Pedagogical scholarly traditions in physical culture and sports sector: aspects of institutionalization

Pedagogical scholarly traditions in physical culture and sports sector: aspects of institutionalization


Dr.Hab., Associate Professor A.A. Peredel'skiy
Russian State University of Physical Culture, Sport, Youth and tourism (GTSOLIFK), Moscow

Keywords: physical culture and sports sector, pedagogical scholarly school, sport university.

Background. It was not long ago that the article by S.P. Evseev “Pedagogical scholarly traditions as a form of education and research activity integrated in higher physical education” was published in the “Teoriya i praktika fizicheskoy kultury” Journal [1]. The article reads among other things: “The pedagogical scholar school (PSS) operates as a persistently developed social institution” and “The above-mentioned PSS were listed in the University application for their registration with the Register of Leading Research and Pedagogical Scholar Schools of Saint Petersburg that was drawn up by the Saint Petersburg Committee for Science and Higher Education”.

We appreciate the exclusive importance and theoretical validity of the above article and fully agree with the author on many critical points; but we still feel there is a need for a broad discussion of the matters related to the priorities of institutionalization, institutional structure formalization and state registration of the pedagogical scholar schools already operating in our sector.

The conceptual subject for the proposed theoretical discussion will be the ways for alternative identification of the pedagogical scholar school: either as a politically and legally complete social institution; or an independent organization of researchers that may, in some cases, create associating public research education initiatives.

We believe that it is the prudent choice (provided the window of opportunity for it is still open) of one of the above alternatives that will play the vital role in the further progress of the national physical culture and sport science, since the choice-determined policies will later on shape up the trends in the sector science for the nearest future – to focus it either on the external, formal, legal and political aspects, or internal, substantial, cognitive and purely scientific aspects of the process.

Moreover, the above choice will determine the way that our science will take later on. It may either head for dogmatization, legal and political indoctrination under disguise of seemingly scientific verification (seeking support in the relevant legal provisions and sources sanctioned “from the top”) – or take the track of independent research initiatives, free flow of concepts and ideas and competitive struggle driven only by the law of “progressive shift” as provided by I. Lakatos who stated, among other things, that it is the ability of a competing theory to explain artefacts and counter-cases and forecast new, still unfound, facts - that will be considered a sufficient condition to rate it above the other competing ideas [5].

This choice becomes particularly critical today when dozens of dissertation councils and universities and hundreds of research institutes and theoretical journals are being closed. This process, on the one hand, is portrayed as the persistent efforts to improve the quality of the research and education system in the country; and, on the other hand, it obviously is geared to cut down the research and education system and it social feed sources.

Objective of the study was to identify the key periods and trends in the process of development of pedagogical scholar schools in the national physical culture and sports sector.

Study results and discussion. To put the above dilemma faced by the pedagogical scholar schools in the national physical culture and sports sector on a more specific and clear basis, let us first consider the notion of social institution. This notion was first introduced in the scientific (or even sociological, to be precise) terminology by G. Spenser who stated that “social institutions comprise a natural mechanism that may be viewed as the product and self-organization/ socialization form chosen by the mankind to counter any attempt of unnatural interference or manipulation with the real social facts” (5, p.188). However, for the two centuries of practical research applications and being governed by the law of social cycles (that was first outlined by Aristotle) further detailed by the concept of a full cycle of social reality structuring by V.G. Fedotova, the theory of social institutions made a full turnaround in fact and now “serves the missions that are totally opposite to the initial settings of this theory as such” [4, p. 32–33]. Nowadays, a social institution is interpreted as a powerful social and necessarily political organization that have acquired, following its establishment, a state recognition and the right for legitimate political operations  post factum [3]. To put it in other words, the institutionalization process means the targeted politicisation of a public organization/ initiative geared to adapt the latter to the existing political and legal system.

Now, having provided theoretical grounds for our standpoint, let us prove it by practical facts. It may be pertinent to refer in this context to the research, education, political and legal history of our University as outlined by V.V. Stolbov, a prominent national researcher and historian [2]. The history of Russian State University of Physical Culture, Sport, Youth and Tourism (GTSOLIFK) may be divided into four clear periods that have been different, among other things, in the avenues and scopes of the research and education activity.

The first period was the time from 1918 to 1930 with its start dated by May 29, 1918 when the official government decision was made by the State Commission for Education (Session Minutes #29) to found Moscow Institute of Physical Culture. The end of the first period was marked by the following two events:

– Decree of the Central Committee of the Communist Party dated September 23, 1929 “On physical culture movement”; and

– Started on December 13, 1930, transition of the national physical education (including State Central Physical Culture Institute) from the system of the People’s Health Committee to the system of the All-Union Council for Physical Culture (AUCPC) under the Central Executive Committee of the USSR.

