SHALVA AMONASHVILI: “Only the one who constantly educates himself has the right to educate a child!”
Shalva Amonashvili is a legendary teacher and outstanding scientist, founder of the International Center for Humane Pedagogy, member of the National Academy of Pedagogical Sciences of Ukraine. He has more than sixty years of teaching experience behind him. In addition, Shalva Alexandrovich is the father of two children and the grandfather of seven grandchildren.
Amonashvili laid his many years of invaluable experience in working with children at the basis of an original pedagogical concept, which he called Humane Pedagogy. It is focused on the personality of the child and the absolute negation of the authoritarian pedagogical style.
Especially for the readers of our almanac, we met with the Teacher and talked with him about very important, in our opinion, things…Amonashvili’s path to humane pedagogy was not easy. Being already a certified orientalist, he was so carried away by communication with children that he turned to the pedagogical ideas of Comenius, Ushinsky, Gogebashvili, Rousseau, Pestalozzi, Makarenko, Sukhomlinsky.
Ultimately, in 1960, this interest resulted in a Ph.D. thesis in pedagogy. In 1972 he became a Doctor of Psychological Sciences, and in 1989 he was elected an academician of the USSR Academy of Pedagogical Sciences. At the same time, Amonashvili’s views on the pedagogical process underwent changes.
Being in a constant creative search, he even once abandoned his Ph.D. thesis, because it no longer corresponded to the ideas that by that time had become progressive and correct. It is not surprising that a bright and restless creative person brought a lot of inconvenience to Soviet functionaries.
Representatives of official pedagogy repeatedly subjected him to harsh and unfair criticism. Periodically, attempts were made to dismiss Amonashvili from his posts. But time put everything in its place.
Today, the ideas of Shalva Aleksandrovich are winning the hearts and minds of children and their teachers in many countries of the world. For example, Amonashvili insists that “parents are a profession” that must be learned. And also being a parent is a great responsibility, since etymologically “child” means “new being”, which should be preserved and carefully cultivated by his educators.
Therefore, among the advice of the wise Shalva, one of the main ones is to exclude irritation and punishment from communication with children. Children are not the property of their parents. You should not try to impose on the child the life that you think is best for him: he is not you, he is a separate person who has his own way. In order to raise a child, you need to be a child yourself, to form relationships in the game and through the game.
For example, do not forbid children to be naughty, but, on the contrary, to take part in their pranks. Also, the hallmark of Amonashvili’s humane pedagogy is the formation of certain behavior patterns in a child through “upbringing with images” and his own example.
Of course, in a short article you cannot tell about all the pedagogical secrets, paradoxical techniques and discoveries of the Teacher. But you can get to know them by reading at least one of his many and very fascinating books. Therefore, the editorial staff of the almanac decided to give readers an idea of Amonashvili’s personality, his way of thinking and worldview.
Shalva Amonashvili: I had such a teacher at school. I even dedicated a book to her and called it A teacher from God” But the most important source of pedagogical ideas for me is the New Testament. When we read it, we communicate with the teachers of all mankind.
S. A.: As a teacher with extensive experience, I will say that reasonable religiosity should be present in the school atmosphere. I’m not talking about religious education, but about religiosity. A religious teacher loves his children – it cannot be otherwise! He loves even the most harmful ones who disrupt the lessons. Such children may act as if they are your enemy. But what does the gospel say? “Love our enemies!” I fully accept this pedagogical attitude.
You have a great experience, you have worked with children of different generations: X, Y, Z… How do you feel about such a generational concept in general? Do you agree that children of different generations are different and need different approaches?
S. A.: Of course, you can talk about different generations – X, Y, and so on. Because everyone has their own uniqueness. But I’m used to using the concept of “accelerated children”, it still seems to me the best.
Accelerates were in the 50s and 60s, I know, understand and accept such children well. It was they who, when they grew up, gave us mobile phones, a computer, the Internet, and many other modern technologies.
Now they are talking about indigo children, children of light, and so on. I see that there really are such children, they differ from representatives of other generations. And I believe in them no less than in accelerators. My humane pedagogy works wonderfully and helps to educate both accelerated children and indigo children.
S. A.: Indeed, there has been an excessive feminization of education around the world. But I believe that for a harmonious upbringing, a combination, a balance of the energy of a man and the energy of a woman, is necessary.
It happens, for example, that a child, whether it is a girl or a boy, is brought up by only one mother. In this case, he energetically, behaviorally, emotionally still receives something less. The same can be said about schoolchildren. If the teachers in the school are only women or only men, it will lead to an imbalance.
An incomplete family, no matter how wonderful it may be, cannot bring up a harmonious personality in a child – the lack of male or female energies will affect. And it’s the same at school. Just like the family, the school must find this balance.
S.A.: Definitely! There is such a law: in order to educate others, you must be educated yourself. Lev Tolstoy was right and said, “True education is the education of oneself.” Moreover, this process must occur constantly – it cannot have an end.
Therefore, both I and you – none of us can say that we are completely educated. There are adults who consider themselves already perfect, who believe that they know everything and do not need to learn anything. Such people will deform, oppress the personality of the child, taking up his upbringing. Only by constantly engaging in self-education, an adult has the right to raise children. We do not educate ourselves – we lose this right.
