Yasnaya Polyana School

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(1828 - 1910) ~ Father of Christian Anarchism : In 1861, during the second of his European tours, Tolstoy met with Proudhon, with whom he exchanged ideas. Inspired by the encounter, Tolstoy returned to Yasnaya Polyana to found thirteen schools that were the first attempt to implement a practical model of libertarian education. (From : Anarchy Archives.)
• "...for no social system can be durable or stable, under which the majority does not enjoy equal rights but is kept in a servile position, and is bound by exceptional laws. Only when the laboring majority have the same rights as other citizens, and are freed from shameful disabilities, is a firm order of society possible." (From : "To the Czar and His Assistants," by Leo Tolstoy, ....)
• "The Government and all those of the upper classes near the Government who live by other people's work, need some means of dominating the workers, and find this means in the control of the army. Defense against foreign enemies is only an excuse. The German Government frightens its subjects about the Russians and the French; the French Government, frightens its people about the Germans; the Russian Government frightens its people about the French and the Germans; and that is the way with all Governments. But neither Germans nor Russians nor Frenchmen desire to fight their neighbors or other people; but, living in peace, they dread war more than anything else in the world." (From : "Letter to a Non-Commissioned Officer," by Leo Tol....)
• "...the dissemination of the truth in a society based on coercion was always hindered in one and the same manner, namely, those in power, feeling that the recognition of this truth would undermine their position, consciously or sometimes unconsciously perverted it by explanations and additions quite foreign to it, and also opposed it by open violence." (From : "A Letter to a Hindu: The Subjection of India- Its....)

(? - 1935)
Nathan Haskell Dole (August 31, 1852 – May 9, 1935) was an American editor, translator, and author. He attended Phillips Academy, Andover, and graduated from Harvard University in 1874. He was a writer and journalist in Philadelphia, New York, and Boston. He translated many works of Leo Tolstoy, and books of other Russians; novels of the Spaniard Armando Palacio Valdés (1886–90); a variety of works from the French and Italian. Nathan Haskell Dole was born August 31, 1852, in Chelsea, Massachusetts. He was the second son of his father Reverend Nathan Dole (1811–1855) and mother Caroline (Fletcher) Dole. Dole grew up in the Fletcher homestead, a strict Puritan home, in Norridgewock, Maine, where his grandmother lived and where his mother moved with her two boys after his father died of tuberculosis. Sophie May wrote her Prudy Books in Norridgewock, which probably showed the sort of life Nathan and his older brother Charles Fletcher Dol... (From : Wikipedia.org.)


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We have no beginners. The children of the youngest class read, write, and solve problems in the first three rules of arithmetic, and repeat sacred history, so that our order of exercises is arranged according to the following roster: Mechanical and Graded Reading. Compositions. Penmanship. Grammar. Sacred History. Russian History. Drawing. Sketching. Singing. Mathematics. Conversations about the Natural Sciences. Religious Instruction. Before I speak of the methods of instruction, I must give a short description of the Yasnaya Polyana school and its present condition. Yasnaya Polyana, or Fairfield, is the name of the count's estate a few miles out from the city of Tula. It is also the name of a journal of education published at his own expense. A complete file of this journal is in the library of Cornell University, the gi... (From : Wikisource.org.)

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Let us suppose that, according to the roster, we begin with mechanical reading in the first or the youngest class; in the second, with graded reading; and in the third, with mathematics. The teacher goes into the room, and finds the children rolling or scuffling on the floor, and crying at the top of their voices: "You're choking me!" "You stop pulling my hair!" or "Let up; that'll do!" "Piotr Mikhailovitch," cries a voice from under the heap, as the teacher comes in, "make them stop." "Good-morning, Piotr Mikhailovitch," shout still others, adding their share to the tumult. The teacher takes the books and distributes them to those who have come to the cupboard. First those on top of the heap on the floor, then those lying underneath, want a book. The pile gradually diminishes. As soon as the majority have their books, all the rest run to the cupboard, and cry, "Me one! me one!" "Give me the one I had... (From : Wikisource.org.)

