School discipline in children’s hands? Transformation of the idea and practices, 1918-1943
Colloque hypertext link symbol La culture enfantine en URSS, 1917-1941 : objets, lieux et pratiques
Auteur(s) : Maslinskii Kirill
Durée : 49 minutes

Référence électronique : Maslinskii Kirill, « School discipline in children’s hands? Transformation of the idea and practices, 1918-1943 » [en ligne], 2018, disponible sur, page consultée le 03/12/2021

Résumé de la communication

System of disciplinary action involving children’s collective is a widely recognized characteristic feature of Soviet school pedagogy. A common form in which a disciplinary pressure was channeled through the children’s collective was shaming academically unsuccessful and misbehaving children by children’s collectives (young pioneers and komsomol). In the official history of Soviet pedagogy, this form of involving children’s collective in the disciplinary action is traditionally and unequivocally understood as Anton Makarenko’s pedagogical invention. Contrary to this traditional view long before Makarenko conducted his experiments and became popular among Soviet pedagogues (early 1930s - late 1940s) there existed structural conditions supporting the appearance and reinforcement of disciplinary practices involving other children in the punishment of their peers. To understand these structural conditions, it is necessary to turn to the history of the regulation of the school discipline in the first decades of the Soviet power.

The determinative moment is the official abolition of all punishments in school in the decree of 1918. In Soviet pedagogical discourse the necessity to explain how order could be maintained in school without explicit forms of coercion has led to the dissemination of the idea of “conscious discipline” whereby a child disciplines herself. However in everyday practice of the schools the abolition of punishments meant not the introduction of the new “conscious” disciplinary practices, but only the prohibition of the old ones.

In my view, the key insight into the transformations that school discipline has undergone during first decades of Soviet power is that the abolition of punishments has undermined the legitimacy of the disciplinary practices of the teachers. In other words, teachers’ disciplinary practices has lost approval of the State. Schools needed other foundation for legitimacy of the discipline, and this foundation has been found in 1920s. One of the practical adaptations found by the schools in this situation was to delegate disciplinary functions to those agents that were not featured as disciplinary agents in the pre-revolutionary school, and thus were not in the focus of the prohibitive decree. Students’ self-government and new children’s organizations – young pioneers and komsomol – turned out to be the most convenient new agents of school discipline.

Stalin’s school reforms of the 1930s resulted in the official restoration of rules of conduct and punishments as disciplinary instruments in Soviet schools. But the punishments returned in a modified form and returned into the disciplinary system that was already expanded and structured in a different way. The mechanisms for involvement of other children and their parents in the school’s disciplinary action were already well developed. The transformation of the official view of Soviet school discipline was complete by early 1950s. By the same moment forms of disciplinary pressure of children on their peers looked like a fully-formed system.

School discipline in children’s hands? Transformation of the idea and practices, 1918-1943 [durée : 49 min.], Maslinskii Kirill

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