Meilutė Julija Lukšienė originates from a famous family that were active in Lithuanian culture. She obtained her formal education in Lithuania in the interwar period: in 1931 she graduated from the Vytautas Magnus Gymnasium in Vilnius, and in 1942 she graduated from the Humanities Faculty at Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas, with a degree in the history of Lithuanian literature (main speciality), with Lithuanian language criticism, French literature, and pedagogy (subsidiary subjects).
Lukšienė was employed as a teacher and as a university lecturer, and from 1951 to 1958 was head of the Department of Lithuanian Literature at Vilnius University. In 1958, she was dismissed from the Department of Lithuanian Literature, accused by Party activists and the Party Committee of anti-Marxism, ‘bourgeois approaches’ to Lithuanian literature, and the idealisation of Lithuania’s past. After she was dismissed from the university, Lukšienė continued her research work. She was involved in non-Soviet networks among the Lithuanian intelligentsia that tried to save the architectural heritage from Soviet industrial and construction projects, and to protect Lithuanian history, culture and literature in Lithuanian society against the so-called internationalism promoted by the regime.
In 1988, as an outstanding authority among Lithuanian scholars, Meilė Lukšienė was elected a member of the Initiative Group of Sąjūdis, the emerging Reform Movement of Lithuania, which was to become the most important force in Lithuania to restore independent statehood in 1990. She rallied the Lithuanian Republic Educational Reform Group, and acted as one of the most important creators of the first independent Concept of Lithuanian Education and the related educational documents.
Meilė Lukšienė was the first person in Lithuania to base the methodology of democratic education scientifically on aspects of both historical and contemporary development. Her research works are characterised by the principle of integrating humanitarian and social sciences, which continues to have an immense impact on the development of the science of educational theory.
Her research works were conducted across three areas of research, pedagogy, literature and culturology, and excelled over the prevailing investigations of those times, which concentrated on specific narrow issues in the school system and didactics. Meilė Lukšienė raised essential questions about the orientation of the Lithuanian education system, namely the ratio of nationality to universality, education in the cultural identity, the continuation of the cultural tradition and the modernisation of education, and social justice.
Meilė Lukšienė achieved a lot, because Lithuanian education had a conceptual Europe-orientated future educational model when independence was restored in 1990. It was used as a basis to create the General Concept of Education in Lithuania (1992), which delineated the directions for the development of the national education system. The essential principles for education chosen were humanism, democracy, national identity and renewal.
Vilnius , Lithuania
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