Tsarskoye Selo Imperial Lyceum
Celebrates 200 Years‎

The Imperial Lyceum at Tsarskoye Selo

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­The school that nurtured the cream of the new Russian society in the 19th century including such great figures as poet and writer Aleksandr Pushkin, the Tsarskoe Selo Imperial Lyceum is celebrating its 200th anniversary.

The Tsarskoe Selo (or Tsar’s Village) Lyceum is probably best known thanks to Pushkin, who dedicated dozens of his poetic lines to this school. However he was far from being the only prominent figure to come out of this educational institution…

The school that was destined to become the alma mater for dozens of prominent Russians from state officials and diplomats to writers, artists and scientists, opened in the St. Petersburg region next to the Catherine Palace on October 19, 1811. The names of 30 young boys who became the school’s first group of students entered the history of Russia forever. Never again could any other Russian educational institution boast so many talented people graduating in one year.

The list of the Lyceum’s first students was approved by the emperor himself and included the future Decembrists Wilhelm Kuchelbecker and Ivan Pushchin, the poet Anton Delvig, the outstanding diplomat Aleksandr Gorchakov, the military commander Major-General Vladimir Volkhovsky, the polar explorer Admiral Fyodor Matushkin of the Russian Navy, and, of course, Russia’s best-known poet and writer, Aleksandr Pushkin, as well as many others.

Fourteen-year-old Alexander Pushkin reciting his poem before old Derzhavin in the Imperial Lyceum
(Painting by Ilya Repin from 1911, the school's centennial)

The Lyceum was founded by the decree of the liberal-minded Emperor Alexander I and was intended for privileged children and even the children of the royal family. Its intense educational program was thoroughly thought out by the then state secretary, justice minister and the actual privy councillor to the emperor, Mikhail Speransky, to raise highly competent functionaries who would grow to serve their new reformed Russia and its emperor.

The Tsarskoe Selo Lyceum was the first educational institution where no physical punishment was applied to the pupils. Relations between the students and the tutors were based on mutual respect, while the studies focused on moral, literary, historical, artistic and scientific matters. The school’s tutors and professors encouraged the students to develop their own thinking and reveal their true passions and talents.

Speaking at the solemn opening ceremony on October 19, 1811, the young professor of moral and political sciences, Aleksandr Kunitsin, outlined the main values of the new school as follows: “The voice of the fatherland is calling upon us. Straight from your parents’ arms you are entering a new home – this blessed sanctuary of sciences. You will be given an opportunity to influence the wellbeing of the whole society when you leave it. The love of glory and of your fatherland should lead you forward.” This man, who spoke of civil rights and freedoms, soon became the students’ most beloved tutor.

Among the notable tutors of the school was David de Burdi, the brother of Jean-Paul Marat, one of the fathers of the French Revolution, who taught French literature there. Many other tutors also entered the history of the Tsarskoe Selo Lyceum and Russian pedagogy as a whole.

In 1843 a decree signed by Emperor Nicholas I put an end to the story of the legendary educational institution. The Lyceum was transferred to St. Petersburg and renamed after its founder as the Imperial Alexander Lyceum.

Source & Copyright: RT News
19 October, 2011