In the former Soviet Union, the upbringing of children in the spirit of Marxist-Leninist values was central to the project of societal transformation. More than 20 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, it is important to understand how the education of young children in this region has changed in response to a world rapidly globalizing and increasingly driven by market economic policies. Just how much have post-socialist states, as others across the world, reoriented their educational projects to ensure the development of individuals maximally adapted for the information economy of late capitalism? This study probes this question through the critical discourse analysis of a genre of early literacy textbooks – bukvari – used widely throughout the Soviet and post-Soviet education system. Through comparison of literacy texts published in the late Soviet era with those used over the past two decades in independent Armenia, Latvia, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine, we explore how discourses representing children and their behaviors – what we call ‘literacies of childhood’ – have evolved during post-socialist transformations. In contrast to the predominant assumption that values common to socialism should have given way to cosmopolitan, neoliberal principles, the study finds surprising flows and modifications between visions of the ‘Soviet’ and ‘post-Soviet’ child. Most significantly perhaps, the analysis reveals that even the most recent textbooks reject assertions of a global and future-oriented citizen, instead idealizing visions of a distinctly national citizenry, growing up in a trapped-in-time, ethnically and linguistically homogenous homeland.
Dr. Iveta Silova is Professor and Director of the Center for the Advanced Studies in Global Education at Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at ASU. Her research focuses on the study of globalization, democratization, and policy ‘borrowing’ in education. Her publications cover a range of issues critical to understanding post-socialist education transformation processes, including gender equity trends in Eastern/Central Europe and Central Asia, minority/multicultural education policies in the former Soviet Union, as well as the scope, nature, and implications of private tutoring in a cross-national perspective. Her last three edited volumes include "Globalization on the Margins: Education and Post-Socialist Transformations in Central Asia" (Information Age Publishing, 2011), "Post-Socialism is not Dead: (Re)reading the Global in Comparative Education" (Emerald, 2010), and "How NGOs React: Globalization and Education Reform in the Caucasus, Central Asia, and Mongolia" (Kumarian Press, 2008; with Gita Steiner-Khamsi). She is a co-editor (with Noah W. Sobe) of "European Education: Issues and Studies" (Taylor & Frances).