THE AGE OF MATURITY
What is “adulthood”? What are the criteria for defining it? In what way have the notions of maturity been changing since the emergence of the concept of childhood? How true is the hypothesis that the boundaries of maturity have been expanded and, if it is true, why is this happening? In order to find answers to these questions, we have turned to psychologists, philosophers, biologists, historians, and educators. The experts on this issue offer their opinions about whether modern school copes with the task of preparing children for living life on their own, why “total” immaturity has become the norm, what happens to the human brain in the course of man’s life, whether the transition from childhood to adulthood proceeds along similar lines in different cultures, and how this comes about in such countries as the United States, Japan and China.
Lyudmila Petranovskaya. Protection and Care
Family psychologist Lyudmila Petranovskaya answers questions put to her by OZ about the criteria of adulthood, about what slows down children’s development, and whether there is a correlation between the level of economic well-being and ever more delayed maturation. In her opinion, on the one hand, the adult is the one who is capable of performing the behavior of protection and care. On the other hand, the rate of changes in society today is growing so rapidly that the gap between social and biological maturity keeps increasing, and a child who has reached puberty in terms of nature is not ready to perform the behavior of protection and care and live an individual life.
Boris Zhukov. An Industry of Greenhorns
Having more than once increased the length of compulsory secondary education, society was each time faced with the fact that the degree of social maturity of school leavers practically did not change. This raises questions about how much social maturation is generally determined by physiological maturation and what role — in reality and not in theory — mass school plays in this process.
Natalia Veselkova, Natalia Yershova, Yelena Pryamikova. Neither Children nor Adults
The topicality of this article is substantiated by several aspects, including sociological aspects — the methods of developing coming-of-age strategies and organizing interaction between generations in an individualized society — and pedagogical aspects — the ways of determining the tactics of work with present-day college students, who continue to display the behavior of school students and not that of future professionals. At first sight, the hypothesis of “expanding” the coming of age comes into conflict with the concept of the “disappearance” of childhood. In reality, this shows that the traditional norms, meanings and frameworks of adulthood and maturation are “eroded” and replaced — the question is, replaced with what? An answer to this question can be obtained through the methods of focus groups and semi-structured interview and the analysis of researcher-instigated documents — mini-essays written by senior secondary school students.
Yelena Kosilova. On The Coming of Age in a Multi-Factor Culture
The article centers on philosophical conceptualization of the phenomenon of human age. The author proposes a model of transition from the cognitive age of children, whose main characteristic is play, to adult cognitive age, whose main characteristic is the splitting into two subject poles, which is formed in the process of play with the help of a special speech mechanism. An analysis is given of contemporary culture and its multi-factor and dynamic character. An examination of young people’s attitude towards the elderly in Russian culture shows that the foundation for respect for older people is vanishing. In addition, secular culture avoids references to death and replaces them with a cult of youth and sex appeal. Separately examined is the structure of family and that of orphanages and the lack of a permanent background for the shaping of an inner subject core in a child is shown. The author arrives at the conclusion that maturation occurs slowly in Russian culture, and subsequently this trend will only keep growing.
Tatiana Chernigovskaya. Late Coming of Age as an Alarming Symptom
The noted Russian biologist, linguist, semiotician and psychologist reflects in her interview on what happens to the human brain in the course of life, what dangers lie in wait for humanity, and also why the responsibility for our behavior today should be taken much more seriously than ever before.
Boris Zhukov. Infantile Ape
Man is distinguished from the other mammals by an extraordinarily long childhood: the period from birth to full (physiological and social) maturity amounts to nearly one-fifth of the species’ life expectancy and is half as long as the reproductive period. This specific feature will probably become better understood if seen in the light of the theory of “juvenilization,” which is popular in anthropology and according to which the evolution of man included the preservation in the adult state of a number of characteristics peculiar to infant great apes.
CHILDREN OF DIFFERENT PEOPLES
Yelena Kuzmina. The Chinese Adult: A Superhero or an Eternal Child
The article focuses on the process of transition of Chinese young people from juvenile to adult period, termed “emerging adulthood” in the new China, since introducing the policy of reform and opening up in 1978. Scholars, journalists and even casual observers note that Chinese young people seem not to be in a hurry to become adults. The causes of this may be looked for in rejecting the “coming-of-age procedures” accepted in traditional society. This may also be determined by a number of other cultural and historical factors such as Confucian “collectivism,” classical Chinese models of child-parent relations and modern behavior patterns promoted by the mass media of China, Japan and Korea, etc.
Alexander Meshcheryakov. Traditional Japan: The Duties of Adults and the Joys of Old People
In traditional Japan, an old age free of illness and infirmity was regarded as the happiest period of life. The absence of duties, the enjoyment of free time, respect, and care from those around one made old age a time one looked forward to. The path to old age, however, lay through childhood, adolescence, youth and maturity. In this article, the author describes the age gradations accepted in traditional Japan and examines the rights and duties of each age category, giving special attention to old age.
Maria Zolotukhina. Two Steps Forward and Three Backward
In the 1990s, American philosopher Neil Postman declared the disappearance of childhood in the United States; by 2014, it turned out that “adulthood” had become history in that country: according to alarming headlines in the press, America had turned into a “giant children’s playground.” The author of the article tries to gain an insight into what is actually happening in American society and arrives at the conclusion that the boundaries of reaching adulthood have indeed been shifted, and the meaning put into the concept “to grow/become adult” today has changed. The slogan which the Americans are trying to follow is: it is better slowly and thoroughly to develop maturity, while not rejecting the basic core values. Maturation is not direct onward movement but rather two steps forward and three backward.
