Front Cover
 Front Matter
 Half Title
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 List of Illustrations
 Pedagogical articles from the periodical,...
 On popular education
 On methods of teaching the...
 A project of a general plan for...
 The school at Yasnaya Polyana
 Education and culture
 Progress and the definition of...
 Are the peasant children to learn...
 Linen-measurer: History of...
 Back Matter
 Back Cover

Group Title: The Complete Works of Count Tolstoy
Title: The complete works of Count Tolstoy
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00094187/00004
 Material Information
Title: The complete works of Count Tolstoy
Uniform Title: Works ( 1904 )
Physical Description: 24 v. : fronts., plates, ports., facsims. ; 24 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Tolstoy, Leo, 1828-1910
Wiener, Leo, 1862-1939 ( ed. and tr )
Publisher: D. Estes & Co.
Place of Publication: Boston
Publication Date: 1904-05
Edition: Limited ed. Translated from the original Russian and edited by Leo Wiener.
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
festschrift   ( marcgt )
Additional Physical Form: Also issued online.
General Note: Half-title.
General Note: "Édition de luxe, limited to one thousand copies." This set not numbered.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00094187
Volume ID: VID00004
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 02116920
lccn - 04024594


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Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Front Matter
        Front Matter 1
        Front Matter 2
        Front Matter 3
        Front Matter 4
    Half Title
        Half Title 1
        Half Title 2
    Title Page
        Title Page 1
        Title Page 2
    Table of Contents
        Table of Contents 1
        Table of Contents 2
    List of Illustrations
        List of Illustrations 1
        List of Illustrations 2
    Pedagogical articles from the periodical, Yasnaya Polyana
        Page 1
        Page 2
    On popular education
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
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    On methods of teaching the rudiments
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    A project of a general plan for the establishment of popular schools
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    The school at Yasnaya Polyana
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    Education and culture
        Page 105
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    Progress and the definition of education
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    Are the peasant children to learn to write from us? Or, are we to learn from the peasant children?
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    Linen-measurer: History of a horse
        Page 361
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    Back Matter
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    Back Cover
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Full Text







Trrnsl'l.eid irum Ihe Oricinjl r:u.Jiin jand Edilcd b)
A ..l-iar, Frole -or ol 3 ISa l, Lar...r~ ag:- I1 I r 1 I.'ri ur -ll



Limited to One Thousand Copies,

of which this is

N o. .4... .........

Copyright, 1o04

Entered at Stationers' Hall

Colonial Press : Electrotvped and Printed by
C. H Snnonds & Co., Boston, Mass., U. S. A.


FROM Us? 191




S Frontispiece
S 57

From the Periodical, Ydsnaya Polydna



POPULAR education has always and everywhere afforded
me an incomprehensible phenomenon. The people want
education, and every separate individual unconsciously
tends toward education. The more highly cultured class
of people society, the government strive to trans-
mit their knowledge and to educate the less educated
masses. One would think that such a coincidence of
necessities would satisfy both the class which furnishes
the education and the one that receives it. But the very
opposite takes place. The masses continually counteract
the efforts made for their education by society or by the
government, as the representatives of a more highly cul-
tured class, and these efforts are frequently frustrated.
Not to speak of the schools of antiquity, of India, Egypt,
ancient Greece, and even Rome, the arrangement of which
is as little known to us as the popular opinion of those
institutions, this phenomenon seems startling to us in the
European schools from the days of Luther to our own
Germany, the founder of the school, has not been able
during a struggle of two hundred years to overcome the
counteraction of the masses to the school. In spite of
the appointments of meritorious invalid soldiers as teach-
ers made by the Fredericks; in spite of the law which
has been in force for two hundred years; in spite of the


preparation according to the latest fashion, which teach-
ers receive in seminaries; in spite of the Germans' feeling
of obedience to the law, compulsory education even to
this moment lies as a heavy burden upon the people, and
the German governments cannot bring themselves to
abolish the law of compulsory education. Germany can
pride itself on the education of its people only by statisti-
cal data, but the masses, as before, for the greater part
take away from the schools nothing but a contempt for
France, in spite of the fact that education had passed
out of the hands of the king into those of the Directory,
and from the hands of the Directory into those of the
clergy, has succeeded as little as Germany, and even less,
in the matter of popular education, so say the historians
of education, judging from official accounts. Serious
statesmen even now propose for France the introduction
of compulsory education as the only means for overcoming
the opposition of the masses.
In free England, where the promulgation of such a law
has been and always will be unthinkable,-- which, how-
ever, many regret, society, and not the government, has
struggled and still struggles with all possible means and
more vigorously than elsewhere against the people's ex-
pressed opposition to the schools. Schools are conducted
there partly by the government and partly by private
societies. The enormous dissemination and activity of
these religio-philanthropic educational societies in England
better than anything else prove the power of resistance
with which the educating part of society there meets.
Even the new country, the United States of North
America, has not evaded that difficulty and has made
education semi-compulsory.
It is, of course, even worse in our own country, where
the masses are even more enraged against the idea of the
school; where the most cultivated people dream of the


introduction of the German law of compulsory education;
and where all the schools, even those intended for the
higher classes, exist only as bait for preferments of rank
and for the advantages accruing therefrom.
So far the children are everywhere sent to school by
force, while parents are compelled to send their children to
school by the severity of the law, or by cunning, or by
offering them advantages, whereas the masses everywhere
study of their own accord and regard education as good.
How is this? The need of education lies in every
man; the people love and seek education, as they love
and seek the air for breathing; the government and so-
ciety burn with the desire to educate the masses, and yet,
notwithstanding all the force of cunning and the per-
sistency of governments and societies, the masses con-
stantly manifest their dissatisfaction with the education
which is offered to them, and step by step submit only to
As at every conflict, so also here, it was necessary to
solve the question: What is more lawful, the resistance,
or the action itself ? Must the resistance be broken, or
the action be changed ?
So far, as may be seen from history, the question has
been solved in favour of the state and the educating so-
ciety. The resistance has been acknowledged to be
unlawful, men seeing in it the principle of evil inherent
in man, and so, without receding from its mode of action,
that is, without receding from that form and from those
contents of education, which society already possessed,
the state has made use of force and cunning in order to
annihilate the people's resistance.
It must be supposed that the educating society had
some reasons to know that the education which it pos-
sessed in a certain form was beneficial for a certain
people at a certain historical epoch.
What were these reasons? What reasons has the


school of our day to teach this, and not that, thus, and not
otherwise ?
Always and in all ages humanity has endeavoured to
give and has given more or less satisfactory answers to
these questions, and in our time this answer is even more
necessary than ever. A Chinese mandarin who never
leaves Pekin may be compelled to learn by rote the say-
ings of Confucius, and these saws may be beaten into
children with sticks; it was possible to do that in the
Middle Ages, -but where are we to get in our time that
strong faith in the indubitableness of our knowledge,
which would give us the right of forcibly educating the
masses ?
Let us take any medieval school, before and after Lu-
ther; let us take all the learned literature of the Middle
Ages, what strength of faith and of firm, indubitable
knowledge of what is true and what false, is to be seen in
those people! It was easy for them to know that the
Greek language was the only necessary condition of an
education, because Aristotle was written in that language,
the truth of whose propositions no one doubted for sev-
eral centuries afterward. How could the monks help
demanding the study of Holy Writ which stood on a firm
foundation ? It was natural for Luther peremptorily to
demand the study of Hebrew, for he knew full well that
God Himself had in that language revealed the truth to
men. Of course, so long as the critical sense of humanity
was still dormant, the school had to be dogmatic, and it
was natural for students to learn by heart the truths
which had been revealed by God and by Aristotle, and
the poetical beauties of Vergil and Cicero. For several
centuries afterward no one could even imagine a truer
truth or a more beautiful beauty.
But what is the position of the school in our day, which
has persevered in the same dogmatic principles, when, side
by side with the class where the scholar learns by heart


the truth about the immortality of the soul, they try to
make it clear to him that the nerves, which are common to
man and to a frog, are that which anciently used to be called
a soul; when, after the story of Joshua, the son of Nun,
which is transmitted to him without explanations, he finds
out that the sun had never turned around the earth; when,
after the beauties of Vergil have been explained to him, he
finds the beauties in Alexandre Dumas, sold to him for five
centimes, much greater; when the only faith of the teacher
consists in the conviction that there is no truth, that every-
thing existing is sensible, that progress is good and back-
wardness bad; when nobody knows in what this universal
faith in progress consists ?
After all this, compare the dogmatic school of the Middle
Ages, where truths were indubitable, with our school, where
nobody knows what truth is, and to which the children are
nevertheless forced to go and the parents to send their
children. More than that. It was an easy matter for the
medieval school to know what ought to be taught, what
first, and what later, and how it was all to be taught, so
long as there was but one method and so long as all science
-centred in the Bible, in the books of St. Augustine, and
in Aristotle.
But how are we, in this endless variety of methods of
instruction, proposed to us on all sides, in this immense
mass of sciences and their subdivisions, which have been
evolved in our time, how are we to select one of the many
proposed methods, one certain branch of the sciences, and,
which is most difficult, how are we to select that sequence
in the instruction of these sciences which would be sen-
sible and just ? More than that. The discovery of these
principles is the more difficult in our time, in comparison
with the medieval school, for the reason that then educa-
tion was confined to one definite class which prepared itself
to live in certain well-defined conditions, while in our time,
when the whole people has declared its right to be educated,


it appears much more difficult and much more necessary
for us to know what is needed for all these heterogeneous
What are these principles? Ask any pedagogue you
please why he teaches this and not that, and this first and
not later. If he will understand you, he will say that he
knows the God-revealed truth, and that he considers it his
duty to transmit it to the younger generation and to edu-
cate it in those principles which are unquestionably true;
but he will give you no answer in regard to the subjects
which do not refer to religious education. Another peda-
gogue will explain to you the foundation of his school by
the eternal laws of reason, as expounded by Fichte, Kant,
and Hegel. A third will base his right of compulsion on
the fact that the schools have always been compulsory and
that, in spite of this, the result of these schools has been
real education. Finally, a fourth, uniting all these princi-
ples, will tell you that the school has to be such as it
is, because religion, philosophy, and experience have
evolved it as such, and that that which is historical is
sensible. All these proofs may be, it seems to me, divided
into four classes: religious, philosophical, experimental, and
Education which has for its basis religion, that is, divine
revelation, the truth and legality of which nobody may
doubt, must indisputably be inculcated on the people,
and in this only in this case is violence legal Even
thus missionaries do at the present time in Africa and
in China. Thus they have proceeded up till now in the
schools of the whole world as regards religious instruction,
Catholic, Protestant, Hebrew, Mohammedan, and so forth.
But in our time, when religious education forms but a
small part of education, the question what ground the school
has to compel the young generation to receive religious
instruction in a certain fashion remains unanswered from
the religious point of view.


Maybe the answer will be found in philosophy. Has
philosophy as firm a foundation as religion ? What are
these principles ? By whom, how, and when have these
principles been enunciated? We do not know them. All
the philosophers search for the laws of good and evil;
having discovered these laws, they, coming to pedagogy
(they could none of them help touching upon that sub-
ject), compel the human race to be educated in conformity
with these laws. But each of these theories, in a series
of other theories, appears incomplete and furnishes only a
new link in the perception of good and evil inherent in
humanity. Every thinker expresses only that which has
been consciously perceived by his epoch, consequently the
education of the younger generation in the sense of this
consciousness is quite superfluous: this consciousness is
already inherent in the living generation.
All the pedagogico-philosophical theories have for their
aim and problem the bringing up of virtuous men. How-
ever, the conception of virtue either remains the same or
develops infinitely, and, notwithstanding all the theories,
the decadence and bloom of virtue do not depend on edu-
cation. A virtuous Chinaman, a virtuous Greek, Roman,
or Frenchman of our time, are either equally virtuous, or
equally remote from virtue.
The philosophical theories of pedagogics solve the ques-
tion of how to bring up the best man according to a given
theory of ethics, which has been evolved at one time or
other, and which is accepted as indisputable. Plato does
not doubt the truth of his own ethics, and on its basis he
builds up education, and on that education he constructs
the state. Schleiermacher says that ethics is not yet an
accomplished science, and therefore the bringing up and
the education must have for their aim the preparation of
men who should be able to enter upon such conditions as
they find in life, and who should at the same time be able
to work vigorously upon their future improvement. Edu-


cation in general, says Schleiermacher, has for its aim the
presentation of a member all prepared to the state, church,
public life, and science. Ethics alone, though it is not a
finished science, gives us an answer to the question what
kind of a member of these four elements of life an educated
man shall be.
Like Plato, so all the philosophical pedagogues look to
ethics for the problem and aim of education, some regard-
ing this ethics as well-known, and others regarding it as
an eternally evolving consciousness of humanity; but not
one theory gives a positive answer to the question of what
and how to teach the masses. One says one thing, another
another, and the farther we proceed, the more their propo-
sitions become at variance. There arise at one and the
same time various contradictory theories. The theologi-
cal tendency struggles with the scholastic, the scholastic
with the classical, the classical with the real, and at the
present time all these directions exist, without contending
with each other, and nobody knows what is true and
what false. There arise thousands of various, strangest
theories, based on nothing, like those of Rousseau, Pesta-
lozzi, Froebel, and so forth; there appear side by side
all the existing schools: the real, the classical, and the
theological establishments. Everybody is dissatisfied with
what is, and nobody knows that something new is needed
and possible.
If you follow out the course of the history of the phi-
losophy of pedagogics, you will find in it, not a criterion
of education, but, on the contrary, one common idea,
which unconsciously lies at the foundation of all the
pedagogues, in spite of their frequent divergence of opin-
ion,- an idea which convinces us of the absence of that
criterion. All of them, beginning with Plato and ending
with Kant, tend to this one thing, to the liberation of the
school from the historical fetters which weigh heavily
upon it. They wish to guess what it is that man needs,


and on these more or less correctly divined needs they
build up their new school.
Luther wants people to study Holy Writ in the original,
and not according to the commentaries of the holy fathers.
Bacon enjoins the study of Nature from Nature, and not
from the books of Aristotle. Rousseau wants to teach
life from life itself, as he understands it, and not from
previously instituted experiments. Every step forward
taken by the philosophy of history consists only in free-
ing the school from the idea of instructing the younger
generations in that which the elder generations considered
to be science, in favour of the idea of instructing it in
what are the needs of the younger generations. This one
common and, at the same time, self-contradictory idea is
felt in the whole history of pedagogy: it is common,
because all demand a greater measure of freedom for the
school; contradictory, because everybody prescribes laws
based on his own theory, and by that very act that free-
dom is curtailed.
The experience of past and of existing schools ? But
how can this experience prove to us the justice of the
existing method of compulsory education ? We cannot
know whether there is not another, more legal method,
since the schools have heretofore not yet been free. It is
true, we see at the highest rung of education (universities,
public lectures) that education strives to become ever
more free. But that is only a supposition. Maybe edu-
cation at the lower steps must always remain compulsory,
and maybe experience has proved to us that such schools
are good.
Let us look at these schools, without consulting the
statistical tables of education in Germany, but by trying
to know the schools, and learn their influence on the
masses in reality.
This is what reality has shown to me: A father sends
his daughter or son to school against his wish, cursing