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The pupils sit wherever they please, on benches, chairs, on the window-sill, on the floor, or in the armchair. The girls always sit by themselves. Friends, those from the same village, and especially the little ones for there is more comradeship among them are always together. As soon as one of them decides to sit in a certain corner, all his playmates, pushing and diving under the benches, manage to get to the same place, sit in a row, and as they glance around they show such an expression of perfect bliss and satisfaction in their faces, as if nothing in all the rest of their lives could ever give them so much happiness as to sit in those places. The moment they come into the room, the big armchair presents itself as an object of envy for the more independent personalities for the little house-girl and others. As soon as one makes a motion to occupy the arm-chair, another recognizes by the expression of his face that such a... (From : Wikisource.org.)

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The two smaller classes are put by themselves in one room; the older scholars are in another. When the teacher goes to the first class, all gather around him at the blackboard, or on the benches, or they climb on the table, or sit down around him or one of those that are reading. If it happen to be for writing, they take more comfortable positions, but they keep getting up, so as to look at each other's copy-books and show their own to the teacher. It is calculated that the time till dinner will be occupied by four lessons; but often only three or two are introduced, and sometimes the roster is entirely changed. If the teacher begins with arithmetic, he may go over to geometry; or if he begins with sacred history, he may end with grammar. Sometimes the teacher and the pupils get carried away, and instead of one hour the class lasts three hours. There have been cases where the pupils themselves cried, "More! more!" and they exclaim again... (From : Wikisource.org.)

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Here I must defend myself. In giving this description of the Y. P. school, I have no intention of presenting a model of what is requisite and necessary for a school, but simply a description of the actual state of the school. I take it such descriptions have their utility. If I succeed in the following pages in clearly presenting a history of the development of the school, then the reader will clearly comprehend why the character of the school was formed as it was, why I consider such an order of things advantageous, and why it would have been an utter impossibility for me to have changed it, even if I had wished to do so. The school had a free development from principles established in it by teacher and pupils. Notwithstanding all the weight of the master's authority, the pupil always had the right not to attend the school and not to obey the teacher. The teacher had the prerogative not to admit a pupil, and the power of exerting all the force o... (From : Wikisource.org.)

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As they are subjected to laws that are simply derived from their own nature, the scholars do not rebel or grumble; if they were subjected to our old system of interference, they would have no faith in the legality of our ringing bells, regulations, and ordinances. How many times when children were fighting, have I chanced to see the teacher hasten to separate them; and the disparted foes would glare at each other, and even in the presence of a stern teacher would not fail to look even more fiercely than before, or even fall to blows; how many times every day do I see some Kiriushka set his teeth together, and fly at Taraska, and pull his hair, and throw him to the ground, and apparently try to maim his enemy or to annihilate him; and then, in a moment's time, this same Taraska would be laughing at Kiriushka, for always one manages to turn the tables on the other, and then in the course of five minutes they would have made friends and gone off... (From : Wikisource.org.)

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I am convinced that a school ought not to interfere in affairs of discipline that belong only to the family: that a school ought not to have, and does not have, the right to grant rewards and punishments; that the best police and discipline of a school is gained by entrusting the pupils with full powers to learn and to behave as they please. I am convinced of this, notwithstanding the fact that the old customs of disciplinary schools are so strong that even in the Yasnaya Polyana school we occasionally departed from this principle. During the last term, in November, there were two instances of punishments. During the drawing class, a teacher who had not been long with us noticed that a small boy was crying without heeding the teacher, and was angrily hitting his neighbors without any reason. Not realizing the possibility of soothing him with words, the teacher dragged him from his seat, and took him to his table. That was a punish... (From : Wikisource.org.)

