Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Who was Sukhomlinsky and why is he worth studying?

Vasily Sukhomlinsky (1918-1970) was a school teacher and principal who became an inspirational figure for millions of educators in the Soviet Union and beyond. Through my study of the Russian language I came in contact with Sukhomlinsky's writings, and could not help admiring his idealism, intellect, and amazing commitment to the children he taught. I spent several years studying his work (1987-1994), writing a Ph.D. thesis about him, which was published in book form in 1999 by Peter Lang (New York), under the title "Each One Must Shine". I am convinced that Sukhomlinsky's educational ideas and practice have a significance that transcends the time and place in which he worked.

What is special about Sukhomlinsky is the way he worked to facilitate the development of every aspect of each student, placing great importance on their health and their emotional, aesthetic and moral development, as well as on intellectual and vocational development. His school was visited by thousands of teachers, who left inspired by what they had seen. His books were read by millions. Because of linguistic, cultural and political barriers, Sukhomlinsky's work is almost unknown in the West. In a small way I am trying to remedy this situation, by making available information about Sukhomlinsky over the internet. If you find this blog of interest, you may also like to visit my website at http://www.sukhomlinsky.net/.

Now, more than 20 years since I first encountered his writing, I am planning a visit to the Ukraine, where Sukhomlinsky worked, to visit his former school in Pavlysh. I will also be visiting two archives dedicated to the preservation of his education legacy, one in Pavlysh, and one in Kiev. My visit is being facilitated by Sukhomlinksy's daughter, Olga Sukhomlins'ka, who is a professor at the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences in the Ukraine.

During my visit I hope to scan photographs taken during Sukhomlinsky's lifetime, and to take fresh photos of the environment in which he worked. I also hope to come away with a picture of the range of resources (including unpublished manuscripts) which are stored in the archives. I may have the opportunity to meet with former students of Sukhomlinsky's school, and hope to talk with educators in the region, to gauge Sukhomlinsky's continuing influence there.

In this blog I will share my reflections on Sukhomlinsky's educational approach, and also report on my trip to the Ukraine. I hope to post a photographic record of my visit as well. If you have an interest in holistic approaches to education, I hope you will come along for the ride.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, I just tried get to http://www.sukhomlinsky.net/. but it shows me a message "Reported Attack Site!". I wanted to bring this to your attention so that you can do the needful.
    Also, I have read a book by Sukhomlinsky and have been inspired to follow his methods in an organization that we run in Chennai, India. (Pudiyador.org). I was interested in getting more of his books and was looking around when I came across this blog.
    Congratulations on your journey to the places where he lived and did his truly awesome work.