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

Gehring, Thom; Bowers, Fredalene B.; Wright, Randall
December 2005
Journal of Correctional Education;Dec2005, Vol. 56 Issue 4, p327
Academic Journal
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.


Related Articles

  • Hero of Soviet Correctional Education--Ever Heard of this Man?  // Journal of Correctional Education;Mar2003, Vol. 54 Issue 1, p13 

    The article profiles Anton Makarenko, the father of the Soviet Union correctional education. Makarenko had been a teacher in tsarist Russia. After the Bolshevik Revolution he worked with homeless, those orphaned by wars, revolution and famine. A decade later, they were the victims of Stalin's...

  • Unconventional Resources for Literacy: Rifles and Dynamite.  // Journal of Correctional Education;Jun2001, Vol. 52 Issue 2, p51 

    Reports on how Anton Makarenko, manager of juvenile facilities at Ukraine, armed prisoners with rifles to bring down illegal stills and gambling rings. Provision of dynamites for dramatic presentations by inmates; His book named "The Road to Life: An Epic in Education" on correctional education.

  • Dynamic Security. Avakian, Sarkis // Journal of Correctional Education;Mar2000, Vol. 51 Issue 1, p183 

    Since the early 70s there has been a recalibration in the role of vocational and academic instruction in prison. The "Get Tough on Crime Campaign" issued an era of skepticism in assimilating inmates into the community while the "War on Drugs" expanded the prison system four-fold in the United...

  • Unconventional Resources for Literacy: Espionage Agents.  // Journal of Correctional Education;Jun2001, Vol. 52 Issue 2, p56 

    Reports on how volunteers from the Russian secret police organization KGB helped to build the correctional institutions managed by Anton Makarenko. Stalin's support for Makarenko; Makarenko's contribution to correctional education through his book "The Road to Life: An Epic in Education".

  • WANTED/NEEDED: Leadership Preparation for Leaders of Correctional Education and Alternative Schools. Price, Ted; Martin, Rick; Robertson, Lynne // Journal of Correctional Education;Dec2010, Vol. 61 Issue 4, p299 

    There is a great deal of research detailing the WHAT of effective school leadership - what school leaders in traditional schools need to know and do to lead in those schools. There is little research, however, on what leaders of alternative education programs need to know and do. Also, in...

  • Recidivism as a Measure of Correctional Education Program Success. Gehring, Thom // Journal of Correctional Education;Jun2000, Vol. 51 Issue 2, p197 

    This article is about a controversial issue, "Should recidivism data be used as a measure of correctional education program success?". It has six parts : (a) recidivism and common sense, (b) the research perspective, (c) an example from one jurisdiction, (d) recidivism as a moral issue, (e)...

  • A Study of Inmates' Perceptions of an Effective Reading Program. Honeycutt, Ronald L. // Journal of Correctional Education;Mar1995, Vol. 46 Issue 1, p6 

    The purpose of this study was to investigate the incarcerated adult's perception of an effective reading class. Eighteen men participated in the study which used a survey instrument, interviews, the teacher's/researcher's notes, and group discussions to identify variables they perceived as...

  • Exploration and development of classical pedagogical heritage: on the problem of terminology (on the basis of A. S. Makarenko's oeuvre). Ilaltdinova, Yelena // Vestnik IKBFU;2011, Issue 11, p7 

    This article identifies the specific features of processes of exploration and development of classical pedagogical heritage on the basis of history of development of A. S. Makarenko's heritage as a social pedagogue-reformer in the context of description of social pedagogical initiative and...

  • HISTORICAL VIGNETTE.  // Journal of Correctional Education;Mar2000, Vol. 51 Issue 1, p167 

    Reports on gravestones as an educational motivator in the book "Alexander Machonochie of Norfolk Island: A study of a pioneer in penal reform," by J Barry in the year 1958. Reform programs to educate the convicts; Reforms include new band, garden for the inmate and other rewards; Removal of...


Read the Article


Sorry, but this item is not currently available from your library.

Try another library?
Sign out of this library

Other Topics