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The other case. In the summer, while repairs were making in the building, a Leyden jar was taken from the physical laboratory, pencils several times were missing, and books also were missing at a time when no carpenter or painter was at work in the building. We questioned the boys. The best scholars, the first scholars at that time, old friends of ours, reddened and grew so confused that any magistrate would have been convinced that their confusion was proof positive of their guilt. But I knew them, and could depend on them as on myself. I comprehended that the mere thought of suspicion deeply and painfully wounded them. One lad, whom I will call Feodor, a gifted and opulent nature, turned quite white and burst into tears. They declared that they would tell if they knew, but they refused to search. After a few days the thief was detected a lad belonging to a distant village. He made an accomplice of a peasant lad who came wit... (From : Wikisource.org.)

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At two o'clock the hungry children run home. But notwithstanding their hunger, they always wait a few moments to learn what their marks are. Marks, though at the present time they give no rank, are still regarded by them with the keenest interest. "I have five, with the cross, and they have given Olgushka such a healthy cipher!" "And I have four," they cry. The child takes the marks as a gauge of his work, and discontent at marks is shown only when there is any unfairness in making the returns. Too bad if he has been trying, and the teacher, through an error, has given less than his deserts! He will give the teacher no peace, and will weep bitter tears unless he can have the record changed. Bad marks, if they have been deserved, go without protest. Marks, however, remain only as a relic of a past system, and are beginning, of their own accord, to go out of use. (From : Wikisource.org.)

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The scholars after dinner gather for the first lesson of the second session, just as they did for the morning, and wait for the teacher in the same way. As a general rule this lesson is devoted to sacred or Russian history, and all the classes take part in it. By the time this lesson begins, generally the twilight is coming on. The teacher stands or sits in the middle of the room, and the scholars gather around him as in an amphitheater; some on benches, some on chairs, some on the window-seats. All these evening lessons, and especially this first one, have an absolutely different character from those of the morning, a character of calm dreaminess and poetry. Come into the school at dusk; no lights are visible at the windows, it is almost quiet; only the snow newly tracked in on the stairs, a subdued murmur, and a slight motion behind the door, and perhaps some little lad seizing the balustrade and running up-stairs two step... (From : Wikisource.org.)

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The teacher brings his story to a close, and all arise from their places, and, gathering around the teacher, trying to outshout each other, they begin to tell all that they can remember. The noise of their voices becomes terrible. The teacher does his best to bring them to quiet. Those who are forbidden to tell what they know so perfectly, are not to be restrained in that way; they hasten to another teacher, or if one is not present, to one of their mates, or to any stranger, even to the stove-tender; they go in twos and threes, rushing from one room to another, in search of some one to hear them. Sometimes one will tell it all by himself. Others form groups of various numbers, and rehearse it, prompting, making additions, and correcting one another. "Now let me say it to you!" says one to another; but the one addressed knows that the other has not the ability, and sends him on to some one else. As soon as they have all said it, they... (From : Wikisource.org.)

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In the evening we have singing, graded reading, dialogues, physical experiments, and the writing of compositions. The most popular of these subjects are reading and the experiments. During the reading the older ones collect in a star around the great center-table, with their heads together, their legs at every angle; one reads, and the others all repeat what has been read. The younger ones have a book for each two; and, if they understand it, they read it just as we grown people do; holding the book to the light, and supporting themselves on their elbows so as to make it easier, and evidently they take great comfort in it. Some try to enjoy two comforts at once, and stand by the heated stove warming themselves and reading at the same time. Not all the scholars are allowed to see the experiments in physics, only the oldest and best scholars, selected from the second class. This class, by the character which it has acquired among us, is... (From : Wikisource.org.)

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Not long ago the first class were reading Gogol's "Vii"; the last scene had a powerful effect on them, and excited their imaginations; some of them acted the witch, and kept reminding one another of the last night. Out-of-doors it was not cold; a moonless winter's night, with clouds floating across the sky. We stopped at the cross-roads; the older scholars, who had been with me three years, stood near me, begging me to accompany them a little farther; the younger ones cast sheep's-eyes at me, and then started down the hill. The younger ones had begun their studies with a new teacher, and between me and them there was not as yet that confidence which existed between the older ones and me. "Well," said one of them, "then we will go into the zakas" The zakas, or "prohibition," was a small grove about two hundred paces from the house. More eager in his pleadings than all the rest was Fedka, a lad of te... (From : Wikisource.org.)