the institution which deprives him of his son's labour,
and counting the days up to the time when his son will
become schulfrei (this expression alone shows how the
people look at the schools). The child goes to school
with the conviction that the only power of which he
knows, that of his father, does not approve of the power
of the state, to which he submits upon entering school.
The information which he receives from his older com-
panions, who were in that institution before, is not cal-
culated to enhance his desire to enter school. Schools
present themselves to him as an institution for torturing
children, an institution in which they are deprived of
their chief pleasure and youthful needs, of free motion;
where Gehorsam (obedience) and Ruhe (quiet) are the
chief conditions; where he needs a special permission to
go out for a minute;" where every misdeed is punished
with a ruler (although in the official world corporal pun-
ishment with the ruler is declared abolished) or by the
continuation of study, the more cruel condition for
the child.
School justly presents itself to the child's mind as an
establishment where he is taught that which nobody
understands; where he is generally compelled to speak
not his native patois, Mundart, but a foreign language;
whdre the teacher for the greater part sees in his pupils
his natural enemies, who, out of their own malice and
that of their parents, do not wish to learn that which he
has learned; and where the pupils, on their side, look
upon their teacher as their enemy, who only out of personal
spite compels them to learn such difficult things. In
such an institution they are obliged to pass six years and
about six hours every day.
What the results must be, we again see from what they
really are, not according to the reports, but from actual
In Germany nine-tenths of the school population take


away from school a mechanical knowledge of reading and
writing, and such a strong loathing for the paths of
science traversed by them that they never again take a
book into their hands.
Let those who do not agree with me show me the books
that the people read; even the Badenian Hebel, and the
almanacs, and the popular newspapers are read as rare
exceptions. As an incontrovertible proof that the masses
have no education serves the fact that there is no popular
literature and, above all, that the tenth generation has to
be sent to school with the same compulsion as the first.
Not only does such a school breed loathing for educa-
tion, but in these six years it inculcates upon these pupils
hypocrisy and deceit, arising from the unnatural position
in which the pupils are placed, and that condition of
incoherence and confusion of ideas, which is called the
rudiments of education. During my travels in France,
Germany, and Switzerland I tried to discover the informa-
tion held by pupils, their conception of school, and their
moral development, and so I proposed the following ques-
tions in the primary schools and outside of schools to
former pupils: What is the capital of Prussia or Bavaria?
How many children did Jacob have? Tell the story of
Joseph !
In the schools they sometimes delivered themselves of
tirades learned by rote from books; those who had fin-
ished the course never answered the questions. If not
learned by heart, I hardly ever could get an answer. In
mathematics I discovered no general rule: they some-
times answered well, and sometimes very poorly.
Then I asked them to write a composition on what
they had been doing on fast Sunday. All the girls and
boys, without a single 'exception, replied the same, that
on Sunday they had used every possible chance of pray-
ing, but that they had not played. This is a sample of
the moral influence of the school.


To my question, which I put to grown men and women,
why they did not study after leaving school, or why they
did not read this or that book, they invariably replied
that they had all been to confirmation, that they had
passed the quarantine of the school, and that they had re-
ceived a diploma for a certain degree of education, -for
the rudiments.
In addition to that stupefying influence of school, for
which the Germans have invented such a correct appella-
tion, verdummen," which properly consists in a con-
tinuous contortion of the mental faculties, there is
another, a more injurious influence, which consists in
the fact that during the long study hours, when the child
is dulled by his school life, he is for a long period of
time, so valuable at his age, torn away from all those
necessary conditions of development which Nature herself
has made.
One frequently hears or reads the statement that the
home conditions, the rudeness of the parents, the field
labour, the village games, and so forth, are the chief
hindrances to school education. It may be that they
really interfere with that school education, as pedagogues
understand it; but it is time to convince ourselves that
these conditions are the chief foundation of all education,
and that they are far from being inimical and hindrances
to the school, but that they arc its prime and chief
movers. A child could never learn to distinguish the
lines which form the distinctive letters, nor numbers, nor
could he acquire the ability to express his thoughts, if it
were not for these home conditions. It seems strange
that this coarse domestic life should have been able to
teach the child such difficult things and should all of a
sudden become unfit to instruct him in such easy things
as reading, writing, and so forth, and should even become
injurious for such an instruction. The best proof of this
is found in the comparison of a peasant boy who has


never had any instruction with a gentleman's son who
has been for five years under the care of a tutor: the
superiority of mind and knowledge is always on the side
of the first.
More than that. The interest in knowing anything
whatever and the questions which it is the problem of
the school to answer are created only by these home
conditions. Every instruction ought to be only an answer
to the question put by life, whereas school not only does
not call forth questions, but does not even answer those
that are called forth by life. It eternally answers the
same questions which had been put by humanity several
centuries back, and not by the intellect of the child, and
which he is not interested in. Such questions are : How
was the world created? Who was the first man ? What
happened two thousand years ago? What kind of a
country is Asia? What is the shape of the earth? How
do you multiply hundreds by thousands? What will
happen after death ? and so forth.
But to the questions which life presents to him he
receives no reply, the more so since, according to the
police regulation of the school, he has no right to open
his mouth even to ask to be allowed to go out, which he
must do by signs in order not to break the silence and
not to disturb the teacher.
The school is arranged in such a manner because the
aim of the state school, established from above, is, for
the main part, not to educate the people, but to educate
them according to our method,--above all, that there
should be schools, and plenty of them! Are there no
teachers? Make them! But there are not enough
teachers. Very well! let one teacher teach five hundred
pupils: micaniser I'instruction, Lancasterian method, pupil
teachers. For this reason the schools which are estab-
lished from above and by force are not a shepherd for the
flock, but a flock for the shepherd.


School is established, not in order that it should be con-
venient for the children to study, but that the teachers
should be able to teach in comfort. The children's con-
versation, motion, and merriment, which are their neces-
sary conditions of study, are not convenient for the
teacher, and so in the schools, which are built on the
plan of prisons, questions, conversation, and motion are
Instead of convincing themselves that, in order to act
successfully on a certain object, it is necessary to study
it (in education this object is the free child), they want
to teach just as they know how, as they think best, and
in case of failure they want to change, not the manner of
their teaching, but the nature of the child itself. From
this conception have sprung and even now spring (Pesta-
lozzi) such systems as would allow to mneaniser l'instruc-
tion, that eternal tendency of pedagogy to arrange
matters in such a way that, no matter who the teacher
and who the pupil may be, the method should remain
one and the same.
It is enough to look at one and the same child at
home, in the street, or at school : now you see a vivacious,
curious child, with a smile in his eyes and on his lips,
seeking instruction in everything, as he would seek
pleasure, clearly and frequently strongly expressing his
thoughts in his own words; now again you see a worn-
out, retiring being, with an expression of fatigue, terror,
and ennui, repeating with the lips only strange words in a
strange language, a being whose soul has, like a snail,
retreated into its house. It is enough to look at these
two conditions in order to decide which of the two is
more advantageous for the child's development.
That strange psychological condition which I will call
the scholastic condition of the soul, and which all of us,
unfortunately, know too well, consists in that all the
higher faculties, imagination, creativeness, inventiveness,


give way to other, semi-animal faculties, which consist in
pronouncing sounds independently from any concept,
in counting numbers in succession, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, in per-
ceiving words, without allowing imagination to substitute
images for these sounds, in short, in developing a faculty
for crushing all higher faculties, so that only those might
be evolved which coincide with the scholastic condition of
fear, and of straining memory and attention.
Every pupil is so long an anomaly at school as he has
not fallen into the rut of this semi-animal condition. The
moment the child has reached that state and has lost all
his independence and originality, the moment there
appear in him various symptoms of disease, hypocrisy,
aimless lying, dulness, and so forth, he no longer is an
anomaly: he has fallen into the rut, and the teacher
begins to be satisfied with him. Then there happen those
by no means accidental and frequently repeated phe-
nomena, that the dullest boy becomes the best pupil, and
the most intelligent the worst. It seems to me that this
fact is sufficiently significant to make people think and
try to explain it. It seems to me that one such fact
serves as a palpable proof of the fallacy of the principle of
compulsory education.
More than that. Besides this negative injury, which
consists in removing the children from the unconscious
education which they receive at home, at work, in the
street, the schools are physically injurious, for the
body, which at this early age is inseparable from the soul.
This injury is especially important on account of the
monotony of the scholastic education, even if it were
good. For the agriculturist it is impossible to substitute
anything for those conditions of labour, life in the field,
conversation of elders, and so forth, which surround him;
even so it is with the artisan and, in general, with the
inhabitant of the city. Not by accident, but designedly,
has Nature surrounded the agriculturist with rustic con-


editions, and the city dweller with urban conditions.
These conditions are most highly instructive, and only
in them can each develop. And yet, school lays down
as the first condition of education the alienation from these
More than that. School is not satisfied with tearing
the child away from life for six hours a day, during the
best years of the child, it wants to tear three-year-old
children away from the influence of their mothers. They
have invented institutions (Kleinkinderbewahranstalt, in-
fant schools, sales d'asile) of which we shall have occasion
to speak more in detail. All that is lacking now is the
invention of a steam engine to take the place of wet-
All agree that schools are imperfect (I, on my side, am
convinced that they are injurious). All admit that many,
very many, improvements must be made. All agree that
these improvements must be based on a greater comfort
for the pupils. All agree that these comforts may be
found out only through studying the needs of the children
of school age and, in general, of every class in particular.
Now, what has been done for the study of this difficult
and complex subject ? For the period of several centuries
each school has been based on the pattern of another, itself
founded on the pattern of one before it, and in each of
these schools the peremptory condition is discipline, which
forbids children to speak, ask questions, choose this or
that subject of instruction, -in short, all measures are
taken to deprive the teacher of all possibility of making
deductions in regard to the pupils' needs.
The compulsory structure of the school excludes the
possibility of all progress. And yet, when we consider
how many centuries have passed in answering the chil-
dren's questions which it did not occur to them to put,
and how far the present generations have departed from
that ancient form of culture, with which they are inocu-


lated, it becomes incomprehensible to us how it is these
schools still exist. School, so it would appear to us,
ought to be an implement of education and, at the same
time, an experiment on the young generation, constantly
giving new results. Only when experiment will be at
the foundation of school, only then when every school
will be, so to speak, a pedagogical laboratory, will the
school not fall behind the universal progress, and experi-
ment will be able to lay firm foundations for the science
of education.
But perhaps history will answer our fruitless question :
On what is the right based of compelling parents and
pupils to be educated ? The existing schools, it will tell
us, have been worked out historically, and just so they
must continue to evolve historically, and to change in
conformity with the demands of society and of time; the
farther we go, the better the schools become.
To this I will reply: in the first place, that exclusively
philosophic arguments are just as one-sided and false as
exclusively historical arguments. The consciousness of
humanity forms the chief element of history; conse-
quently, if humanity becomes conscious of the inadequacy
of its schools, this fact of consciousness becomes a chief
historical fact, upon which ought to be based the structure
of the schools. In the second place, the farther we pro-
ceed, the schools do not get better, but worse, worse as
regards that level of education to which society has
School is one of those organic parts of the state which
cannot be viewed and valued separately, because its worth
consists only in a greater or lesser correspondence to the
remaining parts of the state. School is good only when
it has taken cognizance of the fundamental laws by which
the people live. A beautiful school for a Russian village
of the steppe, which satisfies all the wants of its pupils,
will be a very poor school for a Parisian; and the best


school of the seventeenth century will be an exceedingly
bad school in our time; and, on the other hand, the very
worst school of the Middle Ages was in its time better
than the best in our time, because it better corresponded
to its time, and at least stood on a level with the general
education, if not in advance of it, while our school stands
behind it.
If the problem of the school, admitting the most general
definition, consists in transmitting everything which the
people have worked out and have become cognizant of,
and in answering those questions which life puts to man,
then there is no doubt but that in the medieval school
the traditions were more limited and the questions which
presented themselves in life were easier of solution, and
this problem of the school was more easily satisfied. It
was much easier to transmit the traditions of Greece and
Rome from insufficient and improperly worked out sources,
the religious dogmas, the grammar, and that part of math-
ematics which was then known, than to impart all those
traditions which we have lived through since, and which
have removed so far the traditions of antiquity, and all
that knowledge of the natural sciences, which are neces-
sary in our day as answers to the every-day phenomena of
life. At the same time the manner of imparting this has
remained the same, and therefore the school has had to
fall behind and get, not better, but worse. In order
to maintain the school in the form in which it has been,
and not to fall behind the educational movement, it has
been necessary to be more consistent: it not only became
incumbent to make education compulsory, but also to
keep this education from moving forward by any other
path,-to prohibit machines, roads of communication,
and the art of printing.
So far as we know from history, the Chinese alone have
been logical in this respect. The attempts of the other
nations to restrict the art of printing, and, in general, the


restriction of the educational movement, have been only
temporary and insufficiently consistent. Therefore, the
Chinese of all the nations may, at the present time, pride
themselves on a good school, one that completely corre-
sponds to the general level of education.
If we are told that the schools are perfected historically,
we shall only reply that the improvement of schools must
be understood relatively, but that in respect to school, on
the contrary, the compulsion becomes worse and worse
in every year and with every hour; that is, they more
and more depart from the general level of education, be-
cause their progress is disproportionate to the progress of
education since the days of the invention of printing.
In the third place, in reply to the historical argument
that schools have existed and therefore are good, I shall
myself adduce a historical argument. Last year I was in
Marseilles, where I visited all the schools for the working
people of that city. The proportion of the pupils to the
population is very great, and so the children, with few ex-
ceptions, attend school three, four, and even six years.
The school programmes consist in learning by heart
the catechism, Biblical and universal history, the four
operations of arithmetic, French orthography, and book-
keeping. In what way bookkeeping could form the sub-
ject of instruction I was unable to comprehend, and not
one teacher could explain it to me. The only explanation
I was able to make to myself, when I examined the books
kept by the students who had finished the course, was that
they did not know even three rules of arithmetic, but that
they had learned by heart to operate with figures and
that, therefore, they had also learned by rote how to keep
books. (It seems to me that there is no need of proving
that the tenue des livres, Buehhaltung, as it is taught in
Germany and England, is a science which demands about
fifteen minutes of explanation in case of a pupil who
knows the four operations in arithmetic.)


