View from the Hermitage. The School of Success
Recently the Art School Vdokhnovenie in the Moscow satellite town Istra hosted a joint meeting of the Presidium of the State Council, the Presidium of the Council for Science and the Presidium for Culture under President of the Russian Federation.
As it often happens, the picture and story being broadcasted by television and press do not convey the size of the event. A serious discussion about upbringing of people for future Russia took place at the session. When President told that everyone must be competitive, the competitive ability of the country was meant. Russia must provide conditions for talents uprising, not genius but people able to perceive and produce something new.
To produce something new, people should possess broad cultural range of vision, brought-up on cultural background. A very important idea was stated at the session: 50-60% of present-day first-grade pupils, when they grow up, will be engaged in professions and directions we have no idea about at the moment. Thus, it is necessary to prepare them for life in the future. It is necessary to think how and what kind of education to give them.
There are such notions as modernization and innovation. Modernization is something like remodeling in European style: to know everything, to be capable of everything in order to keep up with the others. Innovation means a stroke of a genius, inspiration. Innovations are born in the cultural environment. Such environment is the basis, support for the consciousness leap. Genuine discoveries are cultural events even to the greater extent than technological ones. Culture teaches that genius exists. It presents understandable examples and models.
The unified State Exam is an example of typical modernization. In fact, it is an exam for not very literate people. It was invented by the Americans in order to increase the general level of literacy of undereducated average American people. Unfortunately, the general level of cultural literacy, language literacy, computer literacy on our end, to put it mildly, is also not high. The Unified State Exam allows improving the situation. But simultaneously, it is necessary to look for gifted people.
Where do gifted people come from? Very seldom - from ordinary school, more often - from informal education. For the most part people come to informal education voluntarily, at their own wish. That is art schools, different clubs, schools with special bias and, at last, museums. It is not only me who told about this.
Museums are one of the most advanced forms of informal education. They teach, turn to culture, little children at first, then school children, then students and adults. It is a continuous system of education. For the future of the country such system is absolutely indispensible. The person of the 21st century learns all the time. All of us have to master new technologies. Earlier it was called with an awkward term “further education”.
The museum creates the feeling and need for constant learning. It is the place to come once and again. Certainly, there are people for whom one visit is enough, but they are not too suitable for the future. Cultural education gives humanistic development to the person. Academician Chubaryan said at the session that humanitarian component in education must become the most important nowadays. We do not know what the life will be like in several decades, but with the help of humanitarian education we can train people able to orientate in new situation. Not just once it is said that the 21st century requires involving emotions, work of the left brain hemisphere from us. In a word, culture creates the ground on which innovation can grow.
At the moment there are a lot of discussions on introduction of the basics of religion into school education. In my view, it is high time to return or arrange in a new way art education at school. It is a part of humanitarian education. At the session the issue of artistic subjects teaching was also discussed. In the Hermitage children, when drawing, learn to understand art. They are not trained to become great artists but turning to art they get knowledge, helping to take non-routine decisions later.
Over recent years museums all over the world have been extending educational scope of activity. What they do is absolutely against common concept of the museum as of something preserved. At the session I told about future opening of the Hermitage Center in Vyborg. The main idea of the center is that under one roof it will locate the art school and museum exposition. By the way, on the day of the session in the Hermitage we had a graduation party of an archeological class for visually impaired children.
I would like to repeat that museums provide constant education which is required by the 21st century. Moreover, that is museums which give models of new technologies utilization. The person there can compare the world virtual with the real one. For example, the site of the Hermitage has stories about art and artistic games in which it is necessary to look for color combinations in the composition similar to The Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt or compositional combinations similar to Benois Madonna. Informative game, which leads from modernization to the stroke of genius.
Now some words about a business end. At the session it has been said that for the sake of future generations it is important for culture and education to be held in respect. At the moment we do not have that. In the manual of economic activities culture is mentioned in supplementary services somewhere between garbage collection and ritual sphere. In laws it is often applied with the terms: branch, product, services... The current situation produces disrespectful attitude to it and deprives it of many opportunities. It means that it is necessary to bring-up respect to culture to its institutions and cultural heritage in general.
So that talents are born, the ground is necessary. So that they survive, the environment is necessary. To make use of talents it is necessary to have adequate level of culture in the society. Illiterate middle class will strangle any talent of pervert it. It is what we have now. Our goal is to let talent survive. It is necessary to provide conditions for him. Remember a scientific campus in Novosibirsk in which success culture has played an important role.
Culture is the school of success. Each pupil, even with the help of the Unified State Exam, must know who Dostoyevsky is, understand what his word “our” means. The person, knowing who Matisse is, understanding the language of modern art, will be able to understand the language of physics, mathematics and many other things easier. For such person vision of the future is not film Avatar but something much more difficult. If people know who Ivan Damaskin is, arguments about icons will not be so illiterate. Art and culture give us understanding of the beauty of diversity. The person admires what he is not accustomed to. Nowadays it is assumed to call tolerance.
Culture does not need big money. It needs respect and understanding, understanding that it deserves privileges, allowing existence in the market jungle. There is still a long haul ahead to Declaration of Culture Rights by Dmitry Likhachyov and The Roerich Pact. But it is possible to require respectful terms, goal-oriented program of financing, observance of laws and rules, engrafting respect to monuments of archeology and culture.
In laws, we constantly speak about; procedural fetishism has become the central point. There is and established idea: if to write down the procedure then the mechanism will work on its own. A typical formula for the perpetual mobile. But the law does not work if not to add energy to it. We do not have enough energy; people do not want to do anything. And it was also discussed at the session. If to make culture one of the key points in the life of the society then right atmosphere will appear. Laws will get energy. Otherwise they will live on their own and for themselves.