On June 6, 2017 the Institute of World Politics welcomed Lauren Lee Mitchell for a presentation on the topic of “A Safety in Tradition: Homeschooling’s Unexpected Rise in Post-Soviet Russia”. This lecture explored the causes of the rise in Russia’s increased enrollment in homeschooling. Ms. Mitchell began by explaining Russia’s rich tradition of family education, which was used as a tool for preserving “Russianness” in children. However under the Soviet Union, homeschooling was strictly forbidden, as the state wanted to use education as a tool to indoctrinate children uniformly. With the fall of the Soviet Union, family education made its return.
The “fear impetus” as Ms. Mitchell called it, plays an important role in understanding the morality behind the choice to keep children home. Ms. Mitchell explored Russia’s rise in violent attacks on schools as a primary factor in increased family education. After the Belsan Massacre of 2004, Russia saw dramatic increases in parents choosing to pull their children out of public schools. This is not the only attack Russia has seen on schools. As a result, more curriculums for homeschool education are being implemented by parents in the home. The decision for family education was now being made from a desire for safety, not just as a moral choice. Ms. Mitchell also credited social and cultural traditionalism as a factor in education. The women of Soviet Russia played a role of dual-participation where they were required to meet working quotas and be the family caretaker, which created an exhausting reality for females who were having to do twice the work of their male counterparts. Since the demise of the Soviet Union, women have reclaimed their femininity by caring for the home and their children. This includes taking charge of educating and indoctrinating their children themselves.
In her lecture, Ms. Mitchell attributes the rise in homeschooling throughout the post-Soviet Russian population to several factors. This “mix of cultural reactions, escapism, and a return to old traditions” creates a platform for political and social growth within the homeschool educational system. Russia does not stand alone by having totalitarianism as a part of its history; it does however, have these unique factors that encourage family education in a post-Soviet era that supports a progressing society.
Lauren Lee Mitchell is a Global Outreach Coordinator for Home School Legal Defense Association and the former Lead Legislative Assistant for HSLDA’s Federal Relations team. Ms. Mitchell is an award-winning writer and public speaker who coaches high school and collegiate debate teams.