A two-day seminar was held on the site of the Solnechnoye Academic Centre of the Empress Catherine II Saint Petersburg Mining University, attended by 84 teachers from among the supervisors of study groups of first-year students. Forpost decided to find out what tasks they faced and why the management of the oldest technical university in Russia gathered them at its base, located on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, in one of the most picturesque places in the Leningrad region.
Rector Vladimir Litvinenko has repeatedly said that graduates of higher technical schools should be not only professionals in their field, but also multifaceted, humanised individuals, people who are distinguished by nobility of soul and love for the Motherland. It means that when building their careers, young people should be guided not only by their own interests, but also by the interests of the society in which they live, strive to bring maximum benefit to the country. After all, the well-being of each of us undoubtedly depends on the state in which we will live in decades to come, whether we will preserve our historical and cultural identity, whether we will be able to cope with the challenges of modernity.
"Our task is not only to train highly qualified specialists for mining and oil and gas enterprises. The university is also an environment where true intellectuals are formed, who are characterised by broad education, high standards of moral culture and decency. That is why we develop seemingly non-core areas of training, such as Russian language and literature, sociology and psychology, and physical education. Today, in the conditions of growing geopolitical confrontation, special emphasis should be placed on patriotic education. Students already in the first year should understand that Russian society expects them to become professionals capable of ensuring a painless change of generations in industry and science. This is now the most important state task, and the sustainability of our socio-economic development and the preservation of our sovereignty depend on its positive solution. For our part, we will pay even closer attention to the adaptation of young men and women, many of whom are away from home and parents for the first time, in an academic environment unfamiliar to them. And we will do our best to help them improve their competitiveness, both in the short and long term," emphasised Vladimir Litvinenko.
One of the most significant steps in this direction was the creation of a new structural unit at the university - the Institute of Basic Engineering Education. Its task is to organise the educational process in the first year, where students, as you know, will study absolutely the same disciplines for three semesters, regardless of their training direction. That is, the subjects necessary for every engineer or scientist, wherever he or she may work later - the basics of Russian statehood, Russian language and culture of speech, higher mathematics, physics, introduction to IT, descriptive geometry, computer modelling and so on.
In addition, 84 teachers of the Institute were given the status of "curators". They were instructed to establish and maintain contacts with specific groups and, if necessary, to assist newcomers in solving various, including everyday, problems.
"All freshmen have the opportunity to contact us promptly via chat, email or phone with any questions. It is clear that the vast majority of them are used to living with their parents, and therefore it is very difficult for many of them to immediately adapt to their new reality. Someone needs psychological support, someone does not know where to see the schedule of classes or, for example, where to call if they need medical help. Sometimes guys even ask for legal counselling. For our part, we initiate a dialogue focused, for example, on the need for students to observe academic discipline, traditions and ethical code of the university. Of course, we insist on the complete exclusion of foul language from their vocabulary," said Ekaterina Teneva, Associate Professor of the Department of Foreign Languages at the Mining University.
Another, perhaps much more important mission of the curators is educational work, aimed at cultivating certain values among young people, which have been partially lost in recent times due to the dominance of liberal ideas. These include the desire for creation, self-identification, and preservation of the sovereignty of one's state.
"In my opinion, this year's freshmen are much more patriotic than, for example, their peers of five years ago. There are many reasons for this state of affairs. These include publications in the media, which tell about the true causes of the current conflict, and the presence of relatives taking part in a special military operation, and a number of other factors. Nevertheless, the creation of the institute of mentoring and tutoring is, in my opinion, a very timely initiative. We should not only teach students, but also educate them, reveal the relationship between the prosperity of the country and personal success, explain that it is here, not abroad, that they have all the chances for self-realisation. The main thing is to study hard," says Maria Dmitrieva, Associate Professor of Russian Language and Literature.
Of course, not all the teachers appointed as tutors have experience in this kind of work. Especially for them, a seminar was organised at the Mining University in Solnechny, during which a series of lectures and round tables were held on effective methods of interaction with young people. The mentors were introduced to the leaders of the Council of Students and a number of other student communities of the university, told about specific forms of military-patriotic education, peculiarities of intercultural communication with foreigners, and held a master class on planning and psychological trainings.
"This field trip was most useful for me, as it allowed me to look at the work of a mentor from a completely different angle. We were taught many approaches that we had not thought of before. For example, how to use humour to relieve emotional tension in the audience. The moderators also focused our attention on the corporate ethics of communication between students and teachers. Its observance is our fundamental task. After all, on the one hand, we should support the guys and promote the growth of patriotic sentiments in their environment. But, on the other hand, it is necessary to maintain subordination and clearly understand where the limits of your potential help lie. After all, today's freshmen need to learn to be independent people," said Lyudmila Yachmenova, assistant of the Department of General and Technical Physics.
Associate Professor of the same department Vladimir Fitsak pointed out that mentors, if they wished, could come to Solnechnoye together with their wives and children. That is, "not only to gain additional knowledge and skills in the field of curatorial work, but also to have a wonderful time."
"The organisation was really top notch. There was a children's room with an animator at the base. The little guests enjoyed it so much that they didn't want to leave. Speaking about the seminar itself, I think a very important point was the participation of our colleagues from the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics who took part in the special military operation. The fact that they told, among other things, about the shelling of the peaceful infrastructure of our cities by the AFU, serves as an additional proof of the need to intensify the process of patriotic education of young people," believes Vladimir Fitsak.
According to Vladimir Zhukovsky, a senior lecturer at the Department of Information Systems and Computer Science, one of the most significant outcomes of the event was the fact that all of its participants were convinced that together they were doing a great and extremely necessary thing for the entire country. In order for it to bring the return on investment that the university administration expects, the mentors agreed at the end of the meeting to pay even more attention to the topic of patriotic education in their personal conversations with students, as well as during supervisory hours. And to reveal it through the prism of their personal civic position. The organisers, in turn, assured the audience that this would not be the last such seminar. Teachers will definitely continue to learn effective methods of interaction with young people in the future.