Active ethnic games as regional cultural heritage promotion tool

Dr.Sc.Cult., Associate Professor A.Yu. Tikhonova1
Dr.Sc.Cult., Associate Professor D.V. Makarov1
Dr.Sc.Philos., Associate Professor A.P. Maltseva1
1Ulyanovsk State Pedagogical University named after I.N. Ulyanov, Ulyanovsk

Keywords: active ethnic games, physical education, educational process, teachers, educators, cultural heritage of region.

Background. Nowadays national policies make an emphasis on the national health protection and improvement initiatives and rebranded physical education technologies, with the ethnic games and sports viewed as a powerful physical education resource with their specific interpretations, aspects and folk traditions in every region of the nation. Good knowledge and appreciation of the regional ethnic games and sports and their constructive application in the local educational systems will provide an impetus for the mass physical education service.

Objective of the study was to analyze benefits of the active ethnic games for the modern regional cultures sensitive education process, with the Simbirsk–Ulyanovsk region children and youth education service taken for the case study.

Methods and structure of the study. We analyzed for the study purposes the available studies of the active ethnic games in the Ulyanovsk (imperial Simbirsk) Volga Region and their application experiences in the physical education systems of the XIX century. The modern data on the active ethnic sports application in the educational service were mined by a questionnaire survey of the school/ preschool education specialists (n=340, including 180 tutors and 160 teachers) taking the teachers’ advancement education course at Ulyanovsk State Pedagogical University named after I.N. Ulyanov.

Study findings and discussion. The Ulyanovsk Volga Region is a multiethnic region proud of its historical interethnic cooperation, peaceful coexistence of the local nations and their cooperation and integration traditions and cultures. Each local ethnos is rather specific in its active games and sports with their local names, rules, rites, rhythmic/ verbal/ poetic illustrations etc. We found the first accounts of the local active ethnic games in a few ethnographical overviews of the XIX century and more serious studies of the ХХ century in the local archives and librarian collections albeit these sources are scarce and not always easily accessible. These overviews and studies, however, were found to give a special priority to the local Russian active national games rather than that of the other local nations (Tatar, Chuvash, Mordva etc.). The available descriptions of the ethnic age-specific children games are rather limited, with the only exclusion for the Russian children games and their versions given in monographs by A.A. Korchinsky and Y.A. Pokrovsky embracing the pan-Russian traditions with some local specifics [3]. It should be mentioned that the early (XIX century) accounts are normally very specific in the geographical terms i.e. the game descriptions always indicate the province and even the village where the tradition was found and recorded – in contrast to the ХХ-century studies that are normally very detailed in the ethnic children game descriptions at sacrifice of the geographical context [2]. Regretfully, the past and present sources were found to give very limited education practice related data for the age-specific ethnic games mastering and excelling purposes.

Our analysis of the available accounts of the local ethnic games found them both similar and different from the versions practiced in the other Russian regions, with some of the local practices being quite distinct and unique in the pan-Russian context. The interethnic similarities included, e.g., the in the active game sequencing and counting traditions, whilst the differences were found in the game names, titles of the players, calls etc. On the whole, the local ethnic cultures were found closely interrelated and at the same time very specific and ethnically conservative in the game practices and traditions [1].

It should be emphasized that the ethnic active games comprise a valuable part of the local cultures with their great educational resources and versatile specifics – both unique and uniting in many their ethnic styles and aspects [5]. The active game mastering trainings of children and adolescents are recommended to be rather sensitive to the age- and location-specific styles and versions [4]. The education process related issues need to be studied in more detail on a broader input ethnic data from every Russian region.

Our analysis of the questioning survey data showed that 100% of the sample is familiar with the ethnic games albeit this knowledge is mostly (85%) unspecific in the geographical terms and even (15%) in the ethnic context. It was further found that the education specialists have lately been trained to advance their competencies in the local (regional and municipal) title ethnic games albeit such trainings normally apply the pan-Russian (geographically unspecific) game descriptions (65%) and children training practices (70%).

The leading teachers often tend to rely on the family traditions in such ethnic education practices whilst the formal local education curricula are still in need of good training materials for the local ethnic games mastering practices as recognized by 80% of the sample. The shortage is particularly acute for the migrant communities since the educators may not always find the teaching aids and materials for the practices. As demonstrated by the questionnaire survey data, the educational system is still in need of the local ethnic game teaching aids and other materials albeit 100% of the sample is highly interested in such trainings.