Not one boy in these schools was able to solve, that is,
to put the simplest problem in addition and subtraction.
And yet, they operated with abstract numbers, multiply-
ing thousands with ease and rapidity. To questions from
the history of France they answered well by rote, but if
asked at haphazard, I received such answers as that Henry
IV. had been killed by Julius Cesar. The same was
the case with geography and sacred history. The same
with orthography and reading. More than one half of
the girls cannot read any other books than those they
have studied. Six years of school had not given them the
faculty of writing a word without a mistake.
I know that the facts which I adduce seem so incredible
that many will doubt them; but I could write whole
books about the ignorance which I have witnessed in the
schools of France, Switzerland, and Germany. Let any
one who has this thing at heart study the schools, not
from the reports of public examinations, but from extended
visits and conversations with teachers and pupils in the
schools and outside the schools. In Marseilles I also vis-
ited a lay school, and another, a monastic school, for grown
persons. Out of 250,000 inhabitants, less than one thou-
sand, of these only two hundred men, attend these schools.
The instruction is the same: mechanical reading, which is
acquired in a year or in longer time, bookkeeping without
the knowledge of arithmetic, religious instruction, and so
forth. After the lay school, I saw the daily instruction
offered in the churches ; I saw the sales d'asile, in which
four-year-old children, at a given whistle, like soldiers,
made evolutions around the benches, at a given command
lifted and folded their hands, and with quivering and
strange voices sang laudatory hymns to God and to their
benefactors, and I convinced myself that the educational
institutions of the city of Marseilles were exceedingly
If, by some miracle, a person should see all these estab-


lishments, without having seen the people in the streets, in
their shops, in the caf4s, in their home surroundings, what
opinion would he form of a nation which was educated in
such a manner ? He certainly would conclude that that
nation was ignorant, rude, hypocritical, full of prejudices,
and almost wild. But it is enough to enter into relations,
and to chat with a common man in order to be convinced
that the French nation is, on the contrary, almost such as
it regards itself to be: intelligent, clever, affable, free from
prejudices, and really civilized. Look at a city workman
of about thirty years of age: he will write a letter, not
with such mistakes as are made at school, often without
mistakes; he has an idea of politics, consequently of
modern history and geography; he knows more or less
history from novels; he has some knowledge of the
natural sciences. He frequently draws and applies math-
ematical formula to his trade. Where did he acquire all
I involuntarily found an answer to it in Marseilles,
when, after the schools, I began to stroll down the streets,
to frequent the dram-shops, cafes chantants, museums,
workshops, quays, and book-stalls. The very boy who
told me that Henry IV. had been killed by Julius Caesar
knew very well the history of the Three Musketeers "
and of Monte Cristo." I found twenty-eight illustrated
editions of these in Marseilles, costing from five to ten
centimes. To a population of 250,000 they sell thirty
thousand of them, consequently, if we suppose that ten
people read or listen to one copy, we find that all have
read them. In addition there are the museum, the public
libraries, the theatres. Then the cafes, two large cafes
chantants, where each may enter for fifty centimes'
worth of food or drink, and where there are daily as
many as twenty-five thousand people, not counting the
smaller caf4s, which hold as many more: in each of these
cafes they give little comedies and scenes, and recite


verses. Taking the lowest calculation, we get one-fifth of
the population, who get their daily oral instruction just as
the Greeks and Romans were instructed in their amphi-
Whether this education is good or bad is another
matter; but here it is, this unconscious education which
is so much more powerful than the one by compulsion;
here is the unconscious school which has undermined the
compulsory school and has made its contents to dwindle
down almost to nothing. There is left only the despotic
form with hardly any contents. I say with hardly any
contents, because I exclude the mere mechanical ability
of putting letters together and writing down words, the
only knowledge which is carried away after five or six
years' study. Here it must be remarked that even the
mere mechanical art of reading and writing is frequently
acquired outside of school in a much shorter period, and
that frequently the pupils do not carry away from school
even this ability, or it is lost, finding no application in
life, and that there where the law of compulsory school
attendance exists there is no need of teaching the second
generation to read, write, and figure, because the parents,
we should think, would be able to do that at home, and
that, too, much easier than at school.
What I saw in Marseilles takes place in all the other
countries: everywhere the greater part of one's education
is acquired, not at school, but in life. There where life is
instructive, as in London, Paris, and, in general, in all
large cities, the masses are educated; there where life is
not instructive, as in the country, the people are unedu-
cated, in spite of the fact that the schools are the same in
both. The knowledge acquired in cities seems to remain;
the knowledge acquired in the country is lost. The
direction and spirit of the popular education, both in the
cities and in the villages, are absolutely independent from
and generally contrary to the spirit which it is intended


to instil into the schools. The education goes on quite
independently of the schools.
The historical argument against the historical argument
is found in considering the history of education, where we
do not find that the schools have progressed in proportion
to the people's development, but that, on the contrary,
they have fallen and have become an empty formality in
proportion with the people's advancement; that the more
a nation has progressed in general education, the more has
education passed away from school to life, making the
contents of the school meaningless.
Leaving aside all the other means of education, the
development of commercial relations, the improved inter-
communication, the greater measure of personal liberty,
and the participation of the individual in affairs of state, -
leaving aside meetings, museums, public lectures, and
so forth, it suffices to look at the mere art of printing
and its evolution, in order to understand the difference in
the condition of the old school and the new. The uncon-
scious education of life and the conscious scholastic educa-
tion have always gone side by side, complementing each
other; but in the absence of the art of printing what
insignificant amount of education could life afford in com-
parison with the school Science then belonged to a few
elect, who were in possession of the means of education.
See, now, what share has fallen to the education afforded
by life, when there is not a man who has not a book;
when books are sold at an insignificant price; when, public
libraries are open to all; when a boy, as he comes from
school, carries with him, not only his note-books, but also
some cheap illustrated novel carefully concealed ; when in
our country two primers are sold for three kopeks, and any
peasant of the steppe will buy a primer and will ask a
transient soldier to show and teach him all the wisdom,
which the latter had in former years learned in the course
of many years from a sexton; when a gymnasiast abandons


the gymnasium and from books alone prepares himself
for the entrance examination at the university; when
young people leave the university and, instead of study-
ing the professors' notes, work directly on the sources;
when, sincerely speaking, every serious education is
acquired only from life, and not in school.
The last and, in my opinion, the most important argu-
ment consists in this: granting even that the Germans
have a right to defend the school historically, on the
ground of its existence for the period of two hundred
years, what reason have we to defend the public school
which we do not yet possess? What historical right
have we to say that our schools must be such as the other
European schools are? We have not yet a history of
public education. But if we examine closely the univer-
sal history of popular education, we shall not only become
convinced that we can in no way establish seminaries for
teachers according to the German pattern, work over the
German sound method, the English infant schools, the
French lyceums and special schools, and thus catch up
with Europe, but also that we Russians are living under
exceptionally fortunate conditions as regards the popular
education; that our school must not issue, as it had in
medieval Europe, from the conditions of civil life; must
not serve certain governmental or religious ends; must not
be evolved in the darkness of uncontrolling public opinion
and of an absence of the. highest degree of vital educa-
tion; must; not with new pain and labour pass through
and get out of that vicious circle, through which the
European schools passed so long, and which consists in
the assumption that the school was to move the uncon-
scibus education, and the unconscious education was to
move the school. The European nations have vanquished
this difficulty, but of necessity have lost much in the
Let us be thankful for the labour which we are called


to make use of, and let us not forget that we are called to
accomplish a new labour in this field. On the basis of
what humanity has already experienced and in considera-
tion of the fact that our activity has not yet begun, we
are able to bring to bear a greater consciousness upon our
labour, and, therefore, we are obliged to do so.
In order to borrow the methods of the European
schools, we are obliged to distinguish that which in them
is based on the eternal laws of reason from that which
owes its origin to historical conditions. There is no gen-
eral sensible law, no criterion, which justifies the violence
which the school exercises against the people; therefore,
every imitation of the European school will be not a step
in advance, but a retrogression as regards our people, -
it will be a treason to its calling.
It is intelligible why in France there has been evolved
a school of discipline with the predominance of the exact
sciences,-- mathematics, geometry, and drawing; why
in Germany there has been evolved a graduated educa-
tional school with the predominance of singing and analy-
sis; it is intelligible why in England there have developed
such a mass of societies founding philanthropic schools
for the proletariat, with their strictly moral and, at the
same time, practical tendencies; but what school is to be
evolved in Russia is not known to us and never will
be known, if we do not permit it to be worked out freely
and in proper season, that is, in conformity with that his-
torical epoch in which it is to develop, in conformity with
its own history and still more with universal history. If
we become convinced that popular education is advancing
on the wrong path in Europe, then, by doing nothing for
our popular education, we shall be doing more than if we
should force upon it all that which seems good to us.
So the little educated people want to be better edu-
cated, and the educated class wants to educate the masses,
but the masses submit to education only under constraint.


We have looked in philosophy, experience, and history for
those principles which would give the educating class
such a right, but we have found none; on the contrary,
we have convinced ourselves that human thought is con-
stantly striving after freeing the people from constraint in
matters of education.
In looking for a criterion of pedagogics, that is, for a
knowledge of what ought to be instructed and how to do
it, we found nothing but the most contradictory opinions
and institutions, and we have come to the conclusion
that the farther humanity advanced, the less possible did
such a criterion become. Looking for this criterion in
the history of education, we have come to the conclusion
that for us Russians the historically evolved schools can-
not serve as patterns, and that, moreover, these schools,
with every step in advance, fall more and more behind the
common level of education, and that, therefore, their com-
pulsory character becomes more and more illegal, and
that, finally, education itself in Europe has, like oozing
water, chosen another path for itself,-it has obviated
the schools and has poured forth in the vital tools of
What are we Russians to do at the present moment ?
Shall we all come to some agreement and take as our
basis the English, French, German, or North American
view of education and any one of their methods? Or,
shall we, by closely examining philosophy and psychology,
discover what in general is necessary for the development
of a human soul and for making out of the younger gen-
eration the best men possible according to our conception ?
Or, shall we make use of the experience of history,-
not in the sense of imitating those forms which history
has evolved, but in the sense of comprehending those
laws which humanity has worked out through suffering,
- shall we say frankly and honestly to ourselves that we
do not know and cannot know what the future genera-


tions may need, but that we feel ourselves obliged to
study these wants and that we wish to do so? that we
do not wish to accuse the people of ignorance for not
accepting our education, but that we shall accuse our-
selves of ignorance and haughtiness if we persist in
educating the people according to our ideas ?
Let us cease looking upon the people's resistance to our
education as upon a hostile element of pedagogics, but, on
the contrary, let us see in it an expression of the people's
will which alone ought to guide our activities. Let us
finally profess that law which so plainly tells us, both
from the history of pedagogics and from the whole his-
tory of education, that for the educating class to know
what is good and what bad, the classes which receive the
education must have the full power to express their dis-
satisfaction, or, at least, to swerve from the education
which instinctively does not satisfy them, that the
criterion of pedagogics is only liberty.
We have chosen this latter path in our pedagogical
At the basis of our activity lies the conviction that
we not only do not know, but we cannot know, wherein
the education of the people is to consist; that not only
does there not exist a science of education,- pedagogics,
-but that the first foundation of it has not yet been
laid; that the definition of pedagogy and of its aims in a
philosophical sense is impossible, useless, and injurious.
We do not know what education is to be like, and
we do not acknowledge the whole philosophy of pedagogy
because we do not acknowledge the possibility of a man's
knowing what it is he ought to know. Education and
culture present themselves to us as historical facts of
one set of people acting upon another; therefore, the
problem of the science of education, in our opinion, is
only the discovery of the laws of this action of one set
of people upon another. We not only do not acknowl-


edge in our generation the knowledge, nor even the right
of a knowledge of what is necessary for the perfecting of
man, but are also convinced that if humanity were pos-
sessed of that knowledge, it would not be in its power
to transmit, or not to transmit such knowledge. We are
convinced that the cognition of good and evil, independ-
ently of man's will, lies in humanity at large and is
developed unconsciously, together with history, and that
it is impossible to inculcate upon the younger genera-
tion our cognition, just as it is impossible to deprive it
of this our cognition and of that degree of a higher cogni-
tion to which the next step of history will take it. Our
putative knowledge of the laws of good and evil, and our
activity in regard to the younger generation on the basis
of these laws, are for the greater part a counteraction to
the development of a new cognition, which is not yet
worked out by our generation, but which is being worked
out in the younger generation,-it is an impediment,
and not an aid to education.
We are convinced that education is history, and there-
fore has no final end. Education, in its widest sense,
including the bringing up, is, in our opinion, that activity
of man, which has for its base the need of equality, and
the invariable law of educational progress.
A mother teaches her child to speak only that they
may understand each other; the mother instinctively
tries to come down to the child's view of things, to his
language, but the law of educational progress does not
permit her to descend down to him, but compels him to
rise to her knowledge. The same relation exists between
the author and the reader, the same between the school
and the pupils, the same between the state and society,
- the people. The activity of him who gives the educa-
tion has one and the same purpose. The problem of the
science of education is only the study of the conditions
under which a coincidence of these two tendencies for


one common end takes place, and the indication of those
conditions which retard this coincidence.
Thus the science of education, on the one hand, be-
comes easier to us in that it no longer puts the ques-
tions: what is the final aim of education, and for what
must we prepare the younger generation? and so forth;
on the other, it is immeasurably more difficult. We are
compelled to study all the conditions which have aided
in the coincidence of the tendencies of him who educates,
and of him who is being educated; we must define what
that freedom is, the absence of which impedes the coin-
cidence of both the tendencies, and which alone serves
as our criterion of the whole science of education; we
must move step by step, away from an endless number of
facts, to the solution of the questions of the science of
We know that our arguments will not convince many.
We know that our fundamental convictions that the only
method of education is experiment, and its only criterion
freedom, will sound to some like trite commonplace, to
some like an indistinct abstraction, to others again like
a visionary dream. We should not have dared to violate
the quiet of the theoretical pedagogues and to express
these convictions, which are contrary to all experience,
if we had to confine ourselves to the reflections of this
article; but we feel our ability to prove, step after step,
and fact after fact, the applicability and legality of our
so wild convictions, and to this end alone do we devote
the publication of the periodical Ydsnaya Polydna.



