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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

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.
ilay_original
Sep. 1st, 2015 05:02 pm (UTC)
Uh well..

I mentioned - it was in a galaxy far, far away, remember? ;)
It was end of the 80s - beginning of the 90s.
We still had what was called 'a pioneer organization'
And one year a rather nerdish but quite perky guy was elected to become a chairmen of the school's pioneer organization board.
And one of the electoral promises was to get rid of the uniforms.

Well... the only way to fulfill the promise was to blackmail the principal.
She (it was 'her' not 'him') was interested to establish a 'gymnasium' based on her school (a gymnasium is not just a title of a school in Russia. It's also - another level of state financing, another range of wages for the teachers, new career opportunities etc.).
To make it all happen she had to constantly get the best results - in competitions like district/city/state olympics (scholastic competitions are traditionally called olympics in Russia), in grade-to-grade exams, in VZMSh ('all-Russian Extramural Mathematics School') etc...

So when a group of pupils who supported the idea announced an 'Italian strike' (and, coincidentally, the group, including the chairman himself, consisted of the most successful students and olympics participants), she had nothing to do but to accept the terms of the offer.
Which were - dress code is obligatory (business attire-sort-of), uniforms are not!

(mood: singing 'those were the days my friend...' ;)))

Did the females in your school _really_ wear dresses above the knee? always?
(I'd never believe it, otherwise I'd have to admit I know nothing about women :)
peacetraveler22
Sep. 1st, 2015 05:10 pm (UTC)
Funny story! :) It seems your fellow students were very brilliant and strategic in their efforts to eliminate the uniforms. Bravo! Yes, we did not wear dresses above the knees! Maybe that's why I'm so modest in dress now? :) I never liked the attention that dressing provocatively brings (unless it's in the bedroom with your husband or boyfriend). I don't like putting physical parts "on display" for the whole world to see.
ilay_original
Sep. 1st, 2015 05:41 pm (UTC)
Thank you ))
One of the promises we couldn't achieve, however, was the 'five days' week.
We tried to switch to a week of study from Monday to Friday, with no Saturdays in-school.
All our efforts were worthless, as the decision could not be taken even on a city level.

But we managed to get a deal, stating that the participants of the olympics who went above the district level (meaning, who became among the top 3 in the district and were eligible for participation on a higher level) were not obliged to attend the subject lessons.
It really was funny.

I would never really say the girls in our class tried to get to much attention by showing physical parts but...
We were a part of a very competitive environment.
And as you probably know already - Russians are very keen to outperform competition, in any aspect ))
So quite a bit of 'show-off' was always present ))

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