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Why he leaped from the terrible murder of the countess to that question, God only knows; but everything the sound of his voice, the seriousness with which he asked the question, the silent interest of the other two made it evident that there was a legitimate and vital connection between this question and the conversation that had preceded. Whether this connection lay in the fact that he responded to my explanation that the crime was rendered possible by lack of education, I had spoken to them of that, or because he verified it in himself, as he transported himself into the mind of the murderer, and remembered his favorite occupation (he had a wonderful voice, and a great talent for music), or whether the connection consisted in the fact that he felt that now was the time for perfect honesty of expression, and all the questions that demanded elucidation arose in his mind; at all events, his question did not surprise any of us. (From : Wikisource.org.)

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We returned to the village. Fedka had not once let go of my hand. It seemed to me that he held it now out of gratefulness. We were all brought so close together that night! as we had not been for a long time. Pronka walked abreast with us, along the wide village street. "See, there 's a light at the Mazanofs' yet!" said he. "As I was going to school to-day, Gavriukha was coming out of the tavern dr-u-u-unk!" he added, "blind drunk; his horse was all of a lather, and he was beating her like everything. I feel sorry even now! Indeed, I do! Why should he beat her? And lately, father," said Semka, "he drove his horse from Tula, and she ran him into a snowdrift, but he was asleep, he was so drunk!" "But Gavriukha was beating his horse right across the eyes, and I was so sorry to see him," said Pronka, for the second time. "Why did he beat her? and even when he got down he beat her!" Semka suddenly stopped. "Ou... (From : Wikisource.org.)

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I see honorable, worthy, liberal men, members of charitable societies, who are ready to give and do give a part of their substance to the poor, who have founded and are founding schools, and who on reading this will shake their heads and say: "It is not good! Why spend so much energy in developing them? Why cultivate in them sensibilities and capacities which will place them in a false and dangerous position toward their own class? Why educate them out of their sphere?" I am not speaking now of those who betray themselves by saying: "It will be a fine state of affairs when all want to be thinkers and artists, and no one will be willing to labor." These men say up and down that they don't like to work, and therefore it is necessary that there be people unfitted for any form of employment, and that they work like slaves for others. Who knows whether it is good or bad or necessary to educate them out of their sphere? An... (From : Wikisource.org.)

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The school is free, and at first the pupils came only from the village of Yasnaya Poly ana. Many of these scholars left school because their parents did not consider the teaching good; many after they had learned to read and write ceased coming, and took service at the post-station, for that was the chief industry of our village. Some came at first from the poor villages of the neighborhood, but on account of the inconvenience of getting back and forth, or the expense of meals which cost at the very least not less than two silver rubles a month, they were soon withdrawn. Well-to-do muzhiks from more distant villages were attracted by the gratuitous instruction afforded, and by the report spread abroad among the people that there was good teaching at the Y. P. school, and sent us their children; but this winter with the opening of the village schools they withdrew them again and placed them in the village schools, where a price was charg... (From : Wikisource.org.)

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The views of the people have changed since the first in regard to the school. Of their former ideas of it we shall have occasion to speak in the history of the Y. P. school; even now it is said among the people "that everything all the sciences are taught there, and the teachers are so extraordinary there why! they even make thunder and lightning! In other respects the boys learn well, and know how to read and write!" Some rich householders send their children, out of vanity, to go through the whole course, so that they may learn "division" division being for them the highest concept of scholastic wisdom. Other fathers consider that learning is very advantageous; but the majority send their children without reasoning about it, yielding merely to the spirit of the times. Of these children, who form the larger number, the most gratifying result to us is shown in the fact that these thus sent have come to be so fond of study that their fathers yiel... (From : Wikisource.org.)

