Teaching for over 400 years

[b]Of course, there are plenty of people in more ‘modest’ professions — needing no publicity or celebrity status — who keep faith with the business of their forefathers. They build on the experience accumulated by their family and can achieve significant professional heights[/b]The Korshikov-Kochnevs are a well-known teaching family in Vitebsk, having been in the profession for 409 years (12 teachers in all). They even lecture abroad; one of today’s family members — a young nuclear physicist — lectures at a Swiss university. In the past, they’ve worked as ordinary village teachers; one headed a Polosk school. Another was Rector of Moscow State University of Railway Engineering.
Of course, there are plenty of people in more ‘modest’ professions — needing no publicity or celebrity status — who keep faith with the business of their forefathers. They build on the experience accumulated by their family and can achieve significant professional heights

The Korshikov-Kochnevs are a well-known teaching family in Vitebsk, having been in the profession for 409 years (12 teachers in all). They even lecture abroad; one of today’s family members — a young nuclear physicist — lectures at a Swiss university. In the past, they’ve worked as ordinary village teachers; one headed a Polosk school. Another was Rector of Moscow State University of Railway Engineering.
Nadezhda Korshikova — a specialist at Vitebsk’s Oktyabrsky district’s Education Department — tells us about her husband’s grandmother, Anna Slabova (Novikova). “We have a document stating that she graduated from the pedagogical class of the women’s gymnasium (of Prince Oldenburg’s orphanage) in 1915 in Petrograd.” The certificate reads that ‘lady Anna’ knew her Bible and arithmetic well and diligently studied history, mathematics and French. She ‘was awarded the degree of a home teacher’. Soon after, the October Revolution of 1917 began and she taught Sunday classes for workers. During the Great Patriotic War, she worked at a blockaded Leningrad enterprise and, after the war, was employed by a kindergarten. “She was always calm and collected, determined and very patriotic,” recollects Ms. Korshikova. “There was an impression that her classical education was so strongly rooted in her that it went uninfluenced by the hard war years or the passing of time.”
Ms. Korshikova finished secondary school in Vitebsk region’s Verkhnedvinsk district, gaining a medal and entering the Belarusian State University’s Geographical Department (under the influence of her aunt — Lyubov Patsevich — who worked as a village teacher). “I loved her erudition and ability to capture your attention,” Ms. Korshikova says with warmth and gratitude. She began her career in Polotsk District, where she met her husband, Fiodor Korshikov. In 1976, he was an assistant at Vitebsk Pedagogical Institute’s Physics Department. The establishment is a university now and Mr. Korshikov is an associate professor at its Department of Theoretical Physics and Astronomy. “The prestige of a teacher in the 1970s was unshakeable. Their knowledge was viewed as the key to well-being in life,” adds Nadezhda. “From the first days of working as a teacher, I felt sought-after, so I never regretted my choice of profession.”
Ms. Korshikova’s two sons graduated from the Masherov Vitebsk State University’s Physics Department. Elder son Pavel has headed a secondary school in Vitebsk for the past two years. “My parents did not insist on my entering a pedagogical university. There was no need in fact. In childhood, I read my father’s books on recreational physics and exact sciences with huge interest, as if they were fantasy or adventure novels. Physics is probably my fate.” Pavel has completed two Master’s Degrees: in mathematics and pedagogics. Speaking of whether his greatest passion is science or teaching, he notes, “I love being a director!” He then adds, “Seriously, we’re always learning. In order to lecture on the best achievements in physics or IT, or to head the department, I must keep up with the latest trends. I have to read a great deal, browse the Internet and publish articles in magazines.”
Pavel’s grand-uncle was Rector of Moscow State University of Railway Engineering from 1955 to 1980; he was an academician and had his own room in a Moscow’s flat. Meanwhile, Pavel loves to work at his summer house.
Those from Vitebsk region are organising a meeting uniting 24 teaching families, aiming to enhance the prestige of teachers and encourage others into the profession. Some families boast 4, 5 or, even, 6 generations of teachers. “In such families, people approach the profession with more consideration,” believes Natalia Kozlova, a chief specialist at the Regional Committee of the Trade Union for Workers of Education and Science (which initiated the event, jointly with the Regional Education Department). “They should have a sense of their own significance. We plan to further support these families for whom teaching is more than a mere profession but is their fate and vocation.”
Vitebsk teachers are already liaising with Russian colleagues and now wish to organise an international meeting of teaching families, exchanging experience and sharing their professional secrets. It would be interesting to know whose families are oldest and most numerous. The Korshikov-Kochnevs could certainly attend and Pavel Korshikov’s daughter may one day join the ranks of teachers. Seven year old Elya is only in the second class at school but has already announced her wish to head a kindergarten.

By Sergey Golesnik
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