Education According To Leo Tolstoy


“The fame of Tolstoy the novelist has to some extent obscured his writings on education, which were based on first-hand experience. Tolstoy’s ideas on education caused considerable controversy, which continues to rage to this day. …

“Tolstoy, at the age of 21, having opened a school on his ancestral estate at Yasnaya Polyana, made an attempt to begin teaching peasant children.

“Reading Tolstoy’s educational writings, one has an almost physical perception of a living child, presented not in a frozen photographic pose but in the manifestation and development of its individual characteristics, the unfolding of its personality and in mental states which fluctuate in accordance with the many and varied influences to which he or she is subject. …

“Tolstoy said that a child is by nature a perfect and innocent creature whose free development should not be hindered.” (“Leo Tolstoy,” Semion Filippovitch Yegorov, UNESCO: International Bureau of Education)

My Response: I do not agree. What is Individuality? Egoistic. It must be shaped correctly. Give the little person an appropriate form—altruistic. And leave the inner content.

Question: Does the little man have a personality?

Answer: Yes. We need to show him how to realize his individuality. To channel the talents given to him toward altruism.

Question: What is altruism for you when you speak about a small child?

Answer: When I do everything for the benefit of humanity. For the benefit of others.

“Leo Tolstoy,” Semion Filippovitch Yegorov: “The children were punished neither for their behaviour nor for poor progress. The requirement that the personality of pupils should be treated with respect presupposed that, without punishment or coercion on the part of the adults, they would move towards a recognition of the need to submit to the order on which success at school depended.”

My Response: As for the unlearned lessons, this does not interest me. And as for punishment is forbidden, if a person does not know the reward and punishment, then he will not correct himself, he will not straighten up.

He must see himself existing between reward and punishment. Nature was created in such a way and in such a way it controls us on the still, vegetative, and animate levels. And it should be so at the human level.

When I do not work for myself and act not for myself but for the sake of others, then I should receive a certain reward, which will first encourage me egoistically, and on the other hand, it will have to instill a desire in me to correct myself even beyond my comprehension.

Question: So you set this goal: life for the sake of others and work for the sake of others above everything?

Answer: For sure. And then from his actions, he will begin to understand that this is really the goal designed by nature, and so on.

Question: If this little man realizes that he is not moving toward this goal, then some kind of punishment should come?

Answer: He should at least feel that he is not encouraged.

Writings on Education,” Introduction To Tolstoy’s Writings by Ernest J Simmons: Tolstoy believed that all education should be free and voluntary. He supported the desire of the masses for education, but he denied that the government or any other authority had the right to force it upon them. The logic of things, and his study of the operation of compulsory education abroad, convinced him that in this form it was an evil. Pupils should come to learn of their own accord, for if education were a good, it would be found as necessary as the air they breathed. If people were antagonistic, then the will of the people should become the guiding factor. Tolstoy’s faith in the ‘will of the people,’ even though the people might oppose commonly accepted notions of progress, contained the seeds of his later anarchism, and was a direct slap at radical reformers who would uplift the masses against their will.”

My Response: In general, they should be encouraged to do this. But it is quite possible that there is a certain necessary knowledge that you just need to teach even by force.

After all, we consist of two levels, animate and human. What is required for the animate level to fulfill the correct existence in our world, we must teach by force.

Drive the necessary basic rules of behavior and communication skills into the new generation.

Question: Simple human communication in order not to offend another person, not to humiliate him? Are you hinting that this is the same thing and that it leads to connection?

Answer: Yes, of course to connection.

Question: You are not talking about nuclear science?

Answer: No, it doesn’t matter. This does not apply to upbringing.

“Leo Tolstoy,” Semion Filippovitch Yegorov: “In Tolstoy’s view, freedom in education was a gnoseological and moral principle that had to be put into practice; it was the antithesis of authoritarian teaching, and essential for a humane attitude to the pupil and respect for his or her dignity as a human being. Freedom in education was a principle that stemmed from the internal laws of cognitive activity. Cognition could not be other than free. In the absence of that condition, activity, initiative, consistency, system and all the other tenets of traditional, classical education were of no use, lacking meaning and purpose. The more firmly education was based on that law, the more successful and fruitful it was. Knowledge that had been assimilated could not simply be transmitted and could certainly not be thrust on pupils if they did not want it. Pupils had to apply their own efforts and engage in independent cognitive activity. This they could do best of all by not being forced by a teacher but guided by their own free will.”

Answer: This, of course, he dreamed up.

Fostering independence is necessary after a person realizes that he is obliged to exist together with others. Then it is already possible to continue thinking about giving them the makings of intelligent development.

Question: When he espoused not forcing children to obey strict rules,  do you disagree? In England, for example, it is different.

Answer: No, why? It depends on the level. Egoism must understand its limitations.

A child must understand that in these, these, and these cases I am in restriction and cannot afford to do what I want. Because I exist in society and I am obliged to comply with such and such rules, guidelines. This is a must.

Comment: Another principle of Tolstoy’s education pedagogy is to allow dissatisfaction. such that students can express their point of view and even criticize teachers.

My Response: I think this is absolutely wrong. Nowhere, in any system except the modern one, if you can call it a system, is there such a provision and it never has been in the entire history of mankind.

Question: Would you allow this kind of democracy?

Answer: This is not democracy. Democracy is when the opinion of the majority is really evaluated, brought into the system, and used by everyone because the possibly deeper layer of governance is in the awareness of the masses. But this is not the kind of democracy that we are talking about here.

“Leo Tolstoy,” Semion Filippovitch Yegorov: “Leo Tolstoy and the teachers at his school encouraged the pupils’ independence, developed their creative abilities and succeeded in getting the children to assimilate knowledge consciously and actively. With this aim in view, they frequently set compositions, particularly on topics of the pupil’s own choice which the children liked very much. In this, Tolstoy’s school saw one way of cultivating a creative personality, able subsequently to establish new forms of social relationship worthy of a civilized person.”

My Response: It depends on what technique we take. Will it be something that he invents and writes about or what we say in Kabbalah: teach according to the clear method of Kabbalah in order to come faster to creating a real person out of himself and to understanding of the entire system in which we exist, and so on.

Question: Does a clear-cut method already exist and should we follow it? Must a person follow this higher method?

Answer: He is required to do so. We have suffered enough already! Look back at our history and that is it! What is there to talk about?!

Comment: Another principle attributed to Tolstoy’s education system it to make your teaching clear. Instead of pure scientific terminology present the children with impressions.

My Response: It is possible that this should be done. You just need to understand how to tune yourself and them to one common feeling so that it is as if we were playing the same instrument together.

Comment: And another element is to live a good life yourself because children understand the world through the behavior of their parents and loved ones.

My Response: Show children by your own example how correct it is when one is constantly improving himself.

Question: And for the children to see it?

Answer: Yes, that is very important.
From KabTV’s “News with Dr. Michael Laitman” 10/8/20

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How To Raise Children
Educating A Man!
The Use Of Physical Punishment With Children

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