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Thread: The state of education in your country.....

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    Hanna
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    The state of education in your country.....

    After watching a documentary about American state (public) schools I would say that if I lived in the US and had kids I would feel obliged to enroll them in a private school! The environment that was shown in the documentary was terrible and I don't see how the child could get a good start or succed in their studies in such an environment. The lack of discipline and knowledge was unbelievable. How could American politicians let things get so out of control?

    In a better state school shown as a contrast, it just seemed that being "cool" was the main objective for going to school, not learning... No doubt there are exceptions, but after seeing that I felt really sorry for American parents. What a nightmare situation.

    In Britain some state schools are bad and some are very good. The trick is getting the child into a good state school ("grammar school") and get a top class education for free. Parents will revert to ANY strategy! The most common one is to start attending church so the child can get a place in a church-run school (requires active church membership..) or buying a house right next to a particularly good school. This skews the housing market in a very odd way.. The system seems TOTALLY BIZARRE to a foreigner.

    In Sweden all schools are more or less the same... Not bad but not exceptionally good either. A lot of talent is lost by not channeling the brightest kids into more challenging courses where their skills can be developed. Hardly anyone supports private education but recently a few more private schools have started whereas before that there were only a few in the whole country. Such schools usually specialise in something, like sports or music.

    I also saw a Youtube video of a school in Ukraine. The teachers seemed REALLY passionate and competent and the children appeared motivated. The school building looked like it had once been very nice. But all the equipment was outdated and the school was clearly short of money -- this was casting a long shadow over the situation. The children had no access to modern electronic equipment at all.

    What's the situation in Russia and other ex USSR countries and how does it compare to the above examples?

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    Re: The state of education in your country.....

    Quote Originally Posted by Johanna
    In a better state school shown as a contrast, it just seemed that being "cool" was the main objective for going to school, not learning... No doubt there are exceptions, but after seeing that I felt really sorry for American parents. What a nightmare situation.
    Yes, I've read an interesting article recently which highlights this problem of popularity, geeks, bullying, etc. Actually, I think you might have seen one, Johanna, but I'll put the link to it here for all those who might be interested, since we're discussing schools. Why Nerds Are Unpopular. We had this problem too at my school, though on a much lesser scale. To be quite honest, I didn't like that time, especially high school. For many reasons.

    As for the state of the Russian system of education now... Well, you know, some people are prone to spelling doom and gloom for it; there is talk about it collapsing and so on but I don't really think it's true. Somehow it survived the 1990s when teachers' salaries were so ridiculous. Now it's a bit better though there are problems, of course. Like in Great Britain some schools are considered better, so parents try to get their children there. I'm not sure where we are moving now with all those standard tests introduced. I know that the Finnish system of education is considered very good and it actually borrowed heavily from the Soviet system. I don't like a few things that are being introduced. For instance, poor kids now have to study 12 (or 11??) years instead of 10. I also wouldn't want Russian children to have to start school at 5 as it's apparently done in GB. (?) Children from 3 to 7 can go to a kindergarten if their parents can get a place (which is a REAL problem) but they don't actually have to start formal education so early.

    Also there are quite a lot of complaints that those who graduated from pedagogical/teacher-training universities don't want to work at schools. People who could be great teachers choose other places of work because they can do much better there. In fact, it's good if they don't leave the country altogether. One of my best friends who clearly had pedagogical talent, a very active, energentic sort of person, left for France right after the uni. I could work at school technically because I have the diploma but I don't think it's my vocation. I didn't do brilliantly during the practice we had at schools (though, admittedly, it was a difficult time for me due to other reasons). I'm just better suited psychologically to working alone -- when the result of my work depends only on me -- which I'm happy to be doing now as a translator.

