Friday, October 25, 2019
Political Reform in the Schools of Latvia :: Religion in Education Soviet Union Essays
Political Reform in the Schools of Latvia Cataclysmic events sometimes spur educators to reconsider the role of schools in preparing children for citizenship. In the United States, the Great Depression of the 1930's prompted educators to address the appropriate place of the schools in developing citizens for an industrial democracy. In the tiny Baltic nation of Latvia, the sudden breakup of the Soviet Union caused educators to consider the same questions. A remarkable chain of events at the turn of the last decade raised the Iron Curtain and paved the way for a revival of liberal democracy throughout Eastern Europe after fifty years of dictatorial Soviet communism. In 1992, Latvia followed many of its neighbors in declaring its independence. It then turned to the creation of a new government and developing citizens to ensure its continuation. Religion was to play a prominent role. The Church had traditionally been a significant factor in Latvian political and social life, but the early 1990's saw a new religious force in Eastern Europe. Western missionary organizations were searching for footholds from which to evangelize the newly independent nations of Eastern Europe. Two conflicting goals of this evangelism rapidly surfaced. On the one hand, the Church certainly intended to gain converts to Christianity, but it had a political mission as well. Missionaries and their host governments envisioned Christianity as a vehicle to reinstitute a public morality lost under decades of communist rule. In the minds of many, Christian virtue spread throughout the populace would form a necessary foundation for the growth of liberal democracy. Both the Church and the State targeted the schools as the delivery system for moral instruction. However, this use of the schools put them in the untenable position of serving two masters-the Church and the state, two institut ions whose ideologies and goals are ever at odds. Marxist and Christian Worldviews and Education In "ten days that shook the world" in 1917, Lenin's Bolsheviks co-opted the Russian Revolution and ushered into existence a Marxist government. Fundamental to the implementation of communism in Lenin's view was control of the schools. He declared that "The school must become a weapon of the dictatorship of the proletariat" (in Counts, 1957). Under Lenin's successor, Joseph Stalin, the Soviet Union expanded its influence into Eastern Europe. In 1945, the Soviets annexed Latvia and restructured the schools in accordance with Stalin's view that education is ".