TITLE

Anton Makarenko: The "John Dewey of the U.S.S.R."

AUTHOR(S)
Gehring, Thom; Bowers, Fredalene B.; Wright, Randall
PUB. DATE
December 2005
SOURCE
Journal of Correctional Education;Dec2005, Vol. 56 Issue 4, p327
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
There are a few correctional educators whose work is historically so influential that it is difficult to summarize in an article. Anton Makarenko was among this very select group; this is merely an attempt to outline his work. One way to introduce Makarenko to correctional educators is to focus on some of the seemingly incongruous elements of his context and contributions: 1. He rose to prominence during one of the most brutal and bloody modern revolutions, that of the Bolsheviks. 2. His independent work caring for war orphans was later supported by the leadership of the most violent institution of that revolution, the Cheka or secret police, including Cheka chief Feliks Dzerzhinsky ("the Butcher"). 3. In early adult life Makarenko was a Bohemian man about town, immersed in romantic poetry, personal excess, and adulterous affairs; he frequented avantgarde, bourgeois, artistic settings that were anathema to the leaders of Russia's austere, regimented Revolution. Yet Makarenko transformed himself into a disciplined, effective, revolutionary. 4. An educator by profession, Makarenko was utterly rejected by the revolutionary education community he represented because he advocated a new approach to teaching and learning, more consistent with that community's own ideals. Although he fought against John Dewey's approaches to education, Makarenko enjoyed Dewey's support and endorsement. 5. Makarenko's approach became the official line that Stalin endorsed in education; the KGB directed resources to Makarenko's operations. Stated alternatively, Stalin, Dzerzhinsky, and the Soviet espionage apparatus became advocates of Makarenko's correctional education initiatives. Therefore, correctional education goals and strategies became the models for local schooling throughout the USSR. 6. Under the tutelage of the great author Maxim Gorky, Makarenko wrote a series of extremely readable, profound, and popular books on the aspirations and activities of correctional education - books that have been recognized as great literature by successive generations of devoted readers. 7 In the process, Makarenko experimented with democracy in which inmates managed almost every aspect of institutions; he armed the prisoners; his prisons became exemplary centers of leadership training, preparing inmates for influential Communist Party roles; the worst punishment was often that an inmate would be released. 8. One result of all this was that Makarenko became pivotal in determining the Bolshevik orientation toward education and toward the nuclear family. These were remarkable accomplishments, and there were many more, His work clearly stimulates thought about our hopes for improving North American correctional education, Consistent with this theme, the following pages represent our attempt to present what we consider the most salient dimensions of Makarenko's life work.
ACCESSION #
19725089

 

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