In connection with the beginning of new academic year in the Russian Orthodox Church spoke about the main problems and innovations associated with the study in schools of bases of religious cultures and the appearance in the Russian new University scientific specialty “theology. With the head of the sector of foundations of Orthodox culture Synodal Department for religious education and catechism of deacon Herman Demidov interviewed by RIA Novosti correspondent Sergey Stefanov.
The father, Herman, what are the problems associated with teaching the subject “fundamentals of Orthodox culture” (OPK) in schools?
— The problems are many. But there is one key, the solution of which depends the welfare of the whole complex of issues related to the study of traditional religious cultures in school. It is about ensuring the teaching of Orthodox culture in different years and levels of General education.
We are absolutely convinced: not yet provided an opportunity for full study in the school of religious cultures by choice, including Orthodox culture, will remain a blatant ignorance in matters not only of faith, but of our culture, most of our fellow citizens. It will be the same to grapple with the issue of teacher training and textbooks, as no one University or one school or one group of authors not willing to develop the theme (albeit the most relevant and useful), limited to only 34 teaching hours in the fourth grade.
So let me emphasize: our position is not due to lobbying intentions, but understanding of the prospects and the seriousness of the problems facing the modern domestic education. One problem is that school is not the manufacturer of the range of educational services,” a vital social institution, facilitate the transfer of the spiritual culture of the people of the new generations.
– Earlier, in particular, in the Russian Orthodox Church drew attention to the fact that in some regions there are cases of forcing students and their parents to choose to study the basics of secular ethics. As is the case today; if this continues, then in what regions it occurs most often?
The percentage of choice of subject, be it OPK or the basics of secular ethics, has priority in the context of promoting religious education for their children, but… In those regions, the schools where the parents for one reason or another are denied the right to be legal representatives of their children in the educational process, and I should say, violated the most important principles of religious and civil life: someone robs people of the gift of divine freedom, and from the point of view of the rule of law, violated the civil rights of people. In this case, no, even the right words, can not cover the original improper installation on the imposition of the people to the will of others, violence in matters of ideology.
Unfortunately, still there are regions where, along with OPK in fact, not the study and other faith-based modules under the pretext that their study can divide children, lead to conflicts on national and religious grounds, — false, false, absolutely unfounded pretext.
Most sharply the question of the provision of the free choice of the defense industry continues to stand in Tatarstan, challenges remain in Bashkiria, in some regions or their parts, in some areas, in separate schools. Most administrative obstacle covers the study of all religious cultures, especially the Orthodox and Islamic. Our position on this issue remains unchanged: the right of parents is sacred and their opinion in terms of a child’s upbringing has a priority. To encroach on it can’t no state, no power. And Russian law must be respected, because this right is already enshrined in us Federal law on education, article 87.
– Is there any data on what percentage of pupils fourth grade class chooses to study the subject of “OPK” how many students have been covered in Russia?
Module chosen in advance — in the third grade. And not students, and their parents, it is essential. A younger student may not knowingly make a philosophical choice, and under the same Federal law, this right belongs to the parents having a priority in the education of their children before all other persons. So it is with us and in most other States: that their children receive religious education at school or waived the right parents.
The percentage of choice of the defence industry is gradually increasing from year to year. This positive trend is provided by the increasing number of trained teachers, but also to overcome those administrative barriers and atheistic stereotypes, which, as it turned out, the most tenacious in the education system. If you look at the overall statistics, the country has more than a third of parents choose for their children OPK, there are already dozens of regions where these families more than half. In General, in Central and southern Federal districts it is the majority of parents of third graders.
In the coming academic year will there be any innovations related to the teaching OPK in the schools?
— Fundamental innovations not. While we did not solve the problem guaranteed for study of Orthodox culture on the choice for all years of teaching children in school. I will emphasize this: by choice, on a voluntary basis, which in itself ought long ago to close all discussions and negative performances.
In this respect, we count on the positive decision of the Ministry of education on introducing in the Federal register of educational programs, division of programs for certain courses, our program for the Orthodox culture. This will expand the opportunities for study of Orthodox culture in different years of study, but will Orient academic publishers and copyright collectives to pay more attention to the development and production of educational AIDS on Orthodox culture at different years of schooling.
Our main efforts will be directed to different objects according to Orthodox and other religious cultures have become an integral part of the educational program of the Russian school. I would say, organic part of her at all levels of General education. Despite completely unfounded, provocative hype raised recently concerning the mentioned programs (three programs at three levels of secondary school), today, this has all the prerequisites and grounds.
– In General, how would you rate the level of education, knowledge of the current Russian students, if to compare with previous years, as well as the quality of teaching of the course ORKSE?
— As you know, the Orthodox culture in schools — it is a whole educational world, multi-level, multi-faceted and versatile. Everyone finds exactly what he wants to find. This layering is expressed in various forms: teaching the basics of Orthodox culture in the classroom, the study of spiritual lore and other aspects of Orthodox culture in extracurricular activities, participation in the subject Olympiad of the defense industry, in various competitions and projects in the field of spiritual and moral education. In particular: “For the moral feat of the teacher” for teachers, “the Beauty of God’s world” for children, and so on. They are all in their own way contribute to the development of knowledge about Orthodoxy, revival of national pedagogical traditions, family piety.
