Speech Delivered At The First All-Russia Congress Of Internationalist Teachers

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Union of Internationalist Teachers was set up at the beginning of December 1917 in opposition to the counter-revolutionary All-Russia Union of Teachers. The new union was for teachers who had come over to the side of Soviet power. It set itself the aim of rallying democratic teachers and winning over the waverers. In a manifesto published in Pravda on December 6 (19) the union appealed to teachers to join the union and work with the people to "create a new, socialist gehool". The response was immediate and by the spring of 1918 the Union had 12,000 members. It formed the nucleus of the Union of Educational Workers that was set up in August 1919.

The First All-Russia Congress of Internationalist Teachers was held in Moscow June 2-6, 1918; it was attended by 150 dele-gates with the right to vote. The Congress heard and discussed the following reports.. tasks of the Union of Internationalist Teachers; reform of the schools; general plan for the reorganisation of public education; polytechnical education; organisational and propaganda tasks of the new teacher; teachers’ living standards; draft rules for the Union of Internationalist Teachers; report by N. K. Krupskaya “The School and the State”, and others. The first speaker at the Congress was A. V. Lunacharsky, People’s Commissar for Education, who outlined the role of the Soviet teacher in the sphere of public edueation. In its resolutions the Congress called for “energetic support of the power of the workers and peasants in their struggle to consolidate socialism“, defined the tasks of the Soviet school as polytechnical and based on initiative and productive labour, approved the rules of the Union, and proposed to the People’s Commissariat for Education that a Pedagogical Academy should be founded. Lenin spoke at the fourth session of the Congress.

June 5, 1918

Brief Report

(The Congress gave Lenin a rousing welcome.) Lenin greeted the Congress on behalf of the Council of People’s Commissars and said that the teachers, who had at first been rather slow in making up their minds to work with the So-viet government, were now growing more and more convinced that such collaboration was essential. Such cases of con-version from opposition to support of the Soviet government were very numerous among other sections of society too.

The army of teachers must set themselves tremendous tasks in the educational sphere, and above all must form the main army of socialist education. Life and knowledge must be liberated from the sway of capital, from the yoke of the bourgeoisie. The teachers must not confine themselves to narrow pedagogical duties. They must join forces with the entire body of the embattled working people. The task of the new pedagogics was to link up teaching activities with the socialist organisation of society.

It had to be admitted that the majority of the intellec-tuals of the old Russia were downright opponents of the Soviet regime, and there was no doubt that it would be not at all easy to overcome the difficulties this involved. The process of fermentation among the broad mass of the teachers had only just begun, and no schoolteacher who had the welfare of the people sincerely at heart could confine himself to the All-Russia Teachers’ Union, but must confidently carry his propaganda among the masses. This road would lead to a joint struggle of the proletariat and the teachers for the victory of socialism. (Lenin left the hail amidst general applause.)