Nomadic didactics

Nomadic didactics: school education for nomadism.
The topic under consideration is the connection between the ways of schooling and the lifestyle of society. It is asserted that the settled way of living in the cities are the basis of Y. A. Komensky’s didactics. The problem denoted in the article is the gap between the nomadic lifestyle of large groups of people and their accepted way of schooling, which is a characteristic of the settled society. The problematic situation of nomadic Nenets arises due to the discrepancy between the way of schooling and their lifestyle. The new formulating complex of antagonisms forces us to design a new image of schooling for nomadic Nenets. A new term “nomadic didactics” is being introduced. The place of nomadic didactics is stated in the system of didactic conception.
Key Indexing Terms: school education, society’s lifestyle, didactics, nomadism, Nenets, Taimyr, nomadic didactics, group way of teaching
The way of schooling and societies’ lifestyle
Nowadays, the basic method of teaching new generations is the schooling within subject/group/lesson framework. The practice of school education was created by settled societies as it satisfied the requirements, needs and social order of the settled lifestyle. The ideas of education, teaching and schooling were formulated in the cities. In the 16th century AD, West-European cities were in need of mass training of new generations in languages and sciences. The large-scale school in European settled societies was established after Komensy’s design. Recently, it has become acceptable to term this organization of learning activity as ‘the schooling within subject/group/lesson framework’, hereby pointing out the key peculiarities of its system. Having relied upon the experience of European scientists of the past and taking into account didactic practice of his contemporaries, Komensky created and launched the ‘megamachine’ of one level organization for training of great numbers of people. In the process of designing this project, he created the following core ideas: the class, classroom, lesson, coursebook, academic year, educational program, school hours, structure of lessons, teaching, supervision, school discipline, school budget, school head, boarding school.
Komensky’s construction, namely the “schooling within subject/group/lesson framework” is based on the fundamental circumstance of the settled people’s lifestyle: during the academic year, many people may simultaneously come to school and learn the piece-organized educational programs sequentially, with the classroom population.
It’s quite logical to bring up the following issues: what if there are not many people within a society and they are not settled? What if they always move, roaming from place to place in search of sustenance. What if they are the ’route people’ and live ‘on the way’? Thus they can’t study within the ‘subject/group/lesson framework’; and even if they do, they stop roaming as a result.
The modern nomads need a school education and they are forced to send their children to the ‘subject/group/lesson framework’ schools of predominately settled urban societies. Along with this fact, such children are usually taken away from the families and placed in boarding schools for two thirds of the year. The educational process is conducted in a foreign language, the content and organization of education doesn’t correspond to a nomadic lifestyle and of course, the standard of education does not live up to expectations.
From family communities to the UNO, society at all levels criticizes the accepted way of teaching nomads. Usually, nomad children are deprived of a good education at all stages of the secondary school. There are precedents, though, of teachers living and training in nomad camps. New projects and ideas, concerning school education for nomads by means of computer technologies are being discussed.
School education can be changed in accordance with the nomads’ needs. The special-purpose guidelines are: «every schoolchild’s success in studying»; bilingual communication (native and national language); teaching in the most convenient periods of time for each schoolchild and family communities; considerable reduction of the boarding school education; family community as the competent participant of educational process; education at any age; nationalization of the instructional content. The way of reorganization: substitution of the formative element of school education – teaching methods.
Methodological basis of ‘settled’ schools – solution of main educational tasks by means of the group education. The tutor teaches the group of schoolchildren as a unit. Hence it follows: the class, lesson, subject, coursebook, academic year, unitary educational track, etc.
Technological basis of ‘nomadic’ schools – solution of main educational tasks by means of the collective organizational form of education. The tutor teaches each schoolchild within the scope of self-training group of pupils. Hence it follows: the group of children of different ages, collective lessons, skills, ‘comprehensive textbook’, education in the convenient period of time, individual educational track, etc.
School education of nomadic people of Taimyr
There are Yeniseian Nenets who live in the Lower Yenisey. More than 60 per cent (2 130 people) follow a nomadic lifestyle, which is based on the large-gregarious reindeer breeding work. These are the nomadic Nenets. The Nenets believe that the Tundra is boundless and can’t be measured in breadth. One of its measures is ‘the eternal way’, another one is life and the third one is height [3].
The Nenets created a unique nomadic civilization, which is based on the large-gregarious tundra reindeer breeding and have been developing it up to the present. Usually, a nomad camp remains in one place no more than half a month in winter, a week in summer, two or three days in autumn and spring [3]. The Nenets ‘live in deers’. The Tundra is a place for living rather than working. Tundra people speak the Nenets language. The children are the rightful participants of nomadic housekeeping.
