Staunton, Mar. 17 – Teachers in Russian schools are coming under increasing pressure from the powers that be to promote the Kremlin line on Putin’s war in Ukraine. Many of them are angry or afraid. But the real victims of this Russian government program are the children who feel they are having their future taken away from them.
One teacher of English in Moscow summed up her feelings and those of her pupils in an especially lapidary way (theins.ru/confession/249390):
“I took the news of the start of the war as a personal tragedy. It was as if a family member had been diagnosed with a terrible disease and you realize there’s nothing you can do. There is endless pain inside, and you have to live with this pain every day, talk with your own children and go to work. I work as an English teacher at a school. On February 24, during the third lesson, it was announced on the online school chat room that we were all except for two teachers forbidden to talk to the children about ‘the special operation.’ Those two posed online that everything would be fine, said they fully backed the president because he knows what he is doing. Only they were officially permitted to explain things to the children.
“Many children because of their families know what is really going on in Ukraine. One boy said he wanted to get a Ukrainian language textbook because he was worried about the Ukrainians and the only thing he could do was to learn their language. Another child asked how all this was possible: After all, there have been so many terrible wars in history, how could anyone start another?
“The seventh graders to whom I teach English were all insistent in asking me about my view of the war. I explained that I couldn’t talk to them about it. They wondered openly: why is everyone afraid? Why can’t they just be open? They think that if you keep silent, the war won’t end. Some felt very sad about that and asked why they should go to school at all, study foreign languages and world literature, if they are about to live in a place completely isolated from the rest of the world.
“They are already feeling the effects of this war. In international online games, they have begun to be kicked out of them and even banned because they speak Russian. They feel that what is happening now could deprive them of the future they very much want to have.”