A Man of Activity. On The 75th Anniversary of Vitaly Vladimirovich Rubtsov


On the 20th of October Vitaly Vladimirovich Rubtsov celebrates his 75th birthday – the founder, first rector and president of the Moscow State University of Psychology and Education, head of the UNESCO Department "Cultural-historical Psychology of Childhood" created by him in the university structure, Academician of the Russian Academy of Education, Professor. 

Having started under the guidance of V.V. Davydov to study the problem of cooperativity in solving physical problems, Rubtsov came to the creation of a new scientific direction of socio-genetic psychology. It was not only about the determination of developmental processes in the course of learning through the social relationships of its participants, children and adults, but also about the formation of new forms of child-adult sociality in education. Not only the formation of an individual subject within a collective subject, but also the transformation of the collective subject itself as the learning independence, initiative, arbitrariness, and freedom of each and every one who masters the educational content together grows. A school that does not want to change its traditional way of thinking, which sets the bar for the accessibility of content and forms of learning for children's (and eventually adult) minds, cultivates a massive "delay" in its development. This is the conclusion from the works of V.V. Davydov. A school (class, group), which thinks of itself as a place for “transferring knowledge, skills and abilities", and not as a potential collective subject which relies on a variety of searches, trials, transformations, initiatives of children and adults, cannot become a child-adult community. This is a conclusion from the works of V.V. Rubtsov - in continuation of the conclusion from the works of V.V. Davydov. How to create at a school a developing learning community of children and adults as individuals is the main problem that V.V. Rubtsov and his followers solve.

It is quite natural that, starting from the late 1980s, V.V. Rubtsov was the initiator, author, developer, and coordinator of various levels of educational development projects in our country (in a wide range: from the informatization of education to the creation of educational standards for teacher training). For the first time, he involved in this work a wide range of psychologists, who had previously been assigned mainly auxiliary, "service" functions (diagnosis, counselling, etc.). These were, first of all, the staff of the Psychological Institute of the Russian Academy of Education, which V.V. Rubtsov headed for more than 20 years, and the Moscow State University of Psychology and Education, which he created "on the shoulders of the scientific schools of the Institute" (Vitaly Vladimirovich's words). The dispute about which approach is better - activity-based or non-activity-based - was resolved in the practical sphere, where V.V. Rubtsov's teams built educational practices in various forms of activity (educational, game, etc.). In order to transform certain social practices, it is necessary to build these practices as forms of transformative activity: it is pointless to "transform" something from the outside. If we want to achieve the developmental effects of education, the models of education themselves should be set in the logic of "activity development" (V.V. Davydov).

Following the same logic V.V. Rubtsov conceived and created our university, MSUPE, in which he continues to work. MSUPE is a peculiar world of activities, into which the student is introduced from the very beginning, with a growing understanding of how they are constructed and organized. According to V.V. Rubtsov's idea, there should be no divides between fundamental knowledge (its mastering is provided by theoretical thinking), the "application of knowledge" (it is also the job of theoretical thinking, in the course of which new knowledge can be acquired), designing (a design is a theoretically generalized way of transforming reality), the organization of activity (it is a cooperation of actions of the participants of transformation, the form of which reflects the "understanding of the essence of the matter", i.e. is a component of theoretical conception). As far as we know, such a model of university education has no analogues.

A few years ago, Vitaly Vladimirovich gave an interview as part of the MSUPE video project "Psychologist and I. Living Stories". When asked by the presenter about his dream, he answered: “I dream of building a school. I dream because I know how to do it. I know how to teach children to learn. After all, that's what schools are built for.” In this simple answer is the wisdom of a scientist who, having created a scientific school and university, came to the most difficult thing.  And it is most difficult here for the teacher. He, in the words of Martin Heidegger, "must have the capacity to be more teachable than the students. The teacher is much less sure of his reasoning than those who learn. If the relationship between the teacher and what he teaches is genuine, then there is no room for the authority of omniscience or the authoritarian rule of an official. In such a case, becoming a teacher is a sublime calling, which is in some ways quite different from becoming a famous professor." But this can only be deeply understood by the "famous professor," i.e., the scholar, as he realizes himself as a teacher who is at the same time able to assume the changing position of the student in learning. It is difficult to answer the question of who has it harder and who has it easier. It is only possible to show an example of the "coincidence of positions" of the Scientist, the Teacher and the Student, as Vitaly Vladimirovich Rubtsov does, following his Teacher Vasily Vasilyevich Davydov.

To hold these three positions with Vitaly Vladimirovich's amazing spirit, breadth of soul, energy, infectiousness, and sense of youth is a gift in itself. And a condition for new achievements.

A gift is always a burden, which you can't share with others, although, in the end, this gift is meant for them. But it is a happy destiny. Congratulating Vitaly Vladimirovich Rubtsov on his anniversary, we wish him, a true Man of Activity, a good supply of years, health, strength, and the mood to follow it. 

A.A. Margolis, Rector of the Moscow State University of Psychology and Education (MSUPE),

V.T. Kudryavtsev, Professor of Moscow State Pedagogical University and MSUPE,

A.A. Shvedovskaya, Associate Professor at MSUPE,

colleagues and students

Congratulations to Vitaly Vladimirovich Rubtsov on the anniversary from the "Cultural-Historical Psychology" journal.
Congratulations to Vitaly Vladimirovich Rubtsov on the anniversary from the  "Psychological Science and Education" journal.
All News