WOMEN’S ROLE IN EDUCATION
Marina Yegorova is a Candidate of Pedagogical Sciences, dean of Photography College of IGUMO. Read an interview with her in order to know how to encourage children to read classical literature and how young people express themselves in new environment.
– You defended your thesis at the age of 55. What inspired you to do that so late?
– I worked at the gymnasium as a teacher. Once one of my favorite school students called me and said that a college needed a teacher. I agreed. I combined working at school and college for two years. Then it came time for me to choose. In addition to working at college, I was offered to deliver lectures at the institute. I understood I needed to improve my knowledge and teaching methodology skills.
– Were you afraid of becoming a student once again?
– No, I wasn’t. In fact, I have always loved studying. Writing the thesis is not that scary, it is very fascinating. Lectures, communication with post-graduate students and thesis adviser, and the process of writing itself are very interesting. The Russian language is a goldmine of information. However, I faced some challenges when observing the formalities like pre-defending the thesis, writing an abstract of a thesis, and during thesis defense.
– What topic did you examine?
– My topic was ‘Analysis of the implementation of polysemy in the literary text as a means of improving the students' speech culture’. Polysemy is the coexistence of many possible meanings for a word or phrase. In fact, 80% of the words in Russian are polysemantic. I provided my students with creative exercises. For example, writing a text with a certain polysemantic words. The task was to use this word in all meanings possible.
– Some people think that teachers do not have to entertain their students and his or her task is just to educate them. The opposite opinion is that now entertaining games are a good method for teachers to interest their students. Which opinion do you share?
– One should combine these two methods of teaching. Entertaining form of studies without anything else is not enough. When working in school I discussed the amount of homework with other teachers. One day I attended all classes with my schoolchildren. I just wanted to have a picture of how much they learn per day. Despite the fact of being adult, I was very tired after that. I was exhausted! Each lecturer had his or her own manner of teaching. And children have to get adjusted to each subject and teacher. In my opinion, for them it is backbreaking work. On the other hand, studying is not the way of entertainment. This must be an exciting experience. However, this is still preparation for work. Schoolchildren must get used to it, otherwise studying at school is pointless.
– As I know, you still have some games for your students.
– Yes, I do. I play with students to encourage their reading classical literature. Some students think they know the plot of a book after reading its summary. I invented some creative games to fix this. For example, when we studied Ivan Turgenev and his ‘Fathers and Sons’, I asked my students to draw a character from this book on a piece of paper on the basis of the first two sentences. As we know, the character was “a chubby young fellow with whitish down growing on his chin and with dim little eyes”. My students carefully considered each word in the description and tried to understand how the author had imagined his character. It inspired their drawings, each unique, with many interesting details. And when studying Ivan Goncharov’s ‘Oblomov’, we played another game. The task was to act out an episode from the book while somebody was reading it aloud. Even backbenchers of the class willingly joined the game and performed episodes very nice. This game was very entertaining.
– It's always difficult to work with children. Some even say that this profession endangers the health. Aren’t you afraid of emotional burnout?
– Sometimes I get very tired, but I don’t experience emotional burnout. Without emotions you can’t work. Children feel it. When I first started teaching, it was always interesting for me to communicate with children on an equal footing. Once I noticed they were unintentionally imitating me. I explained something and suddenly they goggled at me. Then I understood that it was me who goggled at them, and they were just repeating everything after me due to being very involved into the lecture.
– You’ve just said a very important thing about being on an equal footing with children you teach. This was also mentioned by participants of ‘Future-Oriented Russia’ essays contest in their works. Children do not need robots teaching them. They need a teacher who is a friend guiding them.
– I'm very sad when children write that they hate school. I’m afraid it's a trend of the time. However, it is not a surprise when everybody around speak about the ‘education market’. Headmasters of schools are called managers. And I find it awful. We mustn’t speak so, because children are not goods to be sold.
– What would you advise to young teachers?
– Not to be indifferent. This is the main thing. Even when you are angry at your students they understand you worry about them. This profession is certainly not for showing off and demonstrating that you are smarter than others. If you don’t feel with your heart that you want to work with children, you will never become a good teacher. Being a teacher is only possible with love in your heart. Otherwise, it will be painful experience for you and your students.