IN THE WORLD OF THE BEAUTIFUL
Vadim Mikhailin. The Discreet Charm of a Member of the Late Soviet Intelligentsia
This article, based in the first place on the film Flights in Dreams and in Reality and containing references to the films Guard Me, My Talisman, We, the Undersigned and Nostalgia, offers an analysis of the phenomenon of the “underage man of forty” from the late Soviet period — in effect, a life-term underage man, who is clearly identified in the canonical character types created by Oleg Yankovsky in the highly varied roles that he played in films by different film directors.
Mikhail Epstein, Serge Iourienen. The Metaphysics of Youth
OZ publishes an excerpt from the book Encyclopaedia of Youth (2009), which is a joint autobiography of the novelist Serge Iourienen and philosopher Mikhail Epstein. Their friendship began in 1967, as freshmen at the Philological Department of Moscow State University, and has continued for more than 40 years, now in the United States. Focused on seven years, from 1967 through 1974, the book reveals the world of youthful fascinations and anguishes, creative endeavors, love sufferings, social fears, and professional and existential quests. This is a dialogue of peers speaking from within their youth and, at the same time, about their youth and placing it in the perspective of their subsequent life experience. The book has never been published in Russia.
Oleg Yanitsky. The Diary of Vera Schmidt
The author tells in this article about the life and activities of his aunt, Russian educationist and psychoanalyst Vera Fedorovna Schmidt (1889-1937). In the early 1920s, she conducted a microsociopsychological survey of childhood, which has remained unparalleled to this day. This is a diary of her observations on the development of her son from the day of his birth to the age of three, which she kept when she worked at the “International Solidarity” Children’s Home Laboratory in Moscow. Vera Schmidt also published quite a number of articles and brochures one of which, translated into German, was handed over to Sigmund Freud in the autumn of 1923. As a result of the crushing of psychoanalysis in the USSR in the late 1920s and the early death of Vera Schmidt in 1937, her works remained unknown in Russia for nearly 70 years. Today the interest in her works has again grown.
THE LAND OF OZ
Sergei Magid. The Myth of TGM III. Vlastimil Garrigue
OZ continues the publication of a large study/essay where the main character is the outstanding Czech thinker and political figure Tomáљ Garrigue Masaryk. He became for the Czechs a myth and culture hero despite the fact that the Czech people treated him with suspicion and even hated him throughout the first half of his life. What kind of reality is hidden behind the myth named “Masaryk”? What was the actual life lived by the man who went down in the history of the Czech oikoumene under the symbolic acronym “TGM,” popularly dubbed the Father of the Czechoslovak Republic? The reality hidden behind the triumphant myth turns out to be made up of hurts, disappointments, pain, and a vast quantity of useful lies. Useful to whom and to what purpose? In the study/essay “The Myth of TGM,” the author tries to comprehend what the reality and its accompanying myth eventually brought to the Czechs and Slovaks, to Europe and to Masaryk himself.
Valery Kislov. How
An ironic essay on the subject of coming of age presenting in a detached manner social stereotypes related to the subject and unsuccessful attempts by a person coming of age to preserve his or her personality in a levelling environment.
Viktor Bochenkov. The Way to Live a Saintly Life
The article provides a brief outline of the history of the Old Believers’ education. More specifically, it focuses on the development of their own schools before and after issuing the Imperial Decree “On the Strengthening of the Principles of Religious Toleration,” the tasks that faced them, as well as the creation of textbooks on the Law of God for Old Believers’ schools and Old Believers’ literature of an educational nature for children. In the early 20th century, a number of major problems rose before the Old Believers’ formerly patriarchal family such as the generation gap between fathers and sons and the onslaught of atheistic ideology, including through state-run schools. The article makes an attempt to show how Old Believers’ pedagogical thought tried to oppose this, what it offered in place of this, and what conditions it considered necessary for the successful maturation of the religious person.
Darya Dvoinishnikova,Valeria Panfilova. “A Letter from the War Is an Eternal Relic”
OZ continues to publish essays by participants in the competition of historical research papers by senior high school students “Man in History: Russia, 20th Century,” annually conducted by the Society “Memorial.” The authors of the work now offered to the attention of our readers were prizewinners at the 15th competition the results of which were summed up in April 2014. In this work, heart-searing letters sent from the Afghan War by frontier guard soldier Yevgeny Krotov, who remained in that war forever, are published practically in full.
Olga Stolyarova. What is the Way to Understand the Philosophy of Age?
Yelena Kosilova, the author of the book Filosifiya vozrasta (Philosophy of Age), makes an unconventional attempt to discuss human age, using solely philosophical conceptual instruments (and not psychological or culturological ones, which are more familiar to the Russian reader) and within the framework of philosophical range of problems, set in a universal meaning structure. The system of concepts needed for such a discussion is largely created by the author on the fly. The author of the book comes to the disappointing conclusion that, if things continue to develop along the same lines, the age of maturity will keep rising higher and higher, and what awaits our culture in future is overall infantilism with the government playing the part of parents.
Georgy Lyubarsky. Russian School in the 18th Century
The book Russkaya shkola VIII stoletiya (Russian School of the 18th Century) by Alexei Lyubzhin, D. Sc. (Philology), staff member of the Department of Rare Books and Manuscripts of the Research Library of Lomonosov Moscow State University, is the first volume of the study Istoriya russkoi shkoly imperatorskoi epokhi (A History of the Russian School of the Imperial Period) dealing with the history of primary and secondary education in Russia. Special attention in the book is given to the history of educational policy and educational systems (theological, military nobility, general, classical and real types of school) and their philosophical and pedagogical foundations.