Dispatch from Russia – Views on culture, personality and Russian education

Published on 28th April, 2010 in Author Blog by Lindsay Clandfield

Some insights from Natalie Tokareva, a professor at the University of Linguistics of Moscow. She gave me a copy of her book Do you know Russia, a parallel Russian/English textbook about Russian culture and life (this means that each page has text in Russian and English).

A person as a human being cannot exist without culture. Culture is that which enables a person to speak with himself.

The “enigma of the Russian soul”… Many philosophers think Russia’s wide expanse left its mark on the Russian character. (I can believe this, the same has been said of Canada, my home country)

In Russia, an individual student is called to the front of the class and grilled extensively both about the facts and about their interpretation. This “grilling” includes what the teacher talked about in the previous lesson and also what they have been required to read at home for this day’s lesson. The “grilling” and the curriculum are very intense…

The high-school curriculums in Russia and USA are often the same, on the surface; but in Russia, the subjects are covered much more deeply.

There are currently more than one hundred private, pay-for-tuition, non-governmental institutions for higher learning, and their number is constantly increasing.

If a student is seen on university premises with a can of beer in his hand he will be immediately expelled. It’s no joke.

…The goal of education is to become an educated person who is guided by solid, basic values. It isn’t for nothing that there is the Russian proverb: “Learning is light, and ignorance is darkness.”