Strategy of Modernisation – Back to the Future?

  1. Lemma
  2. Стратегия модернизации – назад в будущее?
  3. Russian
  4. Asliturk, Miriam
  5. Ecumenism and dialogue > Education - Culture and national identities
  6. 07-08-2018
  7. Коршунова, Наталья Леонидовна [Author]. Стратегия модернизации – назад в будущее?
  8. Образование и наука
  9. Russian Orthodox Church - religious education - individualism - Ministry of Education - Russian education system - Modernization - secularism - culture
  10. Click Here
    1. <p>Коршунова, Н. Л. (2006). Стратегия модернизации - назад в будущее? <em>Образование и наука</em>, (2), 114-119.</p>
    1. The article dwells on the question of the place of religion and religious studies in the Russian school education system. The author posits that the position of federal and regional authorities regarding the problem is quite contradictory. 

      For example, the Conception of the Modernization of Russian Education (2002) suggested that education be based on European liberal values, prioritising the individual. Concurrently, V.M. Filippov, then Head of the Educational Department, sent a letter to the regions containing instructions concerning a new optional course, "Fundamentals of Orthodox Culture." This, according to the author, contradicted the previously proclaimed “priority-of-the-individual” strategy, as Orthodoxy itself implies collectivism.

      In January 2004, within the framework of the XII Christmas Readings, a serious discussion of the need to study Orthodoxy in Russian schools took place between the Russian Orthodox Church and Ministry of Education representatives. The following three years were characterized by wavering positions. In the spring of 2004, Fursenko, the new Minister of Education and Science urged the teaching of foundations of religion by secular teachers within the framework of historical and cultural disciplines and later suggested introducing History of Religion as a compulsory subject.

      The author of the article believes that religious studies, being part of the culture, should be taught at school. However, she warns against tendencies – quite widespread in Russia’s political circles – to replace the discipline "History of World Religions" by lessons of Orthodox “Law of God.” She adds that some statesmen have endorsed the idea of opening theological faculties in universities. These tendencies are supported and promoted by the Russian Orthodox Church. 

      The author points out that such trends contradict values of modernisation and are clearly against the norms of the emerging information society, where knowledge (by no means religious) is the leading value and capital. In addition, the turn to religious education and “national cultural traditions” is argued to entrain intolerance given Russia’s multicultural and multi-confessional context. It also represents, according to the author, a potential danger to intellectual freedom: faith does not imply discussion, it is incompatible with doubt, and does not need proof. In other words, it prohibits critical thinking and creativity which Russians, already “weakened by the Marxist-Leninist ideology of the past,” desperately need. Finally the author highlights the specific values of Orthodoxy (cult, intuitivism, collective experience, conciliarity or sobornost, etc.) as opposed to Catholic and Protestant values (truth, proof, personality, freedom, etc.). These differences would, according to the author, inevitably lead to contradictions in pupils’ minds. All these factors, she concludes, should be taken into consideration by educators of all levels, who are to be aware of their civic duty and protect the autonomy of education from the church.