“Educational Practice and the Making of Citizens in Ukraine Before and After the Orange Revolution” Анна Фурніє Johns Hopkins University, стипендіятка НТШ-А

October 29, 2005

До кола наукових зацікавлень Анни Фурніє входить Східна Европа, зокрема етнічні, освітні та мовні проблеми в Україні. У 2004-2005 рр. перебувала у Києві, де була свідком та учасницею Помаранчевої Революції.

Анна Фурніє

The lecture, based on a year of fieldwork in Kyiv region schools in 2004-2005, identifies two major challenges to the formation of nationally conscious rights bearing Ukrainian citizens.

The first challenge has to do with the content of citizenship education, and specifically, the way in which ‘nationalism’ as a concept is perceived and taught in schools. I argue that at least prior to the Orange Revolution, nationalism, both in state discourse and in the school context, was usually conflated with chauvinism and posed as a threat to peace, order, and stability. The contrast between nationalism as ‘excessive’, and patriotism as ‘orderly’ had an impact on the way in which students thought about and expressed their national belonging. For example, even markers of national identity such as language were sometimes felt to be excessive, as when students told me that they do not speak Ukrainian in school for fear of appearing “too nationalistic” to others. The Ukrainian ‘national culture’ produced by the state as a compromise (it is national without being nationalist) has become consolidated into a stereotype that is easy for students to reject. Comprised of heavily folkloricized elements, it is what a student called national culture “without teeth” [bez zubiv], and therefore did not usually constitute a source of pride for students. With the Orange Revolution, this configuration changed somewhat, as the world suddenly refracted to Ukrainians an image of themselves as a modern Ukrainian political nation. This resulted in students’ sense of pride and accomplishment, and in their articulation of Ukrainian identity in national terms.

Д-р Роман Воронка, голова Стипендійної комісії НТШ-А вручає нагороду,
стипендійний ґрент, Анні Фурніє

Василь Махно, Роман Воронка, Анна Фурніє та Орест Попович

The second challenge has to do with the style of citizenship education. I argue that Ukrainian pedagogy created a sense of powerlessness in students because it is based largely on the infantilization of even high school level students. The infantilization of students was evident in teachers’ and administrators’ frequent statements, such as “You’re too little to have an opinion”. The pedagogy itself, based almost exclusively on recitation and repetition, allowed little if any room for students to articulate opinions on the material taught. This led to a feeling of frustration in students, who resented studying in a place where “the teacher is always right”, and “there’s one opinion for everyone”. I argue that many teachers felt threatened by students’ increased awareness of their rights. Soviet-generation teachers in particular tended to view democracy as a threat to order, and consequently, saw a multiplicity of opinions as a direct threat to their authority in the classroom. The Orange Revolution had the effect of making students aware of the actual vulnerability of established authority, so that students in several schools were inspired to plot the overthrow of their own ‘unfair’ principals.

The lecture concludes with several recommendations for the democratization of the Ukrainian citizenship education curriculum. These include suggestions for the incorporation of the Orange Revolution (a ‘real life’ event experienced first-hand by students) in the curriculum so as to bring a more nuanced understanding of nationalism. Other recommendations have to do with teachers modifying their teaching strategies so that their authority no longer lies in their ability to impose, coerce, or rule arbitrarily, but rather in their ability to engage and persuade students.


NEW YORK – On October 29, the headquarters of the Shevchenko Scientific Society (NTSh) hosted a talk by Anna Fournier titled “Educational Practice and the Making of Citizens in Ukraine Before and After the Orange Revolution”. Ms. Fournier, a Ph. D. candidate in the Department of Anthropology at Johns Hopkins University, based her lecture on a year of ethnographic fieldwork she had carried out in the Kyiv region in 2004-2005, during which she also witnessed the Orange Revolution, as well as similar research trips in 1998 and 2003. Her last trip to Kyiv was financed in part by a $3000 grant from NTSh.

In his welcoming remarks, NTSh vice-president Dr. Orest Popovych introduced Ms. Fournier as an example of a success story for NTSh’s program of scholarships and grants for deserving students in the field of Ukrainian studies. He explained that NTSh grant money comes from the long-term named funds established at the society by patriotic members of our community who decided to support Ukrainian studies with their generosity. Dr. Popovych urged those in the audience who can afford it to immortalize their own names by creating at NTSh their named funds with tax-deductible contributions, thereby supporting Ukrainian scholarship and education.

