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