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School Traditions

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I had no idea the first day of school in Russia is such a big celebration, with flowers and festivities. I never noticed before, but I see a lot of photos from my Russian friends on Facebook, with boys and girls dressed up and bright flowers in their arms. It's a beautiful tradition! Personally I always hated school, at every level. This is a strange statement for someone like me who has spent half of my life in some type of educational institution - 2 years of preschool, 12 years to get a high school diploma, 4 years for my university degree in English/Writing and then another 5 years to get my doctorate in law. Total = over 20 years!!

In the U.S., we don't have such a big celebration for the first day of school. I think it's completely different, though each parent still posts photos of their kids with their backpacks and books. My nephew started second grade yesterday, and I watched him get on the school bus. I never once had the urge to have a child, or carry such a huge responsibility for another human. I look at my sister, working full time, constantly running from place to place with my nephew. One day it's karate lessons, the next soccer practice, a friend's birthday party....the list is endless. Sometimes I look at her and feel relieved that I have absoultely no responsibility. Not for a child, or a husband, only myself and family. Free to do as I wish, when I want. It sounds selfish to many, but this is the reality in which I live and I have never wanted it any other way.

A few photos from my nephew's first day of school yesterday. In the U.S., most kids take a bus to school. It's my understanding that school buses are basically nonexistent in Russia, but maybe I'm wrong? It seems like a lot of Russian school children wear a standard uniform, but in the U.S. such uniforms are usually only worn at private or religious schools. I'm completely opposed to uniforms because I've always viewed clothes and the manner in which a person dresses as a form of expression and individuality. When everyone looks the same, the landscape becomes boring! At the same time, I understand that uniforms eliminate a lot of peer pressure and bullying to look a certain way, or wear a certain brand, and there's certainly some value in that.
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In my youth, I dreamed of being a teacher. I even practiced with my sister and cousins, barking commands at them on my chalkboard, trying to teach them spelling and math. Of course, they were bad students and didn't obey, no matter how hard I tried. :) Here's photographic evidence of my early career dreams, with my younger sister sitting as an uninterested pupil. My career path was altered when I served as a substitute teacher in a middle school and encountered wild teenage boys! I didn't have the patience to deal with unruly children, despite my desire to imbue them with the powerful gift of knowledge.

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I wish all the Russian school children a successful, prosperous and educational school year! :)

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How about you? Did you like school? Are there any other interesting Russian school traditions? Tell me. :) I think next time I visit the country, it would be great to visit a school and meet some of the young children who will shape Russia's future, hopefully for the better.


Comments

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f_l_o_e
Sep. 1st, 2015 03:10 pm (UTC)
Finest school traditions in Chechnya. Policemans go to school for fighting with boys, police officers (major, colonel or higher) go to school that find new (or second) wife. It's wonderful tradition!

Edited at 2015-09-01 03:11 pm (UTC)
peacetraveler22
Sep. 1st, 2015 03:11 pm (UTC)
And they also kidnap young girls from the school yard? :)
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africanstranger
Sep. 1st, 2015 03:20 pm (UTC)
Heh! Do you really believe that those children feel happy? It is a soviet celebration which came to us through the years. Try to come at the 1 september without flowers. It is an obligation, but not a celebration:) You are so naive:)) Have you ever been inside the soviet school? It looks like a prison. Dim lights, awful wall paint, stinky toilets and teachers' dictatorship... You would love your US school very much if you had a chance to learn into our school even for a month:))

PS: Sorry for my English:)
peacetraveler22
Sep. 1st, 2015 03:24 pm (UTC)
Well, these kids are not in Soviet schools. They live in modern Russia, and based on what readers tell me, education is different now than during Soviet times. I love flowers, and will be happy to receive them on any occasion. :) I've never been inside a Russian school. It's necessary to visit one on my next journey.
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shmaka
Sep. 1st, 2015 03:22 pm (UTC)
I loved school and as I did not attend kindergarten, I had been begging my parents to send me to school early. So when I just turned 6, after one week I went to the first grade. Back in 90ties it was very unusual!
Besides flowers on the 1st of September (Knowledge Day), we also have Teacher's Day at the first week of October.
In university students often celebrate the middle of studies at university. It's called equator. For example, if your overall studies last for 4 years, you celebrate it after the end of second year.

