In modern Russian society, democracy is viewed as an exceptionally positive phenomenon. Historically, there are two schools of thought in the debate on free education in Russia. The first opposes the ideal of free education and the priorities of democratic change. The second school of thought which follows from totalitarian ideology, considers democratic values to be false and unrealistic. Modern development psychology considers childhood an historical phenomenon. Anthropology and social anthropology point out to its dependence on a social-cultural situation. Traditional classes are good for primary-school pupils, laboratory classes and seminars for teenagers. With age, the forms of teaching become freer and require more independent work. The experience of Russian schools described above is aimed at the restoration of out-of-school mechanisms of growing up. It is closely related to the characteristics of the social situation in modern Russia. However, some approaches are similar to those taken by western pedagogues.