Russian Educational Publishing Panel
Presented at BookExpo America 2012 Global Market Forum
For podcast release Monday, June 25, 2012
KENNEALLY: Dobro Utra. Even if it is evening in Moscow, it’s still morning here in New York City. Welcome to the Javits Center. As Ruediger Weischenbart said, my name is Christopher Kenneally. I am Director of Business Development at Copyright Clearance Center. A colleague of mine, Michael Healy, will be joining us at this program this afternoon to discuss issues related to copyright. You won’t want to miss that. He’ll be talking about copyright challenges in Russian publishing – and around the world, indeed.
But I should tell you the Copyright Clearance Center is relevant to this subject because we, of course, work with a great many educational publishers to license their work in academic settings, and so it’s important for us to understand what the challenges and the opportunities are in the educational space around the world. So I’m very happy to be here to do that.
My background is not in educational publishing, nor is it in Russian educational publishing, which put me in mind of something I read that Woody Allen said. He took a speed reading course, and it allowed him to read War and Peace in 20 minutes. It involves Russia is what he knew. My speed reading course in the educational publishing marketplace in Russia has been rather like that. I understand it involves Russia. It involves a great deal more than that, of course – countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States, Eastern Europe, and indeed now here in the United States.
I have a great panel to discuss some of these issues with us. I want to introduce them very briefly. I’ll move from my left on down the panel, and I’ll start with the easiest name to pronounce, Jonathan Brent. Welcome. Jonathan is the Executive Director of the Yivo Institute for Jewish Research in New York City. He teaches Russian history and literature at Bard College. From 1991 to 2009, he was an editor and then both Editorial Director and Associate Director of Yale Press. He is the founder of the world-acclaimed Annals of Communism Series, which he established at Yale Press in 1991. In 1981, he founded the International Literary Magazine, Formations, specializing in work from Eastern Europe and Russia. He’s co-author of Stalin’s Last Crime: The Plot Against the Jewish Doctors from HarperCollins in 2003 and Inside the Stalin Archives, published by Atlas Books in 2008. He’s currently working on a biography of the Soviet Jewish writer Isaac Babel.
To his left is Dmitry Bak. Dmitry, privet. Dmitry is Vice Rector for Research at the Russian State University for the Humanities, and he teaches at the Moscow Art Theatre. He’s also a journalist, critic, and translator.
To his left, Marc, welcome. Marc Mikulich is Vice President, Brand Management and International Rights for John Wiley & Sons. Mark has worked in global publishing, licensing, and brand management since 1981. He has worked with the For Dummies brand particularly since 1991. The Dummies brand was introduced to Russia via an agreement Marc made with the start-up publisher Dialectica in 1992. And that relationship continues to this day.
And finally on the far left end, Alexander Kondakov. Alexander, privet. Alexander Kondakov became Director General of Prosveshcheniye Publishers in 2001. From 1998 to 2001, he was Deputy Minister of Education and Mr. Kondakov is also Vice President of the Russian Book Union.
And Alexander, I’d like to start with you because you’ve just joined us here in New York City from Washington. But Alexander, I was saying that you joined us today from Washington where you were participating at a conference organized by the Association of American Publishers, the Association of Educational Publishers – and the issue there that you were all ruminating on was globalization. Let’s start with that and then we can kind of descend to the Russian marketplace.
From your perspective as a Russian publisher, what’s important about the globalization effort that’s underway throughout publishing?
KONDAKOV: I think that today we observing changes in not only the society but education, of course. And when we are speaking about changes in education, we should realize that we are having a revolution comparing to the one that we had almost 500 years ago when the first printing machine appeared and that created first printed books and civic education – and Ján Amos Komenský, who has created his classroom educational system. So it’s same level of changes in education.
And that produce a very serious impact, too, on what is happening not only in Russia but around the world – in the world on a global scale.
And of course yesterday, the conference (inaudible) studying – investigating what is happening in the biggest markets like China, India, Russia, Brazil, and so on. But finally, everybody was speaking about globalization processes in education and of course, in producing educational materials. Because Internet has broken the walls of the classroom and brought possibilities to everybody to study – taking content what is coming from whenever you need it or you like at the time that is convenient for you at a pace that is psychological convenient for the student and so on.
