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A Well-Ordered Thing$
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Michael D. Gordin

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780691172385

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691172385.001.0001

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Making Newtons

Making Newtons

Romantic Journeys toward Genius

(p.166) Chapter 7 Making Newtons
A Well-Ordered Thing
Michael D. Gordin
Princeton University Press

This chapter examines Dmitrii Mendeleev's reform of Russian education. The educational reform Mendeleev proposed during the last decade of his life encapsulated his fully articulated view of how expertise should be marshaled in Russian culture and thus stands as one of the best exemplars of Mendeleev's Imperial Turn. This reform contrasted sharply with the decentralized pedagogical approach of the 1863 statute that had structured Mendeleev's vision of the Great Reforms. Now, for him, the first step toward improving education was to ban general examinations, since they stifled individual innovation. Encouraging mindless regurgitation was no way to make Newtons. Instead, more attention should be paid to training teachers from the elementary level through university. The educational reform would be monitored by continually sending inspectors, drawn from the ranks of the most experienced teachers, to all corners of the empire to ensure equivalent levels of teaching—another instance of Mendeleev's belief in Imperial systems.

Keywords:   Dmitrii Mendeleev, Russian education, educational reform, Russian culture, Great Reforms, general examinations, individual innovation, teaching, Imperial systems

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