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For the Love of Children.

This article is about a school that is unique in today's Russia. The school offers a combination of a compulsory education with an enhanced training in arts, arts-and-crafts, and architecture.

Before Perestrojka, only one hour per week was designated for art instruction in Russian schools. This schedule was determined by the State Educational Plan, which was a sort of a law in Russia. After Perestrojka, the situation became different. The State Educational Plan lost its rigidity, and experiments in the system of school education were appreciated. This gave rise to the creation of a lot of so-called "special schools," specializing in advanced training for certain subjects.

We decided to reorganize our school in order to create a special school, combining a compulsory education with an advanced training in arts, arts-and-crafts, and architecture. It appeared to be the only school in Russia with this kind of specialization, and it is located in Rostov-on-Don, a town in the south of Russia.

One of the advantages of Rostov that influenced our decision is the fact that among Rostov's universities there are two that provide a specialization in arts, the Teachers-Training and the Architectural Universities. They are interested in the work of our school and help us.

We had several aims in transforming our school. We decided, in this difficult time, to help our graduates by giving them a professional knowledge in addition to the usual compulsory education. That is what we call our social security program.

Another aim was to try to prevent our pupils from being involved in any kind of criminal activity. According to police information, before the specialization of our school, its pupils participated on average in five to six criminal incidents per year. After specialization, criminal participation decreased, and during the last six years, no criminal incidents with participation of our pupils have been reported.

In order to reorganize the school, we invited young teachers with a higher education in arts. We created a school plan to include compulsory subjects and aesthetic subjects. Children from the first to seventh form get general aesthetic education. They learn how to distinguish the whole gamut of colors, how to mix them on the palette, how to paint in proper tints, and how to use expressive color combinations. They work with paper, plasticine, and natural materials.

For the eighth to eleventh form, we have two types of classes. One of them provides specialized training in arts, the other does not. We choose those pupils who reveal their interests and abilities for arts or arts-and-crafts activity for the special arts classes. In the arts classes, a set of new subjects appears, such as painting, drawing, drafting, basics of architecture, World Art Culture, fabrics, tapestry-making, basics of ceramics, jeweler's art, and others. Here pupils acquire primary skills in the above subjects and become aware of their abilities for creative work. Those pupils who were not accepted to the arts classes or did not choose them, continue their education in the compulsory secondary classes.

The pupils ing the tenth and eleventh forms specialize in one of the above-mentioned subjects. Before leaving the school, they pass all examinations for compulsory secondary education. In addition, they create a diploma project. The diploma project represents a production in each student's area of specialization. Students defend their diploma project and do reports on the methods of their realization in a solemn ceremony in the presence of their classmates and judges from the university. These strict judges estimate each student's diploma work and give a mark, which is included in the certificate of secondary education.

The teachers always look for new effective forms of teaching to develop and improve the children's skills and abilities. In the first through fifth forms, the teachers usually use game and group work. We have a continuous exhibition of the pupils works. This exhibition is an important pedagogical tool. It stimulates a spirit of competition and develops understanding of their work with respect to that of their schoolmates.

The results of an informal questionnaire that has been distributed several times in the eleventh forms shows that all school graduates intend to relate their future career with arts or arts-and-crafts professional activity. This shows the efficiency of art education for children and the right choice of the school staff.

We have some results that are not visible at first glance. Art classes have favorable influence upon the character, behavior, and state of mind of pupils. Students show diligence, tolerance, and the skill of observation of the beauty of nature. They reveal in pictures the state of their souls. They put off stresses that are inevitable in the modern Russian life. Art activity and classes of world culture educate children emotionally and cultivate a sensitivity for aesthetics in everyday life. The effect of arts is not exhausted in the emotional sphere. We often see that pupils in the arts classes better understand such subjects as mathematics, physics, and chemistry.

Teachers look for novel ways of integrating the compulsory subjects with art-and-crafts lessons. Children make illustrations for the books that they study during the lessons of literature, and make drawings illustrating discussions that take place during lessons of biology. We organize combined lessons. We give lessons on the chemistry of ceramics and combine some lessons of physics with jewelry, or biology with studies of painting animal life.

That is the work of our school. The creative activity of the teachers is full of love for the children.

Svetlana L. Levina is the vice director of school #35 in Rostov-on-Don, Russia.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:special arts school in Russia
Author:Levina, Svetlana L.
Publication:School Arts
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:4EXRU
Date:Feb 1, 2001
Previous Article:Verso.

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