LSC’s Alexandre Strokanov is “World’s Best”
History Professor Wins “World’s Best Teacher of Russian Humanities Abroad” Competition
October 31, 2014
Lyndon State College History Professor Alexandre Strokanov was named the winner of this year’s “Best Teacher of Russian Humanities Abroad” contest. The Pushkin Institute, the foremost school for Russian language studies, along with a host of Russian governmental agencies including the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, of Culture, and of Education, sponsored the Moscow-based contest.
More than 500 contestants from more than 50 countries took part in the initial three-part online test held earlier this summer designed to whittle the contestants down to fifteen. These fifteen finalists represented fourteen countries; Strokanov finished first and was the only contestant from the United States. The contest final, held in Moscow’s Solzhenitsyn Centre on October 22 and 23, pitted the remaining contestants against one another in a series of three performance and knowledge-oriented tasks.
Each contestant was required to deliver two prepared six-minute interactive PowerPoint presentations to a jury of Russian professors of literature, humanities, and culture: one to explain a personal “principles of teaching” philosophy and the other to demonstrate the ability to deliver knowledge of Russian culture effectively.
Strokanov was the lone history teacher in the final fifteen contestants and his focus for both presentations was cultural rather than linguistic. Strokanov found speaking before the “stern-faced” jury members daunting but found help in his “inner actor” as he told a Russian television station, “professor, teacher and actor — it’s all very similar.” The final task was an impromptu declamatory linguistic and contextual poetry analysis.
Alexandre was announced the winner during a banquet held the evening of October 24 in St. George Hall of the Catherine Palace. Strokanov was elated by his victory and found only one drawback to the entire evening: “I was giving interviews to all the TV stations and newspapers. It went on until midnight. Everyone else at the table had time to talk and dance and party for two hours. I didn’t even have time to eat.” According to Strokanov, his win allows two students to attend Moscow’s Pushkin Institute free of charge for an entire degree program—whether bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate.
Elena Strokanova was named one of the “Laureates of the Contest” after the first round. Strokanova teaches part-time at Lyndon State and Lyndon Institute and is Strokanov’s spouse.
This is the contest’s second year — though the first year the event was open to contestants from across the globe. Last year’s challenge was limited to teachers within the Commonwealth of Independent States , the former Soviet republics that are now independent countries.