Sightlines' Store -
The Educational Legacy of V.A. Sukhomlinsky
by Alan Cockerill
Sukhomlinsky was “the most influential Soviet educationist during the 1960s and 1970s”. Joseph Zajda
It may truly be said of Sukhomlinsky that he became a legend in his own lifetime. The school of which he was principal was an educational mecca visited by thousands of Soviet teachers. He was a prolific writer and his publications ran into millions of copies. His personal correspondence was prodigious.
Sukhomlinsky’s work is close in spirit to that of progressive Western educators - he belongs to a European humanistic tradition in education inspired by such educators as Vittorino da Feltre, Comenius and Pestalozzi, and his work is relevant to teachers and parents in English-speaking countries.
“Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons,
It is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.”
With these words from Walt Whitman’s ‘Song of the Open Road’ Sukhomlinsky closes his account of how he educated young children in a Ukrainian village during the aftermath of the Second World War. Vasily Sukhomlinsky (1918 – 1970) was principal of the same rural school in Pavlysh, central Ukraine, for twenty-two years. His remarkable work attracted thousands of visitors, some of whom travelled from the length and breadth of the Soviet Union to see his school with their own eyes. One visiting principal commented: ‘I have spent only one day in this remarkable school … but I have learnt as much as I did in four years at teachers college.’ (M. Manukian)