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School Traditions


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.Read more...Collapse )


( 234 comments — Leave a comment )
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Sep. 1st, 2015 08:48 pm (UTC)
it's not uniform
actually, most schools in russia don't have uniforms. most of the times it's a dress code. uniform was in soviet russia, one for all. it was cheep-shit clothes. thanks god it's gone. nowadays i don't see students in uniform, except cadets of military schools, i guess.

Edited at 2015-09-01 08:52 pm (UTC)
Sep. 1st, 2015 09:00 pm (UTC)
Re: it's not uniform
It's better to have freedom of choice in all aspects of life, including clothing. :) Maybe it depends on where you live. One reader from St. Petersburg said students there wear uniforms, or dress the same.
(no subject) - creaze - Sep. 2nd, 2015 05:06 am (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 1st, 2015 09:42 pm (UTC)
I can’t say that I liked school. I don’t know why. But I always have been a good student )
Sep. 1st, 2015 11:32 pm (UTC)
I'm almost always bored in a classroom, but was still a good student. It's clear you're smart because you write very well in your blog. :)
(no subject) - rider3099 - Sep. 1st, 2015 11:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 1st, 2015 11:41 pm (UTC)
I think school buses is a unique American feature in places because of lack (or poor) public transportation in most places.

For example, in Germany school buses operate only in small towns and rural areas, but these are not specially designed buses for kids, these are just normal "city" buses which operate at school times on a special school route.

Another reason for lack of school buses is that it is in many cases possible to reach school by walking. There is also no security paranoia (even during the evil 90s), so kids are supposed to reach school themselves.
Sep. 2nd, 2015 02:50 pm (UTC)
It's true that public transportation outside of large cities is inadequate. However, almost every American family has a car which can be used to transport kids to school. I think the buses are just for convenience. In general, America is a country of convenience. That's why we are lazier than Russians and most Europeans. We are not forced to walk as much, take stairs, etc.
Sep. 2nd, 2015 12:00 am (UTC)
I hated school, it was sooo boring. I remember that I was excited about school every September 1st and maybe only a few days after. For me it was mostly like prison, 10, 9, 8,....1 years left. I celebrate today because I don't have to go to USSR's school:)
US schools are totally different, my son is third grader, and I feel like start over and join him:)
Sep. 2nd, 2015 02:51 pm (UTC)
I always was very bored with school, and it was even worse when I was in law school! I absolutely hated it, but by that time we had laptops, so it was easy to surf the web during lectures. :) This is what I did to pass the time away.
Sep. 2nd, 2015 01:01 am (UTC)
I have good memories of my school years. Never hated school. :)
Sep. 2nd, 2015 01:58 am (UTC)
15 years total in schools in USSR. 7 years in America. Have BS and MS in Computer Science. Never hated schools. Have good profession.
What do you do for living with your Doctorate degree? :)
Sep. 2nd, 2015 02:52 pm (UTC)
Wow, it's a lot of schooling! Even more than me. :) What university did you attend in the U.S.? I'm currently a lawyer, but I'm tired of this profession. It's time to do something else, but I'm not sure what my next career will be.
(no subject) - alice_lisina - Sep. 3rd, 2015 12:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 3rd, 2015 02:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 2nd, 2015 05:04 am (UTC)
I remember my first day at school. Must have been about 7 years old then.

Even i remember the huge celebration that day. I hate celebrations, always have. On that one it was confusing: on one hand the parents implied that i was the big subject of the day -- i was going to school. On the other hand, they gave me a small bunch of flowers and said, i should hand it to the teacher, when i see her. It's a tradition on september 1st.

Excuse me, is it my day, or the teachers? Besides, why exactly should i give a sign of appreciation to a lady i don't even know yet? I thought so, but i said nothing.

Then the first lesson began. The festivities had just ended, we marched into the classroom right from the assembly on the schoolyard, holding baloons i think, so the teacher — who was our form master for the following eight or nine years — was a little on the ceremonial upswing. She began telling us about the abc. I think, we had gotten those books a few days prior, so i had a chance to run it over and was boring now.

And then she said: "You probably notice those strange signs here and there on the pages". Hm, i thought, the pictures with animals and cartoon people i see, the letters that they represent, i see. What signs she talking about? Then i realized, that i wasn't supposed to be able to read by now. Strange, how can you live in a city and not read? You walk by a grocery store and what — can't figure the sign, saying 'grocery store'? You watch a cartoon on tv and can't read the title? Even as they speak it out loud to you? Maybe i'm so smart, and those other little fellas are dumb? They didn't look like dumb to me, many were even smarter.

Then on a break i asked her a stupid undelicate question (i realized that years later). That's because at the end of the lesson she invited us "if you have any questions", and nobody had of course.

