School Education

I have almost no desire to enumerate all the school misfortunes that fall on students at these venerable institutions. The Soviet school then and the Russian school now is one big mess of trouble. This is a moloch who teaches schoolchildren to lie, play dunce, and adapt, suppressing themselves and their promising qualities instead of developing them.

Forgive me, schoolteachers, but almost none of them persisted with the ultimate goal to give students knowledge. Almost all of them—both those who taught me and just my acquaintances—are oppressed in the literal and figurative sense of the word, people who are stuck in and overwhelmingly do everything just to stay in their place or move up the career ladder.

Already in their training, the schoolteacher learns to intimidate the future first-grader by making “deuces” and make comments. Fear of a teacher develops into fear of getting a bad mark, which, in turn, develops into a fear of punishment by parents. In my case, my mother even forced my first teacher to increase her search for my flaws, which gave my zealous mother the opportunity to flog me almost daily. Naturally, after such “training,” I recall school as a sheer nightmare that lasted ten years.

Fear of getting a bad mark and fear of punishment cause the child to fear mistakes, which, in turn, completely kills the child’s initiative.

When punishing a child for a mistake made, teachers and parents often provoke the mockery of his peers. And considering that, as a rule, hooligan teenagers behave more freely and impudently in relation to ridiculed ones, ridicule leads to the fact that diligent children suffer most of all, who make fewer mistakes than lazy people and hooligans, but are ridiculed more often.

But the worst thing about school education is that schools do not teach students to study on their own and do not prepare them for adulthood. I was lucky; the unforgettable Anatoly Ivanovich allowed me to prepare for entering the academy not according to school textbooks in mathematics, but according to Shakhno’s two-volume series. But in the fact that schools do not prepare students for adulthood, I found no exceptions. First of all, I saw how my classmates chose an institution for further studies. As a rule, they did not have a real idea of what they would do after graduation. Secondly, none of us graduates had a clue what adult life in general was like. School rulers, Komsomol meetings, and bravura radio and TV programs only exacerbated the gap between what we expected to graduate from and what actually happened to us. The aggressiveness of adulthood was just going wild, and although by some miracle I remained intact, I received many blows.

But back to school. I studied myself. I saw how my mother and her colleagues worked at school. My son and daughter studied. The first conclusion I want to convey to readers is that now the teacher at school is completely disenfranchised. Therefore, I will draw conclusions about what needs to be changed. I will try to help you, teachers!

The first thing to do is to separate training and education. Teachers must teach, educators must educate. In this case, education should not include the so-called “extracurricular work.” Any kind of activity, whether it be sports, music, drawing, or something like that, should be conducted by professionals, and not part-time school teachers who can be forced to work for free or almost for free. Deny extracurricular work for teachers!

Secondly, teachers must give real marks. We talked here about the pupils’ fear of a poor grade. But this coin has another side; the teacher’s fear that he will receive a reputation of being a bad teacher who does not know how to teach, does not know how to convey knowledge to children. This forces teachers to overcompensate. I have repeatedly observed how positive marks were given to schoolchildren who absolutely did not know the subject and defiantly flaunted it.

Third, students should be divided by level and direction of training. This separation should take place after the fourth, seventh, and ninth grades. After the fourth grade, it is clear which of the children are ready to continue their education, then to enter technical schools, colleges, and universities, and who should be focused on working professions. After the seventh grade, it becomes obvious who should be guided towards the best field of study: humanities, medicine, or technology. And, finally, in the ninth grade, there is a division into those who will go to secondary specialized educational institutions and who will go to institutes or universities.

Fourth, boys and girls should be separated. The fact that girls enter puberty earlier is well known. But the fact that girls are often inferior to boys in terms of quick wits is not often remarked upon. But this is evident both in school grades and in the further division into “male” and “female” professions.