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Reading constitutes a part of the instruction in language. The problem of instruction in language consists, in our opinion, in directing the pupils in the comprehension of the contents of books written in the literary language. The knowledge of the literary language is indispensable because all good books are written in it. Formerly, from the very foundation of the school, there was no division between mechanical and graded reading; the pupils read only what they could comprehend special works, words and phrases, written in chalk on the walls, then the tales of Khudyakof and Afanasief. I supposed that for children to learn to read they had to have a love for reading, but that to acquire a love for reading it was necessary that what they read should be comprehensible and interesting. This seemed so rational and clear, but this notion is fallacious. In the first place, in order to pass from the reading on the walls to... (From : Wikisource.org.)

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Thanks to the vitality in the spirit of the school, especially when its older pupils returned from their village occupations, this method of reading failed of itself, they began to grow listless, to play pranks, they cut the lessons. The main point, the reading of stories, which would go to prove the success of this mechanical method, showed that there was no success at all, that during five weeks not a step of progress had been made, many had fallen behind. The best mathematician of the first class, R, who could perform examples in square root in his head, got during this time so out of the practice of reading that he even had to spell out words. We dropped reading in books and racked our brains in trying to invent a method of mechanical reading. The simple notion that the time had not yet come for good mechanical reading, and that there was no necessity for it as yet, that the pupils themselves would find the best method, did not occur to u... (From : Wikisource.org.)

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Although, as we have said, mechanical reading and graded reading in reality blend in one, for us these two methods are always distinguishable by their purposes: it seems to us that the purpose of the former is the art of fluently forming words out of certain signs; the object of the latter is the knowledge of the literary language. A method of learning the literary language naturally presented itself to us, seemingly very simple, but in reality most difficult. It seemed to us that after the reading of phrases written on their slates by the scholars themselves, it was the proper thing to give them the stories of Khudyakof and Afanasief, then something more difficult and in a more complicated style, then something still more difficult, and so on till they should reach Karamzin, Pushkin, and the Code. But this, like the most of our suppositions and like suppositions in general, was not realized. From the language written by the scholars themse... (From : Wikisource.org.)

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Possibly the cause of this is our severance from the people, the enforced culture of the upper classes; and time only may help this trouble by giving birth, not to a chrestomathy, but a complete transition literature consisting of all the books now extant, and organically taking its place in a course of graded reading. Maybe it is a fact that the common people do not comprehend, and do not wish to comprehend, our literary language, because there is nothing in it for them to comprehend, because our whole literature does not suit them at all, and they will work out their own literature. Finally, the last supposition, which seems to us more plausible than the rest, consists in this: that the apparent fault lies not in the nature of the thing, but in our insistence on the notion that the object of teaching language is to raise pupils to the degree of knowing the literary language, and, above all, in making rapid progress in the attainment of this end. It... (From : Wikisource.org.)

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Writing was conducted in the following method: — The pupils were taught simultaneously to recognize and form the letters, to spell and write words, to understand what was written, and to write. They would take their places round the wall, marking off divisions with chalk, and one of them would dictate whatever came into his head, and the others would copy it. If there were many of them, then they divided into several groups. Then they took turns in dictating, and all read it over to one another. They printed out the letters, and at first corrected the errors of spelling and syllabification, then those of misused letters. This class formed itself. Every pupil who learns to write the letters is seized with a passion for writing, and at first the doors, the outside walls of the school and of the cottages where the pupils live, would be covered with letters and words. But they took .ven greater pleasure in writing a whole phrase, such, for inst... (From : Wikisource.org.)

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This summer we had exactly the same experience with calligraphy as we had with mechanical reading. The scholars were very poor penmen, and one of the new teachers tried to have them write from a copy always a regular and easy method for the teacher. The scholars detested this; we were compelled to abandon calligraphy, and we could not devise any way of correcting bad writing. But the oldest class themselves found a way out of it. After they had finished writing their sacred history, the older scholars wanted us to let them carry their copybooks home. The copy-books were soiled, torn, badly written. The careful mathematician, R, asked for a new book, and began to copy his exercise. This idea pleased them all. "I want a sheet of paper," and "I want a copy-book;" and calligraphy became the fashion, and has continued so in the upper class. They would take their copy-books, lay before them the written alphabet-copy, practice on each le... (From : Wikisource.org.)