Edited at 2015-09-01 03:24 pm (UTC)
peacetraveler22
Sep. 1st, 2015 03:25 pm (UTC)
I didn't know about "Knowledge Day!" We also have "Teacher's Day" in the U.S., when teachers receive all kinds of wonderful gifts from parents and students.
irisha8787
Sep. 1st, 2015 03:23 pm (UTC)
I loved school!! Miss it so much!

We have a fun tradition in Russia for the beginning of October - teacher's day. Students and teachers change places. Older students get to teach younger, or even become a principal. It's only for 1 day, but it's so much fun! Sometimes I had a chance to teach several different classes a day!

Btw, thank you for a postcard! It was a nice surprise!!
peacetraveler22
Sep. 1st, 2015 03:27 pm (UTC)
Oh, you have already received the postcard? Great! Are you in the U.S.? If not, then that was very fast for Russian Post! Only two weeks. It's a fun idea for students and teachers to switch places! I like it. We didn't have this tradition when I was in school.
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bobot
Sep. 1st, 2015 03:23 pm (UTC)
Personally I hated the formal school celebration (and most of the rest of the school) during all my school life. You have to stay still and quiet in the open sun, and listen to all those pompous, insincere, and amazingly boring speeches.

On the contrary, I enjoy quite a lot the easy and informal transition into a new school year that my son has here in the US.
peacetraveler22
Sep. 1st, 2015 03:29 pm (UTC)
Yes, in the U.S. the first day of school must seem very boring if you're used to the Russian style celebration for this day. I love watching the young kids get on the bus, meet old friends, etc. I didn't like school for the exact reasons you state. It was always boring for me to listen to some scholar lecture about topics, when in fact they had no real world experience. This was especially true during law school, when many of the professors were merely academic scholars, and had not practiced law for many years. I prefer learning in a more practical way, by doing rather than merely listening. :)
seadevil001
Sep. 1st, 2015 03:25 pm (UTC)
Predictable comments so far. Reason for uniforms is simple, they want kids to discuss educational matters not somebody way to dress. School was Ok for me, though not interesting often. But I was nerd then.
We have interesting tradition - each class has spot in school they were supposed to repair at year end. Plaster, paint, etc.. I am fairly proficient with plastering since then.
I have question for you - in your time in school classes were reshuffled every year as it is now?
peacetraveler22
Sep. 1st, 2015 03:30 pm (UTC)
I was also a nerd in school, and even now! :) What do you mean "classes were reshuffled?" We had the same teacher until 6th grade, and then after 7th grade we switched classes and teachers for each subject.
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perycalypsis
Sep. 1st, 2015 03:35 pm (UTC)
Always kept lunch money in the shoe but had some spare change in the pocket.
peacetraveler22
Sep. 1st, 2015 03:36 pm (UTC)
We didn't have a cafeteria in my school, so we had to pack our own lunch. Pity! I missed out on this fun. :)
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kremlin_curant
Sep. 1st, 2015 03:43 pm (UTC)
So nice picture with you and your sister. And picture looks so old. I like old pictures. But here in New York children are still on vacation until 9/9. Isn't it in Virginia?
peacetraveler22
Sep. 1st, 2015 03:48 pm (UTC)
In my area, kids started school on different days. Some kids started last week, some this week. It depends on the county in which you live. I have so many old photos! :) My dad loved taking pictures of us as kids, and this one is very, very old. The photo was taken over 30 years ago! Yes, I'm old! :))
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andrey_kaminsky
Sep. 1st, 2015 03:47 pm (UTC)
Школа была встречей с друзьями
I have a clear and detailed understanding of how russian schools educate nationalists and imperialists. It would be interesting to see how this problem is solved in the United States.
peacetraveler22
Sep. 1st, 2015 03:51 pm (UTC)
Re: Школа была встречей с друзьями
And share with me and the audience your understanding about how Russian schools are educating nationalists. How do they do this? In the U.S., almost all kids cite the Pledge of Allegiance each morning in school. This instills patriotism and a love for the flag from early childhood. However, in recent years, a child now has a right to opt out and some schools no longer have the Pledge of Allegiance each morning. It's an interesting legal topic. :)
maksipes
Sep. 1st, 2015 04:01 pm (UTC)
I loved soviet school.. It wasn't as bad as some people imagine nowadays. I could give a lot to go back in my school at those days.