    I went to school during the 1990s. It was a very simple one but in my opinion all people who had any desire to learn and any capabilities succeeded to enter universities and make a career for themselves... So I don't really think we lacked opportunities. It would perhaps be better if schools were better equipped but other than that... As I said, all who wanted to study managed to find ways and means. Where there's a will, there's a way. Of course, improvements can, and should, be introduced. I think we could borrow some things from the American system of education, like a broader choice of subjects and the opportunity to ditch those subjects you are not good at. For me, personally, those hours spent learning algebra, geometry and chemistry in the last two years didn't do anything. It was pretty much a waste of time.

    Specialisition is a very controversial topic. I know a lot of people who don't care for history, for example, -- my best friends, in fact. I don't think it's right not to know the history of your own country but it seems school lessons don't do much in the way of cultivating love for it. One of my friends, an A student ("отличница") also hated the literature lessons, besides history, and having to write compositions. Does it mean that students should be able to drop studying Russian literature at some point? Or that the lit courses should be altered to make them more appealing? For example, I have just read "The Dead Souls" by Gogol and enjoyed it a lot but it didn't seem interesting when we studied it at school.

    I liked literature and history, so I naturally think those subjects are necessary. On the other hand, I hated algebra, geometry, chemistry, and physics, so if I were to go to school again, I'd gladly drop them, at least in the 10-11 forms/grades. Those lessons were a torture. It doesn't mean that I think these sciences aren't worth studying -- in fact, I'd gladly learn a bit more now, if I had the time -- but it was just impossible for me to succeed in them then.

    All right, that's enough ranting...
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    Re: The state of education in your country.....

    Quote Originally Posted by Johanna
    I also saw a Youtube video of a school in Ukraine. The teachers seemed REALLY passionate and competent and the children appeared motivated. The school building looked like it had once been very nice. But all the equipment was outdated and the school was clearly short of money -- this was casting a long shadow over the situation. The children had no access to modern electronic equipment at all.
    Mostly the same in Russia.

    «building looked like it had once been very nice» — it was nice at the USSR time. When USSR disappeared the Knowledge and Intellect become out of fashion (and schools with it). The Money lust came instead. In USSR children wanted to be cosmonauts, doctors and teachers. Now everybody wants to be a businessman (because doctors, teachers and scientists have the lowest salary due to their work connected with knowledge, not with money). The common example shows us that knowledge is not necessary to earn money in Russia. Instead there are needed impudence, connections with influential people, and so on.

    In school, I liked algebra, geometry, chemistry, and physics, so I naturally think those subjects are necessary. On the other hand, I hated literature and history, so if I were to go to school again, I'd gladly drop them, at least in the 10-11 forms/grades. Those lessons were a torture. It doesn't mean that I think these sciences aren't worth studying — in fact, I'd gladly learn a bit more now, if I had the time — but it was just impossible for me to succeed in them then.

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    Re: The state of education in your country.....

    Quote Originally Posted by SAn
    The common example shows us that knowledge is not necessary to earn money in Russia.
    The biggest problem is that it has almost always been this way. If you think about it, it was a way much worse in the past. Not that long ago scientists had to be rich up front in order to afford themselves to be engaged in the science. Others were seeking refuge in the applied science which actually paid some money - astrology.

    Also, let's not be too nostalgic as the knowledge didn't help much to most Soviet engineers who earned their 120 rubles a month salary with not many prospects in life.

    Quote Originally Posted by Johanna
    The lack of discipline and knowledge was unbelievable. How could American politicians let things get so out of control?
    I think you should compare apples with apples. I could easily find a Moscow (or suburb-Moscow) school that would look like a prison for the under-aged. For the most part the level of the public schools depends primarily on who ATTEND those schools which, in turn, examines the parents educational background. It could either be a good neighborhood or a bad neighborhood. For the real good nerds there's always the option of the home schooling. (Which I think is great, as I remember my intelligence quickly drained down the toilet as I attended my school. I was actually learning only when I was sick.)

