should be defined as a scientific and pedagogical phenomenon.

The publication of Nikolai Hans is a good example of how magazines formed pedagogical discourse abroad and implemented its institutional characteristics. In our article we speak about the works of N. Hans not only due to his professional activity on the pages of literary and social editions, but also due to the fact that he is a rare example of a successful émigré scholar well-known at the international level [2].

In 1923 he released his publication – a review of the first issue of “Russian School Abroad” in the literary and social magazine “Contemporary Annals” which dealt with pedagogical journalism. The significance of any publication on educational topic in this periodical was greater, because it had bigger readership than any other sector-specific edition.

Main features of the pedagogical discourse of reviews by N. Hans

The review has a clear motivation and pragmatic orientation, formulated in its first paragraph (“Both individual teachers and non-governmental organisations related to the school realised the necessity of the pedagogical journal which would reflect pedagogical directions and describe the activities of the Russian educational institutions abroad” [3, p. 434]). This motivation is to introduce readers to the content of the magazine, which is done in a precise and concise review which corresponds to existing scientific principles and the ideology of the journal. It is revealed in a compressed task description by the Editorial Board: «The first task of the new magazine is “to work on the greatest possible association of the Russian foreign émigré schools, Russian émigré teachers”. The second task is the creation of “close, friendly relations among émigré schools”. Finally, the editors wish to closely follow the development of public education in their homeland “behind the fire border”. The editors realise (along with the rest of their homeland) that there is no return to the old school… “But the way to new school is long and difficult. We will search. We are seekers. We have no ready-made formulas. Our motto is free school”» [3, p. 434-435]. Eloquent characteristics of the journalistic editors’ appeal is verbalized through such figurative-expressive means, as the exclamation, antithesis, metaphor, which attribute imagery to the scientific text and are developed by scientists: the use of reticence, clear and active author’s voice in the interpretation and scientific explanation of the editorial position (“While the editors say that there are no ready-made formulas, their motto indicates that they are ready to search in a well-defined direction, which we can interpret as the implementation and development of free teaching methods. So, without formulas, the editorial has a direction, which will be obviously historically associated with the name of Leo Tolstoy. This is the way we understand their motto” [3, p. 435]) in the final evaluation of the edition and in the perspective of the magazine as it is seen by the author” <...> the magazine contains serious material on many issues of pedagogy which was very relevant for the Russian émigré teachers. Let us hope that further editions would not only provide information about creative activities in Russian schools abroad and, if possible, in Russia, but would also raise questions about the organisation and curriculum of future school of post-Bolshevik Russia” [3, p. 436]). As a result, a reader of any level can perceive the text.

Main features of the genre of the pedagogical discourse review of V. Zenkovsky and S. Hessen Review

V. Zenkovskiy  had a certain tendency to publicist reviews (in metaphors, for example: “The book <…> destroys these naive expectations, revealing <…> all the bitter reality, all the plight of the Soviet school” [4, p. 472]; in gradation: “Such statements < ...> do not spare the authors in the eyes of teachers-who support soviet ideas and in our eyes they only weaken the value of the book” [5, 473]) which, to a larger extent¸ manifests itself the same way it does in the reviews of S. Hessen characterized by accuracy in the use of terminology, scientific argumentation and virtual absence of the emotional impact of the author’s “voice” [6].

Pedagogical discourse of the genre of scientific article of N. Hans

The position of N. Hans as a researcher of education policy of Alexander I is expressed in the basic thesis of his article about the “inconsistency of democratic unified school with the social system of feudal Russia”: “Consistent policy demanded one of two things: either equality <…> at school which should have been implemented at the same time with the release of the peasants, or preservation of slavery that would lead to the class system of education. Alexander I <…> left the solution of this dilemma to his brother and successor, who, unfortunately for Russia, chose the second option” [7, p. 684].

The structural feature of the article is “the text in the text” which is manifested in a clear partitioning into pieces, with headlines that convey the structural disposition of discourse. Descriptive and expressive means are subjected to the requirements of academic presentation, consistency and argumentation in considering different points of view on the problem, the objectivity of findings, confirmed by a number of tables with quantitative indicators of the state of the school system. As a result, the article discourse is perceived on the one hand, as a discourse of independent historical and pedagogical research, component of the author's model of evolution of the state school policy until the Soviet period, on the other hand – as the basis for predictive scenario of further development of the Soviet school (see: “basic structure of its system has survived all the fluctuations of the Russian policy and can be detected even in the modern Soviet system” [7, p. 669]).

Pedagogical discourse of the genre of scientific article of V. Zenkovskiy and S. Hessen

Pedagogical discourse of the scientific articles of V. Zenkovskiy is integrated into his overall paradigm of Christian pedagogy and intentionally contains a clear position of the author in a sharp debate about the role of Church in education (of all levels), in culture, and – in a broader sense – in a person's life, for example: “And yet, the establishment of “cultural dualism of the system” in the field of schools, the emergence of purely laic (following the theory of “the school of action” by V. Lai – V.K.) and strictly denominational schools (that in fact already exists in a number of countries) it seems to me so inevitable that all disputes against it are pointless” [8, 369]. The author’s “voice”, constant even in a strictly scientific explanation of the opponents position, contains traditional for pedagogy metaphors, antithesis, gradation and transition of the narrative into the meaningful area of ethics and is characteristic of Zenkovskiy’s discourse: “Outside religious communities, living (more or less) in the spirit of their own beliefs, religious school cannot give anything, in the best case they will become a “greenhouse”, where flowers are grown, but they die inevitably as soon as they are brought to the fresh air. The main topic of our time is nor the topic of religious school, neither the topic of religious science or art; it is the topic of new life, of the religious way of life itself. It would be cowardice to ignore this difficult and important question” [8, p. 374].

Pedagogical discourse of Hesen's article dedicated to the analysis of the evolution of the Soviet school policy in 1932 is strictly scientific and objectively motivated. Metaphors are used only in some contexts as well as estimating epithets and the text even contains verbalized author's irony, for example, “a resolute and indiscriminate rejection from new methods”, “feverish territorial expansion of high school <…> took he form of its spreading and attenuation, which by the end of the first Five-Year Plan became so rampant that the Soviet government itself was compelled to take decisive protective actions”, “what it cost, i.e. at the cost of which “cuts” within the school system itself were they bought <…> is explained by none other than N. Krupskaya herself. <…> Impatient Krupskaya” [8, p. 445, 457, 448-449].

Thus, in the broadest sense, arising from specific school system and its perception by the Russian émigré community in 1920-30s, pedagogical discourse is an institutionally diffuse phenomenon, the result of combining two discourses – scientific (theoretical) and actual teaching discourse with reference to functional journalism. In the specific case of N. Hans it should be taken into account that he was involved in the formation of pedagogical discourse not only of the Russian diaspora. He was actively involved in the study conducted by the British scientific community investigating pedagogical problems of pedagogical comparative science. Thus, he contributed to the development of the English language pedagogical discourse of the late 1920s-60s. This way a productive dialogue between the two types of national pedagogical discourses was established, showing a distinct interaction and interpenetration of individual elements. However, this subject requires further study.


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