And from this point of view, of course, we should take into account such things like academic mobility, professional mobility, social mobility. And that gives special requirements to the education diplomas that students get in different countries. And of course the process that started about 20 years ago with Lisbon Convention, UNESCO Convention and other international documents that give special requirements to diplomas of different level.
Nowadays, makes people think about global standards of education, international standards of education.
KENNEALLY: Yes. I mean what’s interesting about that issue that you point out is that it’s going to have an impact in the publishing sector as well as in the classroom itself. And that’s a subject, I think, we’re going to talk a lot about in the next hour. And the notion is now that there is no isolation any longer. There is no isolation for publishing and there is no isolation for the classroom.
KONDAKOV: No. Educational space is open. Educational space is open. And I think that we experienced this for the last 10 or 15 years. And for Russia, for example, in school education, the most important and difficult thing was that still, until recently, Russian education system is knowledge-based and Western education system is competence-based. So the new educational standards in secondary education in Russia are also now competence-based, and the problem that we face today that we have 11 years secondary education, the rest of the world have 12 years secondary education. And this is a problem for the educational publishers as well.
KENNEALLY: Dmitry Bak, I want to bring you into the conversation because at your research institute, you have a publishing house – or I should say at your university you have a publishing house as well, and you are concerned particularly about the interplay between what is happening in the classroom – not just a kid at 12, which is Alexander’s sector – but in the higher education, too. How do you feel that the publishing community in Russia is taking on the challenge of keeping pace with globalization, keeping with these changes that Alexander has described?
BAK: Alexander spoke about problem in education of Russia that problem effectual for high education, too, because I can’t speak about all the publishing in Russia but I can speak about those publishing houses, which are in universities. And in this territory, very, very important changes have come in last years. Because a lot of publishing house are dead now. For example, publishing house of Moscow State University, (inaudible) University (inaudible) many, many who are a small, different – a small publishing houses and –
KENNEALLY: Right. And I should say for the sake of the audience, too, that this is a situation that is not only happening in Russia but many university presses here in the United States are under pressure as well.
BAK: And we have now have a (inaudible) modernization however, education – higher education, too, because all over the world there are two levels of high education – bachelor degree and master degree – and Russia had only one degree, a so-called specialist five-year term of education. And now we came to (inaudible) state educational standards of the third generation. And it is very complicated process and it impacts on publishing of scientific literature and learning literature in Russia, too.
KENNEALLY: Right. And it’s a matter of survival. So for, I believe the acronym is RGGU – I won’t say it in Russian – but for your publishing house at RGGU, you are able to survive. You say you make a profit but just barely. What are you doing to survive under those –
BAK: I spoke about that many – a lot of publishing houses in university are dead, and now we have very few university publishing houses, which keep on the work, which publish not literature for children, not literature about art and so on, not (inaudible), but scientific literature. And some of other publishing houses try to create the united network of information of distribution and united network of texts – of authors – and our partner is publishing house, for example, of high school of economy in Moscow. It’s a new university. It’s a very important university in Moscow. And now we have agreement with this publishing house, and we try to survive. It’s very, very difficult to survive and protect our specific – protect our profile.
We try to involve in publishing not only professors of university but professors from another university – from the other universities in Moscow, and not only from Russia but from abroad, too.
BAK: We launched some series of foreign monographs of humanities, which translated into Russian. We have a lot of agreements with foreign university. For example, the Yivo. We have a joint program – last 20 years of the Jewish culture in Russia and not in Russia. And that our measures to survive.
KENNEALLY: Right. I want to bring Alexander Kondakov back and talk about survival. Yeah, Prosveshcheniye is one of the leading publishers – number three in the marketplace. You just made an announcement last year regarding a merger. We heard about another merger here today earlier. Is that one approach that Russian publishers are taking? They’re kind of coming together to survive in this challenging marketplace?
