Titular Bishop of Yegoryevsk Tikhon in Kazan: ''History teaches us, and very seriously''

Titular Bishop of Yegoryevsk Tikhon in Kazan: ''History teaches us, and very seriously'' Photo: Oleg Tikhonov

After the official opening of the exhibition 'Russia — My History. The Republic of Tatarstan', Bishop of Yegoryevsk Tikhon (Shevkunov), a member of the author group that worked on creation of the exposition, met with history teachers in Kazan. Read the details in the material of Realnoe Vremya.

''Only one person gave the right answer''

Bishop Tikhon, one of the leading intellectuals of the Russian Orthodox Church, in his background, in addition to spiritual education, graduated from the scriptwriting department at VGIK (the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography), he is a member of the presidential council for culture, he was one of the participants in the author group working on the creation of the exhibition 'Russia — My History. The Republic of Tatarstan'.

He started the meeting with the teachers with concern about the current teaching of History at schools. Speaking about the aims and objectives of the exhibition, Bishop Tikhon noted that the main reason why it was created — to inspire young people to study history.

''There is a saying — history teaches nothing. This is not true, history teaches, it strictly asks us, ignorance turns into severe tests,'' said Bishop Tikhon. He told about an egregious case when students and graduates of Moscow universities were tested a couple of years ago. For example, to the question 'Whom the Bolsheviks overthrew in October 1917?', out of fifteen respondents only one gave the correct answer. The answers were different — from Ivan the Terrible to Alexander II.

According to Bishop Tikhon, the problem of the USE (the United State Exam) system is misreading of information contained in textbooks. The textbooks need to be brought to a 'common denominator', they should contain single facts and interpretation of events.

Bishop Tikhon was one of the participants in the author group working on the creation of the exhibition 'Russia — My History. The Republic of Tatarstan'

''Once I was showed a picture in a history textbook for seventh graders. On the photo there was General Vlasov before ROA formation, and the caption was: ''Hero or traitor?'' How is it possible to make such textbooks for children?'' Bishop Tikhon asked a reasonable question.

''Other exhibitions were postponed in the Moscow Manege''

'To make history exciting' – the aim of the exhibition 'Russia — My History' according to Bishop Tikhon. He believes that young people are interested in history, the main thing is to guide them in the right direction.

He said that the exhibition 'Russia — My History', the creation of which was financed by Gazprom, excites a great interest. The exposition have been exhibited at the Moscow Manege for already four times, the exhibition was accompanied by huge queues. They started from the halls of Manege, stretched to the hotel Moscow, then went to the Historical Museum and ended after crossing the Red Square near St. Basil's Cathedral.

''People were standing in queues for hours, and 80% of visitors were young people under 30,'' said Bishop Tikhon. The exhibition was visited by an average of 13,000 to 18,000 people a day. They had to change the dates of the exhibition 'Russia — My History', postponing the opening dates of the other expositions, although the exhibition activity in Manege is very active and the schedule of exhibitions is compiled several months in advance.

One of the areas at these exhibitions was the work with school students, who, by the way, were admitted in the halls for free. The history teachers were invited to give lessons on selected topics directly in the exhibition halls. Bishop Tikhon expressed the wish that this practice was adopted in Kazan.

'To make the history exciting' – the aim of the exhibition 'Russia — My History' according to Bishop Tikhon

''You have a very convenient location of the exhibition — in the Kazan Fair, almost in the centre of the city. I have seen a cafe nearby, it would be a great idea to take schoolchildren here and make for them a culinary journey through the cuisines of different eras — from Rurik to the present day. Imagine how it would be interesting for them to try the favorite dish of Genghis Khan, for example,'' said Bishop Tikhon.

Unfortunately, the meeting of the teachers with him ended very sadly. The audience was clearly not prepared, and when Bishop Tikhon invited them to ask questions, hoping for a dialogue, the audience asked no questions. This fact also characterizes the teaching of history in our schools. If teachers are not interested to engage in dialogue with one of the creators of the most interesting and informative exhibitions, one can assume that they are unlikely to arouse interest in his subject in children.

Bishop Tikhon became known to a wide public not only after historical films directed by him, but also as the author of the acclaimed book Everyday Saints and Other Stories, which has become a bestseller. The book has been repeatedly reprinted and republished. According to unofficial data, its circulation has exceeded three million.

The audience was clearly not prepared, and when Bishop Tikhon invited them to ask him questions, hoping for dialogue, the audience asked no questions

In an interview, Bishop Tikhon said that the proceeds from the book went to the construction of one of the temples of the Sretensky monastery on Lubyanka, where he is the vice-rector. The temple has already been erected and consecrated.


By Tatyana Mamaeva. Photo: Oleg Tikhonov