Volume 13, Issue 1 (January 2015) : 19-41|
“Individual Approach” as a Moral Demand and a Literary Device
Frida Vigdorova’s Pedagogical Novels
Rubric A: Episodes in the History of Ideas
Rubric B: Russian Literature
The paper focuses on the four “pedagogical” novels by writer and journalist Frida Vigdorova, mostly known for her records of the Joseph Brodsky’s trial of 1964. These novels written in 1949–1958, as well as some of her journalistic publications of the 1950s, made her one of the most influential publicists who wrote on the problems of school and schoolchildren. The article traces Vigdorova’s key ideas and literary techniques back to the second half of 1940s, when she wrote her first novels, first and foremost My Class (1949). Although Vigdorova was regarded as a follower of Anton Makarenko, the famous pedagogue of the 1920s and 1930s, one may find a significant shift in her interpretation of his theory. The main difference consists in her emphasis on the idea of the “individual approach” to each child, by contrast to the earlier attention to the issues of the collective. This idea is represented as a strong moral demand on every teacher or educator. The author shows that this idea was “re-invented” in the late 1940s by the officials of the ministry of education and pedagogical publicists in order to respond to a strong pressure of the pedagogical corps that had to face severe problems that emerged as direct social effects of WWII and were exacerbated by the banning of all psychological approaches to children after 1936. The “individual approach” becomes not only an ideological, but also a literary basis of all Vigdorova’s novels, a structural principle of her narratives.