Romantic Journeys toward Genius
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.
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