An interview with the Director of the “MkhitarSebastatsi” Educomplex Mr. AshotBleyan
-Mr.Bleyan, how did the idea of having an Educomplex occur to you?
— That’s a dear story, though a little long. Every person who has pedagogical ideas and wants to realize them tries to find some followers in order to turn the school into an educational environment because environment is the greatest school. I had such a plan when I came to the school from Yerevan State University where I was working. In 1985 the searching for followers brought me to the school number 183 in the South West district of Yerevan. I was appointed headmaster of that school. That was a newly built district and everything was unorganized there. I was both lucky and unlucky as there were two deputy headmasters there as crazy as I was, and they were both Ashots: Ashot Manucharyan and Ashot Dabaghyan. Realizing that it was a very convenient time after Gorbachev’s reconstructions, when the Soviet regime was dying out, we, three Ashots, made benefit out of that freedom. In 1989 we were able to make the Armenian government adopt our educational project. “Mkhitar Sebastatsi” Educomplex was established as an experimental research union, as an effective environment for the display of individual’s stimulated chances, capabilities and talent.
“And why was it named after MkhitarSebastatsi?
“ The educational and research environment of the Educomplex is very much like an abbey. Creative and enthusiastic teachers are very much like abbots, aren’t they? The south-west district of Yerevan reminded of an island then. It was isolated from Yerevan, from Armenia. And if we add our veneration to Mkhitar Sebastatsi it will be clear that we chose the right name. We had to take challenging undertakings like Abbot Mkhitar.
“What did the Educomplex look like at the very beginning?
“Our mother school existed at the very beginning. It was Yerevan school number 183. There was an abundance of crazy ideas but these ideas were unorganized and quite sweeping. There were a great number of children and the school building was only one. Then the kindergarten (today’s school-garden) joined us, which was followed by Gymnasium, New school, our Pre-elementary school, Trade school and finally our media centre, the chess school and computer school. In this way little by little our Educomplex became what we have now.
Our key objective has always been to create a pleasant educational environment and not to allow any exterior factors to prevent our learner and teacher from being engaged in their favourite occupation and from displaying their personality. Today’s educational environment has been furbished and has become so attractive in the course of 23 years.
“What challenges and obstacles has the educomplex faced during these 23 years?
“ It has had a great number of challenges. The main thing was to find the customer of our pedagogy. The republic was newly formed, a free republic where human rights and freedoms were declared only to be slogans. In order to be really free we had to find our customer, in other words parents who wanted their children to be educated with our programme. We have been able to form a grand army of customers for these 23 years. It is due to them that we exist. Our worship for creative work also helped us. In this country where working wasn’t valued at all, and laziness was people’s important engagement, creativity had to be worshipped.
The usage of modern tools is also important, because times chage, and the learners has the right to be provided with these tools. Today’s tools are digitized tools. That’s why we are widely using them in our education. Due to the individual’s educational order, creativity and the usage of modern tools we have been able to cope with all these obstacles.
“Has media education always had priority in our Educomplex ?”
“ Yes, it has. We had the first educational Japanese computers, Yamahas, which were in Armenia. We had the first educational printing house and the publishing house “Shaghik”. And as our first steps in pedagogy coincided with the creation and widespread usage of digital means, we began to use them in education. We understood that they make learning more attractive and effective. That’s why we implemented the usage of these tools in our educational programme. Of course it was difficult for us because they were expensive but we showed that everything is possible if there is a great will. One can’t have a projector or a smart board at home but it is possible to have them at school for a whole class. We make sure that the children understand that these tools are supposed to serve them. In addition to our physical state of being there exists a virtual life which is the media world. We had to create our educomplex in that world too, and we created our school website www.mskh.am . We created it to make our education continuous, to enable the learners to tell about themselves because there is nothing more important than to obtain full information about one another.”
“What objectimes has the Educomplex put forward?”
“These objectives have been presented in the form of educational projects. There are projects which are going to be specially presented as orders of joint work during the Days of “Sebastatsiner”. For me the most vital is the project “Educational Garden”. What shall we do to find ourselves in this “Educational Garden”? By saying “Garden” I mean an entirely looked after environment, where people feel one another, where you are responsible for every spire and flower. Maybe that’s the biggest deed that we have begun. And I am sure that the coming 2-3 years will be decisive with this respect. The other project makes our everyday school life, trips and holidays fully educational. The one-day, two-day, three-day country studying camps make education more mobile, in other words, the learner and the teacher with their education are everywhere. I also consider musical education and the activities of the school choir to be exceptionally important. I have always wanted a 10 or 11 grader to do that intellectual work because a man who listens to Mozart is an intellectual. Education becomes a wild reproduction without listening to Mozart, Beethoven, Komitas. So we consider musical education to be exceptionally important, and in the result of this, the opening of our concert hall has taken place recently. We want everyone to be close to art.
If these 3 projects are consistently realized, you will feel essential changes in a short period of time.”
“Why are the Days of the Educomplex celebrated in November?”
“It has been fixed for the last 4 years and become a tradition. It surely couldn’t be in September. November is my most favourite month. I like late autumn, when it is a little cold, when there is no light-mindedness of summer, when there is some seriousness in everything. Any holiday demands a sort of preparation, and it is convenient for us to celebrate our holiday after September and October’s preparations.
The interview was taken by Lilit Aghajanyan,