Staunton, Sept. 14 – Public schools, it is sometimes said, form the national community in many countries. In the US, for example, the use of the McGuffey readers in most of them helped tie the nation together and integrate new arrivals into that population. But now, in many countries, including Russia, fewer children are sharing in that common experience.
The consequences of this change, one brought on by fears about the security of children and the desire of parents to give their children a leg up for the future, are potentially enormous; and the decision of many parents to home school to protect their children from the pandemic or to promote distinctive ideas is certain to be large.
In some countries, the prospects for societies which may soon lack the common experience of public education is already sparking concern and debate; and now both the prospect of a collapse of this historically common experience and its consequences for society have come to the Russian Federation.
Alina Musina, a pseudonymous Russian journalist, outlines some of the reasons why home schooling is becoming ever more popular: overcrowded schools with shifts, fears of bullying and disease, disagreements with the content of curricula, and desire to avoid the expenses of sending children to school (russian.eurasianet.org/россия-школьники-все-чаще-переходят-на-семейное-обучение).
The Russian government has not released statistics on the exact number of pupils now studying at home, but there is universal agreement that the number is growing and will grow more in the future given that parents and children are becoming more comfortable with online education and that Russian companies are now entering that market (rg.ru/2021/08/29/reg-ufo/v-rossii-rastet-chislo-roditelej-predpochitaiushchih-davat-detiam-semejnoe-obrazovanie.html).
Both parents and children are behind the shift with parents wanting better educations for their children, and children wanting to avoid the burdens of school and the dangers of bullying (https://www.hse.ru/data/2017/09/14/1173354338/Семейное-образование-в-России-и-за рубежом.pdf and onf.ru/2019/02/15/rezultaty-oprosa-onf-shkolniki-orientiry-i-cennosti/).
The share of students studying at home is still small, no more than a few percentage points total. But the pandemic and the willingness of some regions to finance homeschooling means that the share almost certainly will grow, eliminating one of the most important common experiences that have linked Russian children into their common society.