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We made various experiments in teaching grammar, and must confess that no one of them succeeded in our aim of rendering this study attractive. In the summer, in the second and first classes, a new teacher made a beginning with explaining the parts of speech, and the children at least some of them at first were interested, as they would have been in charades and enigmas. Often, after the lesson was finished, they recurred to the idea of enigmas, and amused themselves in puzzling one another with such questions as, "Where is the predicate?" or "What sits in the spoon, Letting his legs hang down?" But there was no application to correct writing, or if there was any it was rather to erroneous than to correct sentences. Just exactly as it was with the wrong use of vowels when you say you pronounce a but write o, the pupil will write robota for rabota, "work," and mo Una for malina, "blackberry"; w... (From : Wikisource.org.)

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In the first and second classes the choice of compositions is granted the scholars. The favorite subject for these boys are the Old Testament stories, which they will write two months after they have been related by the teacher. The first class not long ago began to write on New Testament history, but this was not nearly so successful as the Old; they even made more mistakes in spelling in it. They did not understand it so well. In the first class we tried compositions written on given themes. The early themes, which, by the most natural process, first came into our heads, were descriptions of simple objects, such as corn, a cottage, a tree, etc.; but to our extreme amazement their labors on these subjects almost brought the tears into the pupils' eyes, and in spite of the help of the teacher, who divided the description of corn into the description of its growth, or of its manufacture, or about its use, they strenuously refused to write on... (From : Wikisource.org.)

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For lack of space we must omit the description of the teaching of language and other subjects and the extracts from the teachers' diaries; but here we will cite specimens of the compositions of two of the pupils in the first class, making no change in spelling or punctuation. B, a very poor scholar, but a lad of keen and original mind, wrote compositions about Tula, and about his studies. The one about his studies had a great success among the scholars. B - was eleven years old, and had been at school at Yasnaya Polyana three winters; but he had studied before. "About Tula" — "The other Sunday I went to Tula again. When we got there Vladimir Aleksandrovitch told me and Vaska Zhdanof to go to Sunday-school. We went and we went and we went, and at last, after a great deal of trouble, we found it. We went in and found all the scholars sitting down; and I saw our teacher in botany. And so I said, ' How do you do sir? '... (From : Wikisource.org.)

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From the very foundation of the school, and even at the present time, our exercises in sacred and Russian history are conducted in this way: The children collect around the teacher, and he, using no other guide than the Bible and Pogodin's "Norman Period" and Vodovozof's "Collection for Russian History," tells the stories, and all begin to talk at once. When the confusion of voices is too great the teacher calls a halt, and has one speak at a time. As soon as one begins to grow confused he calls on the others. When he perceives that some have failed to comprehend, he sets one of the better scholars to telling it over again for the benefit of those who don't understand. This was not a preconceived plan, but came about of itself, and, whether the pupils are five or thirty in number, is repeated, always with the same success, if the teacher watches them all, if he does not allow them to shout, repeating words which have already been said,... (From : Wikisource.org.)

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There is in the school something indefinite, something that is almost independent of the teacher's control, something entirely unrecognized by the science of pedagogy, and yet it constitutes the foundation of the success in our teaching; this is the spirit of the school. This spirit is amenable to certain laws and to the teacher's negative influence; that is to say, the teacher must avoid certain things in order not to destroy this spirit. The spirit of the school, for example, is always found in inverse proportion to the compulsion and order required; in inverse proportion to the teacher's interference with the pupil's mode of thought, and in proportion to the number of pupils; in inverse proportion to the duration of lessons, and the like. This school spirit is something which is quickly communicated from one pupil to another, communicated even to the teacher, is apparently expressed in the tones of the voice, in the eyes, in the motion... (From : Wikisource.org.)

