Soviet Schooling

No matter where I go, the Soviet schooling system follows me.

As the protagonist of the best anti-totalitarianism novel I ever read says, “This would be intolerable to people who remembered the word – not the concept because that doesn’t exist anymore – but even just the sound of the word ‘dignity.'”

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12 thoughts on “Soviet Schooling”

  1. What is this “the best anti-totalitarianism novel”? Is it in Russian? The beautiful quote made me want to read it too. 🙂

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      1. Found this:

        Петля и камень в зеленой траве – Аркадий Вайнер, Георгий Вайнер

        Have never heard of those writers. Unlike you, I immigrated as a child and read very little Russian literature, barely read even classics.

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        1. You never read this book??????? Never????

          What’s wrong with you, woman? Go read it now! It has the most interesting female Jewish protagonist in all of Russian literature.

          I read the book so many times I can recite it by heart. It’s about totalitarianism. It’s about love. It’s about Jewish art in the USSR. It’s about being Jewish. Just for the list of Jewish writers it quotes it’s worth reading.

          The best novel about the USSR by far.

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          1. Have taken Петля и камень from the local library and told my mother about your recommendation too. Спасибо. 🙂

            Haven’t read them but have watched the wonderful Место встречи изменить нельзя.

            Opened the novel and saw Bialik mentioned. Have probably been exposed to most Israeli writers they mention at school here.

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            1. I recommend reading all of their books that they wrote together. Great literature. In the USSR, they had to write police procedurals because there was no place for anything else but you can still see the talent.

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  2. // The curriculum teaches preschoolers and kindergarteners to compare mixed-race and adoptive families with families headed by same-sex couples and even possibly a polyamorous family — in this part of the video captured below, the boy says “My two moms are Marilyn and Adrian and my two dads are Michael and Barry.” It’s not explained what his two moms and dads call their arrangement. Maybe that’s considered too risque for three-year-olds.

    And I thought “After Gay Marriage, Why Not Polygamy?” was propaganda of social conservatives, an argument made in bad faith. 😦

    I suspect many mixed-race couples and adoptive families are not thrilled by those comparisons.

    I am very liberal, but don’t think preschoolers are of suitable age to be exposed to polygamy.

    On the other hand, may be the idea is precisely to target them young since once prejudice is formed, it may be too late to preach tolerance. This way, even if family is intolerant, they’ll get the opposite message from school. For immigrant kids, for instance, a new society wins over a family completely. Why not for kids of prejudiced families?

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    1. I don’t think it’s the school system’s job to decide who’s prejudiced and who isn’t and to instill “correct” morality. For now, they can’t teach kids to read and do math.

      There was an episode in Sex and the City where a cleaning lady found a woman’s sex toys, judged them inappropriate, and substituted them with religious materials. The woman was understandably angry.

      It’s the same thing. It’s not the place of school teachers to police morality or decide what’s prejudice and what isn’t. What the ef qualifies them to be teachers of morality? It’s ridiculous.

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  3. // It’s not the place of school teachers to police morality or decide what’s prejudice and what isn’t. What the ef qualifies them to be teachers of morality? It’s ridiculous.

    What about racism or antisemitism? They are transmitted from parents to kids, shouldn’t school as an agent of socialization do something? If telling racism is wrong is OK, why not tell about gays’ rights too?

    What about children of Middle Eastern or stereotypical Russian immigrants that you don’t like (the latter)? If there is a significant immigration in a new global world, Western societies cannot rely on newly immigrant parents to correctly socialize their kids, so school must step in. It’s a new-old melting pot ideology.

    Wait, what about women’s rights? For some Middle Eastern immigrants, they are also seen as a ‘morality’ issue. The term ‘honor killings’ is one of greatest proofs of that.

    School has always been about teaching correct ideology, hasn’t it? You’ve written about the issue on your blog. So why should it stop being ideological now?

    Besides,

    // In a “Staff Guide,” the district tells teachers that students need to learn the right ideology to be financially successful.

    Cultural competency is a 21st century skill that students will need to enter the workforce. We see daily examples of how intolerant thinking compromises the professional success of the people around us. Whether the conversation be about race, religion, language, gender, or sexuality, adults and students must be prepared to participate in conversations using facts and relevant vocabulary instead of myths, stereotypes, and slurs. //

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    1. They can’t teach reading skills. It’s a completely failed model. They should stick to ABCs, continents and some very basic math. I have cancelled my online course that I’ve been teaching for 10 years. I will not be teaching it again because our freshmen lack basic computer skills. I’d say that’s a bit more important for the workplace than idiotic bleatings about “genders assigned at birth.”

      What professional success can possibly await people who graduate from high school and come to college without having the slightest idea of what an email is? Or how to conjugate the verb “to be”?

      It’s not even like a cleaning lady who cleaned the toilet and then tried to indoctrinate. It’s a cleaning lady who doesn’t clean but only indoctrinates.

      And no, I absolutely don’t want the useless pieces of furniture that pass for school officials to teach my kid about women’s rights or any rights.

      I also have to say that I struggle to imagine the kind of workplace where people engage in conversations about “race, religion, gender or sex.” I’d guess that the subject of attaching a file to an email comes up a lot more often than race or religion. And nobody teaches that.

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      1. // I have cancelled my online course that I’ve been teaching for 10 years. I will not be teaching it again because our freshmen lack basic computer skills.

        Have their skills declined through the years or have you become tired of this situation?

        Have they not several lectures by anyone to teach them those skills? By you, for instance? Seems like extremely crucial thing that may be worthwhile to dedicate 2-3 lectures to, or is it impossible?

        There are also YouTube videos which I used both for myself and for students once.

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        1. They didn’t simply declined. They dropped off a cliff. Today I heard from a person in student services and they have no idea what to do because the students don’t understand the concept of checking their email. And the university has no other manner of communicating with them if not by email.

          If somebody told me 10 years ago that I’d have students ask “what’s a browser?”, I would have laughed. It’s not only that they don’t know the word. The concept is unfamiliar.

          But all that claptrap about tolerance and whatever, they can reproduce that in enormous quantities.

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