The second period took the pre-war time from the 1930ies to the early 1941.

The third period refers to the operations of our University during the Great Patriotic War of 1941-45 plus two more post-war years.

And the final fourth period may be formally dated by the Decree of the Central Committee of the Communist Party dated December 27, 1948 “On all possible measures to advance national physical culture and sports” that spelled out the key missions of the sector development efforts. In opinion of V.V. Stolbov and N.Y. Mel'nikova, his co-author, this long period is still in progress today. We could agree with this viewpoint conditional on the period being broken into a few stages (as was partially done by the above authors), as follows:

– The first stage of 1950-80ies;

– The second stage of 1990ies;

– The third stage of the first decade of the XXI century; and

– The fourth stage that started in the second decade of the XXI century.

It is to be mentioned by the way that the “Theory and practice development tree of physical education as an academic discipline” given in the diagram (with reference to the study reports by Y.F. Kuramshin) in the S.P. Evseev’s article is very well compliant with the above periodicity. Furthermore, it may be pertinent to list the following few similarities of the above periods in the development of the research and education domain of the national physical culture and sports sector:

  1. Total political indoctrination and dependence on the political regime.
  2. Persistent strengthening of the sports subsector at a sacrifice of the other physical culture subsectors.
  3. Strict emphasis on the volatile sector practices and, hence, the so-called “creeping empiricism” as a result. Lack (or serious shortage) of fundamental social-humanitarian studies as the only tool to detect sustainable evolution cycles and regularities in the national physical culture and sports sector evolution across Russia.
  4. In this context, only those pedagogical scholar schools that are formally budgeted and formally registered by the government will be qualified as such. They need to be established largely contrary to the logic and succession of the scholarly educational thoughts, despite the losses and distortions in the findings of the already completed studies and despite the cut-downs in the research scopes and the present stagnation, stalled progress of the sector with the inflow of the “not so talented followers”.

Conclusion. The ongoing institutionalization of the pedagogical scholar schools with their state registration will inevitably lead, in view of the above considerations, to the following: a quite logical end of the sector science and a no less logical rise of dogmatics, theosophy and theology with the relevant passports of specialities being issued by the Supreme Attestation Commission.


  1. Evseev S.P. Nauchno-pedagogicheskaya shkola kak vid integratsii obrazovatel'noy i nauchnoy deyatel'nosti v vysshem fizkul'turnom obrazovanii (Academic institution as a form of integration of educational and research activities in higher sport education) / S.P. Evseev, V.A. Taymazov, N.G. Zakrevskaya, S.S. Filippov // Teoriya i praktika fizicheskoy kultury. – 2014. – № 3. – P. 11–16.
  2. Istoriya Rossiyskoy gosudarstvennoy akademii fizicheskoy kul'tury (History of Russian State Academy of Physical Education) / Gen. ed. V.V. Stolbov. – Moscow: Fizkul'tura i sport, 2003. – 240 p.
  3. Peredel'skiy A.A. Poslednyaya mirovaya religiya. Ocherki po filosofii sporta: monografiya (Last world religion. Essays on sport philosophy: Monograph) / A.A. Peredel'skiy.– Naberezhnye Chelny: Volga Region SAPCST (GAFKSiT), 2014. – 244 p.
  4. Peredel'skiy A.A. Fizicheskaya kul'tura i sport v otrazhenii filosofskikh i sotsiologicheskikh nauk. Sotsiologiya sporta: uchebnik (Physical culture and sport in philosophical and sociological contexts. Sposrt sociology: textbook) / A.A. Peredel'skiy. – Moscow: Sport, 2016. – 416 p.
  5. Peredel'skiy A.A. Filosofiya sporta. Metanauchnye osnovaniya sportivnogo protsessa (Sport philosophy. Meta-science grounds of sport process) / A.A. Peredel'skiy. – Moscow: MAGISTR–PRESS, 2011. – 480 p.

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Abstract. The article explores some matters of importance for the process of institutionalization and state registration of pedagogical scholar schools in the national physical culture and sports sector, with reference to the history of Russian State University of Physical Culture, Sport, Youth and tourism (GTSOLIFK, Moscow). The historical periodicity scale by V.V. Stolbov and the relevant systemic facts were used in the attempt to identify the most characteristic factors in every period and outline the general evolution vector that integrates them all. The study results in the latter general vector being outlined.