The survey found contradictions between the following:

  • Great educational resource offered by the local ethnic active games with their unique traditions and cultures on the one hand, and the slow progress of the educational system in tapping this resource on the other hand;
  • High interest of the local physical education teachers in the local ethnic games on the one hand, and their poor competence in the relevant specific ethnic traditions, rites and practices on the other hand;
  • Study reports giving sound historical accounts and more recent data on the local active ethnic games on the one hand; and the still very limited access to them for the local education system enthusiasts on the other hand;
  • The commonly recognized high importance of the family ethnic game experience and traditions for the modern education service on the one hand; and the still low priority given to such family experiences by the national education research projects.
  • Based on the study data and analysis, we would offer the following recommendations on how the above contradictions may be addressed:
  • We shall study, analyze and disseminate the available data and training materials on the local ethnic games using every available tool – research publications, mass media organization and online communication tools;
  • Familiarize the local education specialists with the local active ethnic games including those traditional for the migrant communities;
  • Give a special attention to the family training traditions and experiences making an emphasis on the ethnic active games;
  • Undertake broad-based research projects to actively engage the local (regional, district and municipal) communities in the ethnic active games studies and trainings with participation of schoolchildren, their families and the local ethnic experts and enthusiasts.

Conclusion. It may be advantageous to have the modern local physical education systems designed on a reasonably balanced extraverted/ introverted basis i.e. open for the external dialogues and impacts and at the same time taking full advantage of the local ethnic traditions and specific cultures. The Ulyanovsk region education policies and practices shall be designed to give equal respect to the local ethnic cultures with their historical and commonly appreciated interrelations and interdependences. The study demonstrates the need for the local ethnic game traditions and cultures being wider applied in the physical education policies and practices to effectively benefit from the local traditional world outlooks, centuries-old ethnical specifics and characters and deeply rooted cultures of every local ethnos – to protect the old treasures of the minority cultures and secure their progress.


  1. Makarov D.V., Demyanenko A.A. Brending: puti razvitiya i problemyi sozdaniya brendov regionov (na primere Ulyanovskoy oblasti) [Branding: ways of development and problems of region brand design (case study of Ulyanovsk region)]. Povolzhskiy pedagogicheskiy poisk. 2013. no. 1 (3).pp. 168-171.
  2. Maltseva A.P. O vazhnosti pozitivnoy sotsializatsii/inkulturatsii v epohu «informirovannogo nevezhestva» [Importance of positive socialization / inculturation in the era of “informed ignorance”]. Povolzhskiy pedagogicheskiy poisk. 2017. no. 3 (21), pp. 10- 12.
  3. Tikhonova A.Yu. , Chukanov I.A. Lichnost i regionalnaya kultura: istoriko-obrazovatelnyie aspektyi issledovaniya [Personality and regional culture: historical and educational aspects of the study]. Ulyanovsk: UITRE publ., 2010, 176 p.
  4. Don Morris G.S., Stiehl J. Changing Kid's Games. Human Kinetics Publ.-1989,160 p.
  5. Roberts J.M., Arth M.J. & Bush R.R. Games in culture. American* anthropologist. 1959. no. 61. P. 597-605.

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The study analyzes benefits of the active ethnic games for the modern regional culture sensitive education process. Subject to the educational study were the school/ preschool teachers invited in the advanced education course at I.N. Ulyanov State Pedagogical University in the period of 2016-18. The study overviews the available local chronicles with descriptions of the active ethnic games in the Ulyanovsk (imperial Simbirsk) region and classifies the local active ethnic games. A special priority in the study was given to a questionnaire survey of the sample to analyze contributions of the active ethnic games in the regional school/ preschool educational processes. It was found that the sample needs a broader competence in and commitment for the historical active ethnic games of the local nations, minorities and migrant groups to help the teachers overcome a variety of problems in the attempts to productively customize the active ethnic games and implement them in the academic programs.

The study highlighted a few bottlenecks and barriers for the projects to implement active ethnic games in school/ preschool education programs; and offered some ways to cope with the problems and empower activists of the local education establishments striving to protect and promote the local cultural heritage to lure the local communities in the rebranded active ethnic games.