Sorry for my English - Soviet education
peacetraveler22
Sep. 1st, 2015 04:04 pm (UTC)
Your English is fine! :) How was Soviet school different than modern day Russia schooling?
ilay_original
Sep. 1st, 2015 04:01 pm (UTC)
Did I like the school?
Absolutely not :)
But I did love to win (and still do).
By the 7th grade I moved to another school, to a class, which was the first phys-math class in the district.
We all had to pass the exams to qualify, so we were a mashup of best pupils from different schools.
We were all complete nerds, with tons of studies and olympics in different subjects. (our class alone won more olympics than any of the other schools of our town - not just math, but geography, chemestry, biology, programming etc.)
And hools , with tons of parties and fun, at the same time.

And based on our results in the 11th grade our school became a so-called gymnasium.

It was fun, however ))

My daughter went to her 6th grade today.
Another school ( though in the same small town, but she's not into math that much, they have a lyceum, focusing merely on humanitarian sciences)...

They do have their school uniform and it's obligatory according to the school rules.
Myself, I was slways against uniforms, and in our school we forced our school principal to abandon uniforms, setting a dress code instead...

Well, it was another time ))) in a galaxy far, far away
peacetraveler22
Sep. 1st, 2015 04:06 pm (UTC)
Cool! I went to a small school, so we didn't have so many scholastic competitions or debate teams, etc. It's good to be a nerd. :)) How did you convince the principal to abandon uniforms? The students kidnapped him or held him hostage? :)) We did not have uniforms, but had a strict dress code. Females had to wear dresses or skirts, and they could not be above the knee! We also had to wear stockings. It was a complete nightmare.
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sectopod
Sep. 1st, 2015 04:19 pm (UTC)
//It's my understanding that school buses are basically nonexistent in Russia, but maybe I'm wrong?

You are right. I't very unusuall. But usually it's no problem: for examle, I can reach minimun three schools during 10-15 minutes. Our usual city block is organized around school building with stadium - it's educational center, electional point and (in theory) point for military recruiting and evacuation in wartimes. Also, school can't say no if you want to study there and it's your local school.
I hear about school buses in countryside, but as far as I know its rare thing.


//It seems like a lot of Russian school children wear a standard uniform

On photos? It's soviet school uniform. It's traditional clothes for school celebrations: 1st Septembers or last official school day in your life.


I like my school and teachers. It was cool time. Also it was childhood :)

Edited at 2015-09-01 04:21 pm (UTC)
peacetraveler22
Sep. 1st, 2015 04:22 pm (UTC)
It seems that even with these traditional Soviet uniforms, there was still some chance to express individuality. Because some girls have ruffled white shirts, some are plain and some have buttons. I've heard many stories of children walking huge distances to schools in remote Russian villages. That's why I thought school buses were non-existent.
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yacc11
Sep. 1st, 2015 04:19 pm (UTC)
That is the USSR tradition.
Prior to the USSR there were Church schools in villages with basic reading, writing and Bible education :)

I learned at school at the Brezhnev, Androporov, Chernenko and Gorbachev times and those schools differ from modern ones.
For instance We had basic military training, for instance everyone know how to disassemble / assemble AK-47 :)

And yes - there were school buses but for children of distant villages only since usually school is located not far from your house.


Edited at 2015-09-01 04:20 pm (UTC)
peacetraveler22
Sep. 1st, 2015 04:20 pm (UTC)
Even female students had military training? Or, were they taught how to cook and be a good wife? :))
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fesma94
Sep. 1st, 2015 04:23 pm (UTC)
" I didn't have the patience to deal with unruly children"
You don't need to do nothing ! Just wear the deep low square décolleté to calm every youngster))))
peacetraveler22
Sep. 1st, 2015 04:25 pm (UTC)
Omg! Then, I would be one of those teachers being arrested for having sex with a student. :)) I always liked younger men! :)
fesma94
Sep. 1st, 2015 04:29 pm (UTC)
I loved school ! I had good friends, more vacation days than now and I was more younger )))
peacetraveler22
Sep. 1st, 2015 04:32 pm (UTC)
This is the only thing I miss about school days - being young! :)
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