KONDAKOV: I think that it’s going trend everywhere. And besides, when we’re speaking about digital content, we should realize that we are moving from the sale of product to sales of services. And today the publishing house that will create the best and most convenient platform for the consumer will be the winner. That is (inaudible) yesterday we were speaking with the American publishers section – not an American, German, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and other publishers. Everybody is very much concerned about the sales of services and providing distant learner services and so on – so the education publishing houses becoming a sort of educational services service – something like that – providing different services to other countries.
And when we speak about globalization, we should remember that – actually when eight or nine years ago we started a new project with digital content, I asked my colleagues, you should produce Windows for school. So the publishing house that will be able to produce, of course, Windows platform that will be very convenient and that will provide teachers, students, parents – other participants of the teaching process with best services – that’ll be the winner. And this a very serious trend in globalization of the educational publishing market – if we call it publishing.
KENNEALLY: Right. Well, we call it publishing but in fact it’s a technology business.
KONDAKOV: Multimedia or technology or whatsoever.
KONDAKOV: Because, for example, we have created an Internet school eight years ago, and we were working on the new methods of teaching new educational technologies and so on. And today, we have about 15,000 students – full-time students – in our Internet school in about 37 regions sitting on this platform – educational platform. So that’s just an example, when you are developing business in a digital age. And the process of merging (inaudible) everywhere in the world, and last December, we merged with (inaudible) we became the number one company on the market. And now we are finalizing all the procedures with Drofa. That’ll be finalized before the first of July. So we’ll be number one on the Russian market and the first in Eastern Europe, fifth in Europe by the size of the company. But those are general trends actually, what I – so yesterday, same is happening in American market as well.
KENNEALLY: Right. I’d like to bring in one of our American colleagues here, Marc Mikulich. And Marc, at Wiley with the For Dummies brand, you’ve been working with Russian counterparts now for some time – 20 years, I believe it is at Dialectica. What have you learned? What are some lessons there that may apply to potential partnerships that could be discussed here in this room or at this forum?
MIKULICH: Well, certainly the Dummies story, which is not strictly speaking a higher ed – it’s more of a lifelong learning story – is one about establishing a brands promise and giving people a reliable resource to return to again and again – that Dummies is in over 30 languages around the world and localized in every market as is needed and has increasingly migrated from being a book series to more of a digital lifestyle learning brand. For the purposes of this discussion, though, I would say – and Wiley does – obviously, we’re also a publisher of higher education textbooks. We do a fair amount of licensing in the Russian market, principally to AST and EKSMO for our higher ed titles. I would say about 40% of what we license for higher ed is in the life sciences or chemistry. About 20% would be technology, principally the Microsoft MOAC certification program. Another 20% for higher education business courses, which interestingly kind of maps in some degree to what Dummies is rooted in technology and business titles.
But if you think about what a brand means and what it offers people in terms of assurances – Alexander was just talking about publishers coming together in different markets. I was just in Brazil a couple of months ago meeting with the four largest higher education publishers in Brazil, who serve 60% of the market, and they are joining together to form a consortium to offer the kind of content service that Alexander was just talking about – something called Mi Biblioteca. (sp?) – My Library.
M: Same in Germany.
M: Same in Germany. Yes.
MIKULICH: And I think that you’re going to see this in every higher education market, where increasingly there are what we call in the U.S. for-profit universities, like University of Phoenix and so forth, which in Brazil, 70% of the students go to such universities. In order to not have students spending all of their money on tuition and nothing on textbooks or photocopying textbooks or whatnot, by turning the content into a content services scenario that the university can bundle with their registration fees to provide a full service for the student. Now the student doesn’t even have to think about photocopying because online access is free, and that I think is a future model for the Russian market as well as others.
KENNEALLY: Dmitry Bak, if I can bring you in. If I understand correctly, the Russian State University for the Humanities itself is a start-up – that it is a 20-year-old institution. And I wonder if that makes it easier for you to approach these questions because you don’t have the legacy of previous times.