VERY many people are at the present time very seri-
ously busy finding, borrowing, or inventing the best
method for the instruction of reading; very many have
invented and found this best method. We frequently
meet in literature and in life with the question: By
what method do you teach ? I must, however, confess
that this question is generally heard from people who
are very little educated, and who for a long time have
been instructing children as a trade, or from people who
sympathize with the popular education from their cabinets,
and who, to help it along, are ready to write an article,
and to take up a contribution for the printing of a primer
according to the best method, or from people who are
biassed in favour of their one method, or, finally, from
people who have never had anything to do with teaching,
- from the public who repeat that which the majority
of men say. People who seriously busy themselves
with it and who are cultured no longer ask such ques-
It seems to be an accepted truth with everybody that
the problem of the public school is to teach reading,
that the knowledge of reading is the first step in educa-
tion, and that, therefore, it is necessary to find the best
method for its instruction. One will tell you that the


sound method is very good; a second assures you that
Z6lotov's method is the best; a third knows a still better
method, the Lancasterian, and so forth. Only a lazy man
does not make fun of teaching "buki-a ba," 1 and
all are convinced that for the sake of disseminating
education among the people all that is necessary is to
send for the best method, to contribute three roubles
in silver, rent a house, and hire a teacher, or, from the
superabundance of their own education, to offer a small
particle of it, on Sunday, between mass and visits, to the
unfortunate people that are perishing in ignorance, and
the deed is done.
Some clever, cultivated, rich people have come together:
a happy thought flashes through the head of one of them,
and that is, to confer a benefit on the terrible Russian
people. Let us do it I" All agree to it, and a society
is born, the aim of which is to foster popular education,
to print good, cheap books for the masses, to found
schools, to encourage teachers, and so forth. By-laws are
written up; ladies take part in it; they go through all
the formalities of such societies, and the society's activity
begins at once.
To print good books for the masses! How simple and
easy it looks, just like all great ideas. There is just one
difficulty: there are no good books for the people, not only
in our country, but even not in Europe. In order to
print such books they must be written first, but not one
of the benefactors will think of undertaking this task.
The society commissions somebody, for the collected
roubles, to compose, or select and translate the very best
(it is so easy to select it!) from the European popular
literature, and the people will be happy, and will march
with rapid strides toward education, and the society is
very much satisfied.
SThe Slavic names of the first two letters are az, buki, hence
azbuka = alphabet.


This society proceeds in just the same way in respect
to the other side of the schools' activity. Only the rarest,
swayed by self-sacrifice, apportion their precious leisure
to the instruction of the masses. (These people do not
take into consideration the circumstance that they have
never read a single book on pedagogy, and have never
seen any other school than the one in which they have
studied themselves.) Others encourage the schools. Again
it looks so simple, and again there is an unexpected per-
plexity, which is, that there is no other way of promoting
education except by learning and completely devoting one-
self to this matter.
But beneficent societies and private individuals some-
how do not notice this perplexity, and continue in' this
manner to struggle on the arena of popular education, and
remain very much satisfied. This phenomenon is, on the
one hand, amusing and harmless, because the activity of
these societies and of these people does not embrace the
masses; on the other, this phenomenon is dangerous in
that it casts a denser mist over our still unformed view
of popular education. The causes of this phenomenon
may be partly the irritable condition of our society, and
partly the universal human weakness to make out of
every honest idea a plaything for vanity and idleness.
The fundamental cause, it seems to us, is in the great mis-
apprehension of what the rudiments are, the dissemination
of which forms the aim of all the educators of the people,
and which has caused such strange discussions in our
The rudiments, a conception which exists not only in
our country, but in all Europe, are acknowledged to be
the programme of the elementary school for the people.
Lescn und schrciben, lire et ccrirc, reading and writing.
What are these rudiments ? and what have they in com-
mon with the first step in education ? The rudiments are
the art of composing words out of certain signs and of


representing them. What is there in common between
the rudiments and education? The rudiments are a
definite skill (Fertigkeit); education is a knowledge of
facts and their correlations. But maybe this skill of
composing words is necessary in order to introduce man
into the first step of education, and maybe there is no
other road? This we do not see at all; we very fre-
quently perceive the diametrically opposite, if, in speaking
of education, we shall understand not alone the scholastic,
but also the vital education.
Among people who stand on a low level of education
we notice that the knowledge or ignorance of reading and
writing in no way changes the degree of their education.
We see people who are well acquainted with all the facts
necessary for farming, and with a large number of inter-
relations of these facts, who can neither read nor write;
or excellent military commanders, excellent merchants,
managers, superintendents of work, master mechanics,
artisans, contractors, and people simply educated by
life, who possess a great store of information and sound
reasoning, based on that information, who can neither
read nor write. On the other hand, we see those who can
read and write, and who on account of that skill have
acquired no new information. Everybody who will seri-
ously examine the education of the people, not only in
Russia, but also in Europe, will involuntarily come to the
conclusion that education is acquired by the people quite
independently of the knowledge of reading and writing,
and that these rudiments, with the rare exceptions of
extraordinary ability, remain in the majority of cases an
unapplied skill, even a dangerous skill, -dangerous be-
cause nothing in life may remain indifferent. If the
rudiments are inapplicable and useless, they must become
But perhaps a certain degree of education, standing
above those examples of the rudiment-less education


which we have adduced, is impossible without the rudi-
ments ? Very likely it is so, but we do not know that,
and have no reason to suppose that for the education of
a future generation. All we know is that the degree
of education which we have, and outside of which we are
not able and do not want to imagine any other, is impos-
sible. We have an example in the primary school, which,
in our opinion, forms the corner-stone of education, and we
do not want to know all the degrees of education which
exist, not below, but entirely outside, and independently
of, our school.
We say: All those who do not know the rudiments
are equally uneducated, they are Scythians for us. The
rudiments are necessary for the beginning of education,
and we persist in leading the masses by that road up to
our education. Considering the education which I possess,
it would please me very much to agree with that opinion;
I am even convinced that the rudiments are a necessary
condition of a certain degree of education, but I cannot
be convinced that my education is good, that the road
over which science is travelling is the right one, and,
above all, I cannot leave out of account three-fourths of
the human race, who receive their education without the
If we by all means must educate the people, let us ask
them how they educate themselves, and what their favour-
ite instruments for attaining this end are. If we want to
find the foundation, the first step of education, why should
we look for it perforce in the rudiments, and not much
deeper ? Why should we stop at one of the endless num-
ber of the instruments of education and see in it the alpha
and omega of education, whereas it is only one of the
incidental, unimportant circumstances of education ?
They have been teaching the rudiments for quite a time
in Europe, but still there is no popular literature; that is,
the masses the class of people exclusively occupied


with physical labour nowhere read books. We should
think that this phenomenon would deserve attention and
elucidation, whereas people imagine that the matter is
improved by continuing to teach the rudiments. All the
vital questions are extremely easy and simple of solution
in theory, and it is only when it comes to applying them
that they prove not so easy of solution and break up into
thousands of difficult questions.
It looks so simple and so easy to educate the masses:
teach them the rudiments, if necessary, by force, and give
them good books, and the deed is done. But in reality
something quite different takes place. The masses do
not want to study the rudiments. Well, we can force
them. Another impediment: there are no books. We
can order them. But the ordered books are bad, and it
is impossible to order people to write good books. The
main difficulty is that the masses do not want to read
these books, and no one has as yet invented a method of
compelling them to read these books; besides, the masses
continue getting their education in their own way, and
not in the primary schools.
Maybe the historical time for the people's participation
in the common education has not yet arrived, and it is
necessary that they study the rudiments for another hun-
dred years. Maybe the people are spoilt (as many think);
maybe the people must write their own books; maybe
the best method has not yet been found; maybe, too, the
education by means of the book and of the rudiments
is an aristocratic means less adapted to the working
classes than other instruments of education which have
been evolved in our day. Maybe the chief advantage of
instruction by means of the rudiments, which consists in
the possibility of transmitting science without its auxiliary
means, does not in our time exist for the masses. Maybe
it is easier for a workman to study botany from plants,
zoology from animals, arithmetic from the abacus, with


which he has to deal, than from books. Maybe the work-
man will find time to listen to a story, to look at a museum
or an exhibition, but will not find time to read a book.
Maybe, even, the book method of instruction is abso-
lutely contrary to his manner of life and composition
of character. Frequently we observe attention, interest,
and a clear comprehension in the workingman, if a know-
ing person tells or explains to him something; but it is
difficult to imagine that same labourer with a book in his
blistered hands, trying to make out the sense of a science
popularly expounded to him on two printing sheets. All
these are only suppositions of causes, which may be quite
erroneous, but the very fact of the absence of a popular
literature, and of the people's resistance to education by
means of the rudiments, nevertheless exists in all of
Europe. Even thus the educating class in all of Europe
looks upon the primary school as the first step to edu-
The origin of this apparently unreasonable conception
will become very clear when we look closely at the his-
torical progress of education. First were founded, not the
lower, but the higher schools: at first the monastic, then
the secondary, then the primary schools. From this
standpoint, Smardgdov's text-book, which on two print-
ing sheets presents the whole history of humanity, is just
as necessary in the county school, as the rudiments are
needed in the primary school. The rudiments are in this
organized hierarchy of institutions the last step, or the
first from the end, and therefore the lower school is to
respond only to the exigencies of the higher schools.
But there is also another point of view, from which
the popular school appears as an independent institution,
which is not obliged to perpetuate the imperfections of
the higher institution of learning, but which has its inde-
pendent aim of the popular education. The lower we
descend on this ladder of education, instituted by the


state, the more the necessity is felt at each step of mak-
ing the education independent and complete. From the
gymnasium only one-fifth enter the university; from
the county school only one-fifth enter the gymnasium;
from the popular school only one-thousandth enter the
higher institutions of learning. Consequently, the corre-
spondence of the popular school to the higher institution
is the last aim to be pursued by the popular school. And
yet, only by this correspondence can be explained the view
which looks upon the popular schools as upon schools of
the rudiments.
The discussion in our literature of the usefulness or
injuriousness of the rudiments, which it was so easy to
ridicule, is in our opinion a very serious discussion, which
will elucidate many questions. However, this discussion
has existed elsewhere, too. Some say that it is injurious
for the masses to be able to read books and periodicals,
which speculation and political parties put into their
hands; they say that the ability to read takes the labour-
ing class out of their element, inoculates them with dis-
content with their condition, and breeds vices and a decline
of morality. Others say, or infer, that education cannot
be injurious, but must always be useful. The first are
more or less conscientious observers, the others are theo-
rists. As is always the case in discussions, both are
entirely right. The discussion, we think, is due to the
fact that the questions are not clearly put.
The first quite justly attack the rudiments as a sepa-
rately inoculated ability to read and write without any
other information (as is actually done by the vast majority
of the schools, for that which is learned by rote is forgot-
ten, and all that is left is the art of reading); the last
defend the rudiments, understanding by it the first step
in education, and are mistaken only in the wrong concep-
tion of the rudiments. If the question were put like
this: Is the primary education useful to the people, or


not? no one could answer it in the negative. But if we
ask: Is it useful, or not, to teach the people to read when
they cannot read and have no books for reading ? I hope
that every unbiassed man will answer : I do not know,
just as I do not know whether it would be useful to teach
the whole nation to play the violin or to make boots.
Looking more closely at the result of the rudiments in
the form in which they are transmitted to the masses, I
think the majority will express themselves against the
rudiments, taking into consideration the protracted com-
pulsion, the disproportionate development of memory, the
false conception of the completeness of science, the loath-
ing for a continued education, the false vanity, and the
habit of meaningless reading, which are acquired in these
schools. In the school at YAsnaya PolyAna all the pupils
who come to it from the primary schools constantly fall
behind the pupils who enter from the school of life; they
not only fall behind, but their backwardness is in propor-
tion to the time they have spent in the primary school.
What the problem and, therefore, the programme of the
popular school consists in, we cannot explain here, and
do not even regard such an explanation as possible. The
popular school must respond to the exigencies of the
masses,- that is all which we can positively assert in
regard to this question. What these exigencies are, only
a careful study of them and free experiment can teach.
The rudiments constitute only one small, insignificant
part of these exigencies, in consequence of which the
primary schools are probably very agreeable to their
founders, but almost useless and frequently hurtful to
the masses, and in no way even resemble the schools of
primary education
For the same reason, the question how to teach the
rudiments in the shortest possible time and by what
method is a question of little importance in the matter of
popular education. For the same reason, people who out


of amusement busy themselves with primary schools will
do much better if they will exchange this occupation for
a more interesting one, because the business of popular
education, which does not consist in the mere rudiments,
presents itself not only as very difficult, but of necessity
demands immediate, persistent labour and a study of the
The primary schools make their appearance in measure
as the rudiments are necessary for the masses, and they
exist of their own accord to the extent to which they are
wanted. These schools exist with us in large number for
the reason that the teachers of these schools can impart
nothing else of their knowledge but the rudiments, and
that the people have the need of knowing a certain
amount of these rudiments for practical purposes, in
order to read a sign, write down a figure, read the psaltery
over a deceased person for money, and so forth.
These schools exist like workshops for tailors and
joiners; even the view held by the masses in respect to
them and the methods of those who study are the same.
The pupil in time somehow manages to learn by himself,
and as the master employs the apprentice for his own
needs, sending him to fetch brandy, chop wood, clean the
gutter, just so there is here a period of apprenticeship.
And just like the trade, the rudiments are never used as
a means for further educating themselves, but only for
practical purposes. A sexton or a soldier is the teacher,
and the peasant sends one of his three sons to be an
apprentice at the rudiments, as he would send him to a
tailor, and the legal exigencies of both are satisfied. But
it would be a crime and a mistake to see in this a certain
degree of culture, and on this foundation to construct the
state school, putting all the fault only on the method of
the primary instruction, and to inveigle and force the
people into it.
But in the school of popular education, as you under-


stand it, they will tell me the teaching of the rudiments
will still form one of the first conditions of education,
both because the need of knowing the rudiments lies in
the popular conception of education, and because the great
majority of the teachers kn6w the rudiments best of all,
and thus the question of the method of primary instruc-
tion after all remains a difficult question and one demand-
ing a solution.
To this we will reply that, in the majority of schools,
on account of our insufficient knowledge of the masses
and of pedagogy, education actually begins with primary
instruction, but that the process of teaching the printed
signs and the art of writing presents itself to us as very
insignificant and long known. The sextons teach reading
in three months by the buki-az ba method; an intel-
ligent father or brother teaches by the same method in
much less time; according to the Z6lotov and Lautir-
methode, they say, reading may be learned faster still;
but, whether they learn to read by one or the other
method, nothing is gained if the children do not learn to
comprehend what they read, which is the chief problem
of primary instruction; and yet no one hears anything
about this necessary, difficult, and undiscovered method.
For this reason the question of how to teach the rudi-
ments most conveniently, although demanding a reply,
appears exceedingly insignificant to us, and the persist-
ency in finding a method, and the waste of energy, which
finds a more important application in the more advanced
education, seem to us to be a great misunderstanding aris-
ing from an improper comprehension of the rudiments
and of education.
So far as we know, all the existing methods may be
classified into three methods with their combinations.
1. The method of azes," of letter combinations and
spelling, and the learning by rote of one book, Buch-