In conclusion, I want to dwell on the phenomenon of specialized schools. In Russia, they are not just few, they are catastrophically few. I advocated here for the cessation of extracurricular activities. Out-of-class work should be replaced by specialized schools, and every school should be specialized. And if, for example, the school is a specialized sports school, then sports should be conducted by former professional athletes, not ordinary school teachers who themselves have never been involved in sports.

Of course, I did not cover the whole range of transformations that the modern school needs, but fixing big problems is a start! The main thing is to not lie or dodge the issue.

Home Education

The main educational processes should take place in the family. This is an axiom that does not require proof, and is confirmed even in one of the sermons of our patriarch Cyril, shown on television. Discussing the problems of school education, he said that in blaming all the flaws of schoolchildren on teachers, we forget about the proverb, “Oranges are not born from aspen.” If dad and mom do not care about raising their children, then we can hardly expect compensation for the gaps in education at school.

I’ll tell you about one funny case. I had a friend who stuttered. His wife also stuttered. They had children; two twin girls. Their parents did not force them to stutter or into normal speech. And I noticed that while talking with parents, they also stuttered, but while talking with me, they didn’t. Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to find out whether these girls stuttered in adulthood or stopped. And it’s a pity; one could observe what turns out to be stronger: the influence of the external environment or the family.

My acquaintances were different. It is no secret that in Russia there are people who treat Jews with hostility. Some does not like them for their success, and some consider them opportunists. Being half-Russian, a quarter German, and a quarter Polish, I am normal with Jews. Two of my good friends left for Israel. One, a former colleague and subordinate to Kapustin Yar, emigrated after the collapse of the Soviet Union and demobilization. Another, a former friend and basketball rival, left Kazakhstan, where he also saw the collapse of the USSR.

In 2005, while living in Moscow, I had to work as a programmer in a team that was more than half-Jewish. Dinner, as was customary at that time in metropolitan organizations, was fed at the enterprise, in a small dining room specially designated for this purpose. Eating, I had the opportunity to listen to the conversations of employees, and sometimes to participate in them.

I drew attention to the fact that no matter what my colleagues started the conversation, it gradually turned to a conversation about children, or rather, about their upbringing. And I understood why the Jewish nation is so successful: because they put the search for talent and their development at the heart of their parenting. During the conversations, they practically did not touch on the discussion of children’s shortcomings; in their opinion, dirty habits will be eliminated if the child is loaded with good deeds. They repeatedly recalled the film Papa with Mashkov in the title role. They recalled a film about Paganini. I had no problems with my son at that time, and I decided that I was going on the right path, freeing him from everything except sports. But fate decreed otherwise.

I did not take into account that both parents should have a desire to make their child successful. And if one of the parents has a bad influence on the child, inspiring him with laziness and an irresponsible attitude, then with all the efforts of the other, he is unlikely to make a successful person out of the child. Therefore, my efforts to make a professional athlete out of my son did not bring results.

Neither Mother nor Father ever made an attempt to test my brother and I for the possible presence of talents and never tried to develop any of our abilities. Oh God, rest their souls and rest in peace for them…


For all installments from In the Shadow of the Belt, click here.

Previous installments:

  1. Introduction
  2. Chapter 1: Early Childhood
  3. Chapter 2: School? This is Just the Beginning, Baby…
  4. Chapter 3: Cognizing Life
  5. Chapter 4: Football as it Is
  6. Chapter 5: My Friend Sasha Bichukov
  7. Chapter 6: Score
  8. Chapter 7: Again, the Transience of Being, Part 1
  9. Chapter 7: Again, the Transience of Being, Part 2
  10. Chapter 8: Old Colony, Part 1
  11. Chapter 8: Old Colony, Part 2
  12. Chapter 8: Old Colony, Part 3
  13. Chapter 8: Old Colony, Part 4
  14. Chapter 8: Old Colony, Part 5
  15. Chapter 9: School Again, Part 1
  16. Chapter 9: School Again, Part 2
  17. Chapter 10: Drama Studio
  18. Chapter 11: Basketball
  19. Chapter 12: Why Did I Join the Military?
  20. Chapter 13: Did I Hit My Children?