Oleg Semenovich Gazman died on August 30, 1996, following a short bout with a devastating form of leukemia that had been diagnosed only three weeks previously. At the time of his death, he was a senior researcher and head of a laboratory dealing with issues of early childhood "vospitanie" (upbringing)within the Russian Academy of Education's Institute of Pedagogical Innovations in Moscow. Gazman had worked all his life in this field, and was one of the central organizers of the "Frunze Commune," the summer colony for children in which Igor Petrovich Ivanov's theories about upbringing were put to the test with real children.
Gazman's work in this environment was centrally important for two reasons: first, because it allowed him to formulate a view of how to work with children that was at once communally oriented, and yet at the same time non-ideological; and second, because it allowed him to bring together people and ideas in interesting combinations -- he was instrumental both in bringing Soloveichik and Matveev together, and in introducing Matveev to his second wife. He was a key figure in encouraging the spread of the "Pedagogy of Cooperation," played an influential role in the formation of the Creative Union of Teachers, and was an important part of Eduard Dneprov's "VNIK-Shkola" in the late 1980s, later moving on with him to the Ministry of Education as an advisor.
Gazman wrote widely on problems of upbringing, publishing chapters in a number of influential collections (e.g., in Novoe pedagogicheskoe myshlenie [New Pedagogical Thought] and Pedagogika nashikh dnei [Pedagogy for Today], both published in 1989), and engaged in a number of international projects with educators in the Netherlands and the USA (particularly with Robert Weiss at the Medford Educational Institute). Gazman was an outspoken advocate for children, and for their right to experience a caring, nurturing, democratic environment as they develop. He was one of the strongest promoters of the idea of the "Pedagogy of Cooperation" as a motif for new ways of working collaboratively in education. His voice and his activity will be much missed by the progressive wing of Russian education.