INSIDE SOVIET SCHOOLS by Susan Jacoby

INSIDE SOVIET SCHOOLS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Ironically, as the story was put in the Western press following Sputnik, the Russians themselves fell for the myth of their superior schools, with the result that reforms, long overdue, are only now being conceived and implemented. The author (Moscow Conversations, 1972), a former education reporter for the Washington Post, attempted to cover what's happening in the Red classroom during the years '69-'71 and has produced the most comprehensive, balanced and interesting assessment since Urie Bronfenbrenner's Two Worlds of Childhood (1970). What has begun to spur change there is official recognition that even in the classless society some children are more equal than others. The most far-reaching and controversial reforms are in the curriculum with a new emphasis on inductive reasoning and creativity rather than rote learning -- and what effect that will ultimately have on a political society is being closely monitored. Until now of course the educational system stressed group identification, muted individualism and respect for authority, all of which has produced citizens with an extraordinary degree of outward conformity and a deep inner alienation. Undoubtedly what's being asked at the Kremlin these days is, is one possible without the other?

Pub Date: Sept. 21st, 1974
Publisher: Hill & Wang/Farrar, Straus & Giroux