I welcome the opportunity to acknowledge the invaluable contribution that self-esteem has made to our teaching activities.

As a Russian school principal, with about 15 years of experience, I am positive about the wide possibilities of our method. Teachers have tned the activities and seen the successes.

Our school has been given the name of 'Zemskaay school'. There is no appropriate English equivalent for this title. It can be only interpreted in a descriptive way, like a sort of 'home-school' which has close ties with parents, with our own home, with our hometown and through it with the whole homeland. We live in a spirit of cooperation, like bees in a hive, with everybody doing their own jobs and helping others. One African proverb says 'it takes a whole village to raise a child'. In the long run it takes the whole homeland to raise children, ready to build their happiness and the happiness of our community.

The staff at our school value all the components of self-esteem, but there is one which is especially close to our Russian hearts - the feeling of affiliation. We interpret this as going shoulder-to-shoulder, elbow-to-elbow. Russians are known to be able to do great things when they are together.

The concept of our school is formulated as 'Dignity, self-esteem and the responsibility of the individual'. Dignity is understood as spirituality, morals, honour and devoted service to other people of our country; self-esteem as a combination of qualities ensuring success in life; and responsibility as a feeling of duty.

All the basic components of self-esteem are in accordance with our national and traditional ideas. Our well-known thinker, llyin, states that 'our love for the Russian nation, the feeling of responsibility for all that has ever taken place in it, our dignity and our honour are three main sources, which are to build a new Russia, feeding its consciousness of law and building its spiritual culture'.

The educational process needs psychological support and this is where self-esteem helps a lot, activating useful trends and building skills necessary for creating success in all areas of life.

The aim of our school is to develop our students' personalities, to help them develop reflexive thinking, to equip them not only with knowledge, but also with the skills to attain personal growth.

All this is achieved through: the content of the educational components of our curriculum, bearing in mind the age characteristics of our students implementing the programme in the teaching staff through scientific and practical conferences, methodological seminars and simulation games combining these components in different ways in the organisation of lessons constant close ties with parents, who take a very active part in the organisation of different exhibitions, competitions, performances, holidays (eg 'Our School Holiday', 'the day of Slavonic Alphabet and Culture', 'Shrovetide' with pancakes, and the like). Our programme is also realised in the work of concept circles.

In the curriculum it is realised through educational components such as 'humanology', 'etiquette', 'rhetoric', 'security rules of our life activities'. There are also specialised courses and lessons such as 'Home ruling', 'Native Land', 'Folk Craft', 'National Dances', and so on. The students are able to learn to express themselves in different kinds of cognitive activities. The organisation of the content of the educational process depends on two influences. On the one hand there is the outside influence of the state and the region, and on the other the inside influence of the school staff, the students themselves and their parents.

It is worth mentioning here that the parents and the students express a very high opinion of our educational plan, which is especially stressed by different testing programmers, where our students willingly share information and show their positive improvement in their behaviour and their characters. Children get affirmation for their specialness, for their curiosity, for their growing, abilities and uniqueness.

Galina Kravchenko has served as principal of the 'Zemskaya Gymnasia', primary and secondary schools in Balashikha, Russia which now serves as a model for schools throughout the country. 

It gives me great personal pride to tell you that our graduates repeatedly show good results in different competitions, and get a high percentage of medals. More than 90% of our graduates have entered the best educational establishments of the highest range, and many of them have already become efficient specialists. Thus, we have been supplying economic, philosophic and scientific spheres of our country with fine specialists.

The hands of our former students are lying on the ruling wheel of our Russian culture, and it is our contribution to the future of our country. Our former students form the face of a new Russia. They know that no-one can be happy in an unhappy land and they are doing their best to make a difference (one of the self-esteem principles). When speaking about their homeland they say i can, I was taught at school how to make a difference, and I will.

Author: Galina Kravchenko
e-mail: galinakravchenko@yahoo.com