Indiana University

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Wednesday, April 24, 2002

Last modified: Wednesday, April 24, 2002

Russian educators share expertise with IU colleagues

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Twenty Russian educators recently attended a seminar at the Indiana University School of Education to share methodology and exchange ideas with their American peers. Supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the seminar was co-directed by Howard Mehlinger, IU professor emeritus and former dean of the School of Education, and Janet Vaillant, a member of the staff of the Davis Center for Russian and East European Affairs at Harvard University.

While in Bloomington from April 1-20, the Russian participants heard presentations by IU faculty who are specialists on civic education in the United States. They also visited elementary and secondary schools to observe civic education in action, and they worked collectively and independently on issues relating to civic education in Russia.

For example, Mehlinger said, one group sought to identify civic education competencies that may become curriculum requirements in Russian schools, while another group attempted to produce recommendations that will lead to the integration of civic education into the teacher education curriculum.

To close the seminar, participants gave presentations on civic education in Russia at the Great Lakes Regional Social Studies conference in Indianapolis.

The Russian participants were mid-career professionals representing institutions from cities throughout Russia. They were selected from nominations submitted by a panel of Russian educators following a December 2001 planning conference held in Bekasovo, a conference center near Moscow. About half of the participants represented pedagogical institutes or universities, several were employed by Russian civic education projects, others were connected with innovative schools seeking to promote democracy through democratic school practices, and some represented the Ministry of Education. The participants shared a common interest in promoting democratic beliefs and practices through education, Mehlinger said.

Participants also were charged with the task of planning and conducting a follow-up conference on civic education to be held in Russia in September. The goal of that conference will be to diffuse information and knowledge gained at the Bloomington seminar to other Russian educators who have an interest in civic education.

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