Decades have passed, but i'm still afflicted with asking questions.
Sep. 2nd, 2015 02:54 pm (UTC)
It's good to ask questions! This is the pathway to knowledge and understanding. :) I thought that the flowers were given to the children by parents as a nice and loving gesture. I didn't know the kids give the flowers to their teacher. I agree, I would not want to give flowers to a person whom I've never met. It seems ridiculous and insincere.
Sep. 2nd, 2015 08:31 am (UTC)
Путин всех переиграл,не так ли?
И этих детишек тоже
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 2nd, 2015 02:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - asharky - Sep. 3rd, 2015 02:06 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 3rd, 2015 02:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - asharky - Sep. 3rd, 2015 02:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 3rd, 2015 02:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - asharky - Sep. 3rd, 2015 02:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - alpinizd - Sep. 25th, 2015 07:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 25th, 2015 08:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - asharky - Sep. 4th, 2015 10:29 am (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 2nd, 2015 07:54 am (UTC)
I did't like school last 5-6 eyars. Kids usually like school because it is mark of their "adulthood" :)
As for celebration - it is so old tradition that we do not think about it seriously. 1st of September is a celebrations and that's is. No questions, no doubts. We must be so :))) I am not against to present flowers to teacher. Why not? I against of quickie jump of prices on these flowers on such days.
As for uniform - I hated my uniform in my childhood. But as mother I can say that uniform is better. Not very strictly, but something "white top, dark bottom" is good. There is no dilema of new brand clothes, competition between girls, etc. And it is discipline school children, imho.
Sep. 2nd, 2015 02:57 pm (UTC)
Yes, uniforms are bad for kids but good for parents. :) It's very difficult to break from traditions, both cultural and within a family. For instance, my family always celebrated Christmas Eve at one of my mom's sister's home. After she died, we decided to move the celebration to someone else's home. This was very difficult, but necessary. Sometimes change is good, but it's also painful at times.
Sep. 2nd, 2015 08:40 am (UTC)
Schooltimes of mine were really great! Yes, our schools looked pretty poor compared to US ones (even to those we could see from VHS tapes), but it looked like a holiday going there every day to learn new and interesting things from our brilliant teachers. Of course, we were a bit sad about having no possibility to play outside instead of our classes... but still :))) Till the day we are good friends and keep contact with classmates - both in real life and over the Internet - irrespective of places of residence.

All the best of knowledge to your nephew :)
Sep. 2nd, 2015 02:59 pm (UTC)
VHS tapes! :) I remember those! My nephew is brilliant and very interested in school and learning. He is only in 2nd grade, but ranks at 5th grade level in math and reading based on the standardized tests all students must take. I hope he stays on this path, but I fear he will grow bored with school.
(no subject) - aavenger - Sep. 2nd, 2015 08:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 2nd, 2015 09:16 am (UTC)
These days I think uniform makes a lot of sense. Also I think Soviet uniform for boys was better than those "minimen in black uniforms" selected by boring parents now. Only a few schools might have bus which picks up kids.

In ex-USSR we had to walk to school on our own :) no cars, no parents, no nanny. Current Russia only builds parking slots and concrete jungles. No new schools have been built in my area since 1990. Ironically my kid would have to go to the old school built in 1953 (yeah, the year when Stalin died).

I liked school, our first teacher was great. How it is now I will check in a few years.
Sep. 2nd, 2015 03:00 pm (UTC)
I think some kids are still walking huge distances to schools, esp. in remote regions of Russia. The population in my area (Northern Virginia) has expanded so much in recent years so we are continually building new schools. My nephew is in a brand new school, which just opened this year.
(no subject) - dkfl - Sep. 2nd, 2015 06:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 2nd, 2015 12:38 pm (UTC)
Hey, Shannon, you are interesting as usual!
My son went to university, dot to school yesterday, flowers only for her teacher, because she’s real cool, understands kids mind.
And I never see anything more sexual than our Soviet girls uniform. I have graduated from school in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, I’ve recall our girls.
Sep. 2nd, 2015 02:47 pm (UTC)
Re: 0901
Well, it's bad to sexualize girls at such a young age. They are trained then to get ahead not with the mind, but with their bodies and sexuality. Better to get a good education and learn tangible skills. A youthful body only lasts so long. :)
Re: 0901 - habarforever - Sep. 3rd, 2015 06:40 am (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 2nd, 2015 12:44 pm (UTC)
а мне нравится, если есть школьная униформа, особенно, когда она красивая и стильная. она не отвлекает ученика от самого процесса учёбы. иначе все начинают обсуждать кто в чём одет, какие лейблы, сколько это стоит и прочее. особенно девочки.
Sep. 2nd, 2015 03:02 pm (UTC)
I agree, uniforms have some benefits. And high school girls can be very judgmental and mean! When everyone dresses the same, there is a lesser chance that someone will be bullied at school.
Sep. 2nd, 2015 02:07 pm (UTC)
Sep. 2nd, 2015 03:02 pm (UTC)
Sep. 2nd, 2015 04:50 pm (UTC)
Hmm....I remember myself bringing flowers to the school on 1st of September. It felt like holiday. At least to me and my friends.

But looking at my 3 kids (elementary-middle school ages) who were born in LA I'm becoming a little bit jealous. While US schools don't have that sort of flower/celebration tradition of first day of school they give here much more later during a school year. My little one was almost crying in May because she will not be with her teacher any more. The atmosphere in a US classrooms of elementary schools are much more warm and welcoming than it was in my Soviet childhood. I would never ever want having picture with my teacher! While it's normal in US. Teacher is not a commander - it's your instructor and friend. One can discuss difference in education approaches. Overall I love it. In most cases I see the point.

One thing that is also quite different - the way they do a class rotation here. If you were in a same Soviet school for whole period from 7 to 18 years you were most likely be with the same classmates through all these years. People move and new come. So realistically 80-90% of classmates were known from 1st grade to the graduation. Which makes a friends for the whole life. On other hand US approach of students/teachers annual rotation is preparing the kids to easily leave the comfort zone. So I'm not sure which one is better.
Sep. 2nd, 2015 05:25 pm (UTC)
Thanks for your comment. It's interesting to hear the differences between Soviet style education and the current American version. I think the relationship with the teachers in each nation are just indicative of the overall cultural differences in the two countries. America, in general, is a much more friendly, open society, and I think even more relaxed than Russia and presumably the Soviet Union. I think it's good to have students rotate classes such that they are meeting different people throughout their education. I understand it's sad if they are not in the same class as their best friend year after year, but it gives them the opportunity to grow and establish more personal relationships which could benefit them throughout their life. Plus, they will always overlap and have some friends in the same class each year. At least this is how it has been with my nephew so far.
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