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In our school the best test of how much the pupils remember of these recitations are the exercises which they themselves write out from memory, and merely with the correction of faults in 'spelling. Here is an extract from the copy-book of the ten-year-old M . The Story of Isaac: God commanded Abraham to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice. Abraham took two servants, Isaac carried the wood and the fire, and Abraham carried a knife. When they came to the mountain Horeb, Abraham left his servants there, and he went up on the mountain with Isaac. Isaac said, "Batyushka, we have everything, but where is the victim?" Abraham said, "God commanded me to bring you." Then Abraham set fire to the pile and put his son on it. Isaac said: "Bind me, or else I shall jump down and kill you." Abraham took him and bound him. Just . as he was raising his arm an angel flew down from heaven and held him back and said: "A... (From : Wikisource.org.)

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All that I have said relates to instruction in sacred as well as Russian history, to natural history, to geography, partly to physics, chemistry, zoology, especially to all subjects except singing, mathematics, and drawing. As to the instruction in sacred history especially, I must now speak as follows: In the first place, Why is the Old Testament chosen at the very beginning? Not to speak of the fact that a knowledge of sacred history is demanded by the pupils themselves as well as by their parents, of all the oral accounts which I have experimented with in the course of three years, nothing has been found so suited to the comprehension and mental capacity of the children as the Bible. The same thing has been repeated in all other schools which I have had a chance to observe in the beginning. I tried the New Testament, tried Russian history and geography, tried what is so popular in our day, "Explanations of the Phenomena of Nature," but it was... (From : Wikisource.org.)

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Having finished with the Old Testament I naturally thought of teaching history and geography, both because this study has always been carried on in primary schools, and I myself had taught these subjects, and because the history of the Hebrews in the Old Testament naturally, it seemed to me, led the children to ask where, when, and under what conditions the events they knew took place what was Egypt; Pharaoh; the Assyrian king, and the like? I began history as it is always begun with antiquity. But neither Momsen nor Dunker, nor all my efforts, helped me to make it interesting. There was nothing in Sesostris, the Egyptian pyramids, or the Phoenicians, that appealed to them. I hoped that they might be interested in questions such as these, for example: What peoples had relations with the Hebrews? and, Where did the Hebrews live and wander? But the pupils found no use whatever for such information. King Pharaoh, the Egyptians, the Palestines, when... (From : Wikisource.org.)

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I had the intention in this first lesson of explaining wherein Russia differs from other countries, her borders, the characteristic feature of its government; to tell who was the reigning monarch at this time, and how and when the Emperor mounted the throne. TEACHER. Where do we live? in what land? A PUPIL. At Yasnaya Polyana. SECOND PUPIL. In the country. TEACHER. No; in what land are both Yasnaya Polyana and the Government of Tula? PUPIL. The Government of Tula is seventeen versts from us. Where is it? Why the Government is the government. TEACHER. No; Tula is a government capital, but a government is another thing. Now what land is it? PUPIL (who had been in the geography class). The land is round like a ball. By means of such questions as "What is the land where a German, whom they knew, lived," and "Where would you come to if you should keep going in one direction,"... (From : Wikisource.org.)

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I made still other experiments in teaching the history of our own time, and these experiments were thoroughly successful. I told the story of the Crimean campaign; I described the reign of the Emperor Nicholas, and I related the story of the year 1812. All this was in an almost narrative tone, for the larger part, with no attempt at historical accuracy, but grouping the events around some single individual. I obtained the greatest success, as I might have expected, from my story of the war with Napoleon. This lesson made a memorable hour in our lives. I shall never forget it. For some time the children had been promised that I should tell them from the ending, and the other teacher from the beginning, and that thus we should meet. My evening scholars were beginning to disperse; I went to the class of Russian history; the account of Sevastopol was in progress: they were bored. On the high bench three peasant girls wrapped up in shawls were... (From : Wikisource.org.)

