Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Promoting Patriotism with Soviet-Style Lessons May Backfire, Russian Educational Experts Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 21 – Beginning this fall, all pupils in Russian schools will be required to attend an hour of political indoctrination that resembles nothing so much as the Soviet propaganda efforts of the past; and Russian educational experts are already warning that this approach may produce exactly the opposite effect that the Kremlin wants.

            Instead of raising a generation of patriotic Russians, this approach, these experts say, may result in a new generation cynical about the very idea of patriotism just as Soviet political information classes produced people who were anything but convinced by what they were told (mk.ru/social/2022/06/21/v-shkoly-reshili-vernut-sovetskie-uroki-politinformacii-v-chem-opasnost.html).

            Moscow officials have made it clear that teachers are to promote patriotism, something that describe as having a five-part basis that they are presenting as a five-pointed star, something else that makes this effort appear to be a restoration of a failed past, education specialists surveyed by Moskovsky komsomolets say.

            These classes are to promote trust in the state, patriotism about the country, harmony in society, a constructive attitude toward work, and traditional family values. And they are to involve homework so that the students will not only interact with their parents about these themes but also bring in examples from the newspapers highlighting them.

            Those who remember Soviet times know how these good intentions did not always lead to good outcomes. The experts say that in promoting patriotism, “it is very important not to go too far and generate the opposite effect in school children – complete disgust for what should be loved.”

            “Our children,” they continue, “are not used to reading on orders and thinking as they are told,” and as a result, “there is a risk that such regular lessons in political information will remain just as boring as they were in the Soviet past and will thus transfer our children as if by a time machine not to the future but to the hypocritical and hopeless past.”

            Cultivating respect and love for one’s country is a good thing, but trying to do it by talking about patriotism on a strict schedule at 1:30 pm on Mondays is a little like making love to your wife once a week according to schedule,” Anna Belova of the Moscow newspaper says. In such circumstances, there is a real danger that things won’t work out well at all.

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