It is important that those teachers who have ever come in contact with the Orthodox culture as with the learning object, almost no one spoke about their frustration or wasted time. The knowledge of Orthodox culture is a fascinating process and for teachers and students in which the development of learning, in my opinion, is just a reflection of a deep personal transformation.
But I would like to say, to answer your question specifically, that for really high quality of professional training teachers need faculties, universities, special programs of training specialists in the field of teaching religious culture. And, of course, sufficient training time learning subject, like any other school. In General, of course, the quality of teachers increases, respectively, and results of education at UIC and other subjects ORKSE. But in those settings that are set while in fact the experimental format of the study of religious cultures in school — only 34 hours in just one class.
– Can be expanded in the course “Fundamentals of religious cultures and secular ethics” into other years of study? What are you expecting changes in the coming years? Maybe referring to the arrival of the new Minister of education Olga Vasilyeva.
— A comprehensive training course ORKSE in the fourth grade — a replica of the experiment on introduction in 21 regions of Russia the teaching of four religious cultures and secular ethics and religious studies (foundations of world religious cultures) in 2009-2011. Which, of course, had to be modified and expanded, but remained still, for five years, remains in its embryonic form in effect a rigid opposition from opponents of the study of Orthodox culture in school, I would say, supporters of the atheistic worldview of the monopoly.
Practice of studying of religious cultures and civil ethics in the choice can and should be extended. Back in 2011, after successful completion of the experiment it was decided to study the issue of teaching at all levels of the school. Prepared a concept, the first stage envisaging the gradual expansion of teaching in classes 2-10, but it is still not implemented. And the reasons are mainly not in education, not in pedagogy. It is a question of the way in which will further the development of our society, I hope, to the revival of the sovereign Russian state, a free country developing on its own, a solid historical and cultural base.
The changes you mentioned, we attribute primarily not with individuals, officials, and the General movement in our society to the revival, restoration of a healthy national life. This process goes on in our nation, and it is objectively required to solve the problem. And our efforts we will guide to the teaching of Orthodox culture was organized with a view to modern methodological developments, it was professionally secured and, most importantly, it would be interesting and fun for children and parents, no matter what age they may have started religious education, spiritual and moral education.
– Not so long ago appeared in Russia a new subject area — “Bases spiritually-moral culture of the peoples of Russia”. What work is being done to your the Synodal Department on this issue? Whether we are talking about introduction of additional, optional courses for students in grades 5-9 on the basics of Orthodox culture within the subject area?
In the Federal state educational standard for basic level of General education really is the subject area “Bases spiritually-moral culture of the peoples of Russia”. This is the subject area of religious cultures and secular ethics, which was originally planned to be introduced in grades 4 and 5. However, currently the standard for this subject area are not spelled out its contents, given the list of its constituent subjects of choice. We believe that such changes should be introduced in the standard to specify that scope “Bases spiritually-moral culture of the peoples of Russia” make up the curriculum for the four traditional Russian religious cultures and the subject of secular civil ethics — all at the choice of the family of the student, list them.
The Ministry of education in its methodological letter is only indicated that this subject area of spiritual and moral culture of the peoples of Russia in grades 5-9 is a “logical continuation” ORKSE. This explanation at least focuses the school to introduce the teaching of courses of religious culture of their choice. While it is the choice of schools that teach within this subject area. It is very important to reinforce that understanding logical connections ORKSE with this subject area in grades 5-9.
The correct orientation of the schools, teachers and curriculum development team should contribute to the inclusion in the Federal register mentioned above indicative work programs for the Orthodox culture. These programs I am sure will be prepared for other religious cultures and secular ethics.
In October 2015, the Presidium of the Higher attestation Commission under the Ministry of education has approved the passport of scientific specialty “theology. From this point on it’s been almost a year. What changes during this time occurred in the Russian high schools, how popular a new profession, what challenges facing here? Is there any opposition to the introduction of theology in secular universities?
— This topic is not really related to the responsibility of the Synodal Department. But if you briefly comment on your question, I would say that theology or theology — an invariable part of any European University education. This year, finally, created the Council for defending theses in theology. Strangely, if we still have to talk about some countering such education or theological research, theological studies as part of humanitarian knowledge in Russia. I think all of this is from ignorance of opponents and theology, and Orthodox culture in secondary school, especially that of University theology is actually higher, professional level education in Orthodox culture.
I would say that the level of higher theological education — the quintessence of religious education, one of the most important spiritual dimensions of society. His state recognition is a sure sign of a correct movement of the Russian school to restore its historical and cultural grounds, as mentioned above. The study of theology in high school, obviously not going to be mass specialty such experts do not need many thousands, but it is a necessary component of Russian higher education.