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In the teaching of geography I did the same thing. First of all, I began with physical geography. I remember the first lesson. I began it, and immediately lost my way. The result obtained was what I did not at all anticipate; namely, that I did not know what I wanted ten-year-old peasant children to learn. I was able to explain "day" and "night," but in my explanation of "winter" and "summer" I went astray. Ashamed of my ignorance, I tried it again, and then I asked many of my acquaintances, cultivated men, and no one except those that had recently left school, or teachers, was able to give me a very good explanation without a globe. I beg all who read this to test this observation. I affirm that out of a hundred men not more than one knows this, though all children are taught it. Having rehearsed pretty carefully, I once more took up the explanation, and with the aid of a candle and a globe, I explained it, as it seemed to me, admirably. The... (From : Wikisource.org.)

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In the sketch of the Yasnaya Polyana School during the months of November and December, I have now to speak of two subjects which have an entirely distinct character from all the others: these are drawing and singing the arts. If I had not my own views, based on the fact that I don't know why any one should study either, I should be obliged to ask myself: Is the study of art profitable for peasant children, put under the necessity of working all their lives long just for their daily bread, and what is the good of it? Ninety-nine out of a hundred would answer this question in the negative. And it is impossible to answer otherwise. As soon as this question is put, sound common sense demands such an answer: he is not to be aft artist; he will have to plow. If he has artistic demands, he will not have the power to endure the steady unwearying labor which he must endure; which, if he does not endure, the very existence of the empire would be... (From : Wikisource.org.)

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When, nine months ago, I entered upon the teaching of drawing, I had as yet no definite plan, either for laying out the course of instruction or for guiding the pupils. I had neither designs nor models, save for a few albums of illustrations, which, however, I did not make use of at the time of my most advanced lessons, confining myself to simple auxiliary means, such as can always be found in every country school. A painted wooden board, chalk, slates, and rectangular boards of various sizes, and sticks, which we had used in the visual teaching of mathematics these were all the material we had for our instruction, and yet we were not hindered from copying everything that came under our hands. Not one of the pupils had ever before had any lessons in drawing; they brought to me only their faculty of judgment, which they were given perfect liberty to express when and as they pleased, and which I wanted as a guide to teach me their requirements so that... (From : Wikisource.org.)

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Last summer we were coming home from bathing. All of us were feeling very gay. A peasant lad, the very one who had been enticed by the domestic peasant lad into stealing books, a wide-cheeked, thick-set lad, all covered with freckles, with crooked, knock-kneed legs, with all the ways of a grown-up muzhik of the steppe, but a clever, strong, and gifted nature, ran ahead and sat in the wagon, which was proceeding in front of us. He picked up the reins, cocked his hat, spat to one side, and burst out into a dragging muzhik song oh, how he sang! with feeling, with repose, with the full power of his lungs! The children laughed: - "Semka, Semka lo! how cleverly he sings!" Semka was perfectly serious. "There, now, don't you interrupt my song!" said he, in a pause, using a peculiar and purposely hoarse voice, and then he went on with his song sedately. Two very musical lads took their places in the cart and began to take the... (From : Wikisource.org.)

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Dvorovaya dyevka, the daughter of a serf attached to the bar sky dvor, or mansion-house. Alekse'i Vasiiyevitch Koltsof (1809-1842), a distinguished poet, by some called the Burns of Russia. The ponomar, or paramonar, a word derived from modern Greek, airl signifying doorkeeper, sacristan. One of the domestic servants, formerly serfs, like the little girl mentioned. Dvorovui, or domestic servant. Dvornik, generally one who serves in a dvor; also house-porter. Here, one who occupies a dvor, including house and land. Little Olga. The fantastic story of a beautiful and wealthy maiden who is in reality a witch, and causes the destruction of the groom who falls in love with her. Diminutive of Feodor, Theodore; as Semka is of Semyon. Fifty sazhen. Contemptuous diminutive of Gavriil, Gabriel. Batya, shortened form of ba... (From : Wikisource.org.)


October, 1862 :
Yasnaya Polyana School -- Publication.

July 28, 2021 ; 4:49:34 PM (America/Los_Angeles) :
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July 28, 2021 ; 4:49:42 PM (America/Los_Angeles) :
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