    Quote Originally Posted by starrysky
    Specialisition is a very controversial topic.
    Yeah, that's a toughie. I would gladly skip most of the subjects as totally useless. And, of course, the first and foremost is Russian Language and Literature! What a useless subject! People would write without mistakes if they read well. And those so-called "rules" are helping to write in real life not a bit more than the legs-counting for a caterpillar! This is the most apparent when a person would study a foreign language, learn "the rules", and then find himself not being able to say or write anything! And the literature classes were totally and utterly useless. The lit teachers always claimed they teach how to think, but try to think (and write in your composition anything not like Belinsky said) and you'll get a fail for the content (and an excellent for the grammar). And don't even get me started with the curriculum which was designed for a very mature readers and not for children. Like, who the heck in school would really understand anything of what Gogol and Dostoyevskiy were actually trying to say?

  5. #5
    Hanna
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    Re: The state of education in your country.....

    I know that the Finnish system of education is considered very good and it actually borrowed heavily from the Soviet system
    Yes, it's considered one of the best, perhaps THE best in the EU. They stuck with exams and streaming based on ability, whereas the other Scandinavian countries thought that approach was too elitist and would discourage children who had no particular talents. But they also make real effort to help the low-achieving kids and making sure they do not "fall off".

    We use the Russian-style grading system (1-5) but I did not know that anything else was borrowed.. There was some talk of having a national school uniform while I was in school, but it never happened.
    Oh yes, relatively late school start (at 7) might be another similarity. This is later than everywhere else in Europe.

    I also wouldn't want Russian children to have to start school at 5 as it's apparently done in GB.
    I think it's 4 actually!! And it is sooo strange. I can only imagine that it is a form of childcare. It's been proved that it makes no difference at all whether they start learning at 4 or 7. I have no idea why it's done.

    Quote Originally Posted by Crocodile
    I would gladly skip most of the subjects as totally useless. And, of course, the first and foremost is Russian Language and Literature!
    Shocking comment, Croc!! Everyone should know SOME literature, but it ought to be possible to opt out. What about OTHER literature, I mean not Russian, for example German, French, English, Italian? Or did you ONLY read Russian literature?
    I like ONLY history, maths and textile works, LOL!

    Quote Originally Posted by San
    building looked like it had once been very nice» — it was nice at the USSR time
    Yeah, it had a very impressive indoor swimming pool which was not in use. The school was architecturally very grand but had started literally falling apart. Very sad.

    This was part of a "Russian course" that a woman is running on Youtube. She lives somewhere in Ukraine and part of the course is about her interviewing her friends about their jobs and families. Her friend was a teacher at that school.

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    Re: The state of education in your country.....

    Quote Originally Posted by Crocodile
    Quote Originally Posted by SAn
    The common example shows us that knowledge is not necessary to earn money in Russia.
    The biggest problem is that it has almost always been this way. If you think about it, it was a way much worse in the past. Not that long ago scientists had to be rich up front in order to afford themselves to be engaged in the science. Others were seeking refuge in the applied science which actually paid some money - astrology.

    Also, let's not be too nostalgic as the knowledge didn't help much to most Soviet engineers who earned their 120 rubles a month salary with not many prospects in life.
    Agree with you.

    Quote Originally Posted by Crocodile
    The lit teachers always claimed they teach how to think, but try to think (and write in your composition anything not like Belinsky said) and you'll get a fail for the content (and an excellent for the grammar). And don't even get me started with the curriculum which was designed for a very mature readers and not for children. Like, who the heck in school would really understand anything of what Gogol and Dostoyevskiy were actually trying to say?
    Yes! I even wrote blog post about these problems: http://iproc.ru/2009/02/essay-with-distinction/ . The post is about writing essays in schools and excellent marks just for the «right» style (not for the real value of work).

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    Re: The state of education in your country.....

    In Russia there are very good schools as well as truly abominable ones. The sutuation changes with geography also, a school in Chechnya differs much from a school in Kirov, for example. Also the area where a school is situated, matters much. In the worst areas there're many students with North-Caucasian background who from ethnic groups in schools. The others are bullied by them. It sometimes applies to teachers also.