BAK: Yes, but our university was founded really 20 years ago but on the base of Moscow State Institute for Archives, which was founded in 1930. But we are a university of new type. It’s true, it’s true. And we take steps by this new way where I try to arrange (inaudible) to the conditions of today market – present-day market – and we have very important problems because our efforts in many cases is contradictory with our Minister of Education – because I marked our educational standards, and our educational standards consist of the least of disciplines of course – is for high education and for middle education to middle school, too. And every student in everywhere – in Kaliningrad or Vladivostok – must learn these disciplines and must spend certain time to learn physics or history or so on.
And it is contradictory with the nature of modern knowledge and with the nature of modern education and learning, because modern learning is interdisciplinary but not disciplinary. And ministry stimulate our (inaudible) authors to create mostly textbooks of old type – old-fashioned textbooks – because those textbooks are traditional and are disciplinary – not interdisciplinary. And I (inaudible) can speak that in auditorium in classes is not a competition between different professors but a competition between professors from one side and between students from other (multiple conversations; inaudible) –
KENNEALLY: So in effect, the students are in a position where they might have something to teach the professors.
BAK: Yes, yes. It’s not teaching but learning but to (inaudible) because students have many possibility to take knowledge from Internet, from another source, and so they have very different experience. They learned in different countries and so on and not professors.
KENNEALLY: Right. Jonathan Brent, I want to bring you in because you’re an educator as well as author, as well as somebody experienced in publishing, who has looked at the teaching environment, the classroom environment in the United States obviously first hand but also in Russia. What are your thoughts about this and why is this discussion so important to publishing itself? I mean we could talk about teaching practices and it’s fascinating to hear because in this country where we’re accustomed to saying that our educational environment leaves a lot to be desired, now we’re hearing people from the other side saying well, the way you teach is something we would like to move towards ourselves. Tell us what you think.
KONDAKOV: Nobody is happy with education environment.
KENNEALLY: It seems like it, doesn’t it? (laughter) Well, anyway, Jonathan Brent, what are your thoughts on all of this and –
BRENT: Well, I’d like to preface what I say with a general comment, which is that – and this is from a comment that was made at the last session. One of the panelists said that Russia is a lot – is a big country and therefore, we should be engaged with its literature and culture. I don’t think that satisfies our need to be engaged with it at all. It is a big country but the reason that we’re engaged with it to the extent that we are is that the history of Russia is deeply engaged with the history of the West, particularly with America during the Cold War. And this story of engagement – as again, picking up on what someone on the last panel said – Americans are only interested in themselves but therefore, we should be interested in Russia. Why? Because our history for some 60 years, 70 years, was intimately connected with the history of Russia.
I’ll give you just one example. 85% of American Jews, which is approximately four million people, came from Russia. Now that is a very deep engagement, and that is an engagement which, if it is approached in the right way, can yield a variety of opportunities in collaboration, in a collaborative search for knowledge. Why? Because in America, just as we’ve heard from our colleagues from Russia, there is a woeful lack of knowledge. We think that because we’re in the West – because we have the Internet – because we have a multiplicity of textbooks and forums for discussion – that we don’t need to improve necessarily the extent to which we actually know that we have facts. It’s not just a matter of competence at this point. It’s also a matter of facts. And the fact is we don’t.
And I know this because I worked for 20 years in the Soviet Archives in Moscow, the last bit of which was an agreement with the Soviet – with the Russian archival services to publish something called Stalin’s Personal Archive – Lechney von Stalina. (sp?)
And for this we developed a digital component. Now the reason I’m bringing this up is not simply to tell you about this, but this digital component is an immensely powerful educational – potential educational instrument. Why? Because built into this digital platform that is being built – and which is going to be the subject of a panel tomorrow – will be not only documents from the Stalin archive that are represented in Russian but also transcribed so that you can read the handwritten – also translated in English, also annotated by scholars. This is one component of it.
I’ll give you one example of why this is important. I gave a talk at Grinnell College not long ago about Stalin, and several students came up to me afterwards and said we would like a course on Stalin on Soviet history in the 20th century taught at Grinnell College. Now this is not a community college. This is not a two-year college. This is a major liberal arts college in America, where they do not teach the subject of Stalin and Soviet history in the 20th century. Why? Because they have no one to teach it. Nor is there a book that they know they can go to.