2. The method of vowels with the attachment of
consonants which are expressed only in connection with
a vowel.
3. The sound method.
Z6lotov's method is a clever combination of the second
and third, just as all the other methods are only combina-
tions of these three fundamental methods.
All these methods are equally good; every one has
its advantages over the others from some one side, or in
regard to a given language, or even in respect to a certain
ability of a pupil, and every one has its difficulties. The
first, for example, makes the learning of the letters easy,
by calling them az, buki, vyedi, or apple, book, and so
forth, and transfers all the difficulty to spelling, which is
partly learned by heart and partly acquired instinctively
from reading a whole book by heart with a pointer.
The second facilitates the spelling and the consciousness
of the vowellessness of the consonants, but complicates
the study of the letters, the pronunciation of the semi-
vowels, and in the case of the triple and quadruple sylla-
bles, especially in our language. This method in Russian
makes matters difficult on account of the complexity and
greater variety of shades in our vowels. "'" and all the
vowels formed with it, 'a = ya, 'e = ye, 'u = yu, are im-
possible; ya with b before it will be b'ya, and not bya.
In order to pronounce bya and byu, b' and bye, the pupil
must learn the syllables by rote, else he will say b'ya
b'yu, b, and b'ye.
The sound method, one of the most comical monstrosi-
ties of the German mind, presents greater advantages in
compound syllables, but is impossible in the study of
the letters. And, notwithstanding the regulation of the
seminaries which do not acknowledge the Buchstabir-
methode, the letters are learned by the old method, only,
instead of frankly pronouncing as before ef, i, scha, teacher
and pupil contort their mouths in order to pronounce


f-i-sh, and, at that, sh consists of seh, and is not one
Zdlotov's method presents great conveniences in
combining syllables into words and in gaining the con-
sciousness of the vowellessness of the consonants, but
offers difficulty in learning the letters and in complicated
syllable combinations. It is more convenient than the
rest only because it is a combination of two methods, but
it is still far from being perfect, because it is a method.
Our former method, which consisted in learning the
letters, naming them be, ve, ge, me, le, sc, fe, and so forth,
and then spelling aloud, by throwing off the useless vowel
e and vice versa, also offers its conveniences and disad-
vantages, and is also a combination of three methods.
Experience has convinced us that there is not one bad
and not one good method; that the failure of a method
consists in the exclusive adherence to one method, and
that the best method is the absence of all method, but
the knowledge and use of all methods and the invention
of new ones according to the difficulties met with.
We have divided the methods into three categories, but
this division is not essential. We only did so for clear-
ness' sake; properly speaking, there are no methods, and
each includes all the rest. Everybody who has taught
another to read has made use for the purpose, though he
may not know it, of all the existing methods and of all
those that may ever exist. The invention of a new method
is only the consciousness of that new side from which
the pupil may be approached for his comprehension, and
therefore the new method does not exclude the old, and
is not only no better than the old, but even becomes
worse, because in the majority of cases the essential
method is divined in the beginning. In most cases
the invention of the new method has been regarded as the
annihilation of the old, although in reality the old method
has remained the essential one, and the inventors, by


consciously refuting the old methods, have only compli-
cated matters and have fallen behind those who con-
sciously had used the old and unconsciously the new and
the future methods.
Let us adduce as an example the oldest and the newest
methods: the method of Cyril and Methodius I and the
sound method, the ingenious Fischbuch, in use in Germany.
A sexton, a peasant, who teaches as of old az, buki, will
always hit upon explaining to the pupil the vowellessness
of the consonant by saying that buki is pronounced as b.
I once saw a peasant who was instructing his son and
who explained the letters as b, r, and then again continued
to teach by the composition and spelling of the words.
Even if the teacher does not hit upon it, the pupil will
himself comprehend that the essential sound in be is b.
That is the sound system. Nearly every old teacher,
who makes the pupil spell a word of two or more sylla-
bles, will cover one syllable and will say: This is bo, and
this go, and this ro, and so forth. This is in part the
artifice of Zdlotov's method and of the method of vowels.
Every one who makes a pupil study the primer points to
the representation of the word God and at the same time
pronounces God, and thus he reads the whole book with
him, and the process of spelling is freely acquired by the
pupil, by uniting the organic with the dismembered ele-
ments, by uniting the familiar speech (the prayer, as to
the necessity of the knowledge of which there can be no
question in the child's mind) with the analysis of that
speech into its component parts.
Such are all the new methods and hundreds of other
artifices which every intelligent old teacher unconsciously
employs in order to explain the process of reading to his
pupil, giving him all liberty to explain to himself the proc-
ess of reading in a manner most convenient to the pupil.
1The proto-apostles of the Slavs, the inventors of the Slavic alpha-
bet, of which the Russian is but a variation.


Leaving out the fact that I know hundreds of cases of
rapid acquisition of the art of reading by the old method
buki-az ba, and hundreds of cases of very slow acqui-
sition by the new methods, I only affirm that the old
method has this advantage over the new, that it includes
all the new methods, even though it be only unconscious,
while the new excludes the old, and also this other
advantage that the old method is free, while the new is
compulsory. What, free ? they will tell me, when with
the old methods the spelling was beaten in with rods,
and with the new children are addressed as "you" and
politely asked to comprehend ?
It is right here that the strongest and most injurious
violence is practised on the child, when he is asked to
comprehend in precisely the same manner that the
teacher comprehends it. Anybody who has himself
taught must have noticed that b, r, a may be combined
in as many different ways as 3, 4, and 8 may be added up.
With one pupil 3 and 4 = 7, and 3 more = 10, and 5 is
left; even so a, or az, and r, or rtsy, and b in front of ra
makes bra. With another 8 and 3 = 11, and 4 more
= 15; even so buki, rtsy must be bra, because they had
been spelling bra, vra, gra, and so forth, and if not bra,
then bru, and a thousand other ways, out of which b, r,
and a will make bra, and this will be one, and, in my
opinion, one of the last. One must never have taught
and know nothing of men and children, to imagine that,
since bra is only the combination of b, r, and a, every
child needs only to learn b, r, and a, in order to be able
to pronounce it. You tell him: B, r, a is what sound ?
He says ra, and he is quite right, he hears it so; another
says a, a third br, just as he will pronounce shch as sch, and f
as khv,' and so forth. You tell him a, e, i, o, 7 are the main
letters, but to him 1, r are the chief letters, and he catches
entirely different sounds from what you want him to.
1 In the popular speech every f is in Russian changed into khv, etc.


This is not the worst yet. A teacher from a German
seminary, who has been instructed by the best method,
teaches by the Fischbuch. Boldly, self-confidently he sits
down in the class-room, the tools are ready: the blocks
with the letters, the board with the squares, and the primer
with the representation of a fish. The teacher surveys
his pupils, and he already knows everything which they
ought to understand; he knows what their souls consist
of, and many other things, which he had been taught
in the seminary.
He opens the book and points to a fish. What is
this, dear children ? This, you see, is the Anschauungs-
unterricht. The poor children will rejoice at this fish, if
the report from other schools or from their elder brothers
has not yet reached them, what the sauce is which goes
with this fish, how they are morally contorted and vexed
for the sake of that fish.
However it be, they will say: "This is a fish."
"No," replies the teacher (what I am telling here is
not a fiction, a satire, but the recital of facts which I saw
in all the best schools of Germany and in those schools
of England where they have succeeded in borrowing this
most beautiful and best of methods). "No," says the
teacher. "What do you see? "
The children are silent. You must not forget that they
are obliged to sit orderly, each in his place, without
moving Buhe und Gehorsam.
What do you see?"
A book," says the most stupid child. All the intelli-
gent children have in the meantime thought of a thousand
things which they see, and they know by instinct that
they will never guess that which the teacher wants them
to say and that they ought to say that a fish is not a fish,
but something else which they cannot name.
"Yes, yes," joyfully says the teacher, very good, -
a book."


The brighter children get bolder, and the stupid boy
does not know himself what he is praised for.
And what is in the book ?" says the teacher.
The quickest and brightest boy guesses what it is, and
with proud joy says, "Letters."
No, no, not at all," the teacher replies, almost dole-
fully, you must think what you say."
Again all the bright boys keep a sullen silence and do
not even try to guess, but begin to think what kind
of glasses the teacher has, why he does not take them off,
but keeps looking over them, and so forth.
Well, what is there in the book?"
All are silent.
What is here ?"
A fish," says a bold little lad.
"Yes, a fish, but not a living fish?"
"No, not a living fish."
Very well. Is it dead?"
Very well. What kind of a fish is it ?"
Ein Bild, a picture."
"Yes, very well."
All repeat that it is a picture and imagine that all is
ended. No, they ought to have said that it is a picture
representing a fish. And this is precisely the way by
which the teacher gets the pupils to say that it is a pic-
ture representing a fish. He imagines that the pupils
reason, and does not have enough shrewdness to see that
if he is ordered to get the pupils to say that it is a picture
representing a fish, or that if he himself wants them to
say so, it would be much simpler to make them frankly
learn that wise saying by heart.
Fortunate are the pupils if the teacher will stop here.
I myself heard one make them say that it was not a fish,
but a thing ein Ding, and that thing only was a fish.
This, if you please, is the new Anschaumngsunterricht in


connection with the rudiments, it is the art of making
the children think. But now this Anschauungsunterricht
is ended, and there begins the analysis of the word.
The word Fisch, composed of letters, is shown on charts.
The best and most intelligent pupils hope to redeem
themselves, and at once to grasp the forms and names
of the letters, but that's where they are mistaken.
What has the fish in front?"
The intimidated ones keep silent, and finally a bolder
boy says: "A head."
Good, very good. Where is the head ?"
"In front."
"Very well. And what comes after the head ?"
"The fish."
"No, think "
They must say: The body Leib." They finally say
it, but they lose every hope and confidence in themselves,
and all their mental powers are strained to comprehend
that which the teacher needs. The head, the body, and
the end of the fish -the tail. Very well! Say all
together: A fish has a head, a body, and a tail. Here is
a fish composed of letters, and here is a painted fish."
The fish which is composed of letters is suddenly
divided into three parts: into F, into i, and into sch.
The teacher, with the self-satisfaction of a sleight-of-hand
performer who has showered flowers on the audience,
instead of sprinkling wine on them, removes the F, points
to it, and says: This is the head, i is the body, sch is the
tail," and he repeats: "Fisch, ffff iiii shshshsh. This is
ffff, this is iiii, shshshsh."
The poor children writhe, and hiss, and blow, trying
to pronounce the consonants without vowels, which is a
physical impossibility. Without being conscious of it, the
teacher himself uses a semivowel, something between u in
urn and y in pity. At first the pupils are amused by that
hissing, but later they observe that they are supposed to


memorize these ff, ii, shsh, and they say shif, shish, fif,
and absolutely fail to recognize their word Fisch, ffff-
iiii shshshsh. The teacher, who knows the best
method, will not come to their rescue, but will advise
them to remember f from the words Feder, Faust, and sch,
from Schiirze, Schachtel, and so forth, and will continue to
ask them to say shhshshs; he will not only not come to
their rescue, but will absolutely prohibit their learning the
letters from the pictorial A B C, or from phrases, such as a
stands for apple, b stands for boy; he will not permit
them to learn syllables and to read what is familiar to
them, without knowing syllabication; in short, to use a
German expression, he ignores,-he is obliged not to
know any other method but Fisch, and that a fish is a
thing, and so forth.
There is a method for the rudiments, and there is a
method for the primary development of thinking An-
schautngsunterricht (see Denzel's Entwurf"); both are
connected, and the children must pass through these eyes
of needles. All measures have been taken so that there
should be no other development at school, except along
this path. Every motion, every word and question are
forbidden. Die Hinde seica zusammen. 1uke und
Gehorsam. And there are people who ridicule buki-az -
ba, insisting that buki-az--ba is a method which kills
all the mental faculties, and who recommend the Lautir-
methode in Verbindung mit Anschauungsunterricht ; that
is, who recommend to learn by heart a fish is a thing, and
f is a head, i a body, and sch the tail of a fish, and not to
learn by rote the psalter and the Book of the Hours.
English and French pedagogues proudly pronounce the
difficult word Anschauungsuntcrricht, and say that they
are introducing it with the primary instruction. For us
this Anschauungsunterricht, of which I shall have to say
more in detail, appears like something entirely incompre-
hensible. What is this object-teaching? What other


kind of teaching can there be, if not object-teaching ?
All five senses take part in the instruction, therefore there
has always been and always will be an Anschauungsun-
For the European school, which is trying to get away
from medieval formalism, there is some sense in the
name and idea of object-teaching as opposed to the former
mode of instruction, and some excuse for the mistakes,
which consist in retaining the old method and in chang-
ing only the external manner; but for us, I repeat
it, Anschauungsunterricht has no meaning. Up to the
present I have, after vain endeavours to find this
Anschauungsunterricht and Pestalozzi's method in all
Europe, discovered nothing but the statements that geog-
raphy is to be taught from surface maps, if they can be
had, colours from colours, geometry from drawings,
zoology from animals, and so forth, something which each
of us has known ever since our birth, which it was not at
all necessary to invent because that has long ago been
invented by Nature herself, so that anybody who is not
brought up under contrary views knows it well.
And it is these methods and others similar to them,
and the methods of preparing teachers according to given
methods, which are in all seriousness proposed to us,
who are beginning our schools in the second half of the
nineteenth century, without any historical ballast and
blunders weighing us down, and with an entirely differ-
ent cognition than that which lay at the foundation of the
European schools. Even leaving out of discussion the
falseness of these methods and the violence exercised
upon the spirit of the pupils, why should we, with
whom the sextons teach to read in six months, borrow the
Lautiranschauungsunterrichtsmethode, under which they
have to study a year and more ?
We have said above that, in our opinion, every method
is good and, at the same time, one-sided; each of them is


convenient for a certain pupil and for a certain language
and nation. For this reason the sound method and every
other un-Russian method will be worse for us than buki-
az-ba. If the Lautiranschauungsunterricht has produced
such inglorious results in Germany, where several genera-
tions have been taught to think according to certain laws,
defined by a Kant or a Schleiermacher, where the best
teachers are trained, where the Lautirmethode was begun
in the seventeenth century,-what would happen with
us if a certain method, a certain Lesebuch with moral say-
ings should be adopted by law? What would be the
result of an instruction according to any newly introduced
meChod which is not assimilated by the people and by
the teachers ?
I will tell a few cases near at hand. This autumn a
teacher, who had studied in the Yasnaya PolyAna school,
had opened a school in a village, where out of forty pupils
one-half had been instructed according to the azes and
syllabications, and one-third could read. After two weeks
the peasants expressed their universal dissatisfaction with
the school. The chief points of accusation were that the
teacher taught in German a, be, and not az, buki, that he
taught fairy-tales and not prayers, and that there was no
order at school. Upon meeting the teacher I informed
him of the opinion of the peasants. The teacher, a man
with a university training, explained to me with a con-
temptuous smile that he taught a, be, instead of, az, buki,
in order to facilitate spelling; that they read fairy-tales
in order to get used to understanding what was read
according to the pupils' intellects; and that, in conformity
with his new method, he considered it unnecessary to
punish the children, and that, therefore, there could not
be that strict order to which the peasants were accus-
tomed, who had seen their children with pointers on the
I visited this school two weeks later. The boys were


divided into three classes, and the teacher carefully went
from one division to another. Some, of the lower division,
were standing at the table and memorizing certain parts
of a paper chart, on which there were the letters. I
began to ask them questions: more than one-half of them
knew the letters and named them: az, buki, and so forth;
others knew even syllabication; one could read, but was
learning anew, pointing with his finger and repeating a,
be, ve, imagining that he was getting something entirely
new; others again, of the middle division, were spelling
s, k, a ska, one asking questions and the others answer-
ing them. This they had been doing for more than two
weeks, although one day is more than enough to acquire
this process of casting off the superfluous letter e. Among
these I also found some who knew syllabication in the
old fashion and who could read. These, just like the
others, were ashamed of their knowledge and recanted it,
imagining that there was no salvation except in spelling
be, re, a bra. The third, in fine, were reading. These
unfortunate ones were sitting on the floor and, each of
them holding a book right before his eyes and pretending
that he was reading, were repeating aloud these two
There where ends the vaulted sky,
People eat nor wheat nor rye "

Having finished these verses, they began anew the same
with saddened and anxious faces, now and then squinting
at me, as much as to ask me whether they were doing *ell.
It is terrible and incredible to mention: of these boys
some could read well, and others could not spell; those
who could read kept themselves back from a feeling of
friendship; those who could not, had for the last three
weeks been repeating these two verses from the most
abominable remodelling of Ersh6v's poor fairy-tale, so far
as the masses are concerned.