There followed a more substantive introduction of the guest speaker by Prof. Vasyl Makhno, who chaired the program.

After thanking NTSh for the financial support, Ms. Fournier began by raising the question whether Ukrainian schools were succeeding in creating patriotic, nationally conscious citizenry, and whether the Orange Revolution has had any effect on the educational process. Her research covered several schools – public, private, village – in the Kyiv region, focusing primarily on high-school students grades 9-11, with the objective of analyzing their views on the relationship between nation and citizenship. By way of background, Ms. Fournier examined the Citizenship Education curricula, including the text books and other teaching materials, in the courses on Civics, History, Geography, Folklore, Ukrainian Language, Ukrainian Literature, and the Patriotic Education component of the Military Preparedness course.

A major challenge inherent
in the content of citizenship education in Ukraine, said Ms. Fournier, arises from the way nationalism is contrasted with national culture and patriotism. Nationalism is seen as an ideology that is inherently negative, a synonym for chauvinism, representing a threat to peace, order and stability of the state. Also, in the last few years much of Ukraine’s population became disillusioned with the national idea by associating it with the lack of economic prosperity, continued Ms. Fournier. Therefore, citizenship in Ukraine is not grounded in nationalism. Instead, Ukraine’s state authorities as well as schools promote the idea of a national culture that is marked, in Ms. Fournier’s words, by excessive folkloricization, paternalism and infantilization. National culture defined in this manner is benign and depoliticized, and therefore offers little resistance to the aggressive process of present-day Russification, according to Ms. Fournier.

As a result, the citizenship education in Ukraine today promotes a tame version of patriotism, that is supposed to originate from one’s soul, while in practice it is associated with the concept of order, obedience and spectatorship, as opposed to initiative, social responsibility and active participation, continued Ms. Fournier. These presumably desirable qualities of a good patriot-citizen coincide with those expected of a good student in Ukraine’s schools. The key element of national pedagogy in Ukraine is repetition without questioning as well as compliance with the teacher’s rules and demands, said the speaker. The teacher is always right and there is virtually no discussion allowed in class. Moreover, students as old as grade 11 are still called “children” and are told that they “are too little to have an opinion”. With this type of pedagogic philosophy, the heavily stereotyped folkloric version of Ukrainian culture presented in class cannot be a source of pride to students, leading them to reject it. Students oppose their teachers by feigning compliance and by defiantly using Russian in class. According to Ms. Fournier, Ukrainian culture as it is taught is devoid of Ukrainian self-assertiveness and is viewed by students as “marginal”, compared to the Russian language and culture, which they consider “global”. Nevertheless, the students’ preference for things Russian does not extend to a desire for economic or political union with Russia.

The Orange Revolution brought profound changes in the way students view their Ukrainian national identity as well as their relationship to the state, continued Ms. Fournier. No more associated with a village culture, Ukraine has become a modern political nation, the world’s attention centered upon it. For the first time, said the students, Ukrainian symbols became meaningful to them, while the experience of the Maydan (Independence Square in Kyiv) awakened in them feelings of patriotism without any connotation of compliance or obedience. The idea of a Ukrainian nation not only came forward, but became the basis for a peaceful political action against the state.

Furthermore, the Orange Revolution made the students more aware of their rights and demonstrated to them that power can be acquired by the people in a peaceful way, provided there is a collective will. Subsequently, some students have tried to apply elements of the Revolution to their school situations, as in opposing the perceived injustices from their teachers and principals. Unfortunately, the lessons of Maydan have yet to be integrated into Ukraine’s school curriculum, concluded Ms. Fournier.

Recommendations and pedagogic strategies on how to accomplish this will be offered in Ms. Fournier’s Ph. D. dissertation titled “Education and Citizenship in the Era of Ukraine’s Orange Revolution”. To facilitate the writing of this dissertation, NTSh has awarded Ms. Fournier a grant totaling $8000 for the next two semesters. Following her lecture, a letter from NTSh informing her of this award was presented to Ms. Fournier by Dr. Roman Voronka, chairman of the NTSh Committee on Scholarships and Grants.

The Ukrainian Weekly. Nov.10.#