This platform, when it is fully developed, will enable a professor who has rudimentary knowledge – it will enable that professor to have access to an immense array of documents, as well as commentary by scholars, reading lists, suggested syllabi for courses, and it will provide a means of opening the subject up. But what is done at Grinnell College in the United States can also be done in Moscow. It can also be done in Beijing. It can also be done in Mexico.
KENNEALLY: And Jonathan, I think the point that’s interesting there is – you used a phrase there isn’t a professor to teach that particular subject because there may not even be a book to rely upon, and I think that’s the interesting virtuous circle here that’s at the heart of the discussion about educational publishing in Russia and anywhere for that matter. And I want to bring Alexander Kondakov back and ask about the pressure that is on in an economy that’s growing fast with a growing middle class, to provide the kind of education and the kind of educational resources that are going to be necessary for the 21st century. Tell us about that.
KONDAKOV: When I’m speaking about education and especially school education, we should realize it is not just a school. It’s not just a place where you put kids and you ask this institution to let them leave the school be in university students. School performs the tasks that is given by the society by families, by the state according to the requirements of the time in which we live. From this point of view, I was remember of famous prime minister of the beginning of the 21st century, Stolypin, who said that first of all, you should upbring a citizen and then citizenship will come itself to Russia.
And when we started to work on the new educational standards, actually we wanted to realize what’s going on. What shall we do? What are the requirements? And if Russia is now building a civil society, then the school is not an instrument to let students pass the state exam and the university, but it should first of all solve the issue of upbringing a citizen and bringing citizenship to Russia to make it a civil society.
That is why one of the most important issues for the most of the countries today is to select the content that would bring the process. And actually today, we heard about Dostoevsky, about Tolstoy, Gogol and others, and unfortunately for many, many years – for decades, just these names that come to any audience and that we discuss – but in reality, when we look at the books written by these authors – just for example, in one class few years ago, girls were asked what do you think about Anna Karenina? And they answered she’s a fool (laughter) because it’s different time, different approaches, different values – and when we speak about content of school education, we first of all should think about how (inaudible) response to the task that a school should perform for the society, for the family, for the student itself. And this is a universal problem throughout the world because school literature or school physics is not a science. It is a school subject that first of all is aimed to upbring personality, upbring a citizen – and yesterday also discussed this issue. This is common to every nation.
And unfortunately today, there are a lot of famous modern authors in New York. We can’t say really that there are many names that could become part of a school curricula. In Soviet years, we have Mikahlsky (sp?), we have Simonovka (sp?), Fordav (sp?), and so on. Today, we have different problem. There’s sort of a cultural crisis in the country, and this is very serious. That is why nowadays when we look at the new school curricula, when we produce new teaching materials, when we produce this new educational environment, we first of all think which content will fulfill the requirements of the society, of family, of our kids. Because new economy, new society requires that. And of course, globalization brings a lot to that.
For example, we are now working joint math curricula in Russia and in Germany – two publishing houses – (inaudible) and (inaudible) – and same will be true about other science – school subjects. Of course, subjects like history or humanities or so on, they’re very national. But just remember that one of the first things which the European Union did – it was common history of Europe. And these approaches just symbols of the trends that are coming to education and that (multiple conversations; inaudible) –
KENNEALLY: (multiple conversations; inaudible). If I may, I’ll bring Dmitry Bak back in to the conversation because you made this great expression, which I’ve just learned – my fast learning here. We would say from east coast to west coast, it’s Kaliningrad to Vladivostok. Those are two cities that we don’t hear so much about, at least in this country. We hear about Moscow and Petersburg. And I wonder weather because technology puts – it makes available to anyone the power to publish, and brings to anyone the information that is put out anywhere in the world, whether you see a potential in smaller, independent publishing houses like yours beginning to appear in Kaliningrad, in Vladivostok, and elsewhere.
BAK: And they are in Vladivostok, in Kolingrad. And I was born Kamchatka region. It’s fact in my biography. And those who live in regions of Russia now have more possibilities to take an information – they acknowledge directly from Internet and directly – and to read book which published not in Moscow and Petersburg but in those cities and towns. And it is specific of publishing house of scientific literature that there are those – most of – a lot of those publishing house is not big like Prosveshcheniye, for example. Prosveshcheniye is very big and very successful and very popular or important at publishing house in modern Russia – but university – publishing houses of university must be small, I think.