I began to examine them in sacred history: nobody
knew anything, because thd teacher, according to the new
method, did not make them memorize, but told them
stories from the abbreviated sacred history. I examined
them in arithmetic: nobody knew anything, although the
teacher had, again according to the new method, been
showing all the pupils together numbers up to millions
all at once, without making them learn by heart. I
examined them in the prayers: not one knew anything;
they said the Lord's Prayer with mistakes, as they had
learned it at home. And all of them were excellent boys,
full of life, and intelligence, and eagerness for instruction !
The most terrible thing about it is that it was all done
according to my method! Here were all the devices
employed at my school: the study of the letters written
by all at once with chalk, and the oral spelling, and the
first intelligible reading for the child, and the oral account
of sacred history, and mathematics without memorizing.
At the same time, in everything could be felt the device,
most familiar to the teacher, of learning by rote, which
he consciously avoided, and which alone he had mas-
tered and against his will applied to entirely different
materials: he made them memorize not the prayers, but
Ersh6v's fairy-tale, and sacred history not from the book,
but from his own poor, dead recital; the same was true
of mathematics and spelling. It is impossible to knock
it into the head of this unfortunate teacher of university
Straining that all the accusations of the rude peasants are
a thousand times just; that a sexton teaches incompara-
bly better than he; and that if he wants to teach, he can
teach reading according to the buki-az--ba, by making
them memorize, and that in that way he could be of some
practical benefit. But the teacher with the university
training had, to use his own words, studied the method of
the YAsnaya Polyina school, which he for some reason
wanted to take as a pattern.


Another example I saw in the county school of one of
our capitals. After having listened with trepidation to
the best pupil of the highest class, as he rattled off the
waterways of Russia, and to another, in the middle class,
who honoured us with the story of Alexander the Great,
my companion, with whom I was visiting the schools, and
I were on the point of leaving, when the superintendent
invited us to his room to look at his new method of primary
instruction, invented by him and in preparation for the
press. I have selected eight of the most indigent boys,"
he said to us, and am experimenting on them and veri-
fying my method."
We entered: eight boys were standing in a group.
"Back to your places!" cried the superintendent, in the
voice of the most ancient method. The boys stood in a
circle in soldierly fashion. He harangued us for about an
hour, telling us that formerly this beautiful sound method
had been in use in the whole capital, but that now it was
left only in his school, and that he wanted to resuscitate it.
The boys were standing all the time. Finally, he took
from the table a chart with the representation of c-a-t.
"What is this ?" he said, pointing to cat. Cow," replied
a boy. "What is this ? c." The boy said c. "And
this is a, and this t, together cat. Add ml to this, and
you will get camp." The children had the greatest diffi-
culty in reciting to us these memorized answers. I tried
to ask them something new, but nobody knew anything
but cat and cow. I wanted to know how long they had
been studying. The superintendent had been experiment-
ing for two years. The boys were between the ages of six
and nine,- all of them wide-awake, real boys, and not
dummies, but living beings.
When I remarked to the superintendent that in Germany
the sound method was used differently, he explained to me
that in Germany the sound method was unfortunately fall-
ing into disuse. I tried to convince him of the opposite,


but he, in proof of his idea, brought me from another room
five German A B C's of the thirties and forties, composed by
another than the sound method. We were silent and
went away, while the eight boys were left to the superin-
tendent to be further experimented upon. This happened
in the fall of the year 1861.
How well this same superintendent might have taught
these eight boys reading, by putting them orderly at tables
with A B C books and pointers, and even pulling their top-
locks, just as the old deacon, who had taught him, had
pulled his How very, very many examples of such teach-
ing according to new methods may be found in our day
which is so prolific in schools, not to mention the Sunday
schools that swarm with such inconsistencies !
And here are two other examples of an opposite char-
acter. In a village school, which was opened last month,
I in the very beginning of the instruction noticed a sturdy,
snub-nosed fourteen-year-old boy who, whenever the boys
repeated the letters, kept mumbling something and smiling
self-contentedly. He was not inscribed as a pupil. I spoke
to him and found that he knew all the letters, now and
then falling into buki, rtsy, and so forth; as with others,
so he, too, was ashamed of it, supposing that it was pro-
hibited and something bad. I asked him syllabication and
he knew it; I made him read, and he read without spelling
out, although he did not believe he could do it.
Where did you study ?"
"In the summer I was with a fellow shepherd ; he knew,
and he taught me to read."
Have you an A B C book ? "
"Where did you get it ?"
I bought it."
"How long have ydu been studying ? "
"During the summer: I studied whenever he showed
me in the field."


Another pupil of the YAsnaya Polyana school, who had
studied before from a sexton, a boy ten years of age, once
brought his brother to me. This boy, seven years old, read
well, and had learned to do so from his brother during the
evenings.of one winter. I know many such examples, and
whoever wants to look for them among the masses will
find very many such cases. What use is there, then, in
inventing new methods and by all means abandoning the
az-buki -ba, and to regard all methods as good except buki-
az- ba ?
Besides all that, the Russian language and the Cyrillian
alphabet surpass all the other European languages and
alphabets by their distinctive features, from which must
naturally spring the especial mode of teaching reading.
The superiority of the Russian alphabet consists in this
fact, that every sound in it is pronounced just as it is,
which is not the case in any other language. Oh [which
we throughout this work transliterate as tskh] is pro-
nounced tskhe, and not she, as in French, and not khe as in
German; a is a, and not i, e, a, as in English; s is s, and
c [ts] is ts, and not ch and k, as in Italian, not to mention
the Slavic languages that do not possess the Cyrillian
What, then, is the best method for teaching the reading
of Russian ? Neither the newest sound method, nor the
oldest of the' azes, letter combination, and syllabication,
nor the method of the vowels, nor Z6lotov's method. The
best method for a given teacher is the one which is most
familiar to the teacher. All other methods, which the
teacher will know or invent, must be of help to the in-
struction which is begun by any one method. In order to
discover the one method, we need only know according to
what method the people have been studying longest; that
method will in its fundamental features be most adapted
to the masses. For us it is the method of letters, combi-
nations, syllables, a very imperfect one, like all methods,


and therefore capable of improvement by means of all
inventions, which the new methods offer us.
Every individual must, in order to acquire the art of
reading in the shortest possible time, be taught quite apart
from any other, and therefore there must be a separate
method for each. That which forms an insuperable diffi-
culty to one does not in the least keep back another, aud
vice versa. One pupil has a good memory, and it is easier
for him to memorize the syllables than to comprehend
the vowellessness of the consonants; another reflects
calmly and will comprehend a most rational sound
method; another has a fine instinct, and he grasps the
law of word combinations by reading whole words at a
The best teacher will be he who has at his tongue's
end the explanation of what it is that is bothering the
pupil. These explanations give the teacher the knowledge
of the greatest possible number of methods, the ability of
inventing new methods, and, above all, not a blind adher-
ence to one method, but the conviction that all methods
are one-sided, and that the best method would be the one
which would answer best to all the possible difficulties
incurred by a pupil, that is, not a method, but an art and
Every teacher of reading must be well grounded in the
one method which has been evolved by the people, and
must further verify it by his own experience; he must
endeavour to find out the greatest number of methods,
employing them as auxiliary means; must, by regarding
every imperfection in the pupil's comprehension, not as a
defect of the pupil, but as a defect of his own instruction,
endeavour to develop in himself the ability of discovering
new methods. Every teacher must know that every
method invented is only a step, on which he must stand
in order to go farther; he must know that if he himself
will not do it, another will assimilate that method and


will, on its basis, go farther, and that, as the business of
teaching is an art, completeness and perfection are not
obtainable, while development and perfectibility are






THE other day I read the Project of a General Plan for
the Establishment of Popular Schools. That reading pro-
duced upon me an effect such as a man must experience
when he receives the sudden news that the young grove,
which he has known and loved so much, and which he
has seen growing up under his eyes, is to be changed into
a park, by cutting out here, clearing off and lopping there,
by pulling out young shoots by the root and laying out
pebble walks in their place.
The general idea of the Project is this: Considering it
necessary to disseminate popular instruction, and surmis-
ing that the education of the masses has not yet begun
and that it is hostile toward its future education; surmis-
ing that the statute of the year 1828, prohibiting persons
not specially entitled to do so from opening schools and
teaching, is still in force; surmising that the masses will
never consider their own education without compulsion


from without, or that, having undertaken it, they will not
be able to carry it on, the government imposes on
the people a new, the largest of all the existing taxes, the
school tax, and entrusts the officials of the ministry with
the management of all the newly opened schools, that is,
the appointment of teachers and choice of programmes and
manuals. The government, in consideration of the new
levy, puts itself under obligation before the people of find-
ing and appointing fifty thousand teachers and of founding
at least fifty thousand schools. However, the government
has constantly felt its inadequacy in managing the exist-
ing parochial and county schools. All know that there
are no teachers, and nobody dissents from that view.
This idea, so strange in all the barrenness of its expres-
sion to any Russian who knows his country, is in the
Project shrouded in all kinds of excuses, expressions of
intentions, and grants of privileges, which not one Rus-
sian has heretofore ever thought of doubting. However,
it is not a new idea.. It has been applied in one of the
greatest countries of the world, namely, in the North
American States. The results of the application of this
idea in America have been comparatively very brilliant;
nowhere has public education developed so fast and so
universally. That is quite true. But, if America, begin-
ning its schools after the European States, has been more
successful in its public education than Europe, all that
follows from it is that it has fulfilled its historic mission,
and that Russia, in her turn, must fulfil hers. By trans-
planting on her soil the American compulsory system
(by means of levies), she would commit the same mistake
that America would have committed if, in founding its
schools, it should have applied the German or the English
system. The success of America is due to the fact that its
schools have developed in accordance with the time and
the surroundings. Russia, it seems to me, ought to pro-
ceed in the same way ; I am firmly convinced that for


the Russian system of public education not to be worse
than the other systems (taking into consideration all the
conditions of the times it must be better), it must be in-
dependent and not like any other system.
The law of the school tax has been enacted in Amer-
ica by the people itself. If not the whole nation, at least
the majority was convinced of the necessity of the pro-
posed system of education, and had its full confidence in
the government, to which it has entrusted the establish-
ment of schools. If the levy has appeared in the nature
of a compulsion, only an insignificant minority is affected
by it.
As is well known, America is the only country in the
world which has no peasant class, not only de jure, but
even de facto, in consequence of which there could not in
America exist that difference of education and that differ-
ence of opinion concerning education, which exists in our
country between the peasant and the non-peasant popula-
tion. Besides, America, in establishing its schools, was, I
suppose, convinced that it had the essential element for
the establishment of schools, the teacher.
It we compare Russia and America in all their respects,
the impropriety of transferring the American system upon
Russian soil will become manifest to us.
I now turn to the Project itself. Chapter I. General
1. In order to strengthen the masses in their religious
and moral concepts and offer the whole peasantry and the
lower classes of the urban population primary, general, and
necessary information, schools in sufficient number, in pro-
portion to the population, are to be established throughout
the Empire by rural and urban Communes.
What does it mean establish ? By what process?
We may be convinced that the people will take no part
in the establishment of these schools; the people will
only look upon the school tax as an increased burden.