    The school load's increased dramatically since the Soviet times. Even high-schoolers've never had more than 6 45-minutes lesson per day before, now they have 8 on the most days. That's because many useless subjects have been added, like "The basics of the Orthodox Culture". Many schools use their opportunity to add subjects by choice and the result is often stupid, like attempts to teach pshycology to 10 year olds.

    The teachers are assessed by the marks of their students. This means that teachers mark their students better than they really perform.

    A good school means a school with a caring principal. Such principal would try to get her school certified as 'gymnasium' or 'specialised'. This gives the right to accept children through entrance examinations, while the other schools have to accept anyone dwelling in a certain area.
    Please correct my English

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    Re: The state of education in your country.....

    Quote Originally Posted by Johanna
    Shocking comment, Croc!! Everyone should know SOME literature, but it ought to be possible to opt out. What about OTHER literature, I mean not Russian, for example German, French, English, Italian? Or did you ONLY read Russian literature?
    Well, it meant to draw attention. You see, there's a vast difference between know some literature and be graded on some literature. I'm not sure what you experience was in school, but whoever I know developed deep hatred towards that Pushikin-Dostoyevskiy-Tolstoy in school, and were only cured from it if they took a second glance at their writings at a later age. What do children really read at schools? What forms them? At the best Dumas and Jules Verne, for sure not Prishvin and Chernyshevskiy!

    Here's a sentence that could (???) help you learn Russian:

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    Re: The state of education in your country.....

    Quote Originally Posted by Johanna
    I think it's 4 actually!! And it is sooo strange. I can only imagine that it is a form of childcare. It's been proved that it makes no difference at all whether they start learning at 4 or 7. I have no idea why it's done.
    I actually disagree with that one.

    There is a great deal of data about how it does make a HUGE difference especially with children who come from socioeconomic disadvantaged homes where parents may not be able to teach their children basic skills. Or the native language spoken in the home is not that of the country they are living in. When these children enter into K or 1st grade and can't even speak one word of the "native" language or know any letters, colors, numbers... it is a big problem and disadvantage for this child, the other children in the classroom and the teacher who must now spend additional time and resources helping this one child now learn years worth of information they should have already learned. By attending these "Head Start" and "All Day Kindergarten" programs, this is all avoided.

    Additionally, as colleges are now dictating what they want students to know by the time they enter, the school systems must therefore back map the classes accordingly. Example, all students need to be taking Algebra by 9th grade to be on target for college level math. To get to that correct level by 9th grade, they must start teaching more difficult concepts earlier in the elementary levels.
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    Re: The state of education in your country.....

    But school and kindergarten are two different things. I don't think anyone argues that children shouldn't learn anything at all before school starts (though supposedly they are taught all the basic things, like reading, cursive writing, and doing sums in the first grade and it used to be ok...). At a kindergarten children learn in a fun and relaxed way and for very short periods of time, like 15 minutes. There are no fullblown 45 min lessons, marks and homework. Classes in Russia are a serious matter -- children have to sit straight behind their desks, learn to listen to the teacher, to be disciplined, assiduous and so on. They can't go round the class, eat, not pay attention and so on. It seems that it's too harsh to introduce children under 7 to all these things. They'll get enough stress with marks and tests later on...
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    Re: The state of education in your country.....

    In the Russian school curriculum there're lots of topics taught to everyone, which will prove useless later when a former student leaves school. Those are:

    Chemistry: manufacturing sulphur acid, smelting iron (two methods), nitrtogen fertilisers, different plastics and so on...

    Physics: combustion engine's operating principles, nuclear reactions ...

    Math: differential and integral calculus ...

    I believe these topics must be made optional. Those who want to specialise in these areas, will choose them.

    At least my daughter doing economics in a unversity now, remembers not a damn of making hydrochloric acid, while she passed an exam in this not earlier than 4 years ago.
    Please correct my English

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    Re: The state of education in your country.....

