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Russian Child Science, 1881-1936

Engagement and Consultancy in Russia

During 2012-2014, Dr Andy Byford has been engaged in consultations and outreach work in Russia. He has also delivered several formal talks on the significance of the history of 'child science' to contemporary educational psychology, and changes in the educational field in Russia today. 

March 21st - April 18th 2012

Consultations with educational psychologists at the Moscow Pedagogical State University (MPGU).

For coverage see here and here (in Russian).

3rd April 2012

Dr Byford gave a formal talk at the Faculty of Pedagogy and Psychology at MPGU on the significance of the history of 'child science' to contemporary educational psychology. An audience of around 20 staff and invited guests attended. The event was covered on the Moscow Pedagogical State University website here and here.

6th April 2012

Bringing his research to a new audience, Dr Byford presented on the significance of the history of 'child science' to changes in the educational field in contemporary Russia to an audience of 50 trainee primary school teachers at the Moscow Pedagogical State University. The talk was followed by a productive question and answer session on matters of topical interest affecting problems of expertise in primary education in Russia today.

10th - 13th April 2012

Dr Byford conducted outreach work by taking on the role of expert assessor and discussant at the famous 'Vernadskii Readings' national competition of high school student research projects (section Education: Past & Present). The coverage of the event, including Dr Byford's participation is available here (in Russian).

March 21st - April 15th 2013

Further consultations were carried out in this period with the same group of educational psychologists based at the Moscow Pedagogical State University (MPGU), while also engaging directly with a wider network of stakeholders and beneficiaries associated with them – namely, local practitioners in psychology and education, trainee educational psychologists and teachers studying at MPGU, civil servants of the Moscow education administration, local parent groups and some schoolchildren.

29th March 2013

Public Lecture: Paedology’s Afterlife

The lecture discussed post-Soviet debates around the ‘purged science’ of paedology and certain contemporary attempts at partially reviving some of its aspects. It proposed that pedology should not be reified as a ‘science’, but should be understood as a historically-specific ‘professional/scientific movement’. Understanding and analysing the history of pedology in this way may offer important lessons to those seeking to develop innovative ‘professional/scientific movements’ in the fields of education, psychology and child study in contemporary Russia. For more details see here. A pdf printout of the PowerPoint slide show of the lecture is available here.

26th March - 4th April 2013

Seminar Course: The Historical Legacies of the Science of Children in Russia/USSR

The course was given to postgraduates in educational and child psychology, as well as trainee practitioners in education and children’s services. For full details (in Russian) see here.

Seminar 1 (26 March 2013) examined the problem of interprofessional and interdisciplinary relations in the making and unmaking of Russian/Soviet pedology in the early 20th century, connecting this to the problem of collaboration and conflict between different specialists in childcare and education today. See here.

Seminar 2 (27 March 2013) lookws at controversies surrounding ‘testing’ (psychological/pedagogical) and the role that it played in the rise and fall of Russian/Soviet pedology in the early 20th century, connecting this to debates about testing in Russian education/psychology today. See here.

Seminar 3 (2 April 2013) discussed the evolution of the relationship between parents and professionals in childcare and education in early 20th century Russia/USSR. It connected this to issues of conflict and partnership between parents and children’s services/schools in contemporary Russia and to examine what role certain experts, such as educational psychologists might play in it. See here.

29th March & 5th April 2013

Focus Groups: Mobilization of a Professional/Scientific Movement in Children's Services

Focus Group 1 (5 April 2013): The Influence of Expertise in Educational Psychology and Child Development. This focus group brought together academic professionals and trainees based at the Faculty of Pedagogy and Psychology at MPGU, including senior members of staff in the psychology of education and child development, junior postdoc researchers, and advanced postgraduate students in the department. For more detail (in Russian) see here.

Focus Group 2 (29 March 2013): Public Engagement with Multidisciplinary Expertise in Child Development and Education. This focus group assembled representatives of different groups with interest in children’s and education services: academics in educational psychology based at MPGU, schoolteachers, a school psychologist, a school doctor, a special education teacher, representatives of parent associations, representatives of the local and state administration for education, representatives of a child welfare and educational charity. For more detail (in Russian) see here.

9th April 2013

Dr Byford conducted outreach work by taking on the role of expert assessor and discussant at the 'Vernadskii Readings' national competition of high school student research projects (section Education: Past &Present). The coverage of the event, including Dr Byford's participation is available here and here (in Russian).

March 24th - April 17th 2014

Further consultations were carried out in this period with the same group of educational psychologists based at the Moscow Pedagogical State University (MPGU), while also engaging directly with a wider network of stakeholders and beneficiaries associated with them.

28th March 2014

Public Lecture: The Normal and the Pathological in Russian Child Science

The lecture discussed the role that the diagnosis of subnormality and pathology played in the rise and fall of Russian child science between the 1900s and the 1930s. It first examined the mutually competing normative regimes that framed categorisations of imperfection among Russia's children in this context of the Russian empire's modernization during the 1900s-10s. It then followed the shift in focus from the early-1920s 'delinquent child' to the late-1920s 'mass child'. It concluded with a discussion of the emergence, in this same era, of the Russian field of medicalized special education known as 'defectology'. For more details see here. A pdf printout of the PowerPoint slide show of the lecture is available here.

8th April 2014

Dr Byford conducted outreach work by taking on the role of expert assessor and discussant at the 'Vernadskii Readings' national competition of high school student research projects (section Education: Past & Present). The coverage of the event is available here.

25th April 2014

Dr Byford gave a public lecture on the concepts of trauma and pathology in the history of childhood in early-20th-century Russia. This event was part of the promotion of the newly published undergraduate textbook in Russian, Introduction to the Profession: The Psychologist of Education, of which Dr Byford is co-author. For more detail on this event see here. See also video recording.

December 2015

The textbook Introduction to the Profession: Educational Psychologist, co-authored by A. S. Obukhov, A. M. Fedoseeva and Andy Byford, is awarded a prize as one of the most used textbooks in the field (in its year of publication it was set as textbook by 19 institutions of higher education in Russia; by June 2016 this number has risen to 45 institutions; see publisher's weblink for the most up-to-date figure).

26th May 2016

Dr Byford acted as expert assessor at the student conference-festival The World of Childhood in Science, Art and Practice, organised by MPGU's Institute of Childhood and the Department of Psychological Anthropology for the 120th anniversary since the birth of Lev Vygotsky. Dr Byford introduced the topic of childhood in scientific practice, emphasising the importance of studying the history of scientific and professional interest in children for understanding current practice. For more detail on this event see here.

28th May 2016

Dr Byford gave a public lecture on the history of pedology or child science at MPGU's Institute of Childhood. The lecture was organised by the Department of Psychological Anthropology as part of the celebrations of the 120th anniversary since the birth of Lev Vygotsky. See video recording.

6th June 2016

Dr Byford gave a public lecture at MPGU's Department of Psychological Anthropology on the rise and fall of the Soviet pedology of national minorities in the 1920s-30s, i.e. the special interest that Soviet child science took in children from non-Russian ethnic groups during the first five-year plan. The focus of the lecture was on mental testing among these populations. For more detail on the event see here. Also see slide show and video recording.