And to create those own publishing policy, to gain their aims. And the second, Alexander Kondakov says about that physics and history in middle school are not only sciences but I can speak the same about physics and history and the economy and university, too. I think that it’s our second very important aim to publish Science Popular books and university is important – at universities, it’s important not to provide the lectures on physics for those who became physics and lectures on economy to students of economy departments but to all them – all the citizens.
And we have some courses of lectures on economy, on history, for inhabitants of those territory in Moscow, which our university is situated as well very important tasks for us, too.
KENNEALLY: Right. Marc Mikulich, I want to bring you back in, and from the perspective of Wiley, which is first global publisher but then after that has this network of partners and subsidiaries around the world, you started with the For Dummies series with that start-up Dialectica, do you find that even within the Wiley example, you’re learning to go small in order to go big?
MIKULICH: Well, I would say with the Dummies example, Wiley acquired that business in 2001 when they purchased what used to be IDG Books Worldwide. And Wiley brought a lot of publishing resources to the table in terms of the fact that we have publishing offices not just in the U.S. but in Canada, in the UK, in Germany and Australia, in India, and sales offices in other places – and so we immediately decentralized the publishing program. So books get originated in various markets and even in markets where Wiley doesn’t publish directly. Our licensee publishing partners originate titles, so in France, the editions first published (inaudible) and it sold something like a million copies. Even Sarkozy had one. And to the point that was already made about history as being a nationally written. Certainly those national histories get published locally by our partners throughout the world, and I think that’s as it should be.
As I mentioned earlier, when we license to higher ed publishers in other markets, it’s usually on the life sciences, on fundamentals of business and management and technology – things like the Microsoft MOAC certification program, which are by necessity global – but sure, the local part is very important because you need to have what’s relevant for that particular audience.
KENNEALY: Right. And Jonathan Brent, I want to bring you in and then perhaps if we have a question or two from the audience, we can entertain those. But again, this virtuous circle that we’ve been discussing between the needs in the classroom, the needs of the student and the response that the publishers and the writers make and then how that continues and so forth – why is it critical for it, from your perspective, for things to change first in the classroom? Why does that matter most? Why is the classroom your focus?
BRENT: If you took the classroom out of American society, we would have the Dark Ages. That’s why. If you took it out of the classroom in Europe, we would have the Dark Ages. We would have no one who knows Montaigne, no one who knows Rabelais, no one who knows Tolstoy, nobody who reads Shakespeare. We live with a plethora of information and no knowledge. This is why education is the single most important component of culture worldwide. This isn’t a Russian problem or an American problem.
KENNEALLY: But it’s not only education. It’s about the way that the education is inculcated.
BRENT: Yes, yes.
KENNEALLY: It’s delivered, if you will.
BRENT: It is a huge cultural problem for the West. It is not a small thing that we’re talking about, and that’s one reason why I feel that without education and without the sort of collaborative approaches to education, we’re going to be losing a generation of young minds. We’re losing them to the Internet, and what is the Internet? The Internet is a variety of portals, where you go and you find something. Do you connect it with this portal? Not necessarily. How do you know where to look? How do you know where to look? You need a Virgil. You need a guide in this Underworld.
Wait. Let me just say one more thing –
BRENT: – because I – this needs to be said, I believe – which is that there are many opportunities for collaboration between Russian scholars and American scholars that can yield projects similar to the Stalin Archives that have not yet been attempted, but which can then be funded by foundations in the West that are in fact keenly interested in the subject of history still, such as the Mellon Foundation. And one such collaborative project, which I know from the fact that Bard College has a (inaudible) component to it – one component – a project that would be extremely valuable, not just in Russia but in the United States as well, is the construction of a textbook on the subject of 20th century history – using documents and using Russian scholars and using American scholars and engaging the debates over history – graphical issues and so forth.
KENNEALLY: Alexander Kondakov.