Today people often confuse decency and being educated. Educated person is not always a decent one. According to Dmitry Likhachov, Soviet and Russian philologist, decent people are those non-indifferent to what happens around. Alexander Blok, Russian lyrical poet, was a decent person, he had always felt guilty before the disadvantaged, although he was not directly involved in the lives of those people. The modern society experiences lack of decency and intellectuality. They must be developed in children at schools.
– What is the difference between schoolchildren and college students?
– College students are different from schoolchildren and university students. They are in the intermediate position. They are more mature than school students but are not mature enough to become university students. Nevertheless, in college they grow up mentally and physically and study not for good marks but to be well-educated.
– In your college, students actively get involved in photography. How do you find their works?
– I always repeat the same phrase: "I would study there if I had a chance." Their works are so deep. I didn’t expect photography to turn out art, science, and inexhaustible opportunities. Sometimes I can’t help visiting their lectures. They are so fascinating! Now one of our four-year college students writes the diploma about a fashion-photo with models embodying the images of literature heroes. In his work, he wants to show how appearance, eyes and pose can reveal the inner world of a person.
Success in photography depends much on how you can ingratiate yourself to a person you are to take picture of. In this regard, our college programme includes a subject called ‘communication psychology’.
– What do Russian language and literature mean to you?
– They are inextricably linked to reading. I read everywhere all the time, even when eating, despite I know this is not very good. I am always ready to answer what I read.
– What do you read then?
– I read usual historical opinion journalism. For example, ‘Hometown. Life of old Moscow’ by Sergei Durylin. This book is about Moscow of the early 21st century. I really enjoyed the author’s style and interesting information about Moscow.
In summer, I always reread classical literature. It is useful to reread it every 6 or 7 years. I read ‘Anna Karenina’ once again and found out it stopped being my favorite book. As an adult, I have a completely different view on its main character.
This summer I also read the most detailed biography of Anton Chekhov by Donald Reinfeld. It comprises a number of letters, facts and quotations. However, in my opinion, the author didn’t quite understand Chekhov as a person.
In fact, I read only electronic books. They provide very comfortable reading. They may contain a whole library. Its fonts suit me as well.
And about Russian, only in institute I fully realized what it was. Russian is a multidimensional planet of beauty and potential!
However, one should be able to use this potential. The words you say must properly reflect what you think. Poor language makes poor thoughts and vice versa.
Sometimes even those who read much face challenges in analyzing books. They can retell what they read. But when I ask them questions, they are puzzled. They got used to finding ready-made ideas on the net. Janusz Wiśniewski, Polish writer, once said: “Read books, don't let others think for you”.
– But the internet allows us to read books.
– Yes, it does. In this regard, it is very useful. In addition, I use social networks.
– Do social networks help you communicate with your students?
– Yes, of course, they do! Students of all courses have their chats where we can exchange information. They can ask me about anything, and I can give them my recommendations. The only thing I don’t like in social networks is strong language I sometimes see in news feed.
– What do you think of the role of women in education?
– They have the leading role. Women are always experienced and caring teachers. However, there should be equal representation of male and female teachers in schools. There are so many single-parent families, and we, teachers, are like second parents.
– There are two winter months ahead. Please, recommend some books to lighten the mood.
– I can recommend some authors I like. Viktoriya Tokareva has very true-to-life works. Georgiy Daneliya, Soviet and Russian film director and screenwriter, who directed ‘Mimino’ and ‘Kin-dza-dza’, wrote three books of memories. He has a great language and sense of humour. In his books, he describes everything with incredible simplicity, but it is amazingly beautiful.
However, I must say that I have already come to a period when I read literature about literature. I enjoy reading biographies. For example, Alexander Genis has a nice book ‘Dovlatov and his Environs’ about writer Sergei Dovlatov.
I can also recommend ‘Our Own Speech’ by Alexander Genis and Pyotr Vail. This book is an ironical view on Russian classical literature and authors including Nikolay Karamzin, Alexander Pushkin, and Nikolay Nekrasov.
I also like works by Slava Se. This Latvian blogger writes in Russian, and I really adore his style and language. His works are the embodiment of wit and humour.
Agata Korovina, news agency of the Eurasian Women’s Community
Translated by Nikolay Gavrilov