Something We Can Learn From A Ukrainian Educator

Vasilii Sukhomlinsky was a famous Ukrainian educator, and many of his concepts are applicable today in the U.S. and all over the globe.  He was one of the few noted educators to delight in teaching pre-school, because he realized that the seeds of learning need to be planted early.  He believed that it was important for children to experience words before learning them.  Thus, he took his students on nature trips pointing out what interested them.  Later, they learned to form words and do simple drawings.  As their vocabulary grew, the children were encouraged to write brief compositions on what they saw in nature.(Although my Grandma Lillian and my Dad didn’t know it, they were applying Sukomlinsky’s ideas to my mental development.)  Sukhomlinsky also believed that every child should grow a rose.  He believed a child attuned to beauty will develop a sensitivity towards all living things.  Readers interested in learning more about Sukhomlinsky’s philosophy are referred to my highly edited translation, I Give My Life to Children.

“When you think about a child’s brain, picture a tender rose petal holding a trembling drop of dew.  Imagine what care and tenderness you need to exhibit, so that the drop doesn’t spill after you remove the petal.  This is the very care which we(teachers) need to show every moment;  after all, we are touching the most delicate and tender thing in nature– the thinking matter of a growing organism.”

About Robert M. Weiss
From an early age, I've taken great pleasure in reading. Also, I learned to play my 78 player when I was quite young, and enjoyed listening to musicals and classical music. I remember sitting on the floor, and following the text and pictures of record readers, which were popular in the 1940s and 50s. My favorites were the Bozo and Disney albums. I also enjoyed watching the slow spinning of 16s as they spun out tales of adventure. I have always been attracted by rivers, and I love to sit on a boulder with my feet in the water, gazing into the mysteries of swirling currents. I especially like inner tubing on the Rogue River in Southern Oregon. Since my early youth, I've been interested in collecting minerals, which have taught me about the wonderful possibilities in colors and forms. Sometimes I try to imagine what the ancient Greeks must have felt when they began to discover physical laws in nature. I also remember that I had a special passion for numbers, and used to construct them out of stones. After teaching Russian for several years, I became a writer, interviewer, editor, and translator. I continue to delight in form, and am a problem solver at heart.

4 Responses to Something We Can Learn From A Ukrainian Educator

  1. auntyuta says:

    ‘He believed that it was important for children to experience words before learning them.’ This is an interesting concept.

    And ‘He believed a child attuned to beauty will develop a sensitivity towards all living things.’

    Was your Grandma Ukrainian? I have to grandsons (twins) who’s grandparents were Ukrainian. Their grandparents settled in Australia in the 1950s.

    Thanks, Robert, for coming to my blog. I’ll try to find out more about what you blogged on the subject of education.


    • My grandma was not Ukrainian. When I was reading about Russian educators, I came upon the name Sukhomlinskij. I read some of his works, and became interested in his ideas. I later met Ukrainian friends who told me more about this wonderful educator and human being. Auntyuta, I appreciate your taking the time to look through my posts. I really liked Peter’s photos, especially the sign to Kangaroo Valley. It made me feel as if I were in Australia, a country I admire greatly.


  2. Svetlana says:

    Hello, Robert!
    My name is Svetlana.
    I am from Ukraine (from Donetsk), I work at the Institute, which works with the teachers.
    In October our institute holds an international conference on Sukhomlinsky. I learned that you have studied his work.
    We invite you to participate in our conference with the report!


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