The Nenets nomadic and the Russian settled civilizations have been coexisting for more than 400 years. The Nenets nomadic civilization has never had it’s own practice of school education. In the 1930’s, the nomads were included in the Russian educational system. Russian schools, as well as all schools for settled people have a subject/group/lesson structure. So long as nomad’s tents aren’t placed in the northern cities or settlements, the tundra children were taken to the boarding schools and kept indoors, a few steps away from classrooms.
Isolation of tundra children from the family community and deer farming was supplemented with the mental-activity blockade from the Nenets language and culture. It’s impossible to take an active part in the collective activity of tundra nenets large-gregarious reindeer breeding speaking Russian as well as to participate in the social life of Dudinka, speaking Nenets. The language is functional. The language of Tundra is Nenets. The language of the settlement and city is Russian. The learning activity, in- and out-of-class communication in the boarding schools are organized in Russian language within Russian-speaking in- and out-of-school environment. Thus, Nenets’ cultural expression in boarding schools has stopped because the main form of cultural transition is a language, which possesses the function of ethnical conservation [4].
Nowadays, as 80 years ago, the process of schooling of nomadic Nenets is organized in the same way as for settled people. Young nomads are intolerably isolated from their nomadic lifestyle for long periods of time, placed in boarding schools, in conditions suitable for settled people only.
Nomadic Nenets let most of their children stay in the boarding schools from October to April. The Nomads appreciate the value of education. Over the last 80 years, studying in boarding schools has become the aspect of their life and culture. The long term problematic situation, caused by the discrepancy between the way of schooling and lifestyle obliges the design of a new approach to teaching nomadic Nenets.
Designing a new form of schooling for nomadic schoolchildren is directed towards overcoming the following complex of contradictions.
The contradiction between the necessity of year-round participation of nomad kids in the processes of functioning, breeding and management of deer farming and the schooling structure, that makes the nomad kids miss classes during the study time from October to April.
The contradiction between the nomadic families’ needs for fully-fledged Russian spoken general education of each child and the necessity of leaving children in Tundra for providing a proper work of large-gregarious deer farming.
The contradiction between the Nenets’ world’s necessity of every nomad schoolchild’s success in studying and impracticability of this desire within the subject/group/lesson framework.
The contradiction between the irreplaceable wastes of time and energy of nomad schoolchildren and their families on school education and negligibly small results of the acquisition of educational content.
The contradiction between the nomad children’s maturation within the Nenets nomadic sociocultural (including the lingual aspect) environment and school education within Russian settled sociocultural (including the lingual aspect) environment.
The contradictions, the main cause of which is the unique identity of the Nenets nomadic civilization, needs of nomadic lifestyle, are supplemented and aggravated with the complex contradictions, so inherent in the group way of teaching and provoking the crisis state of the subject/group/lesson framework of settled people’s school education.
Nomadic didactics.
The improvement on present subject/group/lesson/boarding school’s system of school education of nomad schoolchildren won’t relieve the complex contradictions stated above, so long as the very essence of this system is the source of contradictions.
Therefore, the present system of school education needs changing, moderating and to be released from contradictions.
The main way of transformation of the school education’s system may be only the substitution of the key constituent part – the methodology of education, based on group lessons.
Thus, creation of school education for nomadism is a great didactic task. This task doesn’t deal with school management or methodology, but it concerns didactics (how to organize the educational process).
It’s appropriate to term the didactic ideas’ integrity about organization of school education for nomads “didactics, connected with nomadism” or “nomadic didactics”. Nomadic means ‘connected with nomadism’.
Hence, nomadic didactics is the field of didactic conceptions about the way of organization of educational process of those, who have a nomadic lifestyle. Firstly and more importantly – school education. The process of nomadic schooling in the scope of the general educational school system of Russia is the subject of nomadic didactics.
We believe there are three large complexes of didactic conceptions that can be marked out. They correspond to three historical stages of education development: the didactics of individual, group and collective way of teaching.
Nomadic didactics can’t be rated as a part of individual or group ways of teaching, because the first one is the medieval didactics of private education, and the second can’t change its essence – not to be boarding/class/lesson/subject-oriented. Hence, nomadic didactics should be placed in the complex of didactic conceptions, which correspond to the stage of school education development, called «The collective way of teaching».


  1. Mkrtchyan M. A. The formation of the group way of teaching. Krasnoyarsk, 2010.p.26
  2. U.N.O. Economic and Social Advisers. Aboriginal people and boarding schools: comparative research E/C.19/2010/11.URL: 1.
  3. Golovnev A.V. Speaking cultures. Traditions of Samoyeds and Ugric people.Ekaterinburg, 1995. URL:
  4. Malinovskaya S.M. Conceptual Basics of Ethnocultural Education. Tomsk. Tomsk State Pedagogical University Bulletin. 2009. 1 (79). p. 60
  5. Dyachenko V.K. Didactics, T.1. M., 2006

Meenov V. A.- the Snr. Research Officer
Krasnoyarsk Territorial Institute of Professional Development
Matrosova St. 19, Krasnoyarsk, Russia, 660079