    Quote Originally Posted by starrysky
    But school and kindergarten are two different things.
    Not any longer. Children are now taught and expected to learn to read and write while IN kindergarten. It is ALL day in many US school systems now and starts at age 5, always I believe it always has started. I guess this Parent's Guide to Kindergarten would make you want to home school your kids and let them just go back to the good old days of milk, cookies and nap time I know that's what I had growing up in Kindergarten!!http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/c...ndergarten.pdf
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    Re: The state of education in your country.....

    Quote Originally Posted by Ленивец
    In the Russian school curriculum there're lots of topics taught to everyone, which will prove useless later when a former student leaves school. Those are:

    Chemistry: manufacturing sulphur acid, smelting iron (two methods), nitrtogen fertilisers, different plastics and so on...

    Physics: combustion engine's operating principles, nuclear reactions ...

    Math: differential and integral calculus ...
    But differential and integral calculus are needed almost every day of life! I will not be able to solve any real word problem without such knowledge.

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    Re: The state of education in your country.....

    Quote Originally Posted by SAn
    But differential and integral calculus are needed almost every day of life! I will not be able to solve any real word problem without such knowledge.
    I like math too, but let's not stretch it out. You can build a very decent sand box without solving a system of differential equations.

    I think that calculus, organic chemistry, as well as all the nits and grits of Russian Grammar are specialized knowledge.

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    Re: The state of education in your country.....

    When I entered a university my math analysis professor kept saying 'forget everything you've been taught at school'. My wife, whose occupution is teaching French, have no idea on the subject. So it's to be taught in universities.
    Please correct my English

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    Re: The state of education in your country.....

    Quote Originally Posted by Ленивец
    When I entered a university my math analysis professor kept saying 'forget everything you've been taught at school'. My wife, whose occupution is teaching French, have no idea on the subject. So it's to be taught in universities.
    It strongly depends on the school and the teacher. When I took my pre-PhD exams in Solid State Physics, I found that my secondary school knowledge was about 40% of the requested.
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    Re: The state of education in your country.....

    I can honestly say that I don't remember anything of chemistry, biology, physics, and math I've been "taught" at school. There was also a strange subject - "economic geography"; nothing of it left in my memory either.
    In Russian, all nationalities and their corresponding languages start with a lower-case letter.

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    Re: The state of education in your country.....

    Quote Originally Posted by Оля
    I can honestly say that I don't remember anything of chemistry, biology, physics, and math I've been "taught" at school. There was also a strange subject - "economic geography"; nothing of it left in my memory either.
    It would probably still be OK if you'd acknowledge those subject at least contributed to the development, but since it's highly unlikely (as unlikely as myself remembering any of the History or Geography "taught" in school), I could agree that torturing you with those was a total waste of your time. I guess their main job was just to babysit the students making sure we don't eat each other alive. I recollect myself answering that New Zealand was near Australia (because I just finished reading The Children of Captain Grant) and I was soon sent to the district Geographic Olympiade (as the best in my class) and I happened to get the 6th place without knowing anything! That was how they taught Geography in Moscow in those "knowledgeable" USSR days.

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    Re: The state of education in your country.....

    Oh, I think I was unjust with respect to math. I forgot about four simple arithmetic operations which I know from the school lessons (I'm not sure though; perhaps I knew them before the school ). I must admit they are very useful.
    Well, I actually meant all the math we had in last years of the school. It was a permanent torture for me. And I really remember nothing.
    In Russian, all nationalities and their corresponding languages start with a lower-case letter.

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    Re: The state of education in your country.....

    Actually remembering or not remembering depends on whether the knowledge is needed presently. The knowledge is still there in your head and if you need something there will be something like 'Hey, I remember I studied this at school', and if you would want (or be forced) to go any deeper you'll find out that 'remembering' is much easier than learning it from the very beginning. The knowledge sleeps until you need it. In fact, our subconsciousness 'remembers' everything we saw or heard in our lifetime (hypnosis works because of this).
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