FORUM FOR ANTHROPOLOGY AND CULTUREANTROPOLOGICHESKIJ FORUM
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Antropologicheskij forum, 2020, no. 45
National Research University Higher School of Economics
Abstract: In Soviet Russia, the 1920s are known as a period of an unprecedented growth of the autonomy of children in various aspects of social life. One example is the decision of the Narkompros to introduce student self-government in the UnifiedLaborSchool in 1918. When raised to a national scale, the initial radical idea rapidly degraded over the following decade into a much more moderate pedagogical position that was implemented in a set of unimpressive everyday practices, predominantly meetings and duty rosters. By analyzing published and archival sources that contain evidence and opinions presented by pedagogues, teachers and students, this article traces the evolution of the idea and practices of student self-government in early Soviet Russia. The analysis of arguments in favour of expanding or limiting the agency of children in the context of self-government shows that teachers perceived the introduction of the self-government as an attack on their authority; a broad consensus existed among teachers on the necessity to control children’s agency, primarily in terms of their decision-making. A contradiction between the declared independence of children and the requisite teacher’s control was resolved by an appeal to pedagogical mastery that made it possible to render invisible the teacher’s manipulative behaviors.
Keywords: children’s agency, student self-government, Soviet Russia.
To cite: Maslinsky K., ‘Prizrak pedokratii v teatre marionetok: o shkolnom samoupravlenii i granitsakh detskoy agentnosti v pervye gody sovetskoy vlasti’ [The Ghost of Pedocracy in the Puppet Theater: On School Self-government and the Subjectivity of Children in the First Decades of Soviet Power], Antropologicheskij forum, 2020, no. 45, pp. 50–74.
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