KONDAKOV: Well, you know, it might seem to the audience that we are discussing the issues of education but actually education is part of our business, so we’re discussing the future of business.
KENNEALLY: I agree.
KONDAKOV: And if we take the words of my colleague and put them back to the 16th century, they would be very much true at that time as well. For instance, in mid-19th century in Russian homes, libraries were locked for keeps so they couldn’t take the book and to read something that is not up to the age. Same was (inaudible) say today about the Internet. If we’re speaking just about classroom, we can’t close kids in the classroom. There is environment surrounding the classroom and it’s different. This is Internet. That’s a lot of information, and what we need to do is to create educational environment that I was speaking about and that is safe, that parents believe and trust this environment, and that kids could live in the environment – survive in this environment and become citizens.
And that is why when we are speaking today about the school of the future, we’re speaking not about the classroom system. We are speaking about a new social culture environment of school that creates identity of kids. Thirty, 40, 50 years ago we were speaking about ethnic identity. We were speaking about civic identity. Today we are speaking about gender identity, religious identity, net identity, political identity, cultural identity, ethnic identity, and so on. We are living in a multi-identical world, and one of the most important thing if we want to upbring children that will feel themself safe in the society out from this building – they should understand – they probably understand their identity in any situation that they live.
That is why the objective for educational publishers today is not to create just a textbook with extra materials like workbooks and so on, but to help to create this environment in which kids are safe, secure, educated, and upbrought according to the requirements of the modern society. This is one of the key changes that we are observing right now, right today.
KENNEALLY: Yes. Dmitry Bak, you’re familiar with the higher education space. How does that resonate for you? And in particular this thought which we’ll close with, which is that the students have a lot to teach the professors. Just tell us a bit more about what you mean.
BAK: And my position is closer to Jonathan’s one. Because I think that kid and student will go to that environment inevitably. And he or she will take a possibility to participate in this complicated environment – do we want this or didn’t – but we must keep the tradition. We must give to our pupils – to our students – an example of another world – example where the direct communication exists – the example of learning and which I can see not only different portals but person who teach me. And I think that it is very complicated problem to combine one with another, to combine a traditional system of education – a traditional algorithms of – to deliver knowledge from teacher to pupil and all of that modern technical possibilities about these possibilities Alexander Kondakov spoke.
KENNEALLY: Right. Well, I think you put your finger on it. It’s complicated, I think is how we would conclude. That’s the speed reading course on this whole subject.
BAK: But not only one and not on the other. They’re together.
KENNEALLY: Right. We can’t throw one out with – and just have one left. I want to thank our panel. I don’t know if we do have any questions from the audience. Do we have any questions for our panel at all? Yes, in the back.
F: English has been the international language (inaudible) for quite a while now, and I know that in some specialized subject matter, there it might be textbooks or materials available on in English. So I’m wondering in Russia, what is the status of English literacy?
KENNEALLY: Well, judging by our two panelists, it’s pretty good. I wonder, Alexander, if you want take that in the (multiple conversations; inaudible)
KONDAKOV: You know, students are studying – at least one foreign language from grade two. By study in grade five, they are allowed to study two full languages free – and speaking about the status of English, all kids are now in Internet and that helps to study English language first of all. And I think it’s becoming sort of a universal language. It’s problem yesterday. I had colleagues from France and they said why are you dropping down the circulation of textbooks for French – no requirement. So English language quite a common one in Russia nowadays.
KENNEALLY: Well –
KONDAKOV: And by the way, speaking about education environment, I can speak – say about my son and my daughter – when they were university students – it was five years ago – they were getting books from Internet in English while getting ready for the exams. That’s what I am speaking about globalization in education – but that is coming to school as well.
KENNEALLY: Well, as important as English is, I’m going to use one of my perhaps dozen Russian words and say spasibo to our panel and from – again, from very far left, Alexander Kondakov of Prosveshcheniye, Marc Mikulich of Wiley, Dmitry Bak at the Research – sorry – at the Russian State University for the Humanities, and Jonathan Brent from the Yivo Institute for Jewish Research – thank you all very much indeed.
BAK: Thank you.
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