Who will select the place to build the school on ? Who
will appoint the teacher ? Who will invite the children
and will get the parents interested to send them ? All
those are questions to which I found no answer in the
Project. All that will be done by officials of the Min-
istry of Public Instruction and by the justices of the
peace with the cooperation of the local police; but in
what manner and on the basis of what data ?
Are to be established throughout the Empire in sufficient
number, in proportion to the population. Leaving out of
consideration the impossibility of subjecting the whole
population of Russia to the same treatment as regards
popular education, it seems to me, in addition, to be
exceedingly inconvenient and dangerous in this manner
forcibly to bring education to one common level. There
are Governments, counties, and districts where there is a
great need of schools (where the need is as great as two
and three hundred pupils to every thousand of popula-
tion), and where there is a need of schools with more
extended programmes. On the other hand, there are locali-
ties where the need has not yet risen as high as fifty or
even ten in every thousand of the population, and where
the compulsory school will either be injurious, or, at the
very least, the means set aside for the popular education
will be wasted uselessly.
I know localities within a distance of twenty versts of
each other; in one of these there is a free school, and
nobody sends his children there; in the other, children
are glad to walk a distance of three versts, and their par-
ents are only too glad to pay fifty kopeks a month. The
compulsory establishment of the school, in proportion to
the population, produces in the first mentioned locality
nothing but suspicion of the school anl rage against it,
while in the second the average proportion of the whole
of Russia will be insufficient. Consequently the com-
pulsory establishment of schools in proportion to the


population would be partly an injurious and partly a use-
less waste of the money set aside for the popular education.
2. The popular schools have a course of primary in-
struction as defined by the Ministry of Public Instruction.
It seems to me impossible to define a course for the
popular schools.
Chapter VI. gives us a fine example of such an impos-
sibility. There, for example, writing is not included in the
programme, and, according to the sense of a note, writing
may be taught only by special permission of the educa-
tional authorities.
3. The popular schools are open institutions, that is,
they are intended only for day scholars.
This article belongs to that order of many similar
articles in the law, where a circumspect and serious
explanation is given of that which nobody would doubt
in the least. The appearance of such negative articles
involuntarily makes us think that they were written
solely in order to swell the volume of the Project, or
because there happened to be some members on the com-
mittee who had insisted that the popular schools be made
4. For the purpose of a constant and immediate con-
trol of each school, the Communes and municipalities, at
whose expense the schools are supported, are entitled to elect
curators of either sex; where such curators shall not be
elected, the inspection of the school is incumbent on the
justice of the peace.
Who will chose these curators? Who will want to be
a curator? And what do these curators mean? What
is meant by inspection of schools? All that does not
appear from the law.
The money will not be in the hands of the curator; the
appointment and discharging of the teachers does not
depend on the curator; the change of the school pro-
gramme is not in the curator's power; what, then, I ask, is


a curator ? People who take delight in the name and who
for it will sacrifice their money. Out of respect to the
human race, I cannot admit that any one will be willing
to assume that strange office, or that the municipalities
and Communes will want to elect anybody to such a
doubtful honour.
5. In their scholastic relations all the popular schools
of the Empire are in charge of the Ministry of Public
SInstruction, and are governed by specially appointed
directors of schools for each of the Governments.
6. The material part of each school is managed by
each Commune, at whose expense the school is maintained.
7. No pay for the instruction of the pupils is levied ex-
cept in the cases provided for in Arts. 25, 26.
Art. 7, with its reference to Arts. 25, 26, belongs to the
category of those serio-official articles which have been
mentioned before. It means that the peasants who have
already paid thirty kopeks a head for the school are fully
privileged not to pay a second time for their children.
Articles 6 and 7 are far from being definite. What
means the educational part, the maintenance of which is
left to the director of schools, and what is the material
part, which is left to the Commune? The appointment
and dismissal of teachers, the arrangement of the school,
the choice of a place for it, the teacher's pay, the choice of
books and programmes, all that depends on the Ministry
of Public Instruction. What, then, does the remaining
part, which is left in charge of the Commune, consist in ?
In the purchase of dampers and latches, in the choice of
the left or right side to cut a door through, in the hire of a
janitor for the school, in washing the floors, and so forth.
Even in this case the Commune is granted only the right
to pay for everything out of its own money. What is to
be built and how, all that is attended to by the law,
and will be carried out by the educational authorities.
According to Art. 5 there is to be a director of schools.


Each director will have from three to five hundred schools
under his charge. It will be impossible for him to visit
all the schools once a year, consequently the business of
the director of schools will be carried on from his office.
Chapter II. 17Te Establishment of Schools.
I shall omit Articles 8 and 9, which deal with the town
schools, which I have not studied and about which I, con-
sequently, cannot judge.
10. In the rural districts every parish is obliged to
have at least one popular school.
The word obliged" leaves no doubt as to whether the
peasants, in accordance with the meaning of the Project,
will be compelled to open schools, or not. The only
questions that arise are : (1) What is a parish (the writers
of the Project must have had in mind a township) ? and
(2) What will be the procedure in case (which will hap-
pen most frequently) the peasants will refuse to take any
interest whatever in the establishment of the schools, and
will pay their school tax only under the pressure of
police measures ? Who will select the place, the build-
ing, the teacher, and so forth ?
11. 7Te parishes, whose means are not sufficient for
the maintenance of schools, may, in lieu of establishing
a school, hire a teacher at the Commune's expense for the
purpose of giving instruction gratis to the children of said
parish in a house set aside for him, or in the assembly
house, or by rotation in the houses of the peasants.
12. The rules laid down in the preceding Art. 11
will also guide the separate settlements, remote from parish
churches, when, on account of such remoteness and incon-
venient communication, it becomes difficult to send the
children to the respective parish school.
Articles 11 and 12 are, on the one hand, quite incom-
prehensible, and, on the other, belong to the category of
elucidatory official articles, mentioned above.
When the parishes hire a teacher and rent a hut, what


keeps this from being a school, and why may the parishes
only do it ? I used to think that when we have pupils,
a teacher, and a place in which to teach, we have a school;
why, then, are a teacher, a schoolroom, and pupils not a
school ? But if we are to understand that small, remote
Communes have the right to choose their own teachers,
without conforming to the law about the maintenance of
the teacher, as laid down in the Project, and without
writing the word School" over the hut, then no one
has ever doubted this right, and all have made use of this
right, and always make use of it, notwithstanding the
prohibition of the law, which is unable to keep a father,
uncle, or godfather from teaching one, two, three, or fifteen
boys. All it says in this article is that the teacher is to
be hired by the Commune, but this is in the majority
of cases inconvenient, because all schools which are freely
established are generally maintained by contributions from
the parents, and not from the whole Commune, which is
both more convenient and more just.
13, 14, and 15. TWhere no possibility presents itself
of arranging a separate school for girls, boys and girls
shall be taught in one and the same school, by one and the
same teacher, but at different hours of the day or on different
days of the week. In places where there is no separate
school for girls, the Commune may hire a lady teacher to
help out the male teacher. Girls up to the age of thirteen
years may be admitted to instruction with the boys of the
same age.
The girls, of whom mention is made in Art. 13, being
above the age of thirteen years, are called maidens by the
people, and to suppose that the maidens would be per-
mitted by their parents, or would themselves choose, to
go to school with small boys, and to prescribe rules for
them, in order to secure the popular morality, is the same
as to prescribe laws for what is not and never can be.
With the present popular view of education even the


thought of it is out of the question. Even if such a case
should arise in the next generation, Art. 14 has provided
for it, giving the Commune the unheard-of right to hire,
again at their own expense, a lady teacher. The instruc-
tion of women in schools has not yet begun, and I dare
think that Articles 13, 14, and 15 have not divined all pos-
sible cases that may arise during such instruction. It
seems to me in general that it is exceedingly difficult to vest
in legal forms that which is not yet, and has not yet begun.
Chapter III. The Mlaintenance of the Schools.
I omit the articles dealing with the town municipalities.
Articles 20, 21, 22, and 23 decree a compulsory levy
on the parish for the maintenance of the schools and for
a Government fund.
We must repeat once more that, in spite of the seeming
definiteness of these articles, we do not comprehend many
very essential things; namely: Who apportions the neces-
sary amount of money for the schools? Who receives
this money, and under what conditions ? Have the Com-
munes the right to declare themselves poor on the basis
of Articles 10 and 11 ? I am sure that all the Communes
without exception will be anxious to invoke this right,
and therefore its elucidation is exceedingly important.
From the above mentioned articles it appears only that
the writers of the Project propose to burden the rural
population with a tax, which is to be used for the estab-
lishment of schools and for the formation of a Govern-
mental fund. By an extremely faulty calculation, attached
to the law, twenty-seven and one-half kopeks from each
soul will fall to the share of each peasant. This tax is
enormous, and in reality it will be more than increased
sixfold, for (p. 18) the calculation there adduced is based
on the statistical data furnished by Academician Vese-
16vski, in a memoir of the Imperial Russian Geographical
Society, and not only is groundless, but must contain
some typographical error. It is hard to believe that the


members of the committee should have known so little
the conditions of the country in which they live, and the
conditions of the popular education, to which they have
devoted their labours.
Tie number of children subject to primary instruction,
that is, of those between the ages of eight to ten years,forms
about five per cent. of the whole mass of the population.
The number of children subject to primary instruction
will be three times the figure mentioned, because, no
doubt, it is known to everybody who takes the trouble
of visiting a popular school that the normal school age is
not from eight to ten years, but rather from seven to thir-
teen, or, more correctly, from six to fourteen years. At
the present time, with the insufficient dissemination of
schools, there are in the YAsenets township 150 pupils
to one thousand souls, in the Golovenkov township sixty
pupils to four hundred souls, and in the TrAsnen township
seventy pupils to five hundred souls. With the present
undeveloped condition of the schools there are everywhere
not five per cent., but twelve per cent. and fifteen per cent.
It must be kept in mind that by far not all the children
study now, and that the girls form but one-twentieth of
all the pupils.
Consequently, to one thousand of the male population,
proceeds the Project, we must assume about fifty boys who,
on account of age, are subject to primary instruction, and
in the same number of the female population there will be
about fifty girls. 17 e teaching of such a number will not
be too burdensome for one teacher.
We have pointed out above that there will be three
times as many pupils, and it is not only burdensome, but
simply impossible to teach fifty boys and girls together.
But that is not the worst of the typographical blunder.
Every Russian knows that in Russia there are six months
of winter, with frosts and snow-storms, while in summer
the peasant children are doing some field labour, and in


winter few have enough warm clothing to venture out
any distance; they run about the street with their
father's short fur coat thrown over their heads, and back
again to the hut, and upon the oven. In Russia the
great majority of the population is scattered in settle-
ments of from fifty to one hundred souls, at a distance
of from two to three versts from each other. How can
one in Russia get as many as fifty pupils together in one
school? As facts have shown to me, one cannot count
on more than ten to fifteen pupils for one school.
If there was no mistake in the calculation, and the
Project was really meant to be executed, then, on the
basis of the blunder in the calculation concerning the per-
centage of the school population, the taxes will have
to be increased threefold, because there will be three
schools instead of one, of fifty pupils in each. On ac-
count of the blunder in the calculation, which brings
together fifty pupils into one school, the tax will have
to be doubled, that is, by supposing as high as twenty-five
pupils to each school, and six schools to each one thou-
sand souls, we get six times twenty-seven and one-half
kopeks, which, deducting the ten per cent. of the Govern-
ment fund, makes at least one rouble and a half to each
soul, without counting what is necessary for the estab-
lishment and for the repairs of the school, and for the
support of the teacher in kind. It is an impossible levy.
In a note to Art. 23, which is based on an observation
deduced from practice, that the expenses of teaching fre-
quently keep the uneducated parents from sending their
children to school, it says that the appliances of education
and the text-books are not bought by the parents them-
selves, but by the person mentioned in the Project as
having charge of the expenses for the maintenance of
the school.
This observation deduced from practice is not true,
for, on the contrary, it has always and at all times been


observed that the parents prefer to buy their own books,
slates, and pencils for their sons, in order that the things
may always remain in the house, rather than give the
money for the purchase of these things by the school;
besides, these things are safer and more useful at home
than at school.
In spite of it being mentioned in Art. 24 that the
expenses for the maintenance of the school are allowed
by the village elder and audited by the village meeting,
I affirm that it does not appear from the Project who is
entrusted with the expense for the maintenance of the
school. Who is to put up a school building, where, when,
what kind of a house ? Who buys the school appliances ?
What books and pencils, and so forth, and how many are
to be bought ? All this is either passed by in the Project,
or it is entrusted to the director of schools. The Com-
munes have only the right to collect the money and give
it away, also to rent or build a house, also to cut off
half a desyatina of land for the teacher, also to travel
to town for the purpose of buying dampers, and also,
which is most flattering of all, to audit the accounts over
which they have no control. All that is done, as it says
in the Project, in order to awaken in the Communes a
greater readiness to provide the means for the support
of the school.
It is ordered to give the Communes full liberty both in
the apportionment and collection of the sum necessary for
the maintenance of the school and in the material care of
acquiring everything necessary for the schools.
It seems to me that in this matter there is a lack of
sincerity in the Project; it would have been simpler
to say that the Communes are granted no rights what-
ever in the matter of the school government, but that,
on the contrary, a new burden is imposed upon them,
which is to acquire certain necessary things and look
after the school accounts.


Art. 25 imposes the obligation of finding proper
quarters for the school and for the teacher, and for pro-
viding heat for them. The obligation is very dimly
defined, very burdensome, and, on account of its indefi-
niteness, liable to give rise to abuses on the side of the
school authorities.
Art. 26 refers to towns.
In Art. 27 it is carefully explained that especial
payment may be made by persons who have not con-
tributed at large.
28. Towns and village parishes, which, on account
of their sparse population and poverty of inhabitants,
are really unable -to support schools and even to hire
a teacher, may receive aid, at the discretion of the Minister
of Public Instruction, from the general reserve school fund.
As has been pointed out above, all the Communes
without exception will, if they understand the meaning
of the Project, be anxious to fall under the provision of
Art. 28, and they will quite justly remark that the
majority of the inhabitants are poor. (Poverty, espe-
cially as regards money, is a well-known common condi-
tion of the Russian peasantry.) Who is to define what
Commune falls under the provision of Art. 28 ? Which
first, and which later?
On what basis and by whom will similar questions
be decided? The Project tells us nothing concerning
it, and yet, it is our opinion, these questions will uni-
versally arise.
Art. 29 again repeats that the Commune has the right to
cut a door on the right or left side, to make pine or oak
seats, and even not to be embarrassed in the manner of
their acquisition ; that is, they have the full right to buy
them, or to build them from their own timber.
Art. 30 is the only one which, being a promise to find
means for cheapening the text-books, meets with our full


Articles 31, 32, and 33 do not properly refer to the es-
tablishment of village schools, but deal with the formation
of the Government fund. We cannot agree with the
wisdom of a measure which alienates from the Communes
a certain part of their moneys and transfers it to the Gov-
ernment, which is again to use it for these Communes.
It seems to us that this money could be more justly and
more usefully applied to each Commune from which any
amount is taken.
Chapter IV. 7The Personnel of the Popular Schools.
In Art. 34 it says that in every school there must be a
teacher and a religious teacher, which is quite just. In
addition to these, the Commune has the right to elect
curators of either sex. The following articles explain
that the curators have no meaning whatever and no rights
whatever, and that in order to be elected they need have
no qualifications.
Art. 37 explains that the curators enter upon their duties
immediately after the election, informing the director of
schools of the Government of having entered upon said duties.
In addition to this, Art. 38 declares that the curators
are not subject to, but only confer with the educational
authorities; they, therefore, do not write reports, but
communications, which is both exceedingly flattering and
On the other hand, in Art. 36, where it says that the
curators supervise the teachers in the correct fulfilment of
their duties, and see to it that the teachers receive their
pay promptly, that everything necessary is supplied to
the school in proper time, and that the external order is
preserved in the school, nothing is said as to what a cura-
tor can and must do in case of the teacher's improper
execution of his duties. He may only communicate the
fact to the director; he may do so justly or unjustly,
with the knowledge of the matter, or, as may be sup-
posed, more frequently, without the knowledge of the


matter. It is not to be supposed that the interference of
an entirely superfluous outsider could be of any use.
Articles 39, 40, 41, and 46 define the relations of the
teacher of religion to the school.
Art. 42 says directly, without leaving the slightest
doubt about the matter, that the management of the
schools in each Government, in spite of the imaginary
complete independence of the Communes and in spite of
the incomprehensible invention of curators, is left to one
person,-the director of schools, since the discharge
and the appointment of a teacher form, according to our
opinion, the only essential management of a school. We
shall have occasion, later on, to speak at greater length
of the inconvenience connected with the centralization of
such an enormous power in the person of one man.
Art. 43 promises the training of teachers, although, as
a promise, this article does not even enter into the com-
position of the Project; I cannot withhold the remark
that the attempts at training any teachers whatever, both
in our Pedagogical Institute, as also in the German sem-
inaries and French and English normal schools, have so
far led to no results, and have only convinced us of the
impossibility of training teachers, especially for the popu-
lar schools, just as it is impossible to train artists and
.poets. Teachers are educated only in proportion to the
general demands of education and with the raising of
the general level of education.
Articles 44 and 45 explain that the belonging to a cer-
tain class is no impediment to a man's carrying on the
duties of a teacher, and that people belonging to the cleri-
cal profession and those who are not of the gentry may be
teachers ; here it also says that if a clergyman undertakes
to be a teacher, he must teach by all means That is all
very true. In a note to Art. 45 it says that the curator
or justice of the peace recommends teachers for vacancies
to the director of schools. I surmise that a brother or


uncle of the curator or justice of the peace may recom-
mend a teacher to the director.
Chapter V. The Rights of Persons Connected with the
Popular Schools.
In Art. 47 it says that curators are not granted the
privilege of wearing cockades and short swords. (I do
not omit a single article, and the reader who will consult
the Project will convince himself that I am quoting it
Articles 48, 49, 50, and 51 define the material position
of the teacher.
This position is superb, and we must confess that if the
Project is to be put in force, we shall, in this respect, at
once outdo Europe.
The village teacher is to get 150 roubles in silver a
year, lodgings with heating, which, in our locality, means
about fifty roubles. In addition to that, he is to receive,
in grain or flour (by a provision of the Project the Com-
munes are granted a great freedom in this matter), two
puds a month, which, according to our prices, will amount
to about twelve roubles a year; he is to get, besides, half
a desyatina2 of land fit for a vegetable garden, which
means another ten roubles, and thus the whole amounts
to 222 roubles. (All this is to come from the Commune
which, by the calculation adduced above, is hardly able to
get together an average of twenty pupils.) In addition to
this, the Commune is to pay the teacher of religion fifty
roubles, for school appliances fifty roubles, and twenty-five
roubles interest on the Government fund ; it has to build
and maintain the school, hire a janitor, which, at the least
figure, means eighty roubles more, -and thus the Com-
mune has to pay 427 roubles.
In Art. 50 it says that the Commune has the right to
hire also a lady teacher.
IA pud is equal to almost thirty-six pounds.
2 A desyatina is equal to about three acres.


A teacher who has served twenty years receives two-
thirds of his yearly salary, and is, besides, exempt from
taxation and military service, which will again be bur-
dened upon the Commune to the extent of ten roubles
a year. The position of the teacher is brilliant indeed,
but I shall allow myself to question the willingness of
the Communes to remunerate them so liberally, if they
were to pay the teachers according to their deserts, or if
the writers of the Project were compelled to draw the
means from other sources. (The privileges granted the
teachers, according to Articles 52, 56, and 57, namely,
the right to be counted as being in government service,
and the right of earning a medal or an Alexander ribbon,
and to be elected as assistant director of schools, are not
a burden to the Commune, but these, I venture to say,
will not have that allurement for the teachers that the
rights have which they are to enjoy at the expense of
the Commune.)
The question of the increase of the salary of the popu-
lar school-teachers is a question which has for a long time
been agitating the European governments, and which finds
its solution only step by step; but with us this question
is solved at once by a few lines of the Project. This very
simplicity and facility of solution seem suspicious to me.
The question involuntarily arises why did they fix it at
150 roubles, and not at 178 roubles and sixteen and one-
third kopeks, for by paying 178 roubles and sixteen and
one-third kopeks we should get better teachers still.
Then again, why not put it at 178 roubles, when the
source from which we are deriving the money is in our
power, absolutely without any control ? Why only half
a desyatina of good soil for a vegetable garden, and not
eight and two-thirds desyatinas for a field ? In a note it
says : Clericals who at the same time occupy the positions
of teacher of religion and of a regular teacher, are entitled
only to a full teacher's salary, and receive only one-half


of the amount set aside for the teacher of religion. These
figures, no doubt, are all carefully chosen, since twenty-
five roubles are so cautiously apportioned to the teacher
of religion. These figures must have been arrived at from
positive data. These data must be absolutely known, the
more so, since it appears from the data which many of
us have collected in our personal experience, that the
school-tax which, according to that calculation, is imposed
upon the Communes, is immeasurably high, exorbitant;
that, in our opinion, not one Commune will agree to pay
one-fifth of that tax for school, and that in Russia there
is not to be found even one hundredth part of teachers
deserving such remuneration.
Chapter VI. The Course of Instruction in the Popular
The first paragraph of Art. 58 defines the programme
of the course in religion. Both the instruction and
the consideration of this subject are left exclusively in the
hands of the clerical profession.
(2) The native tongue; the reading of books in Russian
and in Slavic type; explanatory reading of books adapted
to primary instruction. (3) Arithmetic: the four opera-
tions with integral numbers, abstract and concrete, and an
idea of fractions. Note. In addition to these subjects, at
the request of Communes, there may be introduced the in-
struction of church singing, and with the consent of the
educational authorities also other subjects.
We have expressed our conviction that the definition
of a course of instruction for the popular schools is quite
impossible, especially in the sense in which the Project is
trying to make it,--in the sense of setting limits to the
subjects of instruction. In this sense was conceived the
circular published by the Minister of Public Instruction
in reference to Sunday schools; in the same sense was
composed the note according to which everything not
defined by the programme in the preceding three lines


)may be taught only with the consent of the educational
authorities; in the same providential sense are composed
Articles 59, 60, and 61, by which the very method of
instruction and the manuals to be used in the instruction
of that impossible and narrow programme are to be deter-
mined upon by the Ministry of Public Instruction.
I do not mention that this is unjust; that it is inju-
rious to the development of education; that it excludes
the possibility of all lively interest of the teacher in his
work; that it gives rise to endless abuses (the writer of
a programme or of a text-book need only make one mis-
take, and that mistake becomes obligatory for the whole
of Russia). I say only that every programme for the
popular school is absolutely impossible, and every such a
programme is only words, words, words. I can compre-
hend a programme which defines the obligation which
teachers, or the power establishing the school, take upon
themselves; I can understand how one may say to the
Commune and to the parents: I am the teacher; I open
the school, and I undertake to teach your children this or
that, and you have no right to ask of me that which I
have not promised you; but to open a school and to
promise that one will not teach this or that is both impru-
dent and absolutely impossible. And it is precisely such
a negative programme that the Project proposes for all
of Russia and for the popular primary schools. In a
higher institution, I presume, it is possible for the instruc-
tor, without deviation, to stick to one given course. In
lecturing on the Roman civil law, a professor can bind
himself not to speak of zoology or chemistry, but in a
popular school the historical, natural, and mathematical
sciences mingle, and at any minute questions arise in all
the branches of these sciences.
The most essential difference between the higher and
the lower school lies in the degree of subdivisibility
of the subjects of instruction. In the lowest school it


does not exist at all. Here all the subjects are united
in one, and after this they gradually branch out.
Let us look at Articles 2 and 3 of the programme.
What is meant by native tongue ? Does it include
syntax and etymology ? There are some teachers who
regard both as the best means for teaching language.
What is meant by the reading of books, and by explana-
tory reading ? He who has learned his A B C book can.
read, and he who reads and understands the Moscow Gaz-
ette also only reads. How are the books to be explained,
say the chrestomathy published by the society for the
publication of cheap books ? To take through with ex-
planations all the articles of this book, would be tanta-
mount to going through nearly the whole course of human
knowledge,- theology, and philosophy, and history, and
the natural sciences; and to read through the book by
syllables and for the purpose of explanation to repeat
each phrase by other incomprehensible words is also
explanatory reading. Writing is entirely omitted in the
Project; but even if it were allowed, and most precisely
defined in the programme, one might understand by writ-
ing the mere copying of letters, or the knowledge of the
art of the language, which may be acquired only by a
whole course of subjects and exercises. The programme
defines everything and nothing, nor can it define anything.
In mathematics. What is meant by the four opera-
tions on abstract and concrete numbers ? I, for example,
in my teaching, do not use concrete numbers, leaving the
so-called concrete numbers for multiplication and division.
Arithmetic in general I begin with progression, which
every teacher does, for numeration is nothing but decimal
progression. It says: an idea of fractions. But why
only an idea? In my instruction I begin the decimal
fractions at once with numeration. Equations, that is,
algebra, I begin with the first operations. Consequently,
I transcend the programme. Plane geometry is not in-


dicated in the programme, and yet problems from plane
geometry are the most natural and the most intelligible
applications of the first rules. With one teacher geometry
and algebra will enter into the teaching of the four opera-
tions ; with another teacher the four operations will form
only a mechanical exercise in writing with chalk on a
blackboard, and for either the programme will be only
words, words, words. So much the less is it possible to
give the teacher instruction and guidance. For the suc-
cessful progress of the teaching, the teacher must have
the means for his own instruction and full liberty in the
choice of his methods. It is convenient for one to teach
by the buki-az ba method, and for another by the be-a,
and for a third by the b-a method, each being master of
his. For the teacher to assimilate another method, it is not
enough to know it and to prescribe it to him, he must
believe that this method is the best, and he must love it.
This refers both to the methods of the instruction
itself, as also to the treatment of the pupils.
Circular instructions and prescriptions to the teachers
will only embarrass them. More than once have I seen
teachers instructing according to the sound method, just as
according to the buki-az ba method, memorizing letters,
combinations, and syllables, and calling buki "by," and
dobro dy," but this was only done in the presence of the
authorities, because such was the order.
As to the aim, which the committee may have had in
view in writing out the programme, the aim of warding
off the possibility of any baneful influence of evil-minded
teachers, it must be said that no programme will keep a
teacher from exerting a baneful influence upon his pupils.
With such a programme the presence of a captain of
gendarmes would become necessary in every school, for
nobody could rely on the statements of the pupils, nei-
ther for nor against the teacher. The fact is that such
fears are not in the least allayed by the programme, and


that such fears are quite groundless. No matter how
much a Commune is removed from the control over its
schools, a father cannot be kept from being interested in
that which is being taught to his son; and however com-
pulsory a school may be, a mass of pupils cannot be kept
from judging their teacher and giving him just the weight
he deserves. I am fairly convinced, both by ratiocination
and by experience, that a school is always secure against
baneful influences by the control of the parents and by
the sentiment of justice in the pupils.
In Art. 62 it says that the Communes may establish
libraries; that is, nobody is forbidden to buy books,
neither singly, nor in partnership, if they are so minded.
Chapter VII. Of the Students in the Popular Schools,
and of the Distribution of the Time of Study.
63. Children may enter the popular schools with
their eighth year. No preliminary knowledge is required
of those who enter school.
Why eight years and not six years and three and one-
half months? This question demands just such positive
proofs as that other question why teachers are to receive
150 roubles, and not 178 roubles and sixteen and one-
third kopeks; and this the more, since I know by per-
sonal experience that at least one-fourth of the children
going to school are below eight years of age, and that
during this age, of from six to eight years, the children
learn to read more rapidly, more easily, and better. All
the children I know of, who are instructed at home, also
begin much earlier than at eight years. That is the
freest time for a peasant child, a period during which
he is not yet employed at domestic labour, and unreserv-
edly devotes himself to the school until his eighth year.
Why, then, did the writers of the Project take such a
dislike to that age ? It is absolutely necessary to know
the ground on which children before the age of eight are
excluded from the schools.


In the second part of the article there is a statement
that no preliminary knowledge is required in those who
enter. We cannot comprehend what that is for. Are
those who enter obliged to wear canvas blouses in the
summer, and the well-known uniform in winter ?
If everything which is not needed is to be defined, this,
too, ought to be stated.
In Art. 64 it says: No definite period of instruction in
the popular school is established; every pupil is declared
to have finished his course of instruction whenever he has
sufficiently acquired that which is taught in the school.
We vividly imagine the joy and happiness of some
Akhramy6y when he is declared to have finished a
65. In the village popular schools instruction shall
begin from the time the field labours are ended, and shall
last until the beginning of work in the following year, con-
forming to the local conditions of peasant life.
Here the authors of the Project, apparently trying
wisely to submit to the exigencies of actuality, again are
in error, despite the shade of practicalness which this
article has. What are the beginning and the end of rural
labours? So long as there is a law upon it, this ought to
be defined. The teacher, who in everything will comply
with the law, will execute it promptly. And in this
case, if the 1st of April is to be the last day, he will not
teach a day too much. Let alone that it is difficult to
define the period, in many localities a number of pupils will
stay through the summer, and there will nearly everywhere
be about a third of them. The peasants are everywhere
firmly convinced, on account of the method of memorizing
in vogue with them, that what has been learned will
soon be forgotten; and so only those who are in need
of their children unwillingly take them out for the sum-
mer, but even then they beg to have their children recite
at least once a week. If it comes at all to writing a


Project, to conforming to the needs of the people, this
ought to be written down too.
Art. 66 directs the attention to the fact that instruction
is given during week-days, and not on holidays, with
which one cannot help agreeing, as in the case of all such
decrees, written down no one knows why, and expressive
of absolutely nothing.
But Art. 67 again makes us stagger. There it says
that the pupils shall have but one session, and shall study
not more than four hours, with a recess.
It would be interesting to see the progress made by at
least fifty pupils (and maybe even one hundred, as is
intended by the calculation) studying only during the
winter, and not more than four hours a day, with a recess !
I have the boldness to consider myself a good teacher,
but if I were given seventy pupils under such conditions
I should say in advance that half of them would be
unable to read in two years. As soon as the Project shall
be confirmed, not one teacher, in spite of the half desya-
tina of garden land, will add one hour of work contrary
to the regulation, lest, by not complying with the philan-
thropic foresight of the Project, he should exhaust the
youthful minds of the peasant children. In a sufficiently
large number of schools, which I know, the children study
from eight to nine hours a day, and remain overnight at
school so as to be able in the evening once more to recite
to the teacher, and neither the parents nor the teachers
observe any evil consequences from it.
According to Art. 69 there is to be an annual public
examination. This is not the place to prove that exam-
inations are injurious, and more than injurious, -that
they are impossible. I have mentioned this in the article
The School at Yasnaya Polyana." In reference to Art.
69 I will limit myself to the question: "For what and
for whom are these examinations ?"
The bad and baneful side of the examinations in a

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