S. A.: The school is the bearer of the spirit of the nation. A state without this spirit will be flawed. Ukraine has a unique culture, national character and traditions. They embody the spirit of the nation. Ukrainians have Skovoroda and Shevchenko, they have their own unique history that distinguishes them from other nations.
The school must protect this treasure, keep this national spirit in itself. But what I’m talking about has nothing to do with nationalism. World culture is a mutual enrichment and complement. This is not one “flower”, but a beautiful “bouquet” of different “flowers”.
For example, there is a Georgian spirit and a Georgian school — our gift, our contribution to world culture. The same applies to the Ukrainian school. It should be the guardian and protector of culture. If a school loses this quality, then, I repeat after Ushinsky, it does not work for its nation. Imagine that only Waldorf schools will remain in Ukraine – after 20 years, Ukrainians will turn out to be Germans, they will have German thinking, a German way of life…
S.A.: Look at the field. It is mostly covered with beautiful green grass like a carpet. But different flowers grow on it, it is not only natural, but also beautiful. We have Germans, Armenians in Tbilisi, Yezidis are “flowers” in the meadow, and “green grass” are Georgians. There is a place for everyone in the meadow, flowers do not spoil it, but decorate it. It is impossible to infringe on the culture and language of peoples. If you do this, you risk losing the entire field and its original beauty.
S.A.: They must develop freely in the environment in which they are located. After all, it is no coincidence that this “flower” “grows” in this place, it has its own ecosystem, there are some microcommunities. Treat these “flowers” with love and understanding, support with laws, create opportunities for education.
They will enrich you, but they will also absorb your culture, you will have a dialogue of cultures. Different cultures are a source of development for each other. And if you destroy this “flower”, then the next one… If all the flowers are weeded out, then in the end, only the same grass will remain – where does such a culture get a source of diversity, development, beauty, if nothing else grows in the meadow except grass?
At the end of the interview, following the tradition of our almanac, we asked Shalva Amonashvili to answer the questions of MASEL PROUST’S QUESTIONNAIRE:
What is your strongest character trait?
Hard to say. But, it seems to me, if you asked people who know me about this, they would answer that it is the will and purposefulness.
What qualities do you value in men?
Your biggest flaw…
I’m imperfect, of course. If you look for flaws in me, then there will be a lot of them. But the main drawback is that I turned 37,100 days today. It would be much better if the number was different. For example, 18,000.
What is your favorite activity in life…
Your idea of happiness…
Happiness is in my hands. I try to create something for myself and for you – in this creation I find happiness. This is a calm, quiet happiness. It is inside, not outside. Therefore, it does not look like the stormy joy of a person who won the “prize” sector on the “Field of Miracles”.
Your idea of unhappiness…
If a person loses creativity, the ability to perceive something new, life stops. Of course, such a person becomes unhappy.
Is there a country or city that gives you a feeling of happiness and freedom?
First of all, this is my Georgia. But I feel the same in Ukraine, the Baltic countries, Kazakhstan… These are very powerful impulses. In what we do, voices of different countries are heard. Because many come to us in Georgia, we, in turn, come to someone. Together we rejoice that we have the opportunity to enrich each other, to create this atmosphere of freedom and happiness.
Your favorite writer…
I will name two: Rustaveli and Shakespeare. But Rustaveli, of course, is in the first place. I know a lot of his poems by heart. The Knight in the Panther’s Skin has been translated into many languages.
Including, by the way, in Ukrainian. Also, I must definitely name Dostoevsky, Pushkin, Skovoroda. Of the composers – Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky, whom I have been listening to a lot lately.
Do you have a favorite literary character?
Yes! It’s on my desktop. My daughter made a figurine of Tom Sawyer especially for me. Why him? It’s simple – it’s for people like Sawyer that pedagogy exists.
What do you hate?
Betrayal. It prevents people from developing and growing. And for those who betray, and for those who are betrayed.
Is there an ability you wish you had but don’t have?
Yes, I have. This is foresight, the ability to foresee. Also, communication with Heaven. Although some intuitive feeling I have developed.
For which vice do you feel the most indulgence?
Man has two main enemies. First of all – fear, then – irritation. They must be eradicated to the end. I tried to free myself from irritation and fear of death. It seems to me that the first thing to do to cleanse yourself of fear is to work hard.
What is your most vivid childhood memory?
Grandma’s prayers. I loved listening to her pray. It was back in the 40s…
How would you like to die?
I think about it a lot. People die in different ways. Some – in accidents, others – natural death, others – quietly, in a dream, fourth – from the coronavirus …
I would like to know the time of my death, at least two days in advance. So that I can realize this, prepare myself to meet death and what is called “transition”.
If you weren’t a teacher, what do you think you would be?
Nobody but the teacher. As a schoolboy, I dreamed of journalism, of a diplomatic mission. I read specialized literature, even graduated from the Faculty of Oriental Studies with an eye on a diplomatic career. But the children captivated me so much that they became my life. Now I don’t need anything but them.
The material was prepared with the assistance of Natalia Tarchenko, founder of the International Educational Agency DEC education