Conformity falls out of favour;International News;News amp; Opinion

12th November 1999 at 00:00

THE woman in charge of the secondary school curriculum is calling for a greater emphasis on emotional, creative and social development.

Speaking on a visit to British schools to look at technology teaching, Margarita Leontieva, head of general secondary education, said that Russia is having to face great changes in schooling, particularly in the arts and humanities.

In 1990, there was a compulsory national curriculum for the whole country with the same subject textbooks used in every school. Now teachers are being encouraged to use a range of teaching materials and different teaching styles to enhance "development of the whole child".

The real problems, she said, had been in overcoming conservatism in the profession and in creating teaching resources.

"Teachers were used to being told what to do and they have found choice very difficult," she said.

Before reforms in 1992, the aims of education and labour training were to develop ideal Soviet citizens with the correct attitudes to the party, work and society.

Technology, for example, was and remains the old skills-based woodwork and metalwork for boys, sewing and cooking for girls.

In the field of maths and sciences, Dr Leontieva is satisfied that Russian teaching is of the highest quality but, in the arts and humanities, she intends to encourage greater emotional, creative and social development in children.

Dr Leontieva spent a gruelling five days at the end of last week looking at a range of projects in primary and secondary classrooms as well as meeting a number of experts. The visit was supported by the British Council.

"We want to take the best of what you have